The evening before I left Raiatea I went back aboard Sapphire for one last check, and one last nostalgic review of life aboard over the previous five months. But I found myself not thinking about the boat so much as about the sea and about the places I had been and the people I had encountered along the way. I looked at the chart on which I had marked a blue X every day plotting our progress from New Zealand to Rurutu and it seemed such a long time ago it was hardly real to me - those 24 days at sea were a blur of sail changes, waves, meals, sleeps, getting into and out of the harness and tether, mopping up and emptying buckets of bilge water, day and night, reading and writing email, radio checks, weather checks and log and blog entries, some emotional lows and highs - but essentially few specific crystal clear memories, excpet of departing and arriving. I think this is because to a large extent every day is the same, but with minor variations, so every days recollection is overlain with the next days minor variation of waves and wind, meals, sail changes and feelings, till they all merge and individual details disappeaar. I did however recall more clearly, but still in a sort of generic way the last week when the wind and seas were consistently more challenging than I had ever sailed in except for a few hours at a time, and also that last day when I motorsailed to Rurutu, bashing into the wind and waves at 2 knots for 16 hours and being drenched most of the time. The memory which most often came to mind was the first person I had seen in 24 days, that man in his fishing runabout out off the reef early in the morning as I approached Rurutu. A very simple image, but seeing another human being had a profound effect.
Back at Sunset Beach I watched the last Sunset of my stay, and in the morning flew to Papeete through low cloud, and from there the next night to Auckland, cloud and darkness denying me even a brief glimpse of the seas I had sailed across so laboriously and anxiously. Six hours in a plane and I was back in New Zealand!
I am changing the look of the Blog slightly because though I will continue to Post to it, it wont be about sailing again until I get back to Sapphire next year. In the meantime I will be visiting family and friends, getting a little work in Australia and then late in September going to Ethiopia for three months, not as a tourist but as volunteer to work in a small isolated hospital, in an environment that from what Ive read is about as unlike French Polynesia as it could possibly be - except perhaps for the heat. The next beginning...
|In with the Big Boys|