Sunday, May 27, 2018

The Gambiers (French Polynesia)

[Kyle]Once arriving in French Polynesia we needed to present ourselves at the local police station to officially clear in. The Gendarmerie turned out to be closed for a ridiculously long lunch, so we killed time until they reopened by exploring the town. That turned out to be a big mistake because, by the time the Gendarmerie opened up again, we had seen everything in the town at least twice since that was the nature of our out-and-back route. Rikitea is mostly houses. They have the Gendarmerie, the Mayor’s office, a giant church, a Post Office and three stores, one of which has a small cafĂ© on the side which comprises the town’s only restaurant. We chatted with a few other boaters who were leaving as they closed for lunch (Yep, you read that right), and they gave it mediocre reviews before making a decrement for price. We should have spread it out. Now we had nothing left to see the next day.

We've arrived back in French Polynesia

Rikitea on the Island of Mangareva
The main town of the Gambiers

Still not ready to go back to the boat, we wandered out of town in search of Fritz. Fritz is a man whose name is not anything remotely like Fritz, but he’s German, so everybody calls him Fritz. He served in the Foreign Legion during some war, probably World War I, and then sailed to Rikitea, where he’s been welcoming boaters ever since. When I met him, he explained to me in French that he didn’t speak English and then tried to converse with me in German and Russian. Every time I tried to steer him back to French, he kept going back to German because he seemed to be convinced it would be easier for me that way. I guess in a way it was, because I don’t even pretend I understand German. On top of this, he is a little hard of hearing and he loves to watch German music videos, so I would shout at him in French while he would shout at me in German as the TV blared in the background. At length, I was able to ascertain that he would like us to consider ourselves welcome to do laundry, take showers and fill our water jugs on the condition that we do them all in the morning. He explained,”I’m old. I sleep in the afternoon.” Fair enough.

So, no sleeping in the next day, then.

At first light, I rowed Maryanne, two big bags of laundry that has been piling up since Chile and all of our water jugs way over to Fritz’s house across a long shallow barely deep enough for the oars. Maryanne enjoyed the luxury of all of the fresh water she could want to rinse the shampoo out of her thick hair and started the laundry while I filled the jugs and began a series of several trips to fill our water tanks. Fritz’s music was actually a great navigation aid. Facing backwards wile rowing, all I had to do was wait until the music was loud and to my right and then turn toward it. Fritz was telling Maryanne stories of derring do in German, of which she understands a little. Even I understood he was flirting with her. How do you say, “If I were thirty years younger…” in German?

The local Cathedral is the largest in the South Pacific islands
A crazy investment of resources for an island with such a tiny population

On about my fifth water run, Chris from Nemo came by and told me he discovered there was a potable water tap at the beach right in front of Begonia. The trip could be made with about five strokes of the oars. That allowed me to top up the tanks while saving an hour doing exercise in the midday tropical sun.

I used the time to row over to the Grocery store/restaurant to pick up a few things. Chris mentioned he got some fuel there as well, so I brought a couple of jerry cans, just in case. After getting the groceries, I asked about the fuel and was led by a ridiculously tall and fit guy to a bunch of 200 liter drums behind a shack. He got out a hose, opened a few caps to find the drum with diesel, and then shined a light down the hole to see how much was there. It was too empty to siphon from directly, so he replaced the cap, tilted the drum so he could get a better grip and lifted the whole drum and placed it on its side on top of the others. That way the hole would be closer to the fuel level. Big deal, Showoff! Those drums only weigh about fifty pounds, plus maybe a little bit extra for the fuel. How much fuel was in there, anyway? He spun the barrel and opened the cap. It was half full. Half a barrel of diesel weighs about 200 pounds – oh yeah, plus the barrel. That dude just threw a 250lb barrel of fuel on top of another as if he were tossing a bean bag chair into the back of a truck.

