Boats and their crews
So far, we have tried to analyze different aspects of life on board and sailing in the oceans. We talked about the boat, how to choose it, how to prepare it, how to live in the sea, what to expect on the other side of the ocean. However, everything written is filtered through our personal opinion, which is just one of thousands of possible. Traveling, every day you understand more and more that all problems, ideas and solutions are very subjective. It happened to us, and more than once, to find that the problems that sometimes tormented and angered us for weeks did not give us peace, our neighborsthey didn't even take it into account.
Which boat is the best, which route is best, the best way to store water, how to organize a galley or even your life, the answers to these questions are never absolute truth. Looking around, looking closely at other boats, you learn more than studying the subject while sitting at the table.
Локи и Каролина
He is twenty-five years old, and so is she. He is Canadian, she is Brazilian. Loki and Karolina have been sailing for three years on a steel boat that resembles a miniature icebreaker. The railings are welded from four-centimeter pipes, the handrails are also made of pipes, the hatches are small, glazed with plexiglass two centimeters thick, the door from the cockpit to the cabin resembles a submarine hatch. Thirty-two feet, eight tons. But if “Parpar” is the name of their boat, hard and angular, then their story is fascinating and light, like its name, “Butterfly” in Brazilian.
A newly graduated engineer designs his first boat. He is fascinated by extreme seas, so he conceives a boat made of steel, very durable, designed for sailing to the poles. However, the engineer is young and without money. To breathe life into his creation, he needed a welder, and he found one. The welder really liked the project and he suggested:
“I’ll help you cut and weld the metal and I won’t take any money for it. But we will build two boats, one will be for me.
We signed an agreement and construction began in the yard of the welder's house. Two years later the boats were ready. The engineer's boat immediately set sail around the American continent, including the Northwest Passage, during which it remained frozen in the ice for five months, but emerged from them safe and sound.
Loki was at Glenans School, and now, in Canada, she kept in touch with sailboatsmen, of a slightly extreme persuasion. She arranged for her son to participate in one of the passages of this voyage around America. Loki really liked life on the boat, and on this boat in particular. He learned that the twin boat had only reached Vancouver. Her former owner, having put the masts and the engine, suddenly realized that he was not created for life at sea and sold it to a carpenter. The carpenter made all the interior fittings out of wood, installed the equipment and equipment, equipped the galley, so that in turnIt is worth noticing that he is not very keen on the sea. Thus, ten years after the construction, the boat made only a couple of trial voyages and was put up for sale for $ 32,000.
Loki, meanwhile, left the university and continued to look for any opportunity to go to sea. He met Carolina while on a cruise on a Greenpeace ship. They both worked in the galley. Invented a new Franco-Brazilian cuisine and fell in love. There they decided that the boat would be their home. We collected all the available money and, with the help of our parents, scraped together 15,000, went to Vancouver and met with the owner of the icebreaker's younger sister.
It was a cloudy and rainy day, they were sitting in a port bar on the shore of a gray ocean:
— Here is 15,000 dollars. Loki said as he pulled out a wad of cash. "It's a lot less than what you're asking, but it's all I have." If you agree, deal with it, if not, we have looked after a fiberglass boat.
The carpenter said no, but then changed his mind. He walked away, called his wife and said that he agreed.
For Loki and Karolina, this was the beginning of a new life.
"That's the thing," Loki says. — that both he and his wife were afraid of the sea!
And for three years now, Loki and Karolina have a boat called "Parpar".
They periodically stop somewhere to earn some money. They delivered pizza to homes in Los Angeles, taught windsurfing in Hawaii, but most of the time they spend in distant and beautiful places where there are a lot of fish and life is not worth anything at all. They spent the last cyclone season in the Tuvalu archipelago on an atoll with a population of twenty people.
The guys on Parpara are steel.
- Galvanized steel. Loki says, proudly displaying them. “They were like this when I bought the boat, and there was no reason to change them. Steel is better than stainless steel. It is more elastic, more durable, costs ten times less and is sold everywhere.
- Does it rust?
- No, you are. Look at these guys. They are ten years old and still in good condition. Although I have already bought a coil of cable and zinc, I will gradually make new ones.
