Boats and their crews

So far, we have tried to analyze different aspects of life on board and sailing in the oceans. They talked about the boat, how to choose it, prepare it, how it lives at sea, what to expect on the other side of the ocean. However, everything written is filtered through our personal opinion, which is just one of thousands possible. Traveling, every day more and more you realize that all problems, ideas and solutions are very subjective. It happened to us, and more than once, to find that the problems that sometimes tortured and angered us for weeks did not give us peace of mind, our neighbors did not even take into account.

Which boat is the best, which route is better, the best way to store water, how to organize a galley or even your life, the answers to these questions are never the absolute truth. Looking around, looking at other boats, you learn more than by studying the subject while sitting at the table.

Loki and Carolina

He is twenty-five years old, she too. He is Canadian, she is Brazilian. Loki and Carolina have been sailing for three years in a steel boat, which resembles an icebreaker in miniature. The rails are welded from four-centimeter pipes, the railings are also from pipes, the hatches are small, glazed with plexiglass two centimeters thick, the door from the cockpit to the cabin resembles the hatch of a submarine. Thirty-two feet, eight tons. But if “Parpar” is the name of their boat, hard and angular, their story is fascinating and easy, as its name is, “Butterfly” in Brazil.

A newly qualified engineer is designing his first boat. He is fascinated by the extreme seas, so the boat is made of steel, very strong, designed to sail to the poles. However, the engineer is young and without money. To breathe life into his creation, he needed a welder, and he found it. The welder liked the project very much and he suggested:

- I will help you to cut and weld metal and I will not take money for it. But we will build two boats, one will be for me.

We entered into an agreement and construction began in the yard of the welder’s house. Two years later, the boats were ready. The engineer’s boat immediately set sail around the American continent, including the Northwest Passage, during which it remained wiped in the ice for five months, but left them safe and sound.

Loki was a school of Glenance, and now, in Canada, she maintained ties with sailors, of a slightly extreme sense. She arranged for her son to participate in one of the crossings of this voyage around America. Loki loved life on the boat, and on this boat in particular. He learned that the twin boat reached Vancouver. Her former owner, putting the mast and motor, suddenly realized that he was not created for life at sea and sold it to the carpenter. The carpenter made all the interior trim of the wood, installed the equipment and accessories, equipped the galley, in turn, too, to notice that he was not very keen on the sea. Thus, for ten years after construction, the boat made only a couple of test voyages and was put up for sale for $ 32,000.

Loki, meanwhile, left the university and continued to look for any opportunity to go to sea. He met Caroline during a cruise on a Greenpeace vessel. They both worked in the galley. Invented a new Franco-Brazilian cuisine and fell in love. There they decided that the boat would be their home. They collected all the money and, with the help of their parents, scraped together 15,000, went to Vancouver and met with the owner of the younger sister of the icebreaker.

It was a cloudy and rainy day, they sat in a harbor bar on the shores of the gray ocean:

- There are 15,000 dollars. - said Loki, getting a wad of money. “It's a lot less than what you ask, but that's all I have.” If I agree, on the hands, if not, we looked at the fiberglass boat.

The carpenter said no, but then changed his mind. He left, called his wife and said that he agreed.

For Loki and Carolina, this was the beginning of a new life.

“The thing is,” says Loki. - that both he and his wife were afraid of the sea!

And now, for three years, like Loki and Carolina, there is a boat called “Parpar”.

They periodically stop somewhere to make some money. They delivered pizza to their homes in Los Angeles, taught windsurfing in Hawaii, but they spend most of their time in distant and beautiful places where there are a lot of fish and life costs nothing at all. They spent the last cyclone season in the Tuvalu archipelago on an atoll with a population of twenty people.

Guys on Parpar steel.

- Galvanized steel. Says Loki, proudly showing them off. “They were like that when I bought a boat, and there was no reason to change them.” Steel is better than stainless steel. It is more elastic, more durable, costs ten times cheaper and is sold everywhere.

- And does not rust?

- No, that you. Look at these guys. They are already ten years old and they are still in good condition. Although I have already bought a cable bay and zinc, I will gradually manufacture new ones.