As the diesel flowed into our jerry cans, we chatted a bit. He asked about America. The poor guy did not know we had had an election since the last one he had heard about in 2008. I tried to explain it to him, but I just couldn’t get it across properly in French. I didn’t want to try too hard. He seemed to have a beautiful tropical paradise in his head.

I asked him what he liked to do for fun. He lit up. He’s a dancer! Yep, one of THOSE dancers. He said his troupe would be in the Heiva on Mangareva. After that, they will be in Tahiti at the big Heiva there. No wonder he’s in such amazing shape! He taught me a couple of simple moves and I promptly dislocated everything below my neck. I’m sure if I tried one of those Haka chants, my jaw would have gone as well.

When the jugs were full, I picked them up to carry them back to the dinghy. He offered to take them for me, but I said I didn’t mind the exercise. He insisted, though, so I put them down. Then he picked them up and took off Fruit Race style in a full run, all while looking happy and really, really, really, ridiculously good looking. That’s it! Maryanne is not allowed to go to that store for anything!

On my last trip to pick up Maryanne and the laundry, I brought a few goodies for Fritz at Maryanne’s request. He seemed especially happy with the cheeses (the only cheese available in most of FP is heavily processed, Velveeta type stuff). In return, he gave us a couple of German sausages and showed us where the ladder was so we could strip his pamplemouse tree. Then it was all hugs and kisses and Bon Voyages and we left him to his nap.

Guests aboard Begonia

For the evening, we hosted Chris and Elayne for dinner. We spent the night trading stories. We told him about that time we had difficulty finding parking near the door at Costco and he told us the one about when he and Elayne were held by the Taliban and held captive for three days. That guy can talk! He was just getting warmed up when Elayne elbowed him in the ribs and reminded him we should have all been in bed a long time ago. Time really does fly when you’re having fun. I had hardly noticed myself, but it was all I could do to not doze off while doing the dishes.

The weather really wasn’t cooperating for moving west, so weeks of lingering in the Gambiers were curtailed to days. Not being able to think about anything else to do in Rikitea and eager to see some more of the group, we pulled up the anchor and went looking for a little more seclusion.

We motored around to the north side of the adjacent island of Taravai and anchored as the only boat in Onemea Bay. We had a perfect little tropical paradise all to ourselves. The bay was ringed with a white sand beach, above which sloped a steep wall of coconut palms and trees laden with tropical fruits. In the bay with us were lots of colorful fish darting around labyrinths of coral.

Some tranquil scenes in Taravai
Kyle undergoes some repairs under the boat!

Paradise lasted until about midnight. The wind picked up. We should have been protected from it but, rather than block it, the topography of the island bent it around and blew it straight into our bay. We were pushed so our stern was only three or four meters from coral that was breaking the surface. We got terrible sleep after that so we decided to move to the bigger bay next door as soon as it got light out.

It was also beautiful and also had no signs of human habitation, but we were a bit too far from the beach and the coral to be able to just pop over. Still, it was a perfect place to lie out on the trampoline at night with the trade winds cooling us off and bathing in the light of the full moon.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Passage to the Gambiers

[Kyle]The morning we planned to leave Pitcairn we woke early and popped our heads outside to check that Begonia and Nemo were in their same locations. Nemo was nowhere to be found. Concerned that we had either swung some unexpected direction or dragged to a new location, We went on deck and did a full 360 to see if all of our other reference points lined up. They did.

A more detailed search with binoculars revealed Nemo already most of the way to the horizon and just about to disappear behind the cliffs to our north. I guess Chris couldn’t sleep and decided to just get on with it and leave before daybreak. He does that.

Nemo and Begonia taking the same passage (Is that a Race?)

We had our anchor stowed an hour later after having breakfast and were now in hot pursuit. They had about a ten mile head start, but we can usually sail faster than monohulls even a few feet longer than us, so I figured we could catch them by afternoon. Nemo and Begonia have almost the same waterline length.