And here is Loki on the shore, under the palm trees. Gas bottle, stove, Kuznetsk gloves, metal crucible and hacksaw. Saws zinc ingots into pieces, puts them in a crucible and waits. After twenty minutes, the metal melts, turning into a beautiful silvery liquid. In the meantime, he cleaned up the guy's terminal, which is made with a cup on one side. The end of the cable is inserted, the strands are untwisted and bent back. Then, with great care, fiery zinc is poured into the glass. Thus, one by one, new shrouds are ready. The expenses are smalland not a lot of work. But will they really last ten years? He says yes. For protection, he paints them. I'm thinking about two-component paints here, about a special primer so that the paint adheres better to the metal. Where there! Surik! He covers them with red lead, and that's it.
— Surik needs a few days to dry well, but when dry, it will withstand anything. Loki says. “It protects the zinc, which in turn protects the steel!”
Carolina, meanwhile, controls stocks of beans, lentils, soybeans and kilos of Brazil nuts on board. Despite the appearance, inside the boat is equipped with everything. They have an inflatable kayak for two, two guitars, two computers, a radio station, a stereo and a collection of two hundred CDs, books, lamps, not to mention kitchen equipment.
“We really like to cook, when we can, we order some ingredients from home, like brazil nuts, and then we party.
In the kitchen they have a mixer, a toaster, a kerosene stove, a cake pan, a seed germinator, a yogurt maker. And they use it all. In compensation, when you dine with them, you have to put books under hot plates so as not to burn your knees. There is no table on the boat.
We had a table, but it broke all the time and we threw it away. When I have some time, I will make another one.
Фрэнсис и Джон
If Loki's boat is the heaviest, then John's boat is the lightest. And if Loki and Carolina are full of energy, freshness and temperament of green youth, then Francis and John are already old people, but they are not inferior to them in enthusiasm.
The boat they are traveling on is a rather strange object. It looks more like a flying saucer than a sailing sailboat. Rounded futuristic shapes, a rectangular convex bridge connecting the floats, a powerful, almost shroudless mast that can be rotated to improve aerodynamics, thin and very long floats, It seems to be wider than it is long, but in fact their trimaran has dimensions eleven meters by eight. To lift it up for painting the bottom, they had to look for a crane in the city, because the travel bodicethe shipyard where we met them was not wide enough. However, it weighs very little, less than three tons. John built it in the backyard of his home in Canada where he lived with his wife and two children. Worked weekends and all days off work for a tea and cocoa export company. It took him eighteen years, a very long time, even for a do-it-yourselfer. Meanwhile, the children grew up and his wife left him. And then John meets Frances, who is twenty-two years younger than him. They understand each other very well, both are passionate about the sea, fall in love and decide to leave in sailing. By the time we met them, they had already been at sea for six years, so their relationship with each other and with the boat was more than tested. They live on John's good pension, and Francis also writes articles for Canadian sailing magazines.
Their trimaran is very fast: two hundred miles a day, compared to a hundred, a hundred and twenty on an ordinary boat. As a result, ocean crossings never last more than ten days.
The trimaran must be very light and very strong. Its construction requires expensive super-technological materials.
The boat cost 150,000 euros, plus endless hours of work. Despite the cost, the boat is very spartan, and not by choice, but by necessity. The space inside is very limited, a lot of stuff doesn't fit and you have to be very careful about what is loaded on board because an overloaded trimaran becomes slow and unsafe. So their galley consists of tiles located on the side of the sofa, there is no central table, as well as there is no navigation table. Water supply, only 125 liters, replenished by a desalinator, workingfrom six solar panels located on the bridge.
The toilet is simply gorgeous, a board-covered, raised-sided see-through opening in one of the two wings connecting the central body to the side floats. If you raise the board, you can see the sea. So everything goes straight into the sea, with no valves to open and close, no pump to pump, no gaskets and no toilet odors. Just a miracle. One thing but ... sitting on such a pot while sailing, it is washed from below by waves and spray. Another but, the toilet does not have a door, in order to save weight, and you need to be completelyunshy, to relieve themselves so, in plain sight, a few centimeters from the place where they cook or half a meter from the one lying down to relax on the couch!
Their boat may seem absolutely uncomfortable, but they are very happy with it. To the question:
- If you had the opportunity, would you change your boat? - they answer. — Yes, for a slightly longer trimaran, with a large volume of floats and a spacious cockpit where one could stretch out in height.