And Loki is on the shore, under palm trees. Gas cylinder, tile, Kuznetsk gloves, metal crucible and a hacksaw. Saws zinc blanks into pieces, puts them in a crucible and waits. Twenty minutes later the metal melts, turning into a beautiful silver liquid. In the meantime, he cleared out the terminal of the guy, who on one side made a cup. The end of the cable is inserted, strands are unwound and bent back. Then, with great care, fiery zinc is poured into the cup. Thus, one by one, ready new guys. The costs are small, and the work is not very much. But really they will stand for ten years? He says yes. For protection, he paints them. I'm thinking about two-component paints, a special primer, so that the paint is better kept on the metal. Where there! Minium! He covers them with red lead, that's all.

“It takes a few days for Surik to dry well, but when he’s dry, he will endure everything.” - says Loki. “It protects zinc, which in turn protects steel!”

Carolina, meanwhile, controls stocks of beans, lentils, soybeans and kilograms of Brazil nuts on board. Despite the appearance, inside the boat is equipped with everything. They have an inflatable double kayak, two guitars, two computers, a radio station, a stereo and a collection of two hundred discs, books, lamps, not to mention kitchen equipment.

- We really like to cook, when it turns out, we write out some ingredients from the house, such as Brazil nuts, and then we come off.

In the kitchen they have a mixer, a toaster, a kerosene oven, a baking tray for baking cakes, a seed spreader, a yoghurt maker. And they use it all. In compensation, when you dine with them, you have to put books under hot plates in order not to burn your knees. There is no table on the boat.

- We had a table, but all the time I broke down and we threw it away. When there is a little time, I will do another.


Francis and John

If Loki’s boat is the heaviest, then John’s boat is the lightest. And if Loki and Carolina are full of energy, freshness and temperament of green youth, then Francis and John are already aged, but they are not inferior to them in enthusiasm.

The boat on which they are traveling is a rather strange object. She looks more like a flying saucer than a sailing yacht. Rounded futuristic shapes, a rectangular convex bridge connecting the floats, a powerful mast almost without dudes that can be rotated to improve aerodynamics, thin and very long floats. It seems to be larger in width than in length, but in fact their sizes are eleven meters by eight. To raise it for painting the bottom, they had to look for a crane in the city, because the travel-lift of the shipyard, where we met them, was not wide enough. However, it weighs very little, less than three tons. John built it in the backyard of his home in Canada, where he lived with his wife and two children. He worked on weekends and all days free from work in the company exporting tea and cocoa. It took him eighteen years, a very long time, even for a homemade one. Meanwhile, the children grew up and his wife left him. And then John meets Frances, who is twenty-two years younger. They understand each other very well, both are passionate about the sea, fall in love and decide to sail. By the time we met them, they had been at sea for six years, so their relationship with each other and with the boat was more than experienced. They live on a good retirement of John, and Francis also writes articles in Canadian sailing magazines.

Their trimaran is very fast: two hundred miles a day, against one hundred, one hundred and twenty on a regular boat. As a result, ocean transitions never last more than ten days.

The trimaran should be very light and very durable. For its construction requires expensive high-tech materials.

The boat cost 150.000 euros, plus an infinite number of hours of operation. Despite the cost, the boat is very spartan, and not by choice, but by necessity. The space inside is very limited, a lot of things do not fit and you need to be very careful about what is being loaded on board, because the overloaded trimaran becomes slow and unsafe. So the caboose they have consists of a tile located on the side of the sofa, there is no central table, as there is no navigational table. The stock of water, only 125 liters, is replenished by a desalination plant operating from six solar cells located on the bridge.

The toilet is simply gorgeous, a through-hole with a raised rim, covered by a board, in one of two wings connecting the central building with the side floats. If you raise the board, you can see the sea. Thus, everything goes straight into the sea, without any valves that need to be opened and closed, without a pump to be pumped, without gaskets and without toilet smells. Just a miracle. But one ... sitting on such a pot while swimming, is washed from below with waves and splashes. But the toilet doesn’t have a door, because of the weight saving, and you have to be completely unsharp in order to relieve the need so, in full view, a few centimeters from the place where you cook or half a meter from the rest to rest on the sofa!

Their boat may seem completely uncomfortable, but they are very pleased with it. To the question:

- If there was an opportunity, would you change your boat? - respond. - Yes, on a slightly longer trimaran, with a large volume of floats and a spacious cockpit, where one could stand out in growth.

