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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Saving Pursuit

Good grief, time sure does fly when you're basically doing nothing. Since our last blog: John made final (hopefully) repairs to our wind vane; he cooked another pancake breakfast for Gaston and Valentine with Soggy Paws and Jack, a 24 year old American who's been traveling since he was 17 (mostly by hopping freight trains until he ran out of railroad tracks in Costa Rica), as invited guests; and we did some more snorkeling and reef walking. Last Friday the weather turned wet again and we spent all morning catching water and doing laundry (which I threw into the shower wet since it was still too rainy to dry). John made bread and we spent the afternoon watching some of the Horatio Hornblower series for a second time.

Saturday morning I put the laundry out on clotheslines to dry and we went in to shore to see G&V. But they made a last minute decision to take the yellow bomber (their go fast boat) to Apataki to get gasoline, a propane bottle for us, and misc groceries. It was a nice day so we burned our paper garbage. I gathered coconuts into large groups under various trees and dragged palm fronds onto piles for burning later. John had brought tools in to fix Valentine's washing machine which wouldn't spin. After he fixed that he helped another cruiser figure out the problem with a broken portable generator. While he was busy with that I borrowed an axe from Philippe to open some coconuts to feed the pigs and then I let Bula (a rotweiler mix) and Lulu take me for a walk out on the point. By that time we were hungry and the laundry was dry.

John spent most of Sunday transferring propane from the big Apataki bottle to two small bottles for us and Soggy Paws. While he was on shore he attended the Father's Day church service which this time was mostly translated to English since there weren't as many French speakers in attendance. I stayed on the boat to bake brownies for the Father's Day potluck that afternoon. Gaston grilled chicken for those who hadn't brought their own meat in for the BBQ, and Valentine made donut sized "rolls" by flattening dough into thick pancakes which were then nested in between two special leaves and put on the grill to cook. The weather looked threatening so we set chairs for 20 people inside the restaurant and by the time we managed to tear ourselves away from the fun, it was just beginning to rain hard. I'm always surprised at how cold it can feel here when rain is pelting down and the wind begins to pick up.

We woke to more rain Monday morning but John and I went to shore to have G&V take a look at my 40 Kauehi pearls to see what could be done with them. I had arranged them all in a row, attempting to place the ones I thought were best in the center of the necklace. Gaston got his special machine out (not a Dremel tool) to drill holes in all of them for me. But I soon realized that it was hardly worth putting holes in the worst of them, and I asked Valentine if she would use her judgment for how best to use them. She knew how much I admired the necklace she always wears, and so she began designing something similar for me. While her necklace is mostly kaishi (natural pearls) mixed in with various decorative beads, she used 15 of my cultured pearls and from her own supply added kaishi, beads, and small Japanese cream pearls, plus two of her own pearls since she couldn't find enough of mine to match up well enough. She directed me in helping her find what she needed from her stores and we had a great time working together on it. I gave her my unused pearls to use in decorative projects but before we left they asked John if he wanted a "surfer" necklace. John picked out one of our pearls for Gaston to drill and then put it on a black cord to wear tied up close on his neck with a slip knot. Valentine said that's what all the Tahitian surfers wear. So now we have the most treasured souvenirs we could ever hope to receive from two of the nicest people we've ever met.

That night we went to bed early since it was too rainy and windy for a happy hour ashore. Which was a good thing because we woke at 10:30 to a call for help on the VHF radio. Pursuit had broken the line to their mooring and was aground! John immediately put his wet suit jacket on and lowered our dinghy in the pouring rain and howling wind to go to their aid. More cruisers in dinghies soon joined him and the rest of us stood by the radio waiting for updates and watching with binoculars as they struggled to free Pursuit from the coral. We learned later that boats with anenometers (wind indicators) recorded gusts up to 50 knots, but at 11:10 the wind suddenly died down enough to make better progress kedging the boat off with a stern anchor. The dinghies finally managed to push the boat into deep water. After the wind died Gaston was able to launch his big boat to come out with Jack to tow the disabled boat back to its mooring where it was resecured. By this time it was 11:40 and John was amazed to hear later that the whole ordeal hadn't taken longer. Pursuit's prop had lost a blade, but the next day another boat was able to loan a spare which will get them to Papeete for final repairs.

This is one of those events that truly brings cruisers together and we all met the next night for happy hour, relieved that no one was hurt and no serious damage had been done.