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Leaving Moorea for Huahine

By Chelsea McBroom

March 21st, 2014

It was so hot aboard the Picton Castle I had to sneak out of the foc’sle to the cargo hatch amidships more than once to sleep. I was the only one who did, which probably had to do with the unbelievable gusts of wind that came through Cooks Bay at night. At each gust I would wake to catch my sleeping bag as it flew away from me and to look around at the surreal black and white scene of the ship’s yards above and the full moon trying to escape the quickly passing clouds.

Our first evening at anchor, all starboard watch hands were called to take in the awning that hung over the hatch. Because of the gusts, the awning luffed and flapped vigorously and Sam the watch officer thought for sure it would take flight. We gathered silently in the middle of the night, the wind howling in our ears, each of us standing at a lashed corner of the canvas and with each command, took the lashings down to one turn and then at the precise calm moment let down the awning so it wouldn’t fly away. It was quickly folded and put into the hold. This took only a few moments before we were sent back to bed.

I was woken up just a few hours later for my 03:00 night watch when fortunately, the wind had become more consistent in force and less gusty therefore making me less paranoid. The wind wasn’t as forceful during the day, but the coxswain struggled against the current when making skiff runs and at one point a gust lifted hard plastic plates from the aloha deck counter during breakfast and flew them overboard and at crew sitting on the bench, actually causing injury. Although the island itself was appreciated, the bay was not welcoming and we were relieved when we heaved anchor and sailed for Huahine.

During the sail to Moorea, watches were unnecessary for such a short journey. As we made for Huahine, we were put into sailing watches again. Even so it was just for a day and an overnight trip and some of the crew wished for a longer journey. Huahine became visible and lights could be seen in the distance and the island was still just a shadow. I have been told we will travel around to the other side of the island to rest for the next four to six days, and to our excitement, weather depending, we may do some rowing and some overnight trips in the monomoy longboat. Hoping for a drier night of camping this time (knock on wood, cross your fingers and anything else you can think of)!

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