Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Last chopper out of Nam

Our northernmost anchorage, at Port Olry, 15 degrees south

First Gonyonda left, racing back to Australia to take up a job offer.  Then Dogstar left, heading south to wend their way back through the islands of Vanuatu and then onto Noumea, where they would stay and wait for a weather window to NZ.  Then Bella Luna left for Oz, along with two thirds of the Aussie fleet in a perfect weather window a week later.  Fifty-four boats all left from Noumea on the same day, someone told us. Paws and Libby left, heading north to the Banks Islands and onto the Sols.  Most peoples’ boat insurers demand that they are out of the cyclone belt by 1 November, which is anything less than 8 degrees south, and anything more than 26 degrees south (essentially the equivalent of the whole QLD coast).  The anchorage at Luganville, once chockers with boats, felt eerily empty.  Of the handful of boats left, another seemed to disappear each night.  Curried Oats and Aquabar left together, and we toyed with the idea of joining them, our old passage pals, but Miles had a conference call he wanted to make a few days later, so we watched them pull up their anchors and sail away.

The weather in Santo had grown hotter and more humid, and most afternoons clouds piled up in the sky and thunder rumbled sometime in the night.  It was impossible to get anything dry because it could rain – a deluge or a light shower – at any time.  When it rained we had to run around the boat shutting hatches and the fans ran around the clock.  With so much cloud cover the solar panels weren’t charging the batteries and we had to run the engine for a couple of hours a day. We were literally the last boat heading west still in north Vanuatu.
It was time to leave.

One of the hardest truths we’ve had to face about the cruising life is that you can’t go everywhere and you can’t do everything.  My own list of Must-dos in Vanuatu only had four things on it: climb the volcano on Tanna, go to the blue pools on Santo, dive the SS Coolidge and go to Waterfall Bay on Vanua Lava, up in the Banks Islands.  Three out of four ain’t bad, but if you’ve been to the Banks Islands, please don’t tell me about it, because it still hurts that we didn’t make it up there.
We did our last provision at LCM in Luganville, jerry canned water from the beachside resort tap out to the boat, baked up a storm, went to the markets one last time, bought one last armful of plantain chips, drank our last Tusker….

Passage food

On Tuesday the 23rd of October at 3.30pm we lifted the pick and motored out of Luganville Harbour and through the straights of Segund.  We knew we’d have to motor for a few hours before we got out to the wind.  Just as we left Santo and headed into open ocean, with the setting sun right in our eyes, we saw a NiVan banana boat, bobbing around in front of us.  A couple of men were out fishing and as we passed by them they gave us our last Vanuatu wave, standing up, grinning and waving with both arms.

We’d be at sea for the next ten days.

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

pandion passage update _ 100nm from Brisbane _ the crazy zone

I'm not sure how I will convince the team to sail to Lord Howe island after this passage. Budi says "I just want it to be over". Three out of five are still nauseous. All semblance of parenting has disappeared and for the kids it's just a movie marathon complete with savoury or sweet snacks depending on which food cuts down the nausea most. I have no idea what Sylvie is watching, hopefully not American pysco, or at least an appropriate Disney version. Liss and I sleep and go on watch and sleep again, it is sort of a blur now _ somewhere in there I trim the sails and tend to pandions various needs like a dutiful worker ant servicing her queen. Fridge fixed, freshwater pump fixed, port sheet winch can wait till stable ground.

It's a lovely day right now, all the swell has dropped away, and looks like reminy is on the mend too.

Poor thing, ear ache, fever and sea sickness: a nasty combo. Her ear infection was resistant to two courses of antibiotics so when her fever hit 38.8 we took it pretty seriously. (Memories of malachy going from healthy to under general anesthesia in 12hours from an infected oyster cutt) Our shore team notified the joint regional operations centre (jroc) in Canberra in case an evac was needed. I talked to them via sat phone the day before yesterday, got some more medical advice, and updated our position. They were a confidence inpiring combination of highly effecient and Aussie laconic. Jroc is responsible for rescues in a truely massive area of ocean so I assume they are used to talking people down from all kinds of hard core situations. Anyway, as much as winching someone off the heaving deck of the boat to a chopper would have been good fun, we are grateful that rems fever broke, and though she's still in pain no crisis eventuated. I was also left feeling spoilt
to be
an Australian, (Vanuatu would have been a different story).

