Saturday, December 5, 2009

Having Been There

I was sitting in the cockpit in the anchorage in Mooloolaba when a dude motoring by in a beat-up inflatable stood up, cupped his hands around his mouth, and shouted something.

-What's that? I shouted back.

-Were you in Aitutaki? he shouted again.

I scanned my forty-year old synapses while he motored over. Aitutaki. Aitutkai? By the time he had pulled alongside Pelagic I was able to report - No, we weren't in Aitutaki.

-Oh. Well then. Must have been another Pelagic.

He had a great English accent that I couldn't identify at all, something rural and lilting, and he had that lived-in look that yachties get when they haven't had to fit into an office environment for years.

We quickly established that he had crossed the Pacific the year before us. He had been in Nuku'alofa for the funeral of the previous king of Tonga, we had been in Neiafu during the coronation celebrations for the new king.

We fell into the delightful conversation that transpires between two strangers who recognize each other as initiates. He told me about bottoming out on every wave trough in the pass into Haraiki. I told him about wrapping our anchor chain in twenty meters of water in Makemo, and tearing up our list of atolls to visit in Tahanea. He told me a frankly unbelievable story about family interactions on Maupiti and I told him about hunting goats on Ua Pou.

-So what are you doing now? I asked.

-Ah, I've been here in Mooloolaba for two years. Working. You've got to work to make some money, but then there's no time to keep up the yacht, and well, then you're trapped?

We agreed it would be great to cross the tropical Pacific again. We could spend time in places we had loved, see some of the places that are harder to get to. And we would have the benefit of knowing what we know now, and wouldn't have to spend so much time figuring things out.

Then, after talking for ten minutes, he left. When Alisa came back to the boat I told her about the interaction, but it was hard to explain why that little chat seemed so important.

Maybe it was because, casually talking about this island and that, we each realized how lucky we had been to cross the Pacific once, and how improbably lucky we would have to be to do it again.

Dolores and Elias, Taipivai, Nuku Hiva.

1 comment:

  1. At three letters, that is the shortest comment ever on Once In A Lifetime.