Friday, June 17, 2011

Tubuai : Finally!

Well here we are at last : Tubuai, safe and sound! What a grueling marathon that turned out to be - getting here from NZ I mean, not from Rurutu - that went pretty smoothly, the decks remained dry the whole time and we dropped anchor at about 9.30 am local time. The sunset last night, and sunrise this morning were spectacular. Coming in through the passage in the reef was heart in mouth stuff for me - they say you're supposed to have someone at the bow looking for coral, and be doing it with the sun behind you and Polaroid glasses…the Cruising Guide talked about "threading" your way through the coral outcrops to find an anchorage …I made a "mud map" yesterday to help me, and that was it! There were of course markers and buoys to guide you and I stuck to the middle of the route, went really slowly - like 2 knots- and there were no problems. (A mud map is a map you hand draw with the basics features on it to remind you what to look out for and where) I've shifted anchorage twice - the first because I wasn't sure we were holding and the second time to a more sheltered spot in the lee of the concrete wharf structure - Sapphire was rolling like crazy at the other spot, it was almost impossible to do anything on board, and after I'd been for a walk and sussed out the other side of this wharf decided to move there and its heaps better.

Yes I went ashore almost dead on my feet, to look for Customs. By the time I got to the Police Station it was closed for lunch so I wandered half dead along the road and saw a lady selling food from the back of her little car. Whatever it was I was having some - It was Poisson Cru again (raw fish) and baguette and a can of juice for 1000XPF. Other women there asked me to come into the shade of their building to sit and eat, which I did, and then realized I was sitting in the courtyard of their very tiny Hospital, and the women buying food were three nurses.. They said there is no Doctor on the island and I said yes there is! So then they became even more helpful and one , seeing how tired I was asked if I would like to rest in the clinic room while waiting for the Police, so I laid on their bed and went to sleep! I woke after 20 minutes and left to see the Police, but not before agreeing to come back tomorrow so they could show me round the Hospital!

Tubuai is a very small and obviously very friendly place. Its striking to look at from the sea, as there are two mountain peaks with a wide smooth valley drooping down from one to the other. The southern peaks are like the comb of a rooster, 3 massive vertical rocky crags thrusting up from the steep flanks of the mountain. The northern mountain is equally high but less spectacular. Surrounding the two mountains is a flat rim of land, where all the settlements are, then a sandy palm fringed beach with traditional canoes scattered along, the lagoon - bright blue - and then well out a white rim of crashing surf at the edge of the reef. It is not a tourist destination as far as I can tell - there are no facilities for visitors, there are no other yachts here, it is very quiet.

My plan is to stay a few days here and get some rest. This morning, walking along that road I felt utterly exhausted, physically and emotionally, and I felt the full weight of the challenge of being a solo sailor. What I am missing the most at present is company, the language difficulties mean I can hardly have anything but the most superficial of chats to all the friendly people I meet, and that doesn't really satisfy. I am also missing a really dry bed and pillow.

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