10 August 2010
Don't forget to wear your frangipani behind the correct ear.
The days turned into weeks as Fandango was stuck in the marina and I tried to get numerous things repaired. Yanmar finally agreed to honour its warranty on the gear box as well as paying for a major realignment. It seems that Jeanneau may have installed the wrong gearbox in some boats. Yanmar in Tahiti and Melbourne have been very helpful. So too Sheppard's, the selling dealer in Gibraltar. Details are on the Jeanneau Owners website. However not a word from Jeanneau.
The main has three reefing points and has been up and down like a whore's drawers for many months now. I succumbed to single line reefing because it was so much easier for a single person on watch, eyeing approaching squalls or changes in wind strength. However, there is a price to pay for convenience and off to the sailmaker she went. It takes longer than expected and the price quoted was a mistake. More hassle.
The water was the clearest I have ever seen in a marina. Just as well, because Brad and I dived in it trying to fix the rudder on Ghost. In the evenings some people were even pushed or fell into it.
The jam sessions and well lubricated evenings continued while we all waited. It made me grin every time we went to the Dinghy Bar and ordered "une grande blonde, s'il vous plait". A BBQ outside one boat spilled over into a big party on a monster gin palace. I found it surprisingly easy to access the non-party areas of the boat. It was more like a ship. It was a heavy night and I was one of those who lost their shoes. Perry's, they looked good on the top but the soles had gone and were peeling off anyway. I hope you trip over in them whoever you are!
Papeete has some strange sights. One was in a small park with a memorial to the eminent Bougainville, who gave his name to the plant, and two guns from WWI were displayed. A chicken wandered around, an escapee from the adjoining shantytown, but waving at passers-by was the fattest woman I have ever seen. She sat on a bench in tight slacks and a bra that would be useful when going to the supermarket. You have to buy polythene bags here.
Visitors to French Polynesia will notice that there are three sexes here. Traditionally, I was told, the first born male was brought up as a female or mahu. The chiefs often kept one or two handy. There are also raerae and other transvestite and homosexual subcultures but it's a bit complicated, so you had better Google it. If you were tempted to the "dark" side of town after sunset (see previous blog) you would find some of these charming people, amongst others, ready to help you spend your money on a good time. You meet mahus in many roles eg as waitresses. On the other hand, some males wear their hair tied up but they are definitely males and have the necessary tribal tattoos. It must have been very confusing for Cap'n Cook's lads.
It has been three months since we all met up in Panama. After nearly three weeks tied up here, the crew's cash was getting low. If repairs took any longer, I was thinking of wintering here and having more time next year. Edo was still mildly ill after picking up a parasite in Isabella (Galapagos) and flew to Australia to get it sorted out and secure a job. Fab and Shirley, normally professional crew, have been hired by two posh boats that we have been meeting up with along the way. Surprisingly, suitable crew here were as scarce as hen's teeth. We will meet up with them again in Tonga but the money was too good and they are likely to stay on. Had we been able to drop in just for a look around and supplies, things might have been different.
Anyway, Fandango can now motor forwards again and new crew are on the way. A few stops in the Society Islands, including Bora Bora, and then direct to Tonga where Heather joins me for the trip to Fiji. Aitutaki, Raratonga and Niue would have been nice but anchorages are not good in two of them. Also I need to get back onto schedule so that Heather doesn't have long to wait in Tonga. I don't think a bone through her nose would suit her. After Fiji, it's Vanuatu and New Caledonia before heading for Mackay, Queensland. So many islands to see.