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Last Days in Papeete

By Chelsea McBroom

March 16th, 2014

On Thursday it began to pour in Papeete, where the Picton Castle was alongside. Even if the rain became lighter, it seemed to always be raining and for two days following. I know it’s just water but it seems to make everything more difficult; it ruins any plans to walk around the city or have a picnic in the park and many of the outdoor food stands are even closed. Peoples moods somehow mimic the weather and everyone becomes sleepy in disposition. Then there’s more to look out for during night watch such as slacking gear, bailing out the skiff, checking the movement of bumpers as we rock alongside, making sure the awnings do not hold water etc. The crew got used to it all very soon, like fish out of water, wearing their bathing suits as they worked in the rain.

In order for the ship to get more fuel and fresh water, we had to move to an adjacent dock just feet away on Friday morning. So as it rained cats and dogs, lines and the gangway were removed, the skiff was sent out and a few crew sent ashore to handle lines at the other dock as the ship motored into place.

The Captain decided it was best to stay another day with bad weather coming our way and so starboard watch had another free day in port. One might say it’s pathetic, but an overwhelming need to nap came over me and some of the other crew and most of the day was spent sleeping. It was the kind of day you could imagine being at home, cozy and curled up in bed reading or watching movies and getting some R and R, so we took advantage of it. The majority of shops close early here on Saturdays and everything was quiet but for the sound of water drops. Crew quickly went to grocery and hardware stores to stock up on gadgets and provisions or hid in cafes.

First thing this morning, Sunday, because it was cook Lily’s day off, Teis and Hugo made breakfast, preparing us for a day of sailing to Moorea. The oatmeal and apple sauce muffins were steaming hot and warmed us from the inside out. The weather had caused us, although still humid, to feel refreshingly cool and the food was comforting.

Again, just a couple days from our last move, we were preparing to leave the dock. We tidied and did domestics, removing all of our garbage, folding away the awning, singling up lines, removing the gangway, standing by to pick up the last few lines before heading off and hoisting the skiff. The harbour pilot joined us at 09:00.

Still overcast and grey, the rain finally subsided. We motored away from Papeete as people waved to us from the dock, and we began setting fore and aft sails, loosing topsails and courses, then later the t’gallants. The swell climbed higher the further away we became – some turned green at the sudden change and some crew had looks of excitement, finally getting a chance to absorb that we were once again sailing the open seas, even if it was just for a day.

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