We went out once again about the echoing with them. The sea was almost calm, the wind, the usual breeze of ten knots, but the trimaran was carried, as if under a motor, flashing the crests of the waves and raising clouds of spray. Mad speed, from our point of view, unhappy, floating on a single body.


Michelle

Michel is a French name, but he is an Italian from Robecco sul Naviglio, a few kilometers from Milan. In his album in the photographs he has long blond hair gathered in a ponytail. Now he has a shaved head, and he is not yet forty. Former graduate of the prestigious Bocconi University, who tried to become a diplomat in order to be able to travel around the world, but became a single navigator.

His boat is nine meters by three, the draft is slightly more than a meter, it weighs three and a half-tons. Arpage, built at the shipyard Dufour thirty-five years ago. The boat, despite its age, can be considered one of the most worthy nine meters, for those who value reliability and seaworthiness.

- Are you satisfied with your boat?

- More than. And I would never change it for another. Or it would have changed to Arpege a little more than the size, but this does not exist.

Michelle is calm and always smiling. After receiving a diploma, he immediately got a job in the office, but soon he felt that there he was close. I tried to change my job and office, but it was the same there. Then he responded to the announcement of the Italian, the owner of a twenty-meter boat in Florida, looking for a sailor. Michelle immediately abandoned his business career and moved to America. Very soon, he became convinced that the relationship at sea was feeling good, a full understanding was established with the owner, and, most importantly, he found peace of mind. Two years have passed, when, quite unexpectedly, (probably it's still fate), he suddenly inherited, you would not believe, from my uncle.

The inheritance was small, but it could mean the beginning of a new life. What is better, a boat twenty meters long with the owner and a regular salary, or a small boat, a Spartan life, when there is no one to expect help from. The answer is obvious. Michelle is returning home, and is looking a little around in France, under the English flag, finds his boat, Carlotta.

Initially there was a vagabond of the Mediterranean, then a great transition, Gibraltar and the oceans. The first time we met him on one of the remote islands of the Pacific Ocean.

Michel does not have a refrigerator, but there is a machine with which he once a week makes pasta on a boat. He also has a sewing machine, with the help of which he sews everything that is possible for the uayata and the cockpit. From a tent with water pick-up, ending with colored upholstery of the internal mattresses. On the boat there is a computer, radio, music. But he doesn’t pay attention to the technical details at all. Coming aboard his boat, I notice that the lanyard on the mount is bent.

- Do not worry, it has been like this for many years, and it has never broken.

The running lights are fixed on the top of the mast with a plastic clip and hang out. The anchor is selected by hand, the hull paint is yellowed by time. But when Michelle takes up the tiller, he controls his boat, like a model. Although he doesn’t drive much, the helmsman helps him in this. But he doesn't want to see the autopilot anymore. His friend almost lost his life because of autopilot. He walked with a fair wind, when the wind went down, the autopilot, of course, continued to steer straight. The sails flew over to another tack, a blow with a boom, and a friend was in the water, and the boat went its own way. Inhuman efforts he managed to get ashore, and the boat ended its existence on the reefs, which lay five miles straight along the course.

While others are trying to get into the most remote corners, Michelle is looking for society. For months he stands in the ports, mixes with people, makes a lot of acquaintances and dazheavestu ... Then, when it seems that he has already taken roots, one fine morning, he picks up Calottino on the deck, his microscopic tuzik, raises the grotto and leaves.


Andre

Andre's boat, a twelve meter long Sun Fizz, built eighteen years ago. Banal serial boat, hundreds of exactly the same in the Mediterranean go on a cruise only in the summer months. But Andre himself is not at all banal. Sixty-five years old, cheerful and taut, clean, piercing gaze. In swimming, he was already seven years old, his first years with a girlfriend, and then alone, alone walked around the floor of light. The boat shows him the signs of his age: gelcoat in the cracks, rusty streaks on the sides of the lanyards. Andre himself seems tireless. He is constantly on the move, he manages his boat, as if it were a dinghy, constantly moving, from one bay to another, from anchorage to the pier, from the pier, to the other anchorage, even if he was just going to fish.

Inside, in the cabin, the table, the floors, the bunks, everything old, cracked wood varnish. Stale, stagnant smell. But this is not even disorder. This neglect, not so much a choice, an aphilosophical perception of the fact that all things wear out, and while they have not lost their qualities in the process of wear, should not be worried about them, almost the philosophy of life. Navigation tools, maps, radio station, computer, transmitting e-mail and receiving meteocards via radio, all these things he has in perfect condition.