So it's just cruising now, 111nm to Brisbane should get us in at dawn. Then customs and immigration. here's the nautical details:
All's well.
25 46.689
154 02.2243
Cog: 197 mag
Sog: 5.4knts
Wind: 8knts @ Ne
Sea : 0.8m SE.
Light winds, but enough to sail, I'll put up two headsails shortly. We have hit the East Australian Current which gives us another knot.

No enemy ships in sight and the cabin boy just delivered me frozen bannas whized into ice cream.

Pandion out.

Sent from Iridium Mail & Web.

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Pandion position report tuesday 30th @ 5.30pm- sea sick again

Hi all, wind arrived finally, we are at 22 25 397, 156 14 977. Cog 220mag, sog 6.5knts, sea 2_3 m, wind 20-25knts ese. We are safe but comfort factor 1 out of 10 as pandion lumbers through it. 3 out of 5 crew sea sick but no vomiting. Were quite worried about reminy this morning but her temp has gone down now to 36.5 degrees, maintaining antibiotics and course for brisbane. (Thanks for advice Jamie!). We'll notify VMR in Brisbane just in case. Forecast is for conditions to lighten (along with the mood). Hopefully we see that happen through the night. From his position curled up under the helm, Budi said, "someone explain to me what the attraction is". Classic. If I can stand up in the galley, soul food for dinner, chicken soup. M.

Sent from Iridium Mail & Web.

Sunday, 28 October 2018

SVPandion _ Vanuatu to Australia _ majestical chersterfield

Its Monday 11.00am and we are at 20 01.880e, 158 15.780s which is 15nm South east of Chesterfield reef and 515 nautical miles from Brisbane. We are using the iron genoa in addition to the sails, as the wind is only 8knts. Rems is stoicly on about day 30 of a double ear infection that has been resistant to all our medical efforts including 2 courses of antibiotics, hence we are keen to make port and get her to an Aussie doctor, plus it's an extra $300 or $400 in overtime fees if we get to customs on the weekend. The passage forecast looks good; the wind will pick up in a few hours and average 15_20knts over the next week. The seas are quiet, picking up to 2m and dropping off again near Brisbane. With little swell we have three trolling lines out, including our boat made suncream bottle lure. The crew is begging me to pull it in and put a 'real' lure on. I figure the fish will have never have seen anything like it and be curious, hopefully hungry. Something has to be said ab
Chesterfield, our mid-passage stopover. Here are some words from the crew: magical, majestical (that's not a word budi), mind blowing bird action, it's 11.33 can we eat? (Thanks Sylvie), a mid passage respite, smelly, crabby-birdy-turtly. I'd say; the water was so clear that even under moonlight I could see the bottom at anchor. Every bush and shrub on land is weighed down with birds: 4 kinds of boobies, gannets, frigate birds, noddys, turns, rails. A whole screaming, churping, barking mass of avian flesh that rises periodically in giant mixed flocks to swirl above the island. These birds are ocean experts, highly curved wings, perfectly suited to strong winds and long distance low energy flight. The frigate birds were mesmerizing, I watched one for a long time, and it never took a wing beat. The kids were inspired to be part of the dawn chorus so we got up at 4.30am and creep ashore, in the moonlight we were highly visible, and there was an embarrassing amount of noise before we got into place. We
found aloggerhead turtle, she had left her run too late after laying eggs on the high part and was now jammed up on the rocks exposed by low tide. Her eyes were closed and a line of drool hung from her mouth. It was vetting hot so we poured seawater on her head and shell, this seemed to wake her up and she lumbered up and over the rock shelf and into the sea. Budi claims that "we brought her to her senses." The kids took the dinghy one day and visited three of the many islands. They returned with the dinghy filled with rubbish, a fishing net, a buoy so we joined in and collected as much as we could from the easternmost island. Mostly bottle tops which are also mistaken by seabirds as food, I'll remember that next time I am tempted to buy bottled water. Today we winch the whole mess onto the foredeck and lash the tender over it. Vanuatu banana pie for breakfast, pressure cooked chicken soup for lunch, mahi mahi for....

Sent from Iridium Mail & Web.

