Swell is once again bobbing happily in the Pacific for now, only at the boatyard marina, but piece by piece and day by day Swell comes together. Under time pressure from the Dear & Yonder filmmakers to be ready for some action in the next few weeks, I have been busting my tail to get her ready to go. The days are blurring together, the tools never get put away and I’ve got more than one project going on at all times-pending weather, necessary information, my energy level, and available equipment. I re-caulked the forward hatch to stop the leak over my bed; tried to install the new solar panel charge controller that I just bought in the US, but after two frustrating days and many calls to technical support I find out the brand new unit must be faulty. “Oh just send it back and we’ll fix it!” the man says.
Sure. Easy, I’ll just flag down the next albatross headed that way! He’ll have it on your desk tomorrow; then open the back of the solar panel to find that one of the solar panel diodes got water inside, all corroded and must be replaced; the Cats are meowing, the cats are hungry again? I just fed them? “Vien manger petits chats”; mount stainless chafe plates on forward toerails; ride to the shop to get something to eat for dinner; Cut, Drill, Polish, and Install aluminum chain chafe guards, Patch and re-Epoxy the mast step; Run new jib halyard: get on the nut train! “A stack of nuts on a string”, Marty says, “when you pull it tight it will go straight enough to push up over the sheave at the top of the mast.”
Pull myself to the top of the mast, my nut train is too short, down to the deck, add nuts, pull myself back up, after some struggle the nut train (I think I can, I think I can) makes it over the masthead sheave and down to the bottom of the mast, go back down, fish it out of the hole. Pull myself back up and pull with the string from the bottom. Impossible. Not even gonna Budge. Oh well its dark now. Shower, stretch, food, sleep. Sylvain walks by early and I beg for a quick hand, we unpin the roller furler, I go to the top of the mast, he pulls while I push and with a little wax we got it!!
Now to reinstall the refrigerator cold plate: gotta glue in the mounting plates, first Sand the plates then Sand the gelcoat in the icebox, then make a pattern off the refrigerator plate with some scrap around the yard, epoxy the plates on the pattern to the icebox wall, Julien will come tomorrow to re-solder the tubes. Nope, his wife is having a baby! Make that next Tuesday. Remove the solar panel mast and take it across the street to the metal works so King Kind can solder on stainless sleeve to mount the new wind generator, you don’t have that size pipe? Get on the phone and botch some French. Well, sure I’ll stay for lunch. Ma’a tahiti? Tama’a maitai! Poisson cru and taro and rice and fei and a meal with the boys. It’s finally my Friday to celebrate with the yard crew and cheers to all the land work!! Minuya!! Hinanos and champagne and local music in the garage as the rain patters on the corrugated iron roof, Ow, my head hurts, it’s Saturday… hmm, what sounds more fun? Wiping the mildew off the ceilings and walls or facing the mountain of dirty laundry??
Too hard to decide, why not both! Cat, what are you doing up there? Ahhhhhhhhhh! No, upi just PEED on my new camera bag!!! Now that’s why you can’t come sailing with me. An afternoon surf with Raul and the boys, ah now that’s more like it, my laundry will never dry if this rain keeps up, flush the water tanks, even the newly added water is stinky like day old deviled egg sandwiches because the lines have algae in them; Julien arrives, and a few hours later, the fridge is cold!! Blessed be that cold little space! This new live-aboard ant colony is Out of Control, they are getting away with my lunch. But it’s not just ants, there is a wasp nest in my spinnaker pole! Raise the jib on the new roller furler. No, don’t tell me I made it too short with that extension piece, ugh!
My sail is too long now, remove all the shackles and try again with rope whippings instead. No, still short. Next morning take the sail to Leo’s place and Chop a few inches off the bottom, re-stitch and replace metal rings with webbing, take sail across town for final stitching cause it’s too thick for Leo’s machine. Play soccer with Franchie and the kids at Leo’s.
Walking home I cut through the open field, mulling through the remaining items on my list as March is here. fit the sail, cut the halyard to size, install the lead at the top of the mast. mount the wind generator and wire it to the batteries. and then I hear some chanting across the way. I wander closer to see a Tahitian man teaching young boys a traditional song and dance in a shadowy backyard. I move closer and sit on the wall above the drainage ditch, quiet as the blades of grass behind me. Again and again they practice the words. I can’t understand them but I feel the roots of the past growing into the present as they grunt and hoot and sing and stomp their little feet and pound their bare chests. Captivated by this precious continuance of culture, I forget for a moment the projects and dissolve into the here and now, sure that soon I will be here more often. I’m ALMOST there.