Wednesday, February 13th, 2013
By Kate “Bob” Addison
The last log entry saw us setting off in small boats in search of unchartered islands, adventure, and marshmallows… here we re-join the crew of the Picton Castle as they take to the small boats:
We had to row out a little to find the wind since the ship is anchored in the shelter of the Mangareva mountains – the island is very well shaped to offer shelter, being tall and steep. Monomoy surged ahead with her 8 strapping oarsmen and oarswomen, while Sea Never Dry kept her close in sight with her “Burmeister and Dane two-stroke engine” (Signe and Chris rowing), while the skiff buzzed back and forth to check all was well and take photos.
And then – heaven in a small boat – a sailing breeze! Oars were shipped, hands to the halyards and sheets, sails hoisted and the boats started to fly across the lagoon, lookouts posted up forward to sing out for coral heads or fishing pot buoys ahead, hands on the sheets ready to spill the wind if a gust should blow too strong.
The skiff was having a great ride too, surfing the small waves, and trolling for fishes with great success – Hayley and Tonya pulled up one fine fat tuna each, and very delicious they were too, cooked up over our camp fire later that evening.
The lagoon safely navigated, we came ashore about 3pm, carefully piloting the channels between the coral heads by using the colour of the water to identify shallow spots, and spotting protruding reefs by the small white breakers. And then, with a clear run to the beach, strike the mainsail, pull up the centerboard and surf in under the jib. The rudder and tiller are raised at the last moment and then the moment the keel touches the sandy bottom down jib and hop out into the ankle-deep clear blue water. We hauled the boats up onto the beach, stretched out the anchors and made them fast way up on the beach above the high water line. All secure with the boats and we paused for a moment to look around at this new found land.
The view was not too shabby… a wide white-sand beach lapped by the turquoise water of the lagoon. Behind the beach was thick lush greenery with plenty of coconut palms but no houses or people in sight. Expedition leader Michael declared this place suitable to meet our desires, so we unpacked our gear from the boats and walked a short way along the beach to find the perfect spot to set up camp. And here it was: a natural clearing in the jungle surrounded by a circle of tall strong trees, close to the beach and with good supplies of firewood and coconut. This clearing was to become Base Camp.
We put down our gear, and all hands were mustered to hear rules of the camp: don’t hurt yourselves; have fun. And so we did.
More next time here on the Picton Castle Captain’s log!