“I’m quite happy with my boat, I just wish her nose wasn’t so flat and wide,” he says. - when we go on the big wave on the big wave, he knocks strongly on the waves, it even becomes scary to me.

Saying this, he smiles broadly, and it is clear that he is ready to continue to experience these fears.

- The rest of the boat everything is fine, nothing ever broke. - what more could you want? - She goes to lavirovka so-so, but on very passing courses it is very fast. The first years, on full courses in a strong wind, it was difficult to keep it on course, but since the wind helmsman installed (Mustafa models), this does not happen anymore. The main steering wheel is blocked in the center plane and works like a centerboard, the boat becomes stable and pliable.

His boat, "Samoa", a production model built without any particular complaints. One of those boats that many seem too light for serious voyages, and I would never have advised this. However, here it is, anchored in a fiord full of mangroves, in Fiji, in the center of the Pacific, proof that it has traveled a lot of miles, and nothing happened, and that my assessment may have been too pessimistic.

Unlike other Frenchmen, Andre does not limit his travels to only countries where they speak French. He is curious, and he, like us, attracts the least known places, those in which other boats do not enter. In each place, he immerses himself in the local culture, becomes a friend for everyone, goes out into the sea with fishermen and regularly makes brides. When we met him in New Caledonia, he had a girlfriend, canaca, who traveled with him while he wandered between the islands, but when he left the country, she did not follow him.

In Vanuatu, he had Mary's bride, a girl who lived in Porto Villa, but she hails from one of the northern islands. She had problems with the owner of the apartment, and Andre paid for rent for six months in advance, and then took her on a boat to Santo, to see her family, which she had not seen for several years.

When we met him again in Fiji, his new girlfriend worked in Lautoka, and her family lived in a village on the north coast. Milika, during the week, lived on Samoa, at the anchorage in the port, and on Friday evening Andre chose the anchor and drove the boat to her village. There they spent the weekend with other Fijians, and on Monday at dawn they returned to Lautoka, as a typical European family.

Yosun

His name is Toguk, 35 years old, an assistant professor of architecture from Istanbul, her Yosim, an artist of 25 years, both Turks. They didn’t choose a boat for themselves, she had dumped them from heaven. And their story, one of the strangest we have ever heard. They tell her in chunks, in very bad English and with the help of a Spaniard friend who almost adopted them and helped them get to these places.

The boat is called Yosun, which in Turkish means algae. Its first owner, a Turk, whose name is unknown to us, left Istanbul many years ago, crossed the Atlantic, crossed Panama and reached Hawaii. There he met an American, found a job and a donkey. Years passed, the Turk earned a fortune and wanted to go back home. But how? On the boat, of course, in this way he would have become the first Turkish to have circumnavigation. And they went on a journey, intending to go in small transitions, he, the wife and the sailor.

But already the first transition from Hawaii was far from small, 2,200 miles from Honolulu to Polynesia. Arriving in Tahiti, the Turk decided to abandon the continuation of navigation. He is too old for such adventures. However, he would like his boat to complete the journey begun many years ago. And then he places an ad in an Istanbul newspaper that will give the boat to the one who takes it to its destination.

Yoshim and Toguk read the announcement, very much like a joke, and they jokingly answered. They were not the only ones who answered, but the owner of the boat chose them! Little money, small sea experience, very bad English, but a great desire for adventure. Their friends throw off and collect them money for the plane to Tahaa. Yoshim sold all the paintings available and when the school year ended, they set off.

At Tahaa, the owner hands them the boat and leaves. “When you get to Istanbul,” he says, the boat will be yours.

Two do not know whether to rejoice, or to clutch at the head. They are on the other side of the earth, on an old, neglected boat, almost no maritime experience and money, insecurity and the vast ocean ahead. They literally do not know what to grab. They are trying to prepare the boat and prepare themselves, ask for advice from everyone, search for maps and flight cards and learn to use them. In the end, they tied behind the Spanish boat and set off. A thousand miles and ten days sailing before setting on Apia in Samoa, already without enthusiasm, and only with a great sense of fear.

