Saturday 20 June 2015

19 Jun - Fond farewells


I will try and make this short, because my desire to send some news is outweighing my desire to finish stowing for sea or sleep - but it is approaching midnight, and all three jobs need to be done. Benjamin has *just* gone to sleep, after two false starts earlier in the evening. With the saloon empty (and the floor clear) he dumped out all his Duplo, and started building stuff after everyone else had gone to sleep. Then he made his puzzle (he can now manage the rather tricky Haida Orca from Granny!), and read through all his books, carefully putting the teddy from "Good Night Teddy" into all the little pockets. After a while, he brought the book to me, but as soon as he got on my lap, he realized he had other priorities, latched on, and peacefully fell fast asleep within about two minutes.

Jesus has washed all the dishes and wiped all the counters; I have a small area of "stuff" that needs to find a home before Neptune directs it towards the floor tomorrow, then I will be able to call it a night too. It has been a steady, but productive, day of stowing each of the kids' areas in their room (they both have a bunk to sleep on now - not just a topsy-turvy storage bench). All the Lego that jumped out of their cabin and swarmed the saloon a week ago has been tucked neatly into boxes and bags at the foot of Johnathan's bed. All the books have found a home either in the book cupboard or in a bag of "spare books" beside my bunk. The school supplies are in a backpack, ready for studies in the next anchorage. During their breaks, Victoria and Johnathan "doubled" in their Minecraft world, giving us a glimpse of their ability to negotiate, cooperate, plan, build, and work together. It is kind of neat to be "flies on the wall" while they work together. They have figured out that they can use our navigational system's wifi router [Navico GoFree] to connect our iPad and their iPod. Fun.

Max and Jesus had a super-productive morning: while we were in the village yesterday, Max had discovered that the reason our autopilot had failed was not either the computer or the drive, but some plain, old-fashioned, broken bolts: there is a heavy bar fastened to the steering quadrant to which the autopilot driver is connected by a ball & socket type of joint, and the four bolts that hold it on had sheared. He and Jesus spent the morning busy with the dremel tool and the tap & die set, shaping four short bolts from the four long ones that Max had in his spares bucket. (They even found four with matching threads - at one point it looked like there would be two thread patterns among the four bolts, which would make fitting the nuts finicky in a confined space). Once the new bolts were in place, we were able to engage the auto pilot and move the rudder back and forth while at anchor. The real test will come when we are at sea tomorrow, but so far, it looks good.

We worked together to hoist the outboard and dinghy (amazing how much easier some of these jobs are with three adults), then Max & Jesus stowed & lashed the various bits of gear that live on the back deck (including a repurposed 27L lidded Lego box that Jesus and Johnathan filled with our rainwater from earlier in the week) so that the upper decks were shipshape for our overnight passage. It's pretty much as much work to leave for overnight as it is to leave for a week at sea!

Dinner tonight was "canned Hawaiian pizza" - made mostly by Victoria. She made the pizza dough, we used canned ham (not really very nice, but we have some in the cupboard), canned pineapples, canned sauce, and some grated cheese. It turned out really well, and it seemed like a popular way to use our canned ham! Victoria even got Benjamin in on the act, helping him to spread out his own piece of pizza dough (without either of them eating too much of it).

We had a delightful day in the village yesterday. Jesus had stayed with Salote and Mini after the four-village festival, and while Max stayed on the boat to work on the autopilot and prepare for the passage, the kids and I arrived "first thing in the morning" (ha!) just in time to watch him rolling rotis for lunch, while Salote cooked them over her wood stove. She has an open wood fire on a platform in the corner of her kitchen, and she cooked the rotis on a hot metal surface, dabbing them with oil on a cloth each time before she flipped them. She had hoped to teach Victoria to make them, but instead she will learn from Jesus :) Once the rotis were all cooked, we had a cup of tea together, and enjoyed some "pancakes" (more like log-shaped donuts) that she had made early that morning before anyone else was up, while Lisa (her daughter) and Oni (her niece) made some curry to go inside the rotis. We then just stayed in our circle on the floor around the table mat, carried on visiting, and enjoyed a meal of rotis together.

Benjamin was in his element, running in circles around the kitchen, and out one door and in another, accompanied by one of the grownups or one of the kids. One of his favourite games was to run outside and chase the chickens (aside - all the eggs in Fulaga are from these chickens - they lay them under various trees, etc and the village folk collect them as they need them. No hen-houses in sight.) After lunch, we shared what we had brought (sugar, milk powder, rice, and a few nice goodies), and said our goodbyes - with many tears all around - Salote and Mini welcomed us into their home, and gave generously from their hearts, and a lot of love has been shared all around. Even as we were leaving, they had wooden carvings, a stock of bananas, and some papaya for us. Perhaps because our visit is shorter than we had anticipated, I feel hopeful that this is a village that we will come back to, and that these are people with whom we will visit again. We anticipate returning to Fiji and Fulaga next season, after our visit to Tonga. I told Salote that this was my plan, but that with sailboats, nothing was certain until it had happened! Lisa has email once she goes back to Suva, so it is feasible to stay in touch (postal mail is delivered here once/month on the cargo ship). Another boat in our anchorage is on their second visit to Fulaga, so it is certainly possible to return.

Another aside - for any future cruisers planning to visit Fulaga - the villagers appreciate glass bottles (eg olive oil, wine) that they can use for coconut oil.

On our way back to the dinghy, Johnathan asked to climb a coconut tree to get a coconut. I said yes before I looked at the tree. Let's just say that I was relieved when he was safely on the ground again. He has strong little legs that hold him in place like a monkey, but I still feel nervous watching him! To make me feel better, Victoria told me that this tree was nothing - I should have seen the ones he was climbing in the island where they camped!

We re-anchored in front of the sandspit again last night, so we are more protected from the choppy waves that were getting bothersome where we were. We will leave from here first thing in the morning and head for Matuku (about 100nm) with an ETA of Fiji Monday. Sailmail has been a bit intermittent for the last new days, so emails may be sporadic.

Love to all,
At 6/19/2015 7:57 AM (utc) SV Fluenta was 19°09.14'S 178°32.43'W
At 6/20/2015 6:23 PM (utc) SV Fluenta was 19°09.16'S 178°32.44'W

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