By Chelsea McBroom
March 28th, 2014
After the starboard watch returned to the Picton Castle from their overnight expedition in the monomoy, they told us excitedly that they had sweet revenge on the sand crabs that had bothered the port watch the night before. Late at night they decided to cook and eat them all, leaving only bits of shell behind.
On the same day the starboard watch returned, the Captain and I went ashore to clear out, doing all the formal customs and immigration procedures at the Gendarmerie (police station), in preparation to depart the next morning. The gentleman who helped us there didn’t speak a word of English but was wonderfully patient and relaxed and soon we had our papers to leave Huahine.
Lily (the cook), Maria (assistant purser who put both empty shopping bags over her shoulders and called herself a pack mule) and I went from there to the Super U Grocery to provision, stocking up on canned beans and lentils, celery, oranges, grapefruit, carrots, and the only green, lettuce-like thing we could find that’s strong in taste and seems to be similar to spinach and bok choi. We loaded the skiff with our goodies and went back to the ship.
The wind had picked up and so on night watches we kept a keen eye on the mooring as it bobbed and the lines stretched, making sure to check the chafe gear. Someone had taken Frosty, a large plastic light-up snowman that comes out on Christmas (and will sometimes mysteriously appear in my bunk with a “Sweet Dreams” eye cover on) and set him inside the mooring’s giant shackle and he sat there comfortably, staring at the ship with his top hat, mitts and broom under his arm.
First thing the next morning, right before the ship was about to leave, Lily and I took the skiff into Huahine to get bananas and eggs. There was a constant mist in the air, which soon became rain and I was glad I remembered to bring my foul weather jacket. We were dripping when we reached the dock. An older woman was there, sitting at her table in the street, her table covered in ginger, nuts and fruit and on the ground in front of her were two large stalks of green bananas for us. Farther down the road was a woman selling eggs. I wanted to use up all the French Polynesian coins, so I handed over 680 French Polynesian Francs for a tray of 20 eggs. She smiled and laughed with me, seeing I counted wrong, handing back a coin and taking another from my hand. I walked into the rain and stood, holding the cardboard tray carefully, waiting for Lily to join me. The lady from the egg stand came rushing to me out from under her tent with a plastic bag and delicately placed the tray inside it. She smiled and handed it back to me, folding the opening of the bag under. “Merci!” I said with appreciation, imagining the cardboard wilting from the rain and the eggs crashing to the ground. We walked past the first lady who sold us the bananas and waved, saying thank you and goodbye, she grinned at seeing our familiar faces and returned the enthusiasm as we went to the skiff and headed off, back to the ship which was preparing to sail for Rarotonga.