Sunday, 20 November 2016

Inclearances, outboards, and more fish!

Greetings,

Just when I think we will have a day that doesn't "give us much to write home about" something interesting happens. Such was the case today.

We went to bed under clear but turbulent skies; we woke in the wee hours to shut every hatch and window in what we thought was a squall but turned out to be a big system that dumped rain and blew 25 kts on and off for the rest of the night. The funniest moment for me was leaping up the companionway stairs to untie the wind scoop on the starboard side in order to close the saloon hatch; it had been tied by Johnathan, who loves to climb the rigging, and it was all I could do in the wind and the rain (and the middle of the night needing to pee) to reach the knot to release it from the shroud. The rain was just starting to come down heavily, and it sounded like pellets landing on the water around us. It quickly became the kind of downpour that drenched me by the time my small task was accomplished; on the bright side, in the 30-deg heat, being soaking wet was cooler for sleeping! Since Johnathan had been sleeping in the cockpit, he was awakened as well, so between him, Max, and me, we quickly battened the hatches and got everything closed up. Later in the night, another squall caused the rolling hitch on one of our snubbers to release, so Max had his own gymnastics evolution to reach beyond the bow roller with the anchor hook to replace it, again in 25 kts of wind. I tell you this story just in case you think we lead a glamourous life ...

It was still raining in the morning, so we elected Max as the family representative to go ashore for the last two stops on our Tuvaluan clearance circuit. When he came back, he described meeting people who were friendly, but rather baffled by the whole idea of someone coming to Tuvalu in a yacht and therefore needing to clear in. In his search for the Customs officer, whose office was unmaned, he asked several people and finally found himself being given a ride by a stranger (recruited in rapid-fire Tuvaluan by the kind Marine office lady) from the Customs office nestled into the sea of sea containers to the main Government office building, where he happened upon the harried customs officer, his hands full of files, in the foyer. They arranged for Max to come back to the Customs office later in the afternoon, and in the meantime Max wondered how he would get to the Health office at the hospital to clear in there. When he asked for directions, someone introduced him to the Medical Officer for the entire area, who was just on his way there with a driver in a 4x4, and was more than happy to give him a ride. As he was walking back to the Customs office to retrieve the dinghy and come to Fluenta for lunch, the same scooter that had taken him into town picked him up and took him the rest of the way.

Shortly after Max came home and regaled us with this adventure, a longboat came by full of fish. We think the five men aboard were from the town, but as none of them seemed to speak English, we couldn't be sure. They gave us a Pacific Bonita (a kind of Tuna). I am sure that they would have given us more, but we gestured emphatically that one was plenty:) We gave them one of our bags of meat from the Sailfish, and showed them our Mexican 'Fish of the Pacific' photo card so they would know what it was. It was lovely to be welcomed like this, especially since I haven't even set foot ashore yet! Interestingly, the fish was frozen, so we think all the fish came from one of the big Chinese/Korean fishing boats that are anchored here in the lagoon.

After a quick lunch, Max went to meet the Customs officer, and was ready to head back to Fluenta within 15 minutes, with Fluenta officially cleared into Tuvalu. We had no idea how quick his meeting was, however, as he didn't return until almost an hour later! The pull cord detached when he went to start the engine, so he rowed the 2.5 km back in the RHIB. Let's just say that this boat is not designed for speed under oars. Well-cooked after his exertion, as by this time the the rain had ended and the sun was blazing, he spent the next while with a glass of water and our 1" thick Yamaha manual; this will be the first job on the agenda for tomorrow morning.

The kids and I had a productive day as well. We have been in possession of a "Brave Writer" language arts package for almost a year without much engagement, but today we did the first of our "Friday Freewrites". I can't say that the exercise was met with a lot of enthusiasm, but at least both kids completed it, which was my only goal. Our aim is to do a Freewrite every Friday for eight weeks (ie they will write for a set number of minutes on any topic they like, keeping their pencil moving the whole time). They can read them to me, or not, and then I will I put them away in a folder. At the end of eight weeks, we will look at all their sheets and see if there is one piece that they would like to polish; if so, we will do some revision, if not, we will carry on with some more free writing. We have been doing 'Tuesday Poetry Teatimes' already this term, but they will take a backseat for the next eight weeks and we will focus on the writing side of things.

The rest of the day was very peaceful. By the time I woke up this morning, Victoria had set bread to rise and was finishing her Life of Fred math chapter for the day. In the midst of the post-passage stowing and sweeping that I was did once I got going, Johnathan (and sometimes Benjamin) managed to play with Lego on the saloon floor, mostly games of good guys and bad guys. The soundtrack of this play regularly gives me a chuckle, both for the detailed special forces lessons that Johnathan imparts to Benjamin (I am sure that every two year old is getting lessons in sniper rifles and anti-aircraft guns, yes?), and for the insults that fly when Benjamin acts his age (2) instead of Johnathan's (11) (J: "No you knucklehead, not like that" / B: "I'm not a knucklehead (or what ever insult he has just received) I am Benjamin-George-Shaw-Brown"). Benjamin is learning early to stand up for himself! Insults aside, it gives me joy to watch all three kids spend so much time together, expressing opinions, sharing their belongings, and collaborating on their ideas. Without even knowing it, they are practicing vital skills of negotiation, patience, teamwork, and cooperation. (Of course close quarters also breeds its share of squabbles, insults, and raised voices ... which returns us to the need for negotiation, patience, teamwork, and cooperation!!)

Of course dinner tonight was fish, in this case, seared sesame-soy tuna with rice and Asian slaw (Thanks again, Deanne, for the Boat Galley cookbook!) followed by Banana Cake (Joy of Cooking app) using the last of our well-past-ripe bananas from Savusavu. We will have fresh fish for a few more days, and I put four massive bags of sailfish in the freezer this evening for later in the season. Max is going to turn down the temperatures of the fridge/freezer tomorrow as now that we have moved north, the freezer isn't quite keeping the food at the extremities of the box frozen. This will cost us power, but save our food from spoiling.

We are hoping that the rain will stop and we will all go do some exploring tomorrow.

Love to all,
Elizabeth
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At 2016-11-17 11:33 AM (utc) SV Fluenta's position was 08°31.52'S 179°11.32'E
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At 2016-11-17 3:22 AM (utc) SV Fluenta's position was 08°31.49'S 179°11.30'E

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