After far too much deliberation, I decided that one thing was certain: I didn’t want to start the next leg of my voyage in a hurry. Instead of rushing off in search of a safe place to leave Swell in the unfamiliar islands to the west, I arranged to once again leave Swell in Tahiti and hop on a plane a few days later…I asked around and found out that the cheap, city-owned marina had one slip available, so I quickly brought Swell over and slid her into the empty slot.
One of the other factors prodding me homeward was that my dinghy was literally falling to pieces. Four of the five valves were leaking despite my repeated patch jobs, plus the wooden floorboards were rotting and towing rings were all broken. Before starting the next adventure, I hoped to bring a new one back with me from California–something a bit smaller than my current ride. In prep for this swap out, I’d put up signs around the island looking for someone who wanted to trade me a 15hp outboard for my 25hp, in anticipation of the smaller dinghy.
So a Monsieur Jean Ives brought down his 15hp Yamaha for a test drive. We yanked off my 25hp and set his 15hp on my half-sunken dinghy.
“Keep it for the day to test it out,” he told me in French. “I’ll come by this evening and we can talk about the exchange.”
“Oui, parfait.” I agreed. The wind was lighter than it had been in weeks, so I plotted my surf escape/test drive of the 15hp engine for later that day. First, I dove and placed an extra stern anchor and tied my own back up lines to the sunken cement moorings that would hold Swell in place. Once Swell seemed sufficiently secured, I grabbed my board and slathered on some of my reef-friendly sunscreen, and piled into the dinghy. Just as I was ready to pull away, an older Tahitian man approached Swell.
“You’re in my slip.” He said. “I’m putting my boat back in the water right now and you’ll have to move right away.”
Organization was not the strong point at the city-operated marina, somewhere there must have been a miscommunication…?
All I could think about was getting to the pass…little beads of sweat poured down my cheeks as I looked mercifully back at the man…