Friday, 26 October 2018

SVPandion _ Vanuatu to Australia_ Day 4 - 27th Oct @11.00am

Well, what peaked at 3 meter rolling seas slapping the side of boat and throwing spray into the cockpit has become a total glass out. We are at 19_47.837s and 158_26.377e bearing 224mag @ 5.5knots (motoring). Wind is variable 2knts and sea 0.6m. We are approaching the eastern entrance to the French controlled Chesterfield reef. After traversing waters that were more than 4km deep it is suddenly 20m and we can see the bottom through turquoise water, the sails flap idly and there is not a ripple on the water.
The crew almost have their sea legs, 4 days seem to be the magic number, but we will stop to give everyone a break. The boat also needs repairs with our refrigeration and fresh water pump beset by Gremlins. Whatever our technical woes, it pales by comparison to our friends on Curried Oats who lost their engine a few hundred miles out of Vanuatu. After being becalmed in the center of the shipping channel and feeling like a billowing white target, they picked up some breeze and will hopefully arrive at Bundy tomorrow and get a tow from VMR. Go oats! Overall, it's all good on pandion, about 500nm to go. Organic Vanuatu beef stew for dinner.

Sent from Iridium Mail & Web.

Thursday, 25 October 2018

SVPandion Vanuatu to Australia _position report, 26th, 11am - Speed Record

Position report: 18_48.860s, 160_30.966e bearing 236mag, wind SSE @ 15knts, swell 1m. Speed over ground (sog) 6.6knts
Crew: some mildly sea sick, no vomiting, some stoic moaning, reminy still has ear ache will contact Dr Jamie today.
Boat: all good, weeping leak in hydraulic steering_not an issue_ monitoring, need more solar panels, as having to run engine to charge batteries from time to time.

Amazing night, pandion FLEW, wind 20knts just abaft of the beam, one reef in the main, balanced just right, and she surged along in the mid eights for hours on end. Top speed 9.9knts. Budi very annoyed we didn't crack ten. Full moon, and we could see birds flying in the dark. After several entanglements with the wind generator two boobies landed on the port rail. We called one Lazy as it just sat and looked wistfully out to sea while its mate spent hours preening. The second we called Danger on account of it's rear end being dangerously close to our faces! Sun's out, ocean very blue, cake and papaya for breakfast. Miles

Sent from Iridium Mail & Web.

Saturday, 20 October 2018

Tourism blong Vanuatu

* Not many photos of this trip because we were too exhausted and preoccupied with staying alive to snap more than a couple.  There's a few short videos though that give an idea what it was like on The Mud Tour of Death.
Budi's shoes at the start of the day, on their way to obscurity

There is a certain tourism venture just out of Luganville which gets rave reviews on Trip Advisor and three members of Pandion signed up for the whole shebang, a day long journey over bamboo bridges, down streams, through a massive cave and several villages.

Ex-raft guide Miles felt that paying for such pasty white nonsense was beneath him and Sylvie was too young (THANK GOD) so Rems, Budi, me and the crew of Dogstar* fronted up at the gates of the Beachside Resort at 8am sharp waiting for the bus. 
“Rubber time,” shrugged the NiVan woman from reception when we were still waiting 45 minutes later.  Island time, Vanuatu time, rubber time; they all mean the same thing: you’ll see us when you’re lookin’ at us.

A banged up minivan arrived and two uncharacteristically reserved NiVans ushered us in.  At this point the sky was partly cloudy and the forecast was for no more than 1-5 mm of rain, if any.  The trip had been cancelled in the preceding week because of heavy rain, which should have been a heads up, but wasn’t…

Arriving at the office of the tour, we received a briefing from one of the staff about what was in store for us: a longish drive into the bush, a longish walk through a couple of villages, a trip through a “wet” cave, a languid swim down a river and a shortish walk to complete the circuit.  Pictures on the wall showed ecstatic customers signed with accolades like best trip ever!!!!!!! and woohoo, so much fun!!!!! and other encouraging stuff like that.

We ate up some more Rubber Time waiting outside for the rest of the punters to arrive and then piled into various vehicles to take us to the start of the trip. Our vehicle was a twin cab ute with a plank across the back, which was where the kids sat.  Santo roads are so bad that the ute moved very slowly and my fears of projectile children flung into oncoming traffic grumbled beneath the surface.
“Is it true you’re not allowed to do this in Australia?” one of the guides asked Rems, who was sitting in the back.
“Oh yeah,” she said. “You have to sit inside with a seatbelt on and if you drive too fast the police will get you.”
The ute pulled into a servo to fillap.  “There’s the police,” said the guide to Rems, waving to a cop exiting the servo with a jumbo box of breakfast crackers under one arm.
The cop grinned at the guide, sent him a gangsta brutha wave and didn’t bat an eyelid at the trayfull of tender young bodies crammed into the back.

