Wine & Friends…..

Dear F&F,
July 12, 2010
Wine & Friends

As Scott was focused on uploading the morning weather report via ham radio,
as he does nearly every morning…and I am scurrying about making breakfast,
making the bed, generally tidying up…I glance out the stern window & see a
new catamaran just off our stern. They are preparing to drop their bow
anchor on top of our stern chain, which would be a mess and put them
dangerously close to the rocks behind us. Scott jumps outside & steers the
nice South African couple deeper into the harbor, toward the cement wharf.
They are receptive to his explanation of the \”lay of the land\” and they
decide to side tie their boat to the cement wharf. Further from us, always a
happy thing! The boat is named Albatross III, a 44 foot Norseman catamaran
that is nicely appointed. They are the 2nd owners of her & somewhat new to
sailing. After raising 5 children to independent adulthood, they got \”the
bug\” and set out from South Africa 2 years ago. Like us they plan to arrive
in NZ by the end of this year. Unlike us, they plan to apply for immigration
& permanent residence status. Best wishes to them. We know that New Zealand
does not grant foreigners long stay visas readily. You either have to have
to be young with a much needed skill, have a pile of money or both. They are
in their 60s so we wish them well on \”buying in\”. (*Footnote: We later
learned that white South Africans practically have refugee status & are
warmly welcomed in New Zealand.)

Sunday night we noticed a large cat anchored outside the reef. This morning
I heard them trying to hail the Port Captain on VHF radio channel 16. It is
about 12:30 p.m. & I know that no business occurs during lunch hour. And
often the officials are closed after noon. I reply to \”Blue Callaloo\” &
introduce myself. We switch to ship to ship chat channel 68. I explain that
it is ok to come to shore in their dinghy even though they have not cleared
Customs & Immigration. Scott had just left with the scooter rental guy to
fill out paperwork so we can rent a scooter again. I tell them I will call
them back when he returns & they should come to our boat by dinghy to get
the full scoop on boat life in Aitutaki.

Thankfully the rental guy convinced Scott to take the bike for 2 days, it\’s
not that much more money, so we don\’t feel rushed to do our shopping
immediately. We generally enjoy meeting fellow sailors & this German couple
were young & very friendly. We all sat in the salon of Beach House & got
acquainted over glasses of water. Captain Marcus was nervous about the pass,
as every prudent sailor is, but keen to get inside the much calmer anchorage
area of the harbor. Tina & he have been crewing on this boat for several
years. It is the best gig we\’ve ever heard of: the owner has been onboard
only 3 weeks in the past 2 years. The plan had been a circumnavigation with
this couple as crew, the owner & his best friend flying in to join the parts
that they wished. Sadly the friend died a year ago & it has left sorrow in
the heart of the owner. He cannot bear to join the crew, yet he feels
compelled to fulfill the dream of his friend. So the happy couple gets to go
where they wish, continuing the original plan, but without an on-site boss.
A sad, yet poignant reminder that we must follow our dreams while we can.

We explain to Marcus that we intend to dive in the lagoon again tomorrow,
but should be back in time to help guide him into the pass at 10:45 a.m.
high tide. They are very appreciative of our offer & we agree to visit more
later. Scott & I zoom up the hill in the scooter. During the past week we
have discovered 3 of the 6 \”mystery wines\” acceptable & want to stock up.
They have sold out of our favorite, but we get 18 bottles of the other two.
The checker understands our dilemma of being on a scooter, unable to
transport all those bottles. A delivery truck has to go out anyway, so they
will drop off our booty at the marina. We make two more stops hoping they
won\’t beat us back. First, Baxters Water World (yeah it’s a meat wholesaler)
for more frozen beef steaks and at the fuel mini market for more apples &
milk. Sure enough our wine was sitting on the cement wharf when we pulled
up. We parked the bike & stopped in to greet the couple on Albatross III,
Ruth & Rob. They invite us aboard, soon the German couple, Marcus and Tina
also appear & an early happy hour erupted. I am not much of a beer drinker,
so was content with water, fully enjoying the social opportunity. About an
hour later, I remembered my frozen meat tossed in the dinghy & bottles of
wine sitting in the sun, so we scurried off

Onboard Beach House, I already had other steak defrosted & saw solo Bernard
looking lonely in his cockpit (as he always does, just has that look) so
invited him over for dinner. Scott showed him our clam photos, we talked
story & had a lovely evening. A new experimental bottle of pinot noir was
not great, but we managed to polish it off anyway. Bernard had met Marcus
and Tina in the Marquesas several months ago. It can be a small world out

Cindy & Scott