Raiv and Bits

Beez Neez now Chy Whella
Big Bear and Pepe Millard
Thu 25 Jul 2013 21:07
Raivavae Odds and Bits
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To say it’s been windy is perhaps a gross understatement, add to that lashing rain and little sun = housebound Bears. This coupled with the fact that the UK is currently under heat wave makes this even less amusing. Well it is our winter. Watch Pepe snarl. I signed up for summer and summer as my only two seasons matey. Oh.
The bread saga. Bear has gone off in Baby Beez religiously every morning at seven thirty, rain or shine (make that more of the former than the latter) and everyday he has come home empty handed, many excuses heard from the many people who shake his hand. One day he met Edmund and left me outside the post office sending blogs and can you look after my little chap while it updates his aps. OK Skip.
Off he walked to Mahanatua for his three o’clock appointment in his new friends garden. Edmund is seventy five and came here many years ago after falling in love with a Polynesian lady (sadly passed) while serving in the French Navy. Bear managed a mixture of English, French and Spanish or Splench, enjoyed wandering the lovely mans two acres and returned to me with bags full of cabbage, turnip, pomelos, bananas and something that looks like stinging nettle. He got a lift back to the supermarket from a young couple who knew he came from the bateau. The lady in the shop welcomed him as an old friend as he bought a loaf of plastic white bread (I know and made in New Zealand). Time for a game or two...And a large snifter for me.
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Bear sitting with a bowl of ravioli (we’ve been going through our oldest cans – some from when we set off, interesting finds some of them). His laptop is currently sorting through thousands of ebooks and his Mac is providing endless fun as he sorts his ITunes. On my baby Mac I’m doing the same. I began with 156.4 days of music and books. 117 genres was too much so a swift cull and any duplicates. Over five days in between blogging and chores I’ve been creating a ‘World’ playlist; basically everything from Reggae, Asian, Latin, African, Cape Verde, Steel Bands, Tassa Drums, Congo, Pan Pipes, Senegal, Spanish guitar, Chant, Gospel, Bag Pipes and anything that is not standard has been given the genre World with specific geography or instrument under a new sort field for me - Grouping. To use the word eclectic is doing this feat an injustice, but on shuffle could prove very interesting listening. The result is 3026 items or exactly nine days loaded onto the IPod I have all my audiobooks on, only half full, this gives me room for some more usual genre favourites.
My master list is down to 150.2 days with 88 genres so that’s coming along well, 48,348 items in 258.54 gigabytes plus 12.3 days of proper books (as opposed to those in the music list that come under the genre audiobook. A point that no one at ITunes can answer why they end up where they do – an anomaly they say). This is a job I’ve had on my spare time list for years. Oh and we’ve watched several very strange films during the whole process. No need to worry about having the inverter on (thing that gives us electricity) as the wind generator has been earning his keep beautifully.
The lump to the left of the skippers forearm is Beds, hiding throughout, Bernie is also under cover behind the captains elbow. These brave lads chose this course of action during the lively time the two senior crew swapped certain tunes via memory stick and the eldest on board had forgotten how to ‘pick and post’. I don’t do it very often. Absolutely no comment...........
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This is what an anchor ball half should look like and this is the other side now severely chewed.
The other morning I was sitting up in bed (back at ITunes sorting) when I heard the words quite forcefully addressed, Pepe – Help. Now when I hear this uttered I never, ever know what I will find or have to do to fill the role of assistant. The last time, a couple of days ago, I found the captain laying on his side, digits out of sight up to the elbows somewhere deep in the engine. I was tasked to hold an empty Coke bottle between two fingers, hold a knob with my thumb, said knob pressed firmly into bottle and manually operate a small stirrup pump with the other hand. Ooo er, tricky but doable, pleased when it was over but hands smelling of diesel. Thank you, you can go now. Marvelous, I adore those particular words -  back to what I was doing.
Back to this current order of assistance required. I run or rush swiftly depending what I have to extricate myself from, to go in the general direction of the call - not too many places to look after all. I found the skipper in his sleep shorts and tee shirt (well it was seven a.m.) holding the hook he uses for picking up buoys (oh stay with me on this) standing in the cockpit, head out of the shed. I was to hold said pole, easy I thought. Off he trotted to the front end of Beez, the wind blew and not so easy, attached to the pole was one of the main halyards (big rope). Captain trotted back, took pole and gave me back the clasp at the end of said big rope. Hold this while I release more slack. For me to reach said new duty I had to climb out into the elements. Yes, my sleep shirt may look like an elongated tee shirt bought by my husband in the Shenandoah Country Park, depicting a bear hugging me, but in thirty odd knots of chuffing wind is not the best coverall. I gained the position of Mary Poppins holding umbrella aloft just before take off and then did just that. I was having a conniption whilst this flogging monster made its bid for freedom. I usually don’t ask but this one had caught my imagination and attention.
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Many boats don’t bother with day shapes but having a strict captain who adheres to all the ‘Rules of the Road’ our anchor ball is hoisted the second the anchor is set. I found this picture of Beez anchored in Portimao, Portugal in 2008 and the other day, ball flying proudly in front of the yellow arrow. The contraption itself consists of two interconnecting pieces of black plastic that when turned, loosely looks like a ball – the official day shape for a boat at anchor (at night a little light automatically comes on at the top of the mast that means the same thing when its dark). So what happened this morning was the little bit of string that connects the ball to the side rail snapped in one of the big gusts. Said little string, ball and big rope all flew rearward and the wind generator bit the lot. We were really lucky that the big rope didn’t get chewed or the blades of the genny would have been ruined – costly. All was well and I went back about my business.

