Our next move another new island, Ua Pou. We started the day off with our official (and rather disconcerting) safety schpille. “In the unlikely event of a water landing…” We show Crystal and Kevin the location of the liferaft, ditch bag, flares, the crash pad, rescue beacon, medical kit, how to use the radios, how to pump water out of the boat if necessary, where to hold on to the boat as it moves around a lot, how to aim at the toilet while it is a moving target, how to use the propane stove in a manner least likely to cause a gas explosion, etc. etc. And the most important instruction of all: do not fall off the boat. The highest risk of death comes from falling off the boat. If you fall off the boat out there, it can be very difficult to find and retrieve you. So, the safety schpeille begins and ends with the most important instruction: Do not ever fall off the boat. No matter what. No peeing over the edge, if you must puke, puke in a bucket, if you are walking on deck hold on to something stable with at least one hand, keep your center of gravity low, and always wear your lifejacket and tether attached to the boat. Crystal and Kevin both took the safety schpeille in stride and immediately donned their lifejackets and tethers.
We set off on a five hour sail in friendly breeze and a sunny day. At a distance of about 25 miles away, Ua Pou looks like haze in the distance. As we close the gap, the landscape sharpens into focus. Seven spines of rock jut out of the island’s ridge, like rockets shooting into the sky. Mist and clouds collect at their peaks.
We enjoy the view as we pull into a tiny and rather crowded anchorage. We drop a front and a stern anchor to reduce the rocking back and forth, and unfold Grin. We only planned a couple days here, so we must set to exploring immediately. We head to town and walk through clean, beautifully landscaped yards and tidy houses. The villagers are out and about, playing soccer and volleyball, shopping at the three markets, or playing at the beach.
The majority of our time in Ua Pou is spent working. We need to pick up more provisions, do laundry, fill up with potable water, and find a little more diesel fuel here as we are heading to the remote atolls of the Tuamotus for the next two to three weeks.
It’s incredible how fast the laundry builds up around here. Sweaty clothes, swimsuits, hand towels, shower towels and sheets all get dirty so fast! So, Crystal, Kevin and I spend the next morning hand washing again in buckets. We hang everything to dry, and Sonrisa looks like she is a floating laundry line. Our hands are prune and tired from all the scrubbing and wringing, but the view from our laundry room is acceptable.
Meanwhile, Andrew makes three laps from Sonrisa to shore to fill up our water tanks with fresh water from shore. We have a reverse osmosis water maker that makes 6 gallons per hour of run time. However, all the anchorages in Nuku Hiva have been so murky that it will clog up and ruin our filters. The water maker really should only be used when we are out at sea or in a clear water anchorage. Therefore, we are down to only ten gallons in our tank. On each lap, he fills up a five gallon water jug and as much of a twenty five gallon bladder as we have the strength to hold. (Water is heavy!) Then, he lugs the tanks back to Grin, rows back to Sonrisa, lugs the tanks aboard, and empties them into the fresh water tank.
After water and laundry, we head to town to pick up provisions. We each take the biggest backpack we have and carry them empty into town. We hit the grocery store and pick up frozen meet, frozen veggies, fresh veggies, a few canned items, crackers, cookies, cheese and pudding. We need a lot of snacks to feel good on passage. We stuff it all into our backpacks and hoof two weeks worth of groceries back to the boat.
By the time we returned to the boat, we are dripping with sweat. The waves in the anchorage continue to rock Sonrisa back and forth. For a moment, Sonrisa is cluttered with the detritus of new food that needs to be packed away, and we are four grown adults stepping politely around each other in a total of 480 square feet of space that is also filled with boat furniture, engines, sails, and all of our personal gear. About the time I have all the cushions torn off the salon benches to hide away our canned goods, Andrew realizes that a hoard of flies have suffocated onto top of the toilet vent, clogging air flow and creating a rather…human…stench to fill the boat. This nausea inducing concoction of heat, humidity, clutter, fatigue and stink just about sends us all over the edge. We hold it together just long enough to finish putting away groceries and for Andrew to scrape the fly bodies from the vent. Then, we jump into the backyard swimming pool to escape.
This is the dark side of paradise, People. Where is my Mai Tai?