We went out for a walk with them. The sea was almost calm, the wind, the usual breeze of ten knots, but the trimaran was rushing, as if under a motor, piercing the wave crests with floats and raising clouds of spray. Crazy speed, from our point of view, unfortunate, floating on a monohull.
Michel is a French name, but he is an Italian from Robecco sul Naviglio, a few kilometers from Milan. In his album, he is photographed with long blond hair pulled back into a ponytail. Now he has a shaved head, and he is not yet forty. A former graduate of the prestigious Bocconi University, who tried to become a diplomat in order to be able to travel the world, but became a loner sailor.
His boat is nine meters by three, the draft is a little over a meter, it weighs three and a half tons. Arpezh, built at the shipyard Dufour thirty-five years ago. The boat, despite its age, can be considered one of the most worthy nine meters for those who appreciate reliability and seaworthiness.
Are you happy with your boat?
- More than. And I wouldn't change it for anything. Or I would have changed to Arpezh a little larger, but this does not exist.
Michel is calm and always smiling. Having received a diploma, he immediately got a job in an office, but soon felt that he was cramped there. I tried to change jobs and offices, but it was the same there. Then he responded to an ad from an Italian, the owner of a twenty-meter boat in Florida, who was looking for a sailor. Michel immediately abandoned his business career and moved to America. Very soon he was convinced that the relationship at sea feels good, a complete understanding was established with the owner and, most importantly, he found peace of mind. Two years have passed when,oh, unexpectedly, (probably this is still fate) he suddenly got an inheritance, you won’t believe it, from his uncle.
The inheritance was small, but it could mean the beginning of a new life. Which is better, a boat twenty meters long with an owner and a regular salary, or a small boat, a Spartan life, when there is no one to wait for help from. The answer is obvious. Michel returns home, looks around a bit and in France, under the English flag, finds his boat - Carlotta.
At first there was wandering around the Mediterranean, then a big crossing, Gibraltar and the oceans. The first time we met him was on one of the remote Pacific islands.
Michel doesn't have a fridge, but he does have a machine that he uses to make pasta on the boat once a week. He also has a sewing machine, with which he sews everything that is possible for the coziness and cockpit, from the awning with water collection to the colored upholstery of the inner mattresses. The boat has a computer, radio, music. But he does not pay attention to technical details at all. Climbing aboard his boat, I notice that the lanyard on the gorm is bent.
Don't worry, it's been like this for years and has never broken.
Running lights are attached to the top of the mast with a plastic tie and dangle. The anchor is selected by hand, the paint of the hull has turned yellow from time to time. But when Michel takes up the tiller, she steers her boat like a model. Although he does not steer often, he is assisted by a wind rudder. But he does not want to see the autopilot on board anymore. His friend almost lost his life because of the autopilot. He walked with a tailwind, when the wind went down, the autopilot, of course, continued to steer straight. The sails flew over to another tack, a blow with a boom, and a friend ended up in the water, and the boatla your dear. With superhuman efforts, he managed to get ashore, and the boat ended its existence on the reefs, which lay five miles straight ahead.
While others are trying to get into the most remote corners, Michel is looking for society. For months he stands in ports, mingles with people, makes many acquaintances and even a bride ... Then, when it seems that he has already taken root, one fine morning, he raises Calottino, his microscopic ace, to the deck, raises the mainsail and leaves.
Andre's boat, a twelve meter Sun Fizz, built eighteen years ago. A banal serial boat, hundreds of exactly the same in the Mediterranean go on a cruise only in the summer months. But Andre himself is not at all banal. Sixty-five years old, vigorous and fit, clean, piercing eyes. He has been sailing for seven years already, the first years with a girlfriend, then alone, alone, went around half the world. His boat shows signs of its age: cracked gelcoat, rusty streaks on the sides from lanyards. Andre himself seems indefatigable. He is constantly on the movet with his boat, as if it were a dinghy, is constantly moving, from one bay to another, from the anchorage to the pier, from the pier, to another anchorage, even if he was just going to go fishing.
Inside, in the cabin, the table, floors, berths, everything is old, the varnish on the wood is cracked. Musty, musty smell. But this is not even carelessness. This neglect, not exactly a choice, an aphilosophical perception of the fact that all things wear out, and as long as they have not lost their qualities in the process of wear, you should not worry about them, almost a philosophy of life. Navigational instruments, maps, a radio station, a computer that sends e-mail and receives weather charts via radio, all these things he has in perfect condition.
