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On Turquoise Water

By Dr. Peter Sharp, ship’s medical officer

February 15th, 2014

On turquoise water clouds pile high: green hills, white terns thought homeward fly.

The Picton Castle left Pitcairn on the first of February 2014 with a big swell rolling in on Bounty Bay and motor sailed north until the next day loaded with tons of fresh fruit – papaya, coconut, cantaloupe, watermelon and avocado generously given to us by the Pitcairners. The next day as squalls spitting lightning rolled by, we set sail and sailed for the next five days towards Mangareva.

On the afternoon of the 5th of February we were anchored under the northwest of the main island; tall, wooded, paradise-like. The next day we motored down the tortuous narrow channel past coral reefs with the wind aft to anchor at Rade de Rikitea under Mount Duff. There remora swam free waiting at the sea sink for food scraps.

Ashore was a Post Office, shops, a phone box out of Local Hero, and a bar. Baguettes and real coffee, the Church of Saint Michael an imposing structure and stone ruins. Kids swam out to the ship to swarm aboard and use it as a dive platform. Fast fiberglass outrigger pirogues shot by. Sun drenched or just drenched by passing downpours.

Zika an anthropoid borne viral illness that can be found in the area is said to be mild, but one woman currently suffering from this (to whom I spoke) would not agree; headache, overwhelming fatigue, arthralgis and rash. I also met Floyd, a young local man, who was generous and friendly and seemed to know everybody.

On the morning of Thursday the 13th of February we weighed anchor just as a tremendous squall came down on us and began to motor sail in a curtain of heavy rain. Captain John explained we would motor sail towards Nuku Hiva where the computer model predicted fair wind. As the full moon came out behind a huge Charlie Bravo we started to set sails on the 14th. There was relief as the noisy iron staysail was turned off.

Today the 15th of February sees us sailing at 4 knots northward with everything set except the flying jib. Spectacular sunsets. A great marlin having taken one of our fishing lines and leaping high contemptuously snapped it. What a life. To think: I could be sitting in traffic on Campbell Street.

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