Unscathed we arrived at the drop off with the other vehicles.  A number of NiVans in blue t-shirts were milling around but didn’t introduce themselves or give any instructions and like grazing animals we all started moving when the herd seemed to be heading off. 
It was muddy, and punters picked their way around large puddles and skated around a bit on wet grass but most of us arrived at the first village 20 minutes later looking much the same as when we’d left the vehicles.  It started to rain as we filed into the large nakamal where we would finish up at the end of the trip.  Somebody started handing out life jackets, and having nowhere else to carry them, people put them on and buckled them snugly up, in spite of the fact that we were just about to embark on the 1.5 hour trek to the cave in 100 percent humidity.  Wait a minute, hold that thought.  While she was trying on her life jacket, Rems noticed one of the village women peer out into the rain, walk back inside to the blackboard where the trip was mapped out and discreetly wipe out 1.5 and replace it with 2.5.  Awesome. 

We headed off, about 20 punters with blue shirted guides interspersed amongst us.  It was raining more heavily now and people began to fall over. 
“Prize for the first person to fall on their bum!  Extra points if you land on your face!” called Claire from Dogstar. 
Our shoes rapidly disappeared into a cookie dough of mud and the few people still trying to skirt puddles usually just found themselves marooned on a dwindling patch of solid ground more than a standing leap from the next patch.  Some of the falls were spectacular.  Eleven year old Iris was the first to go, landing on her butt in a particularly deep patch of mud.  Some people lost shoes with a sucking schklup sound.  Robin from Dogstar surfed magnificently down a muddy slope for several metres and managed to stay upright the whole time.  Claire fell down a short slope and landed so heavily she winded herself and banged her head on the ground.  Without actually falling down, Malachy (aka Pigpen) gradually began to look muddier than anyone else because dirt is sort of attracted to him.
“I fucking hate this mud,” muttered one of the other kids on the tour.  He looked to be about nine years old, even though the trip is technically for 12 year olds and up.

“You know, I never liked the colour of these shoes,” I commented to Claire as we lurched from one handhold tree trunk to the next.
“Er, what colour are they?” she asked.
“Pale green.” 
We looked down at my shoes, completely obscured by thick clots of mud.
“I don’t think they’re going to be that colour anymore.”

We came to a creek and I stopped to wash the worst of the mud off my tevas (no longer pale green) and at that point the group, already straggling out in a long muddy line, unintentionally split in two.  The guides with the knowhow up the front directed most of the punters around the corner and back into the creek to walk downstream a ways.  Budi and Rems were in that group.  A select group of punters including me, two Americans, Robin, Claire and their daughter Iris from Dogstar and another (increasingly irate) woman blithely followed our blue shirted guide straight up a very muddy steep track in a completely different direction.  What can I say?  By the time I finished washing my shoes my kids had disappeared and a group of people and a guide were walking up a hill.  Naively I thought we were following everyone else.

An hour later, when I had summited what had to be the slickest bit of terrain on earth and still hadn’t caught up to my kids, I rounded a corner and found the Americans and the guide standing disconsolately on the track.  The American woman sounded dazed. “He says he doesn’t know where we are,” she called.
“He’s the guide,” I said, disbelieving.
“Yeah, but he says he doesn’t know where we are.”
I broke the news to Dogstar as they scrambled up the last few metres of the Impossible Slope. 
“What do you mean he doesn’t know where we are?” said Robin, also disbelieving.  “He’s the guide!”
“Exactly when did he stop knowing where he was, and was it before, after or during that muddy cliff?” panted Claire.
Sensing growing animosity, the guide sidled past us and raced off back down the Impossible Slope and disappeared before you could say Hey man please don’t leave us in the jungle all by ourselves.
We turned back and were confronted with the Herculean task of getting back down the Impossible Slope which was gouged all over by the finger-marks we’d left getting up it.  “Fuck this,” said Claire eloquently and plumped onto her backside to bumslide down.  There’s a point at which you don’t notice a bit more mud.
At the bottom of the Impossible Slope one of the other guides appeared.  He grinned.  “You went the wrong way!”
“No,” said Iris, “he did,” pointing after the offending guide who had sheepishly disappeared.
“You must hurry,” said this new guide.  “We are very late.”
“I’m worried about my kids,” I said, jogging along beside him.  “I have all the food and water, and I’m worried that they’ll be worried about me.”
As it turned out, my kids were worried that I’d be worried about them.