“I’m quite happy with my boat, I just wish the bow wasn’t so flat and wide,” he says. - when we go close-hauled on a big wave, it knocks hard on the waves, it even becomes scary for me.
As he says this, he smiles broadly, and it is clear that he is ready to continue to experience these fears.
— Everything else in the boat is fine, nothing has ever broken. - what more could you want? - She walks so-so on the tack, but she is very fast on passing courses. The first years, on full headings in strong winds, it was difficult to keep her on course, but since the installation of a wind rudder (Mustafa models), this does not happen again. The main rudder is blocked in the diametral plane and works like a daggerboard, the boat becomes stable and supple.
His boat, the Samoa, is a production model built without much pretension. One of those boats that many find too light for serious cruising and I would never recommend one. However, here she is, anchored in a mangrove-filled fiord in Fiji, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, proof that she has traveled many miles and nothing has happened, and that my assessment may have been too pessimistic.
Unlike other French people, André does not limit his travels to countries where French is spoken. He is curious, and like us, he is drawn to the least known places, the ones where other boats don't go. In each place, he immerses himself in the local culture, becomes a friend to everyone, goes out to sea with fishermen and regularly gets brides. When we met him in New Caledonia, he had a canaca girlfriend who traveled with him while he wandered between the islands, but when he left the country she did not follow him.
In Vanuatu, he had a fiancee Mary, a girl who lived in Porto Villa, but originally from one of the northern islands. She had problems with the landlord, and André paid six months' rent in advance and then took her on a boat to Santo to see the family she hadn't seen in years.
When we met him again in Fiji, his new girlfriend was working in Lautoka and her family was living in a village on the north coast. Milika, during the week, lived on the "Samoa", at the anchorage in the port, and on Friday evening Andre chose the anchor and distilled the boat to her village. There they spent the weekend with other Fijians, and on Monday at dawn they returned to Lautoka, like a typical European family.
His name is Toguk, 35, assistant professor of architecture from Istanbul, her Yosim, artist, 25, both Turkish. They did not choose the boat for themselves, it will fall on them from heaven. And their story is one of the strangest we've ever heard. They tell it in pieces, in very poor English and with the help of a Spaniard friend who almost adopted them and helped them get to these places.
The boat is called Yosun, which means seaweed in Turkish. Its first owner, a Turk whose name we do not know, left Istanbul many years ago, crossed the Atlantic, passed Panama and reached Hawaii. There he met an American woman, found a job and settled down. Years passed, the Turk made a fortune and wanted to return home. But how? By boat, of course, in this way he would have become the first Turk to circumnavigate the world. And they set off on a journey, intending to go in small passages, he, his wife, and the sailor.
But even the first crossing from Hawaii was far from small, 2,200 miles from Honolulu to Polynesia. Arriving in Tahiti, the Turks decided to abandon the continuation of the voyage. He is too old for such adventures. However, he would like his boat to complete a journey that began many years ago. And then he places an ad in the Istanbul newspaper that he will give the boat to the one who will bring it to its destination.
Yoshim and Toguk read the ad, very much like a joke, and they answered in jest. They weren't the only ones who answered, but the owner of the boat chose them! Little money, little sailing experience, very poor English, but a great desire for adventure. Their friends chip in and collect money for them to fly to Tahaa. Yoshima sold all the paintings she had, and when the school year ended, they set off.
On Tahaa, the owner hands over the boat to them and leaves. “When you get to Istanbul,” he says, “the boat will be yours.”
Two do not know whether to rejoice, or to grab their heads. They are on the other side of the earth, on an old, neglected boat, almost no sea experience and money, uncertainty and an endless ocean ahead. They literally don't know what to grab onto. They try to prepare the boat and prepare themselves, ask everyone for advice, look for maps and sailing directions and learn how to use them. In the end, they tie up with the Spanish boat and set off. A thousand miles and ten days of sailing before calling on Apia in Samoa, already completely without enthusiasm and only with a huge sense of fear.
“They asked everyone if the waves they met were big or normal waves, and if the wind could be stronger than the one that blew this time. says Miguel, the Spanish Good Samaritan who helped them make the transition.
