After three weeks at sea, Pandion’s various larders, tanks, cupboards and fridges are running low. The promise of a large reprovision holds a certain excitement. It’s just shopping, fixing, spending, cleaning, laundry and walking carrying heavy things – but with a purpose that transforms the mundane into the extravagant. A fresh apple is a jewel, clean undies are savoured (even smelt) and 10 baguettes to be cut and bagged in the freezer feels like wealth beyond measure. As Reminy said, it’s like laying down stores for winter.
We’re back in Noumea, the weather is fantastic, and we are looking for a fast turnaround to spend the next three weeks in the southern lagoon, Isle des Pines and hopefully the south west reefs.
Some boats abhor marinas and will avoid them at all costs (specifically the cost), but we are more the “let’s just book in, make it easy” and then get out as quick as we can. Invariably though that is the honey trap - marinas are easy, but it’s also easy to say, “let’s just stay one more day.” Two other Aussie boats have recently made the passage from Australia, Gonyonda and Bella Luna, both fantastic folk we know from Iluka. We’re all berthed next to each other, and I’m looking forward to a collective catch up tonight. The kids, as all kids do, but especially kids on boats deprived of company, have formed an instant gang and are playing hide and seek. Budi asks, “Can they please come to our boat? They know their boat so well, my hiding spots are no good.”
Last night we had long showers, the first in three weeks for me, we shopped at the Carrefour Supermarket near Marina de Sud, baffling our way through the French produce, all of which is expensive. Slowing we are figuring out what is cheapest and eating lots of that. Thankfully the various deliciously flavoured fresh baguettes are cheap, as are pan au chocolate. Melissa was up at dawn and shopping like a local at the market. Today instead of “Bon journee” everyone says “Bon Dimanche,” Happy Sunday. We filled up with diesel and unleaded, rationed one beer per day for the next three weeks. Before lunch Liss and I ventured to the other supermarket, while the kids rinsed all the wetsuits, vacuumed the boat, and (unsuccessfully) cleaned the coconut stains from the deck. Tomorrow I will make the obligatory visit to the chandlery, however Pandion has been no trouble lately, so it will be a small shop. My maintenance in the last three weeks has largely been in the category of improvements. I installed an extra solar panel on its own regulator (the sun here is weak, not like our own hardcore cancer inducing ozone depleted atmosphere), hardwired an inverter into the 240v circuit so we can charge electronics in multiple rooms, installed some lovely shiny press clasps to hold the after cabin sole carpet down, reinstalled the screens that Ruby and Budi repaired in Iluka, and much to Reminy’s delight, installed a curtain between her and Budi in the forward cabin. I also successfully ignored finding the leak in the auto pilot and updating the chart firmware –the weather is too good and beer supplies too low for that sort of work.
For those interested in such things, the cost of a three week cruising provision for 2 adults and 3 kids looks something like this.
Alcohol - $60
Marina $ 160
Fishing lures/wetsuit/speargun rubbers $170
Pandion swallows it all. She’s a well-built blue water cruiser and has masses of storage. We are now loaded up, the fridge, freezer, Shop, Cannery, Dairy, Joy Locker and Bogg-Sellars (as the various food lockers are known) are full, we have 1100 litres of water, 400 litres of diesel, 75 litres of unleaded and all that translates into a wonderful feeling of possibility. To be honest some days feel like the main possibility is a days of chores, annoying life maintenance and some arguing kids, but others feel like, well… I don’t think I can put it better than this, from “My family and other animals” by Gerald Durrell.
“But then the dark skin of night would peel off and there would be a fresh day waiting for us, glossy and colourful as a child’s transfer, and with the same tinge of unreality.”
Post script: we did get stuck in the marina. Two extra days. Two boats turned up from French Polynesia and NZ respectively and they had TEENAGERS on board. Philocat ena belongs to an Austrian/German couple with three little kids and one 18 year old, and Pickles from California has been cruising for 10 years. Their 4 kids are now all teenagers, the oldest flying out from Asia in August to start university. What a contrast; at Maclean High it might take Reminy weeks to build up the courage and opportunity to join a new group, further complicated by the boy/girl dynamic. Here there is none of that painful social dance. Within hours all 6 of them aged 13 to 18 were in the cockpit playing cards, making sushi, laughing and swinging through the rigging (literally). The adults had six free drinks courtesy of the Marina so we swapped stories in the bar while the kids entertained themselves. We escaped this morning and are heading south to Ilse des Pines. Stay tuned.