Back at the other group the group had started to realise that they’d shrunk by half a dozen people. 
“I think they’re lost,” Rems said to Budi.
“Where are those Kiwis? And those Yanks?” asked one of the Australians.
“And our mum,” put in Rems.
The guides put their heads together.  “We wait,” they said.  One of them ran off to find us.
People who had food ate it.  My kids watched them eat it and tried to catch raindrops on their tongues.  Half an hour of sitting in the muddy drizzle and the guides conferred again.  “We go.”
“What, without them?”
“We meet them at the cave.  They are lost.”
None of this was very comforting.

“Is it far to my kids?” I asked, hurrying after the guide.  Now the group was split into three: a few guides with the majority of the group, me and the sheepish guide who now knew where he was, and the rest of the lost sheep with the other guide. 
“Yes, a very long way.”

Reminy going down one of the million ladders
It wasn’t a very long way as the crow flies; in fact I could have walked it in ten minutes, but now we arrived at the Rustic Ladder part of the tour, and what took up maybe 5% of the promotional material revealed itself to be the main attraction: handmade ladders, almost vertical and slick with the mud from the un-lost punters who’d already passed this way.  The guide in front of me ran down, my hand to God, but I abandoned that idea after almost breaking both legs slipping between rungs.  Instead I adopted the crab technique, belly up on all fours.  My concern for the kids gave wings to my limbs and I was almost as fast as the guide, although I could barely move any part of my body without screaming the next day.

Reminy told me later that one of the guides in her group had gone in front of everybody wearing a tool belt filled with nails.  Whenever he came to a missing rung he’d whip out his machete, cut a new rung from a sapling, hammer it into place, and wave people on.  All gud, nambawan!
We arrived at a flooded creek at the mouth of the cave and whatever relief I may have felt at seeing my kids alive disappeared in the horror of realising that they were on the other side of the creek and that if I wanted to join them, I would have to cross it too. 

At this point a voice in my head was hissing Thai soccer team in an endless loop and I was also remembering that the village we’d just sailed from on Pentacost had recently been affected by three landslides in steep (tick!), waterlogged (tick!) terrain.  My confidence in the operation had dwindled with the Lost Guide incident and the fact that the other guides had somehow wrangled my kids across the flooded creek without waiting to a) locate me, and b) ask me how I felt about it.  I felt reasonably rotten about it, but I found myself being likewise wrangled across the creek.  The force of the waist high water was breathtaking, and there was no way of knowing where to put my feet, as the water was taking on the cloudy opaqueness of water in flood.  Hmm, I said to myself, this whole diffusion of responsibility thing is how people get killed en masse in remote and beautiful settings. 
“Chocolate!” my kids greeted me, and we wolfed down soggy minibars of Whittakers.    
“I was so scared crossing that creek,” said Rems to me in between mouthfuls.  “I had to jump from one spot to the next and I wasn’t sure I’d make it.  The guide only just caught my hand.”
I had post-incident heart tremors.
“And I knew Budi wouldn’t be able to jump that far, because he’s shorter, so I positioned myself downstream and got ready to jump in and save him if he got swept away.”  When she looked back at Budi, however, she saw him clinging to the back of a guide, both of them slippery with mud.  The guide balanced himself with one hand and held a machete with another.
More heart tremors.
“It was like trying to hold onto an enormous slippery watermelon,” Budi said.  “An armed watermelon.”

As a cold wet but reunited group, we rounded the corner and saw the entrance to the cave, a massive hole in the side of the mountain, framed by jungle and echoing with the sound of hundreds of tonnes of water pouring through its mouth.  To get into the cave we had to slide down a rocky chute and then cross back over the flooded creek, flanked by guides and a helpful punter. 
Why are we even going in here, I wondered.  Surely they’ll can the trip now.  Reminy had watched the mother of the unimpressed 9 year old gouge holes in a treetrunk as she gripped the bark with her fingernails watching a guide transport her son across the creek and muttering oh please oh please oh please under her breath. 