The Yeosun, however, leaks from every crevice, even just in the rain, and the poorly protected cockpit takes on water on every big wave that rolls in from the stern. They are ready to give up everything, but Miguel takes them under his wing. He convinces them to go with him at least as far as Fiji. You can leave the boat there, return to Turkey, as the holidays are already ending, take a vacation for a year, find out the situation with the owner, who did not leave any written agreements, and if everything is in order, return to Fiji, invest money in repairing the boat and negotiate with him about the returnresearch institutes in the Mediterranean.
So they do, in Turkey they take a vacation for a year and make out the sale of the boat for one dollar. The former owner also gives them plane tickets to Fiji.
A beautiful human story, but the history of the sea does not end there. We saw how they worked twenty hours a month at the Fiji shipyard to get the boat in order. They could not even afford one Coca-Cola for two, but all the other crews took turns preparing dinner for them and even delivered it to the boat. They spoke little, poor, guttural English, asked everyone for advice, but seemed happy.
They traveled west, traveling in tandem with Miguel. They are going to cross the Torres Strait and bypass Indonesia, so as not to spend money on a sailing permit, which costs $ 150, go to Malaysia, leave the boat there and return to Turkey again. Then they intend to continue sailing in stages, during the summer holidays, selling paintings along the way, to replenish the budget, which may increase the duration of the trip.
There is no point in asking them if they are happy with their boat, asking questions about its displacement, draft and armament, they still would not know what to answer. The only thing they know is that this adventure has changed their whole life.
Тэд и Сюзан
Ted and Susan are closer to seventy than fifty. They are collected and ironic, sympathetic and sympathetic. They speak French well and know how difficult it is to understand when someone speaks a language other than yours, so when they talk about themselves in English, they speak slowly, with understanding of those who listen to them. They set off from the United States a dozen years ago. He is a former sailor and lawyer. Their boat, a fiberglass Hans Christian 38, is designed for long distance cruising. Solid teak interior, very rigid hull,a huge bowsprit protected by thick stainless steel pipes and a lot, perhaps too much, of the exterior wood trim.
The boat needs it. says Susan, sanding the third coat of varnish on the wood strip that runs along the entire board with an ultra-fine sandpaper. Once a year they sand it down to bare wood and, with the precision of violin makers, cover it with four coats of new lacquer.
Deep cockpit, tiller control, spacious cabin, plenty of tools and a well equipped kitchen. Their whole life outside of the United States is here, in this immaculate, well-equipped and well-equipped boat.
“Three years ago we installed a staysail furler, and since then we keep asking ourselves why we didn’t do it sooner.”
Thad says, nodding towards the bowsprit with his hooked nose and white forelock. “We didn’t want to change anything on the original boat. Otherwise, it is the same as when we bought it.
Everything, including the buffalo horn-like object on deck, is half brass, half wood, always polished. The geek relies on it. They wouldn't trade their boat for anything in the world.
Ted and Susan, the perfect anti-heroes. Instead of talking about heroic crossings, ferocious storms and terrible downpours, they talk about the case of climbing a mountain in New Zealand, or how trekking was practiced in New Caledonia.
Susan suffers from seasickness and doesn't hesitate to talk about it. She does not like long transitions, and agrees to them only because there is no other way, but she likes to stop on land more, to visit new places. The division of duties on board is classic: she cooks, maintains order, paints and keeps all that wood in perfect shape, he takes care of the mechanics, electronics, engine and all technical issues. Their vagrancy is very slow, they have been in the Pacific for the last ten years. Long stays in portsdays spent cycling in the morning and boat maintenance in the evening. Their mother Susan, who is almost ninety years old, comes to their shell, outwardly small, for the Christmas holidays.
They spent a year in French Polynesia, a year in Tonga, three in Australia - It's so huge it would take ten years! - a year in Fiji, one in New Caledonia, one in Vanuatu and two in New Zealand.
Next year we would like to go north to Salomon, but we are not sure yet, because we have not yet received an OK from the insurance company.
We are nowhere without insurance. Thad says with a simple smile. “Maybe because we're Americans, maybe because we're old.