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Edmund. First night and second night, cannot wait for the third.


The Festival has been an amazing feast of dancing and singing. Last night I sat next to a lady from California called Jamie. She met and married a man who was born here to a local lady who married an American. Jamie’s husband spent his first twenty years here and the next twenty in California, married Jamie and they have three lovely little girls brought to the island to learn about this side of their family and culture. They arrived last August and already the girls are almost fluent in French. They will spend one more school year here and then return to the States.

I asked about the aggregate that came in on the supply ship and Jamie told me that no more will happen here to upset the natural balance of the island. The older folk all speak Polynesian and they tend to say hello in their native tongue when we meet them “Iorana”, they are fiercely proud of their heritage and want the island to remain ‘real’. They have all been upset that the lagoon and surrounding coral is “sick”. The fisherman only catch on the opposite side to where we are anchored because of the high level of ciguatera and warned us not to catch ourselves until we are some distance off the island.

I asked where the locals went for their traditional tattoos. Apparently most go to Rapa. Jamie’s husband had one done with the artist using a sharks tooth – he had to consume quite a bit of alcohol to relieve the pain. Perhaps we’ll have the electric method then. Too right. Alcohol was my next question, I had assumed with the cost that no one here would be able to afford it, we saw a bottle of whisky in the supermarket for $75. The answer was surprising. Jamie said the locals frequently drink wine, sometimes make their own but regularly enjoy rum and spirits. The amusing thing is juice, this covers everything. You ask for a juice and the person serving you asks what flavour. This can be Sprite, Coke or any number of the flavours we call cordial and anything squeezed, it’s all lumped together under the one heading. The most surprising thing for us was seeing the number of people who smoke, we didn’t see anyone in the Gambiers, but here a big proportion do, both men and women.

Jamie told me that the only actual household bill the locals have to pay is electricity (they have to buy food and car costs), the French Government support children throughout school including meals and transport. Teachers, health care workers and State workers get a good salary. A grant is given to those who keep a garden, those who keep their house nice and Raivavae has “just been awarded a grant of two million dollars as an island facelift”.  Much of this will be spent (as will the aggregate) on renewing the sea defenses of the airport as not a great job was done when it was built in the first place. This came up as I commented on how the chap above, had less grass in his skirt. “oh he’s Edmund” (not Bears Edmund, a different one). This Edmund is the man you go to when you want to connect to the electricity supply, he sorts you out and gives you your payment details. I personally was enjoying the view and cannot wait to see how his skirt looks tonight on day three of the festival.


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This morning I passed the tell-tale signs, followed the rustling noise and found the skipper rummaging in the sea berth. Don’t ask I didn’t. This of course was following his fruitless mission to find the bread man........ Anything you want out of the cupboards before I re-stow. I’ll have my emergency pot of cappuccino powder mix out, I feel I may need it, loaded with something strong......................perhaps.


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Mind you, it looks like I’ve got my very own Edmund, I went back for another look....or two.


We have enjoyed our time here immensely, for my part it would be perfection personified if I had wi-fi on board instead of having to go ashore and perch outside the post office, but lets face it on arrival I had no idea I would get any internet at all so I cannot grumble. The island does have a very authentic feel, it is clearly not poor, given French central support. The children are all very happy and enthusiastically welcome us – often in English and manage a few words like “how old are you”, “do you come from England” and “where are you going next”. Perhaps the funniest question was “why are you here in the winter time, when it is so very cold”. Why indeed........


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The very smart Town Hall.

Our plan is to leave here on Friday (weather GRIB files dependent), an overnight, one hundred mile journey to Tubuai (the capital of the Australs), spend a few days then hop the three hundred miles to Tahiti in the steady weather that is due.....Mmmm, fingers crossed.


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                     A PLEASANT INTERLUDE