The amount of chaos inside Swell that had accumulated over the last two weeks of projects in the marina was mindboggling. Wood and metal scraps, half used glues and caulking, bits of wires, dirty rags, random screws, washers, and nuts, broken and assorted drill bits, frayed ends of cut ropes, cans of paint and varnish and thinners, resins and fiberglass, cat food, sandpaper”¦and tools, tools, and more tools… I sifted through assorted piles of them, thinking back to their corresponding project that had eventually been tackled.
It took two full days to rummage through this mayhem. Finally you could see the floor, then you could actually walk through the cabin, but it wasn’t until I pulled the long cushion out of the forepeak and placed it on the bench in the cabin, dressed it with its cover, and laid down upon it below the fan, that it began to feel real. The projects were over! When the tools were put away, we stopped listing to the port. I swept and cleaned the floors, filled the water tanks, scrubbed down the decks, and carried a heap of things that I’d had aboard Swell for 3 years and NEVER used, and set them ashore where people could extract what they wanted. At 4:30 on Sunday afternoon, I unplugged from shore power and quietly cast off my lines, leaving a surprise for the boatyard crew so that they’d find it the next day, after I’d left.
I may only have sailed a few miles across the lagoon that afternoon, but the magnitude of this passage couldn’t be measured in distance. I’d completed a list of tasks that had seemed virtually impossible. Not only was Swell as strong and fit a sea princess as she’s ever been, but I’d gathered an array of new shipwright knowledge and skills. It was during this time that I’d really learned to speak French, too. Conquered new frontiers of Swell, I’d come away with a crew of new friends that I now love like family. I’d earned the respect of many who’d initially doubted me — a few of the veteran French sailors who’d scoured the Pacific time and again over the last 25 years, had approached to offer up the latitudes and longitudes of a few of their favorite off-path discoveries. Immeasurable rewards surface from tenacious effort! The giddy elation that came over me as we glided across the bay that afternoon was just the first glimpse of the many certain to come. I broke a bottle of champagne over Swell’s bow to properly re-christen her after the major overhaul and share a toast to our adventures in 2009. A rainbow to starboard was our only witness…
And so it goes”¦ with a helping hand here and there, (Thank you Taputu, Cesar, Sylvain, Thierry, Amandine, August, Wil, and Bernadette!!), the advice and wisdom and support of many, and an enormous amount of my sweat, blood, love, and tears”¦ Swell and I are ready to take to the open sea once more.