Ted's Great Adventure
28 March 2009 | Anaho Bay, Nuku Hiva, Marquesas
Characters flow in and out of our lives on Zen, like the tide. This one requires full disclosure because the story is so interesting, it needed to be shared. Tadeosz, or Ted, as he calls himself w/his American friends, is kind of stuck on his boat in Anaho Bay in Nuku Hiva. His engine is seized, but that's not stopping him from his departure in about 2 weeks, when the winds move in his favor and blow him to American Samoa about 1,900 miles away. Having engine problems is the smallest part of his story. I awoke at 7:00a with full intentions of acquiring baguettes for the hungry family. Tom readied the dinghy. He was about to fire up the outboard motor, but was greeted by an older man, donning a captain's hat, in very fit condition, with traditional Marquesan tattoos and a tan. He was rowing his dinghy, bearing a bag of citrus and was all smiles. He made it clear no bread was for sale ashore in the little village, but the other town, about an hour's hike away, may have some available. We cooled our jets, and settled in to hearing his odyssey. Ted's Amazing Adventure began in Poland, his homeland, when mentioning it, still brings tears to his eyes. He sold secret maps to the CIA in exchange for American passports for himself, his wife and two sons. In Italy, just outside of Rome, he received the golden passports, a monthly pension and a prepaid apartment, courtesy of the US. While hiding out, planning his pilgrimage to America, he helped some inexperienced Italian sailors, who were struggling with their vessel. The Italians abandoned the boat, much to Ted's delight. He and his sons slowly took possession, cared for, and eventually sold the sailboat. Ted's wife was always keen on moving her family to America, the land of opportunity. They relocated to Philadelphia and opened a jewelry store. Ted is a jeweler by trade. Here the story gets a little fuzzy. Somehow in the late 90's, the store was closed, one son became a general in the US Air Force, another went to university, and his wife returned to Poland, where Tadeosz was granted a multi-acre plot of land near the southern border. Ted did not stay in Poland, he ended up working as a jeweler in Hawaii, where he found a wooden boat, sawed off its top half, and used the shell as a mold for the boat you see above in the photo. He spent over a year building his vessel, with plans of sailing to New Zealand, where his employer had contacts and could guarantee him a job upon arrival. Here comes the big part of Ted's Big Adventure. About one year ago, Ted cut the cord and singlehanded his vessel from Hawaii to Nuku Hiva, Marquesas. Unfortunately for him, the winds were not favorable, nor was the current. He'd sail 50 miles forward per day, only to lose the headway to the opposing current. He was basically treading water, until one day, when he lost his jib halyard up the mast. This is not good. He needed to climb up the mast and pull it back down in order to hoist his headsail. At a point very high in the air, he fell, smashed upon the deck of the boat and fell unconscious. When he awoke, he was pleased to be alive and able to move his limbs. Breathing was terribly painful and his whole left side from his waist to his neck was black. Ribs, broken. Internal bleeding with potential for infection, most probable. Ted immediately started a 2 week course of antibiotics. Soon, he was turning the telltale colors of yellow and brown. Thinking he had enough strength to retrieve the halyard, he tried again. To no avail. He continued his sail, not expecting to run out of food and water, which is exactly what happened about a week from the Marquesas, two-and-a-half months into his epic journey. The only thing he had left was glucose bags, which he administered to himself, one a day via intravenous, every day for 6 days. During this time, a mother whale and her baby visited him for a period of 6 hours. Ted talked to the large serene whale's eye, that was only a few feet from his boat, praying the mom would bring him help. He had lost a tremendous amount of weight and all his strength, when he limped into Anaho Bay. Hollering, which was a major effort, "Help, help!" another cruising boat saw him, immediately went over by dinghy and helped nurse him to health. This was 7 months ago. He has not moved since and has integrated himself into island culture. While here, a mother whale and her baby meandered into Anaho Bay. Was it one in the same? Ted, now healthy and already planning his next great adventure, wonders the same thing. Quite a story. Is there exaggeration in this tale? Quite possibly. But I must admit, just listening to this man's story is ridiculously entertaining. How often do we get to meet such characters? This one, a friendly man, bearing fruits, has certainly gotten the "Most Creative Storytelling Award" from the Zen crew. PS. And speaking of crew, our friend, Don departed for the USA today. We are back to the original family foursome, to continue the remaining 3,500 miles to New Zealand over the next 6 months.