Never having been to the Pacific before, the limited knowledge I had of it came from the experience’s relayed to me by Bob and Ed after their circumnavigation, TV, books and movies like South Pacific. I had a pretty firm idea of what it was going to be like, but as in all things, the reality can be quite different.
The Marquises couldn’t have been further from my imaginings of Pacific Islands, but not in a bad way, they were surprisingly, wonderfully different, majestic and unbelievably beautiful, and so far totally unspoiled by man.
The Tuomotos, a mere 400 miles south-west of the Marquises are as different as Islands could be. Where the Marquises have enormous volcanic cliffs that rise straight up from the dark blue water and disappear into the clouds; the seas surrounding the Tuomotos are the palest aqua deepening to brilliant turquoise and cerulean blue. The atoll’s are only as high as their tallest palm tree, and the roots of the trees are only as deep as one foot above sea level. During a cyclone many of the Islands are totally submerged, a scary thought, and something I’m not wanting to experience.
We planned our travel dates with care to avoid cyclone season, of course this doesn’t guarantee there won’t be a cyclone, Mother Nature is always full of surprises.
When we arrived at the first atoll, the Islands of Manihi, there were squalls all around and the skies looked threatening, not in a cyclonic sort of way, just dark and stormy. Our first and second days here were very, very windy but otherwise sunny and warm with only a few scattered storms coming and going. The first night we had winds over forty knots, the second day the winds were consistently around the high twenty’s but it was sunny and hot. The afternoon and evening of the second day it clouded over squalls gathered all around the lagoon and the rain started. It rained heavily on and off all through the night and the following morning (our third day) we woke to black skies with exceptionally strong winds gusting to over forty knots and rain. As the day went on the weather grew steadily worse. Fortunately Oyster boats are strong and solid, if Daisy was to have any leaks we would certainly have found them during this storm, happily there were none, “well done Oyster”. We had a totally dry ship to shelter us. The anchor was holding fast throughout the storms so we were quite safe. Since we were ship-bound we looked for jobs to do aboard. Bob was once again tearing into the damn generator, as there was now a fault in the electric box, something he has been meaning to relocate since we had Daisy, but it was always one of those jobs so far down the list, he simply never got to it. The electric box is located in a place where it’s subject to constant vibration when the genny is running, consequently the wires inside were often working lose. Re-locating the box would solve that problem, but it was a huge time consuming, complicated job. “so what’s new!” This was the perfect opportunity to get on with it.
Throughout the day there were times that the rain was so heavy we couldn’t even see the shore, which was only four or five hundred feet away. I hate storms, and need a distraction to stop me bobbing up and down every five minutes, like a rabbit in its burrow, to see whether the storm is about to become a cyclone and take us out!
By way of a distraction, and since we were “ship-bound”, I set about reorganizing the storage of the provisions and updating the computer with the new list, this took me the best part of the day but was a job well done. Another fun task was scrubbing the teak floor in the cockpit during the storm. It was a wet, cold job, but the next morning when everything had dried, the floor looked absolutely beautiful, thank you Mother Nature for rinsing all the soap away. and giving Daisy such a great wash down. “Oh and thanks for not sending us a cyclone”. I do hope I don’t regret saying that!