Friday, February 15th, 2013
By Kate “Bob” Addison
We re-join our sailors where we left them, standing on a perfect coral sand South Pacific beach, the boats secure and nothing to be done except set up a camp for the night… poor darlings.
We rigged the big tarpaulins in a nice clearing between the trees for shelter just in case of rain, and slung our hammocks underneath. We built a kitchen with a coconut ringed fire and log benches, and made a kitchen table out of water jerry cans and the monomoy lee-board. Small settlements sprung up around near to Base Camp too: Ozzie Camp took advantage of army training to produce the neatest, most efficient tarp shelter, while Allison, Jo and Bob Camp went “high-risk rustic” with palm fronds instead of tarps for a tent.
Dinner was a team effort by Hege, Brody, Michael and Hayley, chopping up the fish and boiling the rice and veggies on the campfire. Everyone helped collect wood for the fire, which was ably managed by NickSA and Brody, well versed from their recent experiences in The Congo and Texas respectively. Dinner was a big hit: the fish, tomato and chickpea stew with rice was absolutely delicious, the flavour only enhanced by the subtle smoking in the cooking.
And then after supper there was campfire chat and singing with Mr Mate on guitar and all hands joining in the chorus. And just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, imagine our delight to find that Jo had brought marshmallows and chocolate for everybody. Good job Jo!
The evening was fairly buggy and rained pretty much non-stop, but nobody seemed to mind or even to notice much. The warmth of the night helped of course, and the smoke from the fire kept the worst of the bugs at bay and there was much contentment and hilarity. Camping with fellow tall ship sailors is awesome.
It rained a fair amount in the night, and I have to say the palm fronds were pretty effective, though going to bed wearing clothes still salt-water wet from swimming was maybe not the brightest idea I’ve ever had.
Morning was heralded by many vocal roosters and a soft sunrise, and Brody was up first to get the fire going again. Coffee, oatmeal and dried and fresh fruit made a fine breakfast and then it was time to pack up camp ready for the sail home.
We loaded the boats and pushed off from the shore. All aboard and we carefully picked our way back out through the reef under oars. Away from the lee of the island and sails were set once more. Sea Never Dry started out with a reef in her cotton mainsail to make sure the winds wouldn’t be too strong once out of the shelter of the island, but the reef was soon shaken out to reveal the giant Norwegian flag that is her mainsail… it would seem that’s what happens when you have a Norwegian sailmaker! Siri looked very happy at the helm of her personalised command anyway.
It was upwind on the way home, so it took a good four hours to tack back across the lagoon to the ship. The rain had finally cleared and the sun was bright and hot. Tonya caught herself another fine fish from the skiff, and by the time we got back home to Picton Castle everyone was tired and a little cooked round the edges, but happy and feeling like we’d had a great adventure.