On his boat, he raises the Catalan flag and it is called, “Calafel”, after the Catalan village where he lived before sailing, but on the strips of fabric stretched along all the rails of the boat, only eight meters long, flaunts the inscription: “El ollandes errante” because Peter was born in Holland to South African parents.
In Catalonia, he had an establishment located on the floor of the road between the sea and the hill. It was visited by tourists and sailors. He spent his free time on fishing boats looking out to sea. At forty-five, he rented out the establishment, left the house with his wife and children, and left in this tiny boat, long and narrow, fiberglass hull, teak deck.
The rental income goes to the education of the children and he receives some money every month from his wife. In return, he sends articles to a Catalan magazine. In cases of unforeseen expenses, he shows ingenuity. On Homer, in the Canary Islands, he had an affair with a noble lady from the province. She helped to prepare a boat for him, to stock up on food, organized a farewell party and met him already in Tobago. For some time, the lady of Mediterranean forms was still crowded in the cramped insides of the “Calafel” and together with Peter they reached Panama. Next, sendI am alone, but still in contact with my passion. From her, he receives perfumed letters and bank transfers.
Having reached Niue, Peter turns to the local weekly, offering cooperation: - You will see, with me you will double the circulation. he tells the editor, who decides to give it a try.
The sailing season was in full swing, and he comes up with a new rubric-
"Boat of the Week" Goes on arriving sailboats, takes pictures, talks to people and produces an article accompanied by photos of the boat and crew. Boat crews are just happy and buy the newspaper without batting an eyelid. Many people buy several copies to send home and have on board. At peak times, boat crews even delay their departure in order to buy a room that talks about them. Peter also comes up with a forum for sailboatsmen, where they can exchange opinions, advice, sell or buy equipment. salesand the newspapers are growing and Peter is guaranteed dinner every night on one of the boats.
When the sailboating season is over, Peter comes up with a rubric. "Generations of the Future". Visits local schools, every day different classes or student groups, speaks, asks questions, takes pictures. Then he writes an article. So each family buys every issue of the newspaper to be sure they don't miss the one that talks about their children, and buys more than one copy to send to relatives living outside the tiny island nation.
We first met him in Fiji, where he beached a boat and hired an Indian to help. An Indian, not very experienced in these matters, instructed to paint the hull white, painted everything white, including the teak deck and all the wood trim. Catastrophe! But Peter is calm.
- Well, what can I say, for the pennies that I pay him ...
Citoyen du monde (Гражданин мира)
Fabrizio, Silvia, Tom and Anis, look like a typical family from the Mulino bianco commercial. She, the kindergarten teacher, he, the shipbuilder. But their home, an eleven and a half meter long catamaran with a name that is in itself a “Citoyen du monde” program. They built it in San Lazaro, near La Rochelle, spending very little money, and immediately set off to sea. Then they still did not have a motor and even Anis. First stop was Newfoundland. They found work there and stayed for a year. Trial sailing showed that the motor is still requiredI and the catamaran would not be bad to have an extra meter in length. They returned to France, made all the necessary modifications, in the meantime, Anis was born. When they went out to sea again, she was only a few months old and Tom was seven years old.
Like many children of his age, Tom began to study by correspondence. Envelopes with lessons and final tests arrive in the mail, which he regularly completes, every day, under the supervision of his mother. Then the tests are sent to a school in France. If all tests are passed, a new envelope with new programs arrives. If not, you have to redo the old ones. At the end of each cycle of study, he must pass an examination at a French school or consulate, thus laying the foundation for his education. Just like he learn lots of english, americanskii and New Zealand children who follow their parents around the world.
Like many French, this family travels between the former colonies and overseas territories of France. This makes it easier for them to find a well-paid job. But Fabrizio's work is special. He works with wood, restores historic boats. In Newfoundland, he helped the local community restore a traditional fishing boat that had not been used for many years. He did the same on Easter Island, and already thanks to his recommendations he was invited to the Marquises, in order to reconstruct an ancient canoe from the drawings preserved in the museum.dug sea. One of those that the ancient Polynesians used to colonize the Pacific Ocean.
This is a serene family. Anis is happy to stop in new places where she can make new friends to play with or meet boat travelers like her who have already met in other places. Tom is already fifteen years old, he is starting to enter a critical age. Perhaps the moment has come for him to return to France and integrate into the society that is part of his culture. Then, in the future, if he wants to leave her, it should be his choice.
