Ive done my volunteer work and Ive finished working for money for a while, so now with my Boat Fund topped up, I'm on my way back to Raiatea Carenage and Sapphire in French Polynesia after a couple of weeks visiting friends and family in Sydney and in New Zealand. This has involved far too many restaurant dinners and beer and (mostly NZ) wine, and complete abandonment of the diet I started on after a long chat to a dietitian in Darwin about why the kilos I lost in Ethiopia were piling themselves straight back on. It was actually a very useful exercise to record every single thing ingested each day and count up the Kilojoules of energy consumed, and thereby discover how little there are in a rice cake with some low fat cottage cheese on it compared to say a chocolate biscuit, or indeed, an avocado which though containing no cholesterol never-the-less has lots of energy.
A curious Leather Jacket
The camera I took to Ethiopia got dust in it while there and I was told it could be cleaned but instead I bought a new one that is waterproof to 12 meters underwater and dust and shock proof. I tried it out a few days ago, along with new flippers and mask and snorkel when I went snorkelling off a Northland beach up near the Bay of Islands. I was with someone who described me as his oldest friend - by which he means the friend he has had longer than any other friend - and in fact by that measure he is also MY oldest friend - we met at school in 1966. He now lives only a mile or two from that very school, part retired after making his money in Real Estate, and indulges at every opportunity his enduring and infectious passion for fishing and diving and for the marvellous Northland Coastline, whose every nook and cranny that might contain a crayfish Hilton knows like the back of his hand.
Hilton and a Puffer Fish
I am looking forward to seeing Sapphire again. In the past whenever I have been away from her for any length of time I return expecting to find her a mess and be disappointed, but invariably - to date at least - when I get back to her I feel a rekindling of great affection, and I am again impressed by her lines, like I was when I first saw her in Pittwater near Sydney in August 2006, nearly six years ago. At that time I was still learning to sail, but I asked the Broker, Jason, if he thought Sapphire was the sort of boat that could cross the Tasman Sea., because that was what I was learning to sail for, and what I needed a Yacht for. "East Coast 31's are great sea boats" he said, somewhat diplomatically, and it was something I was to hear again and again,and now have discovered for myself. Never-the-less I am allowing myself at least a month to get sailing again, because I am sure to find things that need sorting in addition to the ones I already have on my list, and these jobs never get completed on time.I dont want to feel under any more pressure to get going than I soon will be looking from Sapphire over the pacific ocean to the north western horizon where in plain view sits reputedly the most beautiful island in the world, Bora Bora. My next port of call!