The best part of being in Opua was being able to reconnect with so many of our cruising friends. Every day – often more than once a day – we'd run into people we knew. Some, we'd last seen in a tiny South Pacific island anchorage months before; others, in a marina back in Mexico more than a year ago; still others, someplace in-between. We'd met some cruisers in person for the first time, after talking with them on the radio while at sea; yet it still felt like we were already old friends. We shared dinners and sundowners, stories and photos, laughs and gasps, advice and rides to the grocery store, and enjoyed the easy camaraderie that comes along with the cruising life.
The crowded dinghy dock
After almost two years of living in the tropics, the crew of SCOOTS is having to reacclimate to life in the temperate zone. It's different here. Mostly, we notice the sheer amount of clothes that must be worn, to ward off the chill. Though we haven't yet stooped to the level of wearing "foot prisons" – what our tropical cruising friend, Leslie, from s/v Sonrisa, calls shoes – I have been wearing socks ("foot straitjackets" seems appropriate) with my sandals; Eric hasn't succumbed to that yet. The former Captain and Admiral Underpants have been wearing sweatshirts, and usually opt for blue jeans now, instead of shorts or less.
The first time we've worn foulies in a couple of years!
And forget about drying off on deck after a shower. Flannel PJs are the attire of choice at bedtime, and there's a comforter on the bed. My good friend, Sarah, who lives on s/v Batu, knitted me a beautiful hat to help keep my head and ears warm. I've been enjoying it very much. Thank you, Sarah!
Van bundled up
Our jar of coconut oil has solidified into a white chunk for the first time in months, and the butter scarcely softens if left out of the fridge. A cold beer or limonada doesn't seem quite as refreshing as it once did; we appreciate the warming effects of rum and port now.
Good news! We took our torn Code 0 sail to the North Sails loft in Opua (you may remember that our Code 0 shredded itself, and tossed our foredeck light into the ocean, during our passage from Mexico to the Marquesas...PPJ Day 13 - April 15, 2016 blog entry).
The sailmaker pronounced it "repairable." He suspects we'll get maybe five more years out of it, after he's fixed it. Hooray!
One day, we took a walk along a beautiful shoreside path from the tiny town of Opua, where SCOOTS was anchored, to the small town of Paihia.
It was a good walk, taking us a couple of hours. Living on a boat, we don't get much opportunity to exercise our legs – our arms, yes; our cores, yes; our inner ears, yes; our legs, not so much – so we try to walk whenever we can.
Along the Opua-Paihia Trail
When we arrived in Paihia, we sought out a spot for lunch, and then hung around for a few more hours to take in the annual Christmas parade. While we waited, we walked around town...we perused a bookstore and gift shops, Eric got a haircut (where the woman cutting his hair told us about a new gourmet ice cream shop's grand opening that very afternoon, at which they would be giving away free ice cream), we found the ice cream shop and had some free ice cream, and then, it was time for the parade.
This year's parade, with the theme, Paihia Under the Sea!, was a charming small-town event, complete with flatbed trucks converted into extravagant homemade floats, each carrying a load of adorable little kids wearing homemade sea creature costumes;
the town's big old fire engine; and the requisite Santa in his sleigh (yes, it's nearly summer here and snow is unknown in these parts, but it's a tough icon to ignore).
Ho ho ho, mate!