They sailed out of range of our AIS receiver and then reappeared twenty minutes later. Ten minutes after that, they disappeared again. We would get a good gust of wind, speed up and their little icon would pop up. A few minutes later, it would reach them and they would pull away again.

I tried every trick I knew for three days and we never could close the gap. Oh, if only our Secret Weapon hadn’t blown out on the way to Easter, we could have zinged right by them without having to hardly lift a finger to adjust anything. Who am I kidding? The minute they saw our spinnaker, theirs would have gone up too, and they would have remained an unapproachable purple speck on the horizon. Chris is so competitive. {Maryanne: Someone here certainly is.. Ha!}

We had to wait until daylight to enter the pass

The winds were frustratingly less than forecast and when it became apparent that neither of us would make it there by nightfall; we both slowed down and joined up for some formation heaving-to until daybreak. In the wee hours, the running calculation that’s always going in my head told me it was time to stop going sideways and start steering under bare poles to the pass. Our getaway was so slow that I don’t think our friends realized what had happened until I called them at sunrise and said, “Hey, are you guys coming or what?”

“What.”, “You go ahead. We’ll meet you inside.”

We entered the pass on the northwest side of the Gambier group. It was straightforward, apart from the part where the depth goes REALLY fast from a zillion to 5m in just a few boat lengths. The bottom is white sand with black coral heads everywhere and it just suddenly appears out of deep blue water. The water is so clear, it looks like the depths are half of what they are. It was tempting to panic and slam the boat into reverse, but we were dead center in the channel, right between the buoys, so I decided to take a deep breath, trust the chart and press on.

The depth stayed as advertised, plus or minus a meter or so as we passed over coral heads, and then dropped back down into the featureless blue of the twenties and thirties. We were in.

We followed the marked channel as it wound its way around the island of Mangareva and occasionally passed over similar shallow patches just to keep us on our toes. On the other side, we found the well-protected anchorage of the island’s only town, Rikitea.

The anchorage is protected on two sides by high land and the rest by coral reefs skimming the surface and is accessed through a very narrow and winding channel. Between the coral are three or four large patches of sand down between fifteen and twenty meters down. These depths need a lot of swinging room and as such, there was only room for about a dozen boats to anchor without risking bumping into each other. We headed over to a big open spot behind the eleventh boat and perfectly centered in it found a float for a fish trap. Grr! Now we were on anchoring plan B: Find a spot where we are not likely to bump another boat IF the wind doesn’t shift or, if it does, hope we all swing the same direction at the same time. We squeezed between the float and another boat, erring as much as we dared on the side of the float. That got us the stink-eye from our neighbor, not so much because of the small chance we would present an actual hazard to them, but because our swinging circles overlapped. In boats, the swinging circle is effectively the boundary of personal space, so we just invaded their personal space as if we had just set up a picnic on the corner of their front lawn.

An hour or so later, Nemo came in, milled around a bit and set up a picnic on our front porch. I would have complained and sent them off, but we knew full well that they had nowhere else they could go either, so we decided to keep a real close eye on the weather for any unexpected changes and hope for the best.

After my very early morning, I had expected to run out of energy as soon as the anchor dropped, but I was still going pretty strong so I tackled the job of de-lifeboating the dinghy a day earlier than planned. This left us free to go ashore and get our inbound clearance out of the way, which would remove the onerous task from the next day’s chores.

{Maryanne: We're finally back in French Polynesia and in the tropics - water to swim in, French Baguettes, and coconuts galore!}

Friday, May 18, 2018

Ashore at Pitcairn

[Kyle]The swell had died down significantly during our second night after arriving at Pitcairn Island. Still, after seeing the longboats come in the day before, both us and Nemo decided the $50 (each) fee to have a longboat skipper come out and retrieve us was preferable to risking our dinghies and our necks trying it ourselves.

