Back to the Indian Ocean

Summer in Maine was fun and oh so comfortable. No worries…until the day before I was to leave. It wasn’t about packing — I had plenty of time for that. But I made an bad decision to update all the apps on my iPad, which included my backup set of electronic charts. After the update all the charts had disappeared! I fired off some desperate emails to both the app company and the company that licenses the charts. They were helpful, and I got some of the charts back before I left, and they were working on a complete fix. Then while waiting for my plane at Logan Airport I saw they had released another update, which I downloaded, and it worked. Very nice to have the chart issues resolved as I departed.

The travel was grueling. About 45 hours of it, including a flight from London to Johannesburg that was delayed. When we landed in Jo-burg I sprinted through the airport to try to make my connection. The departure gate was already closed, but was still attended, and it appeared I might talk my way aboard. But no. The airline, recognizing that those of us bound from London to Mauritius would miss the connection, had already booked us on other flights. Oh well, I made it to the boat eventually, and it was a relief to confirm that Nora and Liam were already there.

I don’t think I’ve introduced the new crew. Nora is the daughter of my boat owner/partner Bill. She sailed with us from Charleston to Florida when we were heading for the BPO start in Key West. Liam and I connected through a mutual friend who directed Liam to my blog. When I posted many months ago that I needed crew, he contacted me. Given that this sailing adventure was born over the Internet, how appropriate that the Internet has led Liam aboard!

The boat seemed to be in pretty good shape. No trouble starting engines. The daggerboard had been repaired, and it looked good. But when we went to slide it into its case, it wouldn’t go! They had built up the thickness of the board, such that it no longer fit. We don’t need to use both daggerboards, but it wouldn’t work to leave one lashed on deck to be fixed later. More stress, given our very tight schedule. We called our boat caretaker, and he was there in the morning with a grinder. An hour later the repaired board fit, though much of its new antifouling paint and some of its new fiberglass were now gone. I can live with that.

Our tentative plan was to do major provisioning before leaving the marina. But emails from other sailors warned us not to stock up in Mauritius — that due to an outbreak of hoof and mouth disease, many foods were being confiscated by the authorities in La Reunion, our next stop. We still did a round of provisioning, but with minimal meat, milk, fruits, veggies, cheese, etc. And we left on schedule to sail back up the coast to Port Louis, where we had checked in, two and a half months ago, and where we had to check out.

It was only a three hour sail, but I found it stressful/exciting. I’m out of practice at this sailing thing. So many details to forget; so many things that can go wrong. Plus we didn’t know if there would be any space available back at Le Caudan marina. But it was splendid to pull in and see Tahawus and Maggie there, and space to raft up alongside Maggie. Also delightful to have a shower available — my first since leaving home. The complete BPO fleet (of 3; Joyful has dropped out, Tahawus has dropped back in) assembled for drinks that evening.

One thing that surprised me about returning to Le Caudan was how happy I was to sail into a place that was familiar. In the Rally we are always moving on to the next place, so it was a rare and pleasant experience to arrive and know where the shops are, where the showers are, what it will cost for dockage, etc.

In the morning we checked out. Not surprisingly there was some confusion. Rob was told we could check out without bringing the boats to the Coast Guard dock. I was told the opposite. But it got done (without our having to move the boats). And off we went to “tropical France” (La Reunion Island), 130 miles away.

It was a challenging night for the new crew. Wind was mostly in the 20s, and at least once up to 30. Seas right on the beam, occasionally breaking against the side of the boat. Spray flying so you couldn’t enjoy being outside. Both Nora and Liam got sick. But I wouldn’t have known if they didn’t tell me, because they continued to be active and pull their weight.

Now we are settled at Reunion. Yes, they searched the boat, and confiscated the things we knew they would take, plus a few more. Oh well. Nice to see Luc once again. Nice to have Internet once again. Tomorrow the fleet has planned a “work day” (i.e., no activities planned by Luc). Our #1 task is to determine what’s wrong with our anchor windlass. In the coming days we will pile into our two tiny rental cars, and go exploring.

Dance Videos

[I tried using YouTube for the video clips in this post. I’m finding that while I can view them successfully on a computer and on a smart phone, they mostly fail on an iPad. No idea why…]
This post is a collection of videos of dancing and other performances across the Pacific and Indonesia. A few may have been posted earlier. Unfortunately due to technical difficulties I am unable to post clips of the dancing in the Marquesas. Most of the dancing there was tremendously macho — warriors preparing for battle or reselling tales of conquest. You might enjoy Luc’s YouTube video about the BPO’s visit to the Marquesan island of Ua Po. It is 26 minutes long…the dancing that impressed me happens around 12 and 22 minutes in, but he shows much more than dancing:

Tahiti is also French Polynesia, but much different from the Marquesas. The dancing is much more sensual. Here some of the BPOers give it a try…

Before we left French Polynesia I got my chance, in Bora Bora. Keep your eyes on her, not me!

In Tuvalu we were treated to some wonderful dancing, because we were there during a conference of many nations focusing on tropical cyclone Pam and on climate change. This is a dancing tradition that could soon be washed away by sea level rise. Prime Minister and Mrs Sopoaga sit in the front row (red and white flowers on their heads):

Vanuatu brings a totally different kind of dance:

Actually every village in Vanuatu has its own form of dancing. Here’s another:

And the BPOers join the scrum…

Bring on the costumed Rom dancers (and chief Sekor, going for his third boar tusk and next level of chiefness, with cell phone at hand in his waist band).

Still in Vanuatu, the ladies demonstrate “water music.”

Our welcome to Tual, Indonesia:

Indonesian fabrics are stellar; here is how some are made:

Bau-Bau, Indonesia:

In Selayar we got performances by some young ladies and young men:

Next up, Bali:

At a Chinese temple in East Belitung, Indonesia:

Our welcome to East Belitung:

In addition to the music and dance, we got a demonstration of traditional stick fighting, in which they try to strike the opponent’s back:

Jesse volunteered to get schooled in the sport…

On to the East Belitung before-dinner presentation of terrible-tasting betel nuts…

And wrapping up with a little after-dinner entertainment:

More Videos

The videos in this second batch are mostly taken underway, or in some cases at anchor. For starters, turn up the volume to hear the call to prayer, which we could frequently hear in Indonesian anchorages.

In fact, we would often hear the calls from two or more mosques at once…

Thailand wasn’t my favorite place, because it was too hot. But it had spectacular islands…

Here’s a clip of taking the dinghy up the river at Tabekat Bay…

Photos and video of big wind and waves never convey what it’s like to be there, but of course I have to give it a try anyway. For comparison, I don’t think I have any video of us just sailing along in delightful weather day after day. But here’s one of a relatively peaceful (but breezy) day as we approach the island of Niue in the South Pacific.

Remember when we got caught in a tropical depression when we left Tuvalu for Vanuatu? Well, I do. Here’s a piece of that, with Bob taking advantage of the rain to wash his hair.

To avoid the brunt of the weather, we sailed on a very uncomfortable close reach to get south before turning west, away from the wind. The crew was anxious to make the turn…

Now to our Indian Ocean crossing from Cocos Keeling to Rodrigues, the wind building…

And Tim getting weary of the conditions…

You might want to turn the volume down for this one, unless you want to hear Tim “curse like a sailor” after a wave spills his coffee onto the computer keyboard…

I accidentally switched the video to slow motion at one point, and discovered after the fact that the slo-mo sort of conveys better what it feels like aboard! But unfortunately the slow motion effect is lost when I upload the video to the blog, so you just have to imagine things happening in slow time, seeing every detail, and feeling every lurch and surge. Here’s one last clip: