Monday, August 9th, 2010
The Captain likes to have a good supply of coconuts on board and Nadja is always involved in food provisioning for the ship, so she asked Dave Brown about collecting coconuts, breadfruit and anything else that the island might be able to spare. After over a month out of Panama fresh provisions are pretty short, no, they are nonexistent. The hunting and gathering party met at Meralda’s and after about five servings of breakfast and ten cups of coffee each they set out. They took with them a ladder and a long reaching pole with a hook on the end. When growing close together breadfruit trees are quite tall, with no branches until the canopy at the top of the tree. The tall ladder was leaned up against the tree and held in place at the bottom. The crew then took turns climbing up the ladder, long pole in hand, to try to hook the stem above the breadfruit and pull the breadfruit down. This sounds easy, but the trees are really tall, the pole was very long and hard to control, it was tough to see around the tree from being so close to the trunk at the top of the ladder, and the breadfruit are spaced out quite widely in the treetop. While one person was up the tree with the pole and one other was holding the ladder, everyone else was under the tree, preparing to catch any breadfruit that may have been hooked and knocked down. Any time a breadfruit was successfully knocked down, the entire expedition let out a giant whoop, especially Georgie who was perhaps the most enthusiastic breadfruit hunter in the bunch. However, the breadfruit were elusive and difficult to capture, so the crew had to call in
reinforcements in the form of Dave and Meralda who had .22 rifles to shoot the stems of breadfruit and knock them out of the trees. This, by the way, is normal. The shooting may not have produced significantly more results than the ladder/pole picking method, but it was certainly equally entertaining and suspenseful, wondering with every shot whether a breadfruit would fall out of the tree, or if it would just be a leaf or nothing at all.
While on the breadfruit hunt, Donald was distracted by giant bunches of bananas. Apparently the better way to harvest a stalk of bananas is to chop down the entire tree, rather than cutting just the stalk. With a machete in hand, Donald commenced chopping down banana trees with great vigour. Again, the crew were standing below to catch the fruit, and often had to fight their way out from under a pile of banana leaves, having caught the stalks as the rest of the tree fell over on top of them. The breadfruit picking device became a
grapefruit picking device a bit further down the road, with more success. The pole was not quite long enough to reach from the
ground so a crew member climbed the tree partway and from there it worked like a dream, placing the hook just above the grapefruit and pulling it out of the tree. To complete the gathering part of the hunting and gathering morning, the crew went to Meralda’s garden to pick some spinach. The spinach was much more tame than the other fruits and veggies, having been planted in a garden for easy harvesting.