Aboard Nemo were Chris and Elayne. Elayne was having some orthopedic trouble and didn’t feel up to making the big timed jump into the longboat as it came alongside Nemo, so it was just us and Chris for the day.

Arrived at Pitcairn

The local boats are stored in the boatsheds in the tiny harbour

We were met at the harbor by Charlene and a couple of others, who greeted us with hugs and placed leis made of seashells around our necks. We were then invited to hop on board their muddy quad bikes for the trip up the Hill of Difficulty to the town square for clearance, where we were met by more friendly people.

Pitcairn is a lot prettier and more lush than I expected. There were lots of flowers everywhere. The place had the atmosphere of a giant botanic garden. Still, it felt a little weird to be there. Since Pitcairn only has fifty-six residents, every last one of them is famous to anyone who has read anything about the island. The last thing we had read was Kathy Marks’ book, Paradise Lost, detailing the 2005 trials for sex crimes that seem to have been occurring for their entire history since the Bounty. We recognized the names of those who had taken sides one way or the other during the scandal and it was hard to make friendly chit chat knowing what we knew about their personal histories. Maryanne observed that nearly every woman we met with a position of power had been ones who had defended the men with the predominant ‘boys will be boys’ argument.

We met the Constable, a lovely Scottish Woman from the outer Hebrides, serving her two year term on the island. She was very forthright and open about the situation and we all agreed the best thing to come from the trials was to shine a big light on the problem and thus hopefully break the cycle. New children still aren’t allowed on the island and the three that are left are watched very closely.

First sights and scenery, along with some exposure to the Pitkern language and the bells once used to signal to the population any news (before VHF)

Once we had cleared in, Chris, Maryanne and I set to walking as much of the little island as we could for our day ashore. Pitcairn is less than two square miles, so you would think we could have made short work of it, but it is extremely rugged and it quickly became clear we would have to pick and chose what we wanted to see.

St Pools Pool was a little rough on the day we visited, but the walk was great.
Bounty treasures are dotted everywhere (including this cannon)

We started by walking to Ha Point, where we were able to climb out onto a narrow ridge and sit upon rocks perched high above Bounty Bay, with Begonia, Nemo and the supply ship far below. Chris called Elayne on his handheld VHF and told her where we were. We all waved our arms like crazy, but Nemo was so far away, she couldn’t make us out and we couldn’t see her. Oh, well. On to the next thing, St Paul’s Pool.

It was a bit of a walk and to keep us entertained, we asked Chris what was his story.

He’s an interesting guy. He is one of those people possessed of an almost insatiable need to tinker with and modify every mechanical thing within his reach. He was constantly asking us for advice as he kept referring to himself and Elayne as “new to sailing”. “New to Sailing” in their case meant that they had ‘just’ bought their boat five years ago in France and had ‘only’ sailed it this far, across an ocean and a half. Hey, Chris, I think it has probably been safe to take off the old training wheels for a while now.

The real reason he thinks he’s new at all of this is that he and Elayne had spent the previous seven years traveling by road. It wasn’t the usual drive the Trans-Canadian Highway or to visit as many National Parks as you can type of driving, although they did that. Their trip took them to over 160 countries on all six continents that have roads, including a lot of places not on tourist routes like Libya and Afghanistan. His stories would make a war correspondent cringe. Not only did they do all of that, but they did it living on and in a car he had built himself from parts of other cars he found in scrapyards. He wanted it to be fixable anywhere, so it had manual brakes, manual steering ,manual clutch and an engine that could be started by hand if necessary. He says sailing comes less naturally to him, so he still feels new to it.

We walked past Pitcairn’s only beach at Down Rope, where Nemo had sheltered for three days. It was easy to see why they hadn’t scaled the spray covered cliffs to come ashore until now. Further on, we descended a staircase of a few hundred steps to St. Paul’s Pool. St. Paul’s is supposed to be the only swimming hole on the island and we were looking forward to a refreshing dip after our long, hot walk. The swell crashing through the gap between the entrance rocks was forceful enough that that day, the place would be more appropriately named Certain Death. It was pretty, though, so we scrambled over the rocks above and enjoyed the views.