As long as they live together. Quiet existence, carefree children, caring parents.
At least that's the impression we had of them while we saw them on land. However, when the moment came to give up the moorings, the caring father turned into Captain Bligh, rude and exacting. Tom, who let go of the moorings earlier than he was told, received an impressive cuff, Sylvia was rudely ordered to take the helm, and Anise, who was saying goodbye to her friends, was drawn aboard.
The duration of their union is likely to be inversely proportional to the duration of the voyage.
Том и Джулия
Tom and Julia are the type of American who constantly feel the need to explain to everyone how to behave.
When they arrive in a new place, they begin to try to act like the locals, dress in the same clothes, cook the same meals, go to church on Sundays, stop at huts, chat with women and caress children. And everything would be fine, but soon they begin to advise how to change traditional recipes so that there are more vitamins and less fat, sing solo in the church choir, explain to mothers that it is better to raise children this way and not that way.
We met them at a shipyard in Fiji. They were under a shed where workers gather in the evening, at the end of work, to drink what they call grog, a traditional drink made from the roots of kava.
Julia and Tom joined the workers, as we often did, but they were dressed in pareos and flower garlands. He with a guitar, she with a ukulele. They sang traditional Fiji songs while reading the words from a notebook.
It turned out to be unrealistic. They seemed to be people in masks, two aged hippies playing roles that did not suit them, in addition, they distorted the song. In Fiji, vowels are pronounced the same as in Italian: a is pronounced like a, e like e, o like o. They sang, pronouncing in American, remaking a in hey, o in oh and so on.
The Fijians, however, received them well, they are always polite and friendly, and they were not even very embarrassed when this old woman brought out a cake for the grog, although for them this time is exclusively for drinking, and for this reason dinner is postponed until late at night.
When we got to know Tom and Julia better, we realized that it was in trying to assimilate into the people we met that the meaning of their journey was.
They left California but never went further than Fiji and have been sailing in this part of the Pacific for more than fifteen years. They moved between Kiribati, Tuvalu and Fiji, staying on duty on the islands and in every place, month after month, season after season, they tried to integrate into the local society. At least get to know him and understand to the depths.
I don't know to what extent they succeeded, but their presence under the canopy makes one think that their Americanism is too hard to overcome. However, they told us an incident that happened to them in Kiribati, which makes us think.
Kiribati is a state composed of islands and atolls, approximately on the equator, evenly scattered around the 180th meridian. A state without large resources, moderately developed, but apart from the capital, there is no electricity anywhere, no schools, no hospitals, no shops.
The Vanessa, their twelve-foot fiberglass boat that they took out of California, had been anchored off one of the small islands for several months. On board Tom, Julia and daughters are friends on the shore, but at the same time does not want to put their daughters at risk. Fate decides for him: the eldest Annie falls ill.
“Within 48 hours, she turned yellow, had a high temperature, and didn’t even have the strength to move. I wanted to immediately go to the nearest hospital, but I realized that it was so far away that I was unlikely to take my daughter alive!
Tom and Julia try the only way out they have:
“Other sick people were gathered in a big hut in the village, where the old people treated them with traditional methods. We were in despair, did not know what to do and brought our daughter there.
The technique of treatment, says Tom, was to tire out the disease. The girl was massaged continuously day and night, steam was created around her, which made her sweat. At the same time, infusions of berries and herbs were being prepared, and she had to drink one spoonful of them every hour.
- At some point we were sure that she was dying. Her eyes rolled back and a spoonful of infusion had to be poured directly into her throat, risking that she would choke.
At the start of the second night, one of the women who took turns massaging Annie said to Tom, “You'll see, when she takes her medicine at midnight, she'll get better.
Of course, he did not believe, but he seized on this hope.
“I was waiting for midnight and time seemed endless, but when it came time to take the medicine, I realized that things had changed. Annie opened her mouth, made a grimace at the unpleasant taste of the mixture, and swallowed it.
From that moment on, Annie began to recover and a few days later she was already on the boat, and ten days later they chose anchor and went to Suva, where local doctors confirmed that the girl had had hepatitis, but is now completely healthy.
This incident strongly attached Tom and Julia to Kiribati and even now, thirteen years later, they spend a lot of time here every year among friends, and Julia has just published a book in which she talks about them.