Bad weather. Not sailors' bad weather: force eight, triple reefs, water everywhere and worried crew. But holiday makers' bad weather: total overcast, poor visibility, rain in the air, intermittent squalls and popply water even anchored inside the reef. We were due to leave today but no-one is going anywhere until these twenty-five to thirty knot winds die down. I woke up at 3 o'clock last night thinking I could hear voices. I hurried on deck but it was the sound of the first heavy squall coming across the water. We had shifted position during the evening and had not tested the anchor in the new spot so I was up for ninety minutes, clad only in oilskin jacket and deck shoes, making sure we were holding securely.
There are minor dramas being reported on the radio. One boat was dragging its anchor. While the crew was motoring forward to sort that out their dinghy flipped over and the outboard, borrowed from another boat in the anchorage, fell off and is lying on the bottom. The German owner of the outboard sounds remarkably sanguine. A real gent.
The windlass parts arrived from Scotland and after some struggle and a bit of help from a strong(er) armed friend we knocked out the corroded and broken bits and fitted the new. It now works better than at any time in our ownership; nice and smooth running and with a fair lead for the chain. The anchor woman is over the moon.
The new computer is happy running the charts. The more we see of other electronic charting systems the more pleased we are with ours.
With so much time spent in the comfort of a large port we have been taking stock. The nature and scope of the adventure has really struck home although to our surprise things often seem rather mundane. Papeete could easily be a town in southern France and even some of the more remote and exotic locations we have visited appear at the same time rooted firmly in the "real" world. We have come across no bare breasted maidens in grass skirts on Tahiti. However, are there still local girls ready to entertain handsome young sailors? You may think so; we couldn't possibly comment!
Cartagena and the Panama canal were fascinating and the Galapagos were worth the effort on their own. But there are only a limited number of genuine tourist attractions in the world and a whole lot of tourists wanting to see them and a whole lot of tourist destinations keen to provide entertainment. So quite a few attractions have to be dreamt up by the locals. A few days ago we took a guided tour. The bus driver/guide was interesting and we would have missed out had we not had the chance to see the other side of the island, but the things we were invited to wonder at were really not very wonderful. A small cave; a small blow-hole; the Gaugin museum has not got a single original, nor had the rather nicer museum on Hiva-Oa. We consider ourselves very fortunate to be in a position to do our trip by small boat. Our little excursions into bays, villages and small supermarkets, however ordinary, are a genuine round the world experience. We have also benefited enormously from the friendships developed on route and the low-key camaraderie among the cruising fraternity (and sorority).
When the weather improves we plan to visit Moorea where South Pacific was filmed, only ten miles away. There we shall be looking out for suave French planters and crowds of sailors in white caps and bell bottoms declaring in unison that “there ain't nothing like a dame”! Then it's Bora-Bora, said by some to be the most beautiful island in the world, and Rarotonga in the Cook Islands. In the meantime we are spending happy hours planning our all too short trip back to Europe after Christmas.