Eco Trail and Christian's Cave

We climbed back up the stairs and then took a meandering route across muddy roads to an eco trail culminating at Christian’s Cave. The cave is where Fletcher Christian reputedly made daily scans for pursuing Royal Navy ships or others with which they might be able to trade. The first part of the trail was lovely, but the last few hundred meters to the cave involved climbing a sheer rock face at a forty-five degree angle. The view from up there was great, but not much more so than the one slightly lower down. I guess the point was that the cave was an ideal location to scan without being seen. Lurker’s Cave.

Getting down was quite scary. My shoes seem to have about a forty-five and a half degree traction limit, so I took the safe precaution of crab walking all of the way down on my hands and feet. It must have looked funny, but almost doubled the surface area I had stuck to the rock face.

Back in town (Adamstown), we found most of the island at the store unpacking containers and inventorying them. We located one of the people we recognized from the morning and announced our readiness to take our weary, muddy bodies back to our boats. In the meantime, we found a couple of things at the store that everybody swore to us wasn’t earmarked for others and walked to the harbor.

The prison is now mostly a tourist shop and a few random offices (with showers)

"All Hands" when the supply ship finally delivers
and we manage to score with a desperately needed new pair of shoes for Kyle

A few minutes later, several quads arrived. The boat was launched and we were given hugs goodbye. We had ordered some fresh produce from Shawn Christian. Rather than ask for specific things, Maryanne had just told him to give us a variety of what they could spare with a $40 limit.

We depart from the dock with a ton of provisions
find places for them all aboard ready for the next passage

As the boat went in the water, a woman showed up with a quad covered in veggies. We thought we were going to be asked to select what we wanted, but the whole lot was for us. Chris’ order came on a different quad. For forty bucks, we ended up with a mountain of lettuce, a few tomatoes, lots of cucumbers, onions, too many eggplants and some fresh herbs – WAY more than we could ever get for that in a grocery store. We were also given two large (and heavy) stalks of bananas, each with about 100 fruits. They were little Apple Bananas, not the big, Stodgy Cavendishes like Chiquitas, but that was still a lot. I had two or three every time I was just the slightest bit puckish, but it still took a while to get through them, even when Maryanne helped by making daily banana muffins.

We made the jumps back to our boats and then our haul was tossed over to us. We were safely back aboard after a busy day. The harbor was much calmer. Between that and all of our exertion, we slept much better than the night before.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Passage to Pitcairn

[Kyle]The noise and motion at Hanga Roa had me awake well before it got light out. I made a last check on the weather and did what little remained to be done in the dark for our departure. Maryanne joined me a little while later and at the very first hint of daylight, we started pulling up our anchor.

Passage to Pitcairn Island

It was a real ordeal. Begonia was pitching up and down wildly, sending spray and occasionally green water over the bows. The wind made it hard to keep the boat straight unless I was actively steering her with the help of asymmetric power. The floats we had attached to the rode to keep our line and chain above the coral had a tendency to head for our propellers if they weren’t caught just as they went under the trampoline. In order to do this while Maryanne was operating the windlass, I had to take Begonia out of gear and run forward, to which she invariably responded by slewing sideways and threatening to turn the whole mess into a tangle. It was a huge relief when Maryanne reported that the anchor had left the bottom.

We left the anchorage in reverse so that the trip line float would stream forward and not toward the props. Maryanne pulled it in, we spun around the right direction, and we were out of there.

The wind was not favorable for the trip to Pitcairn, but since there was now no safe anchorage on Easter, we had no choice but to leave into the rain and strong headwinds of a passing front. It was miserable to be sure, but no more so than the anchorage and now we no longer had the stress of worrying about dragging ashore.

