Weather Helmed

an adventure in renewing the spirit and living the dream…on a sailboat

Weather Helmed

This is the Life (A real-time post! Rangiroa, early A.M. July 10)

July 10th, 2010 · 1 Comment · Adventures in the Dinghy, Famous Firsts, First Mates, French Polynesia, Funny, Oh Crap., Our Route, This sucks, Tuamotus

It’s not often that I get to post something as it’s happening.  But, this morning, I got up early and wrote something up because it’s actually kind of exciting for me to share something immediately instead of always having everything be post-dated.  So, this is what happened last night and what we are dealing with as I write…


“It’s kind of stuffy under here,” Matt says, squirming back up against me.  “Maybe we should let some air in.”  He gently nudges the cushioned cockpit chair that is folded 90 degrees and carefully balanced over our heads and shoulders.  “Aah, that’s better,” he sighs, as a cool breeze washes over our faces.

It’s 3:00 in the morning and we are squished into a make-shift bed in the cockpit that is approximately 2.5 feet wide, created out of our settee seat backs, towels and pillows, and, in a stroke of genius, our cockpit cushions.  We had not been settled in more than ten minutes before the first squall hit, drenching the boat.  As Matt kept smooshing me further and further up against the wall to avoid raindrops sliding off the dodger onto his face, I reached back behind me and pulled down the cockpit cushions, positioning them so they angled down over our heads and upper bodies effectively blocking our views and preventing the rain from hitting us.  To a five year old, he might look at us and think we had a pretty awesome fort going on;  to anyone older than that, they would look at us and think we looked like complete idiots or perhaps were playing some silly pretend game “let’s be homeless people tonight!”  The only thing we cared about, though, was that maybe now, we would get some sleep.

The anchorage here at Rangiroa outside the Kia Ora hotel is r.o.l.l.y.  As in, I don’t think we’ve ever been in such a rolly anchorage before; as in, even more rolly than La Cruz.  I know.  It’s that rolly here.  And when the boat is pitching side to side – so much that coffee pots are falling over and jars of sun-dried tomatoes are sliding back and forth causing their lids to pop off and the greasiest oil you can imagine is coating the cabinet – when the boat is pitching back and forth like that, so are YOU as you try to sleep.  For people who sleep primarily on their stomachs or backs, you might be able to make it work, but for two side sleepers…  let’s just say we lay wide awake for an hour and a half before I had my idea.  See, I learned during watches that it’s far more comfortable to sleep with your body in the same direction as the rocking, instead of perpendicular to it.  However, the only place to sleep port-to-starboard is in the cockpit.  Hence, our nifty fort.

“This was a good idea,” Matt says, his voice muffled by the cockpit cushion butting up against his nose.

“Seriously?” I asked, thinking I heard a hint of sarcasm.

“Well, half-serious.  Half of it was a really good idea, the other half was a really bad idea.”

We both laughed.  I was glad we were laughing, thankful we could find humor in such challenging circumstances because…. well, because we had just discovered that we lost our dinghy.

Since he couldn’t sleep, Matt had went up on deck to enjoy a granola bar and get some fresh air.  He came back down below seconds later, “The dinghy’s gone.”  I didn’t believe him at first, but when I went on deck, sure enough Slurpee McSlurpster was no longer slurping waves back behind the mothership.  Matt stood in the companionway, looking out behind the boat, a picture of utter dejection.  I knew he was thinking about the $1500-$3000 of unanticipated expense of buying another dinghy and another outboard engine and another gas can…  Me? I couldn’t get over the fact that, now, it would be just that much harder to get off the boat.  I kept seeing my own blog headlines “Imprisoned on a Boat,” “Rangi-row-a-where-did-our-dinghy-go and why didn’t it take me with it?” “Dying from Isolation – a kayak just isn’t the same.”

After we got over the initial shock, I realized that Matt had inadvertently willed the dinghy away.  Earlier that day, as we attempted to go into shore, the outboard engine had died no less than twenty times.  When we finally made it, Matt innocently commented, “If there was one day when I would be quite glad to see the dinghy get stolen, today would be the day.”  Apparently the wind heard him and took that to heart.

I looked at Matt and said a bit panicky, “Now we can’t get off the boat.”   He replied, “Well, we have the kayak.”  “True,” I said, “But I wish we could make it faster.  Although, I guess it wouldn’t take us any longer to paddle to shore than it did to get there with the dinghy breaking down all the time.”  Matt thought about it, “Yeah, we could have someone paddling and someone swimming in front… maybe someone with the fins kicking and pushing from the back.”  That picture struck me as quite hilarious, but I realized – that would be the only way all three of us could go out at the same time.

Half an hour later, as we are snuggled up too close for comfort under our fort, trying to sleep and trying to prevent our sheet from getting wet by yet another squall, Matt begins to laugh, his shoulders shaking the cushion.

“I’m so glad that we spent $1++,000 dollars on a jenky a** boat so we can lay in the cockpit, getting rained on, while the boat rolls around and we can’t sleep, and our piece of sh&t dinghy is off wandering across the lagoon.”

It was just so ridiculous that I start giggling, and Matt starts giggling, and we are laughing uncontrollably, our faces pressed into the cushions to keep them from falling over, wondering, again, just what kind of crazy life we have gotten ourselves into.

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