“They asked everyone if the waves they encountered were large or they were normal waves, and whether the wind could be stronger than the one that blew this time.” - Miguel, a Spanish Samaritan who helped them on this transition, tells.

"Yosun", however, flows from all cracks, even just in the rain, and a poorly protected cockpit takes water on each large wave rolling from the stern. They are ready to quit everything, but Miguel takes them under his wing. He convinces them to go with him at least to Fiji. There you can leave the boat, return to Turkey, as the holidays are already over, take a year off, find out the situation with the owner, who did not leave any written agreements, and, if everything is in order, return to Fiji, invest money in the repair of the boat and agree with him about returning to the Mediterranean.

So they do, in Turkey they take a year off and arrange the sale of a boat for one dollar. The former owner also gives them plane tickets to Fiji.

A beautiful human story, but the story of the sea does not end there. We saw them working twenty hours a month in a Fiji shipyard to get the boat in order. They could not even afford one Coca-Cola for two, but all the other crews took turns preparing dinner and they, and even delivered to the boat. They spoke little, in bad, guttural English, they asked everyone for advice, but they seemed happy.

They traveled west, traveling in conjunction with Miguel. They are going to cross the Torres Strait and go around Indonesia in order not to spend money on a swimming permit, which costs $ 150, go to Malaysia, leave the boat there and return to Turkey again. Then they intend to continue sailing in stages, during the summer holidays, selling paintings along the way, to replenish the budget, which may increase the duration of the trip.

It makes no sense to ask them if they are satisfied with their boat, to ask questions about its displacement, draft and armament, anyway, they would not know what to answer. The only thing they know is that this adventure has changed their lives.


Ted and susan

Ted and Susan are closer to seventy than fifty. They are collected and ironic, responsive and cause sympathy. They speak French well and know how difficult it is to understand when someone speaks a language that is not yours, so when they talk about themselves in English, they speak slowly, with an understanding of those who listen to them. They left the United States about a decade ago. He is a sailor and lawyer in the past. Their fiberglass boat, the Hans Christian 38, is designed for long-haul cruises. A one-piece tick interior trim, a very tough body, a huge bowsprit, protected by thick stainless steel pipes, and many, perhaps too many, outdoor wood trim.

- Boat she is required. - says Susan, brushing ultra fine sandpaper third layer of varnish on a wooden strip passing along the entire board. Once a year they sand it to pure wood and, with the precision of violin makers, they cover it with four layers of new varnish.

Deep cockpit, tiller control, spacious cabin, plenty of tools and a well-equipped kitchen. Their whole life outside the United States lies here in this immaculate, well-equipped and equipped boat.

“Three years ago, we fixed a twist of a staysail, and since then we continue to ask ourselves why we haven’t done this before.

Says Ted, nodding toward the bowsprit with his hooked nose and white forelock. - We did not want to change something on the original boat. Otherwise, it is the same as when we bought it.

Everything, including a buffalo-like object on the deck, half brass, half wood, always polished. A geek relies on it. They would not change their boat to anything in the world.

Ted and Susan, the perfect anti-heroes. Instead of telling about heroic crossings, fierce storms and terrible rains, they talk about a case of how they climbed a mountain in New Zealand, or how they were trekking in New Caledonia.

Susan suffers from motion sickness and does not hesitate to talk about it. She does not like big crossings, and agrees to them only because there is no other way, but she prefers to stop on land, to visit new places. The separation of responsibilities on board is classic: it prepares, maintains order, paints and contains all this wood in an ideal form, it deals with mechanics, electronics, engine and all technical issues. Their vagrancy is very slow; for the past ten years they have been in the Pacific. Long parking in the ports, days passing by cycling in the morning and servicing the boat in the evening. On their shell, outwardly small, for the Christmas holidays, mother Susan, who is almost ninety years old, comes to them.

They spent a year in French Polynesia, a year on Tonga, three in Australia, - It is so huge that ten years would be necessary! - a year in Fiji, one in New Caledonia, one in Vanuatu, and two in New Zealand.

Next year, we would like to go north, to Salomon, but we are not sure yet, because we have not received OK from the insurance company yet.

- We are without insurance anywhere. - Tad says with a simple smile, - Maybe because we are Americans, maybe because we are old.