By noon, the wind shifted from NNW to SW and we were able to turn on course, ease the sheets and go fast. The wind held for four more days and we were able put in just under 200 miles for each of them.

Slowly the wind began to die off, and then it shifted back to headwinds again. They were short lived, but turned the seas into a sloppy mess. The new tailwinds weren’t quite as strong and our swinging mast caused the sails to bang back and forth as they alternately filled and collapsed.

We had originally planned our route to pass near to two uninhabited outlying islands in the Pitcairn Group, Ducie and Henderson, hoping to get a close look at them or possibly even fit in a stop. Updated forecasts indicated our window of tailwinds would be ending soon. That and our reduced speed made us scrap Henderson and limit Ducie to a quick pass. Ducie is a large atoll and we were hoping for at least a few hours reprieve from the relentless southern swell as we passed through its lee. When we got there late in the afternoon of Day 7, Ducie revealed itself as a low line of trees on the horizon, but did not seem to have any mitigating effect on the seas. It was now looking like we would have to sail as fast as we could on a direct course to make Pitcairn before sunset two days later.

We didn’t make it. Thirty miles out, with only three hours of daylight remaining, we called Charlene, the Deputy Mayor, to ask about conditions in Bounty Bay. We were really hoping she would tell us there is a huge patch of sand at such and such location, with no hazards, but we had no such luck. Once we were done with her, Nemo called us. They had arrived three days earlier and had been hiding from the winds on the far side of the island since. They had just moved to Bounty Bay and confirmed that it was far too rocky to be able to find a spot to put the anchor at night. Armed with all of this new information, we decided to slow way down and heave to just off the island until morning.

When Maryanne handed Begonia over to me at midnight, I thought about it for a while and decided it would be more fun and interesting to do some sailing. That would also help me stay awake. I decided to circumnavigate Pitcairn Island.

By morning, we were close hauled with two reefs in each sail as we came around Adam’s Rock into view of Bounty Bay. It was a mess. 2-3m swell was rolling through and exploding into spray on the rocks.

Nemo looked to be having a miserable time. They were pitching through about fifteen degrees and rolling sometimes up to forty. The spray on the rocks astern of them was often higher than their mast. It reminded us of something we had seen another cruiser write: Pitcairn makes Easter Island look like a marina.

Indeed it does. We deployed our anchor, all of our chain, all of our nylon rode and all of the floats and lines necessary to keep it all from getting snagged down there. Once we were settled, I took a swim to check it all out. Our anchor was too deep to reach, but the visibility was good, so I could see how it was doing. We had missed the sand patch and it was holding onto a small crevice in the rock with the tip of its fluke. That’s less secure than I would have liked, but the rest of the bottom looked no better, so it seemed unlikely that re-anchoring would produce a better result. At least there were plenty of other things for it to grab onto if it lost its grip. Since I was already in the water, I also swam over to Nemo and had a look at theirs. Their anchor was well buried in sand with no coral or rocks within the length of their chain. They seemed to have found the one good spot. When I got back aboard, I called them on the radio and gave them my report. They said they were uncomfortable, but knowing their anchor was well dug in would let them rest a little easier. We both decided to stay aboard for the day to keep an eye on things and made sure our boats stayed put.

We had plenty to entertain us. The quarterly supply ship had just arrived as well and the island’s two big longboats were shuttling back and forth with everything the island would need for the coming months. The longboats are like giant motorized canoes with hulls deep and wide enough to hold two or three mini shipping containers. The harbor at Bounty Bay is only large enough for one of these boats at a time. As they arrived from the ship, they would stop and wait for a lull in the surf blocking the entrance. The guy on the bow would then signal and they would go racing in. At the very last second before the wave caught up to them, they would make a blind ninety-degree turn around the corner, leaving the last of the curler to take a slap at their stern. Leaving was the reverse process. A lookout on the pier would give the signal to the helmsman and the boat would come booming around the corner out into the swell. Every time they passed by us, we would smile and wave and they would smile and wave back.

