Friday, May 13, 2022

Land Ho!

After 20 days at sea,
over 3000 nautical miles,
5 trips by Bob into the back lazerette to fix the autopilot
One broken halyard
One Code Zero sail retrieved from the water
3 days of on and off hand steering
A Refrigerator and freezer with decidedly more room and less food than 20 days ago
Several rounds of picking up things that were not properly secured,
Numerous bumps and bruises, also known as boat bites, as the boat lurches one way and then the other, reacting to the wind and the waves,
and one entire box of Chocolopagos chocolate turtles
land has been spotted!
 You would think that would be the end of the passage story, but there is still quite a bit left to do before we can close the chapter on this passage. One of the first items of business is locating suitable clothing for public viewing. We have just spent 20 days with no need for shoes and a minimal need for clothing, less clothing than is generally publicly acceptable. As we enter the anchorage we will be seeing and being seen by boats and people in contrast to our time at sea where we saw no other people.

We will be entering an unfamiliar harbor full of boats. We will begin the search for the perfect anchoring spot, not too close to any other boat, and not too far from the dinghy dock. Not too shallow for the boat, not too deep for the anchor. Which way are the boats facing due to the wind and the waves, and which way will they be facing at 3 in the morning? How deep is the water and will there be a great enough tide change to make a difference in the depth, both for the water under the keel and the amount of chain we let out for the anchor.

Once we are suitably clothed and well anchored we need to begin the process of getting our dinghy ready to take us to shore to check in. Our dinghy, named Melody as an accompaniment to Rhapsody, has been upside down on the deck since we put her there in January as we were leaving Bonaire. Her outboard engine has also been stowed on the aft rail, unused since the last trip in to land to check out of Bonaire. We did not need the dinghy in Panama, and were not allowed to use it in the Galapagos, so now, after 4 months of being ignored we are asking both the dinghy and the motor to come into service for us again.

Removing Melody from the deck is done by hoisting her over the rails and down into the water. The halyard we usually do this with is the one that broke flying the Code Zero sail. Fortunately we do have another halyard running up the mast, just not quite as stout, but I am sure it will do fine. After lowering Melody into the water, one of us will climb down into the dinghy and walk it, hand over hand, to the stern of Rhapsody for the next operation, putting the motor back on and hoping it will run after months of not being used.

Now it is time to go ashore to check in to French Polynesia. We have been preparing for this for two years, to be able to check in and to stay for more than 90 days and now we are here, ready to make it official. To step on land after not feeling solid ground beneath our feet for 20 days. Let me describe a bit what walking has been like aboard Rhapsody. Every step has to be considered, where will your next step land? Will the floor be in the same spot when you put your foot down? Always holding on to some part of the boat with one hand, attempting to steady yourself. Often I am reminded of the rotating tunnel you have to traverse to exit a Fun House at the Carnival. Sometimes you can time it and run right through, but usually you end up falling down. Then, on this particular Rhapsodic Fun House, as soon as you think you have it mastered, the Fun House operator will switch directions on you and every movement now has to brace the opposite direction.Our bodies have adjuste
d to
this motion, and I imagine that our first few steps on solid land may be amusing to watch.

Off to find the gendarmes to check into the country. We are healthy, we have jumped through all of your hoops, please let us stay! Off to find WiFi to connect with the outside world by more than the satellite phone. Off to check out what groceries are available to replenish the supplies in the refrigerator and the freezer.

Then finally we can relax and explore and enjoy this new country we have sailed so far to see. But not for too long, there are always boat chores to do and things to repair, but at least we get to do it in beautiful places!

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