Peter

On his boat he raises the Catalan flag and it is called “Calafel”, after the name of the Catalan village where he lived before going to sail, but on the cloth strips stretched along all the boat rails, only eight meters long, there is an inscription: “El ollandes errante ”, because Peter was born in Holland from the parents of South Africans.

In Catalonia, he had an institution located on the floor of the road between the sea and the hill. It was visited by tourists and sailors. He spent his free time on fishing boats looking at the sea. At forty-five, he rented an institution for rent, left the house to his wife and children, and left on this tiny boat, long and narrow, a body made of fiberglass, the deck was a teak.

Rental income goes to the education of children and he receives some money from his wife every month. Instead, it sends articles for the Catalan magazine. In cases of unforeseen expenses, shows ingenuity. On Homer, on the Canaries, spun an affair with a noble lady from the province. She helped prepare a boat for him, made food supplies, organized a farewell party and met him already in Tobago. For some time, the lady of the Mediterranean forms was still crammed into the cramped innards of “Calafel” and together with Peter they got to Panama. Then he sent one, but still in contact with the passion. From her he receives scented letters and bank transfers.

Reaching Niue, Peter turns to the local weekly, proposing cooperation: - You'll see, you will double the circulation with me. - He tells the editor, and he decides to try it.

The sailing season was in full swing, and he comes up with a new rubric -

"Boat of the week." Sent on arriving yachts, taking pictures, talking to people and releasing an article, accompanied by photos of the boat and crew. The crews of the boats are just happy and without batting an eye they buy a newspaper. Many buy multiple copies to send home and have on board. In the moments of the greatest influx, the crews of the boats even delayed the departure to buy a number, which tells about them. Peter also comes up with a forum for yachtsmen where they can exchange opinions, advice, sell or buy equipment. Newspaper sales are growing and Peter is guaranteed dinner every night on one of the boats.

When the season for yachts is over, Peter comes up with a rubric. Generations of the Future. Attends local schools, every day different classes or student groups, he says, asks questions, takes pictures. Then he prepares the article. Thus, each family buys all the issues of the newspaper, to be sure, not to skip the one that says about their children, and buys more than one copy to send to relatives living outside the tiny island nation.

We first met him in Fiji, where he took a boat ashore and hired an Indian to help. The Indian, not very experienced in these matters, instructed to paint the hull white, painted everything with white paint, including the teak deck and all the wooden trimmings. Catastrophe! But Peter is calm.

“Well, what can I say, for the pennies I pay him ...”

Citoyen du monde (Citizen of the world)

Fabrizio, Silvia, Tom and Anis look like a typical family from the “Mulino bianco” commercial. She is a kindergarten teacher, he is a shipbuilder. But their house, a catamaran of eleven and a half meters long with a name that is already in itself the program “Citoyen du monde.” They built it in San Lazaro, not far from La Rochelle, having spent very little money, and immediately went to sea. Then they still had no motor and even Anis. First stop was Newfoundland. They found work there and stayed for a year. Trial swimming showed that the motor is still required and the catamaran would not be bad to have an extra meter long. They returned to France, made all the necessary modifications, while Anis was born. When they went out to sea again, she was only a few months old, and Tom was seven years old.

Like many children his age, Tom began to learn by correspondence. In the mail come envelopes with lessons and final tests, which he regularly performs, every day, under the supervision of his mother. Then the tests are sent to school in France. If all tests are passed, a new envelope with new programs comes. If not, you have to redo the old ones. At the end of each training cycle, he must pass an examination at a French school or consulate, thus laying the foundation for his education. As well as he learn many English, American and New Zealand children who follow their parents around the world.

Like many French people, this family travels between the former colonies and the overseas territories of France. So it is easier for them to find a well-paid job. But working with Fabrizio is special. He works with wood, restores historic boats. In Newfoundland, he helped the local community restore a traditional fishing boat that had not been used for many years. He did the same on the island of Puskha, and already thanks to his recommendations he was invited to the Marquises to reconstruct the ancient canoe of the open sea according to the drawings preserved in the museum. One of those that the ancient Polynesians used to colonize the Pacific.

This is a serene family. Anis is glad to stop at new places, where you can find new friends for games or to meet those who like to travel by boat, who have already met in other places. Tom is already fifteen years old, he begins to enter a critical age. Perhaps it was time for him to return to France and join a society that is part of his culture. Then, in the future, if he wants to leave her, it must be his choice.