Work stopped at sunset and a couple of hours later, the generator was shut down and the island went dark. It loomed above us as a black velvet veil blocking the stars to the west. We listened to the crash of the breaking surf behind us and spent a restless night thinking about our anchor in its little crack and just how quickly we could get the engines started if it let go.

Monday, May 07, 2018

Last Days - Easter Island Part 6

[Kyle]Another change in the weather required us to leave Hotuiti. A storm way to the south was sending up a swell that would double what we already had in the anchorage. The rain of a couple of days ago came with strong northeast winds that made Anakena and La Perouse unsuitable as well. During our day aboard, we were able to talk on the VHF to Nemo, who had to leave their previously tranquil spot at 3am as the wind started pushing them toward the rocks. They fled back to Hanga Roa, cleared out quickly and left the island altogether. We were now the only visiting boat on Easter.

With the strong south swell and the big northeast winds, our only option was to return to Hanga Roa ourselves. The wind was slowly backing and we would have about twenty four hours to clear out and leave before it cleared the island and started blowing us ashore.

We had a marvelous sail. After tacking a few times to clear the eastern side of the island, we released the sheets and had a flat downwind sail past all of the spots we had worked so hard to walk to a few days earlier. We arrived at Hanga Roa, where we dropped anchor in our old spot in a swell that would have seemed large had we not spent the last week in Hotuiti.

One Last Day

More Moai! So Easter Island

As we left Begonia in the morning to make our trip ashore for exit formalities, the wind was just backing to where it was no longer being blocked by the island. The swell was increasing quickly and getting into the dinghy required careful timing and a jump.

The Armada had told us by radio to present ourselves at ten o’clock, which gave us a couple of hours to take a walk to Ahu Tahai.

Ahu Tahai is not a single Ahu, but rather a complex of three separate Ahu platforms, several stone buildings, thought to be for storage, and many stone foundations for houses, called Hare Paenga, into which reeds were inserted to make the walls and roof, resulting in a structure that resembles an overturned boat.

The Ahu Tahai complex has been dated as one of the earliest structures on the island at around 690AD. Along the way, there were also lots of petroglyphs carved into the stones along the waterfront. At the very far end is Ko Te Riku, the only Moai on the island with eyes in place. It is now believed that each Moai on the island had a set of eyes, with the whites made of coral and pupils of obsidian. These were kept by priests and inserted into the Moai for events.

We had also hoped to stop at what is supposed to be an excellent museum, detailing all of this rich history but, alas, it turned out to be closed on Mondays. We would have stayed another day to see it, but the weather was not supposed to be good then, so we had to give it a miss.

Once we left the Armada, we couldn’t quite bring ourselves to rushing right back to Begonia, so we spent a last few hours roaming around this place that we had both loved so much. As we were walking back to the harbor, we found a nice looking sandwich place and were happy to have an excuse to sneak another hour.

The sandwiches were “sandwiches”. There was no way anybody could pick one up and eat it without losing half of it on their shirt and needing a shower afterwards. We tucked into them with a knife and fork.

Stuffed and not less than a little bit aware that we had pushed the schedule too far, we made the rough trip through the surf back to Begonia. Maryanne prepped her for departure while I trailed astern in the bucking dinghy trying to get it into lifeboat mode without being pitched over the side. At the last stage, putting a cover over the whole affair, I gave up and performed the task from the water outside the dinghy.

To get back aboard Begonia, I had to dodge the swim ladder as it stabbed at me from above and then grab it when it hit bottom so that it would fling me upward into the stern steps. Then it was a mad rush to get the wildly bucking dinghy into the davits before it yanked out a fitting.

The wind was forecast to get slightly worse during the night and we had planned to leave before it got too bad. The whole day had been pretty exhausting, though, so we decided to try to tough it out. We got Begonia ready to leave at the drop of a hat, just in case, and retired for a last fitful night together.