Lunchtime.  Guides stood around while people got out wet sandwiches and chocolate bars. I settled on a ledge furthest into the cave with my kids and slowly realised that just behind where we were sitting, the entire creek flowed into an unforgiving sieve before rushing down behind a rock wall and reappearing in a hissing pool at the bottom.  My lunch was suddenly very unappetising.  Anyone who’d been washed downstream from one of the two crossings upstream would have been sucked down into the sieve and drowned.  A sieve is a rocky or treetrunky blockage in a river that lets water through but not bodies.

“You’re kidding me,” Miles kept saying when I told him the story that night.  “A sieve?  You crossed a flooded creek right above a sieve?”
Cave mouth

I nibbled on a piece of quiche and watched as the water slowly came up over the stick I’d been marking the water level with. I didn’t want to go forwards into the cave, and I didn’t want to go backwards, over the ever-rising creek.  None of the punters were talking to each other.  Everybody was too tired and wet and muddy and hungry and the roar of the creek made talking impossible anyway.  The guides spoke English, but not well, and none of us had formed any kind of relationship with them in the way that usually happens on adventure tours.  A dozen historical events framed in similar circumstances, caving accidents, canyoning disasters, helpfully and persistently rose to the forefront of my mind.  Claire was keeping an eye on her own watermark and kept sending me loaded glances over the cacophony.  

The ladder into the cave
A short distance away the guides were speaking in low Bislama.  One guide, torch in hand, scrambled into the cave down some more Death Ladders, leapt out across the lightwater pool at the bottom, clung to a rock, pulled himself up onto some more rocks, leapt into another pool and disappeared into pitch darkness.  

There was no way I was going in there with my kids and I thought about how to break that unhappy news to them.  After a long time the guide returned and clambered up the Death Ladders, where he was immediately confronted by … me. 
“What’s it like in there?” I asked.  I was mentally steeling myself for turning around with my kids and Dogstar in the event that he said No problem! We go! and everybody else followed him into the cave.
He shook his head.  “Very strong water.”
“Very strong water,” I repeated loudly for the benefit of my kids.
“Maybe too strong water for picaninnis?” he said.
I agreed with him, emphatically.  “Is there a way around the cave?” I asked.  “Is there a way we can go around the cave but still get into the river for the swim section?”
“So, we’d have to go back the way we came?”
NiVans have a way of saying yes when they don’t really want to say yes.  They lift their chin slightly and raise their eyebrows.
“Back up the ladders?” I clarified.
Back up the fecking ladders. 
Actually my confidence in the tour guides grew after they canned the trip, cut a new path in another vertical hill so that we wouldn’t have to cross the two creeks again and sent us back the way we’d come.  A large NiVan finally emerged as the trip leader and he shook my hand apologetically as I left the cave.  “I am very sorry,” he said, “but we are all about safety.”
“Oh me too,” I assured him.

So we started the long trip back to the vehicles. 
“Mum, did we pay a lot of money to go on a muddy walk?” asked Budi at one point. 
Technically yes.  The tour is 7000 vatu per person, slightly cheaper for kids.  We talked about asking for a refund, but not seriously.  The company had had to pay half a dozen guides, petrol, admin, custom trades in the two villages we walked through, etc etc.

The punters walking out of the jungle were almost unrecognisable.  We were sopping wet and orange with mud, trudging along like a line of drunken zombies and occasionally falling spectacularly on our arses.  Just to rub salt in the wound, a group of village kids passed us on their way home from school.  They wore clean dry clothes, carried rainbow coloured umbrellas and stepped daintily around the puddles in clean thongs, smiling nervously at the Crazy Whitefellas.
“Wow,” said Robin.  “Usually after a hard day’s tramping my legs start hurting the next day, but every bit of me hurts like a bastard already.”

Back at the Beachfront Resort we paid $8 for hot showers, worth every penny, made short work of three huge bowls of hot chips, and toasted ourselves with cold Tuskers, the local beer.
“Because we’re worth it,” said Claire.

Thanks Dogstar, for making a crazy day totally hilarious and fun in spite of everything, and sharing all the stories afterwards. We love you guys.
* It’s customary for cruisers to refer to each other by the names of their boats, for example, someone might say, “Oh look, Pandion’s on shore already.” or “We’re going to the village with Pandion.” Thus I refer to the New Zealand crew of Dogstar collectively as Dogstar throughout this narrative, in spite of the fact that their real names are Robin, Claire and Iris.