As long as they live together. Quiet existence, carefree children, caring parents.

At least we had such an impression about them while we saw them on land. However, when the moment came to give off the moorings, the caring father turned into Captain Bly, rude and demanding. Tom, who released the mooring lines earlier than ordered, received an impressive slamming, Sylvia was rudely ordered to stand on the steering wheel and Anis, saying goodbye to her friends, was dragged aboard.

The duration of their union is likely to be inversely proportional to the duration of the voyage.

Tom and Julia

Tom and Julia belong to the type of Americans who constantly feel the need to explain to everyone how to behave.

When they arrive at a new place, they start trying to behave just like the locals, dress in the same clothes, prepare the same dishes, go to church on Sundays, stop at huts, chat with women and cuddle the children. And everything would be fine, but soon they begin to advise how to change traditional recipes, to have more vitamins and less fat, to sing solo in the church choir, to explain to mothers that it is better to educate children this way and not that way.

We met them at the shipyard in Fiji. They were under a canopy, where the workers gathered in the evening, at the end of work, to drink, what they call grog, a traditional drink derived from the roots of cava.

Julia and Tom joined the workers, as we often did, but they were dressed in pareos and flower garlands. He has a guitar, she has a ukulele. They sang traditional Fiji songs, reading the words on the notebook.

It turned out as it is unreal. It seemed that these were people in masks, two aged hippies playing inappropriate roles, besides they distorted the song. In Fiji, vowels are pronounced in the same way as Italian: a is pronounced as a, e as e, o as o. They sang, saying in American, tinkering a to hey, oh oh, and so on.

The Fijians, however, took them well, they were always polite and benevolent, and were not even embarrassed when this elderly woman brought out the cake for the grog, although for them that time was exclusively for drinking, and for this, dinner was postponed until late at night.

Having learned better than Tom and Julia, we realized that it was precisely in trying to assimilate into meeting people that was the meaning of their journey.

They left California but never went further than Fiji and for more than fifteen years they have been swimming in this part of the Pacific Ocean. They moved between Kiribati, Tuvalu and Fiji, stayed on duty on the islands and in each place, month after month, season after season, tried to integrate into the local community. At least get to know him and understand to the depths.

I do not know to what extent they succeeded, but their presence under a canopy makes one think that their Americanism is too difficult to overcome. However, they told us a case that happened to them in Kiribati, which makes us think.

Kiribati is a state made up of islands and atolls, about at the equator, evenly scattered around the 180 meridian. A state without large resources, moderately developed, but apart from the capital there is nowhere no electricity, no schools, no hospitals, no shops.

Vanessa, their twelve-meter fiberglass boat, on which they left California, had been anchored at one of the small islands for several months. On board, Tom, Julia and her friends are on shore, but at the same time she does not want to put her daughters at risk. Fate decides for him: the eldest Annie falls ill.

- Within 48 hours, she became yellow, fever and did not have the strength to even move. I wanted to go immediately to the nearest hospital, but I realized that it was so far away that I could hardly bring my daughter alive!

Tom and Julia try the only way they have:

- Other patients were gathered in a large hut in the village, where the elderly treated them with traditional methods. We were desperate, did not know what to do and brought our daughter there.

The treatment technique, Tom says, was to fatigue the disease. The girl was massaged continuously day and night, steam was created around her, which made her sweat. At the same time, infusions of berries and herbs were prepared, and she had to drink them one spoon each hour.

- At some point, we were sure that she was dying. Her eyes rolled up and she had to pour a spoon of the infusion straight into her throat, risking that she would choke.

“At the beginning of the second night, one of the women who massaged Annie in turn said to Tom:“ You will see when she takes the medicine at midnight, she will feel better. ”

He, of course, did not believe, but seized upon this hope.

- I waited for midnight and the time seemed endless, but when it came time to take the medicine, I realized that things had changed. Annie opened her mouth, made a face from the unpleasant taste of the mixture and swallowed it.

From that moment, Annie began to recover and after a few days was already on the boat, and ten days later they chose an anchor and went to Suva, where local doctors confirmed that the girl had had hepatitis, but now she is completely healthy.

This incident strongly tied Tom and Julia to Kiribati and even now, thirteen years later, they spend a lot of time among friends here each year, and Julia just published a book about her story.

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