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Showing posts from October, 2010

192. CREW AVAILABLE... THE SEQUEL

I'm interrupting the tale of my life as a sailing tramp in the South Pacific in 1997. Something has happened in my present time.

The sailboat I was due to join as crew in August/September for an Atlantic crossing, but that I turned down last minute, has sunk.

The story starts when I registered with a website to find a yacht as a crew member. See post 183.Crew available.

There were many opportunities. I received 2 positive answers, one from a sailboat in the eastern Med and one from Sweden. The Med one I turned down straight away because I was asked questions before they introduced themselves. Being a member of the crew is like being a member of a family. I hate being treated like an employee, especially when you have to pay for your own food on top of helping get the boat going.

The other offer sounded interesting and squarely organised. A Swedish captain owner of an elegant sloop was trying to build up a women-only crew. The planned circumnavigation sailing was from August 2010 t…

191. Tramp of the South Seas (5)

When we made it to Suva the first thing to do was to go to some administration to have the boat papers and our passports stamped. I remember waiting in a gloomy room with the captain wondering what was next. An Indian Fijian eventually welcome us and duly stamped several copies of some document saying we were now in Fiji.

I had previously heard on the news in New Caledonia of the troubles between two ethnic groups in Fiji, the indigenous Fijians and the population from India which had been imported in the 19th century for labor purposes. When I walked through the busy streets of Suva I realized what it meant. These two groups look very different indeed. I soon learnt not to greet Indians with the loud 'boulah' used by the indigenous Fijians.

Having come all the way from the Tuamotus in Polynesia I felt that these people were more Melanesian than Polynesian. I realized I was getting closer to home. New Caledonia is populated by indigenous Melanesians. They are people who lik…

190. TRAMP OF THE SOUTH SEAS (4)

Between Vavau, a northern island of the Tongas, and Suva, the capital city of the Fiji islands, there is about a week's sailing if I remember correctly. It was the beginning of July 1997. We sailed west to Fiji happy to come close to the end of this 'leg' of the Rally Around The World organised from London in which about 50 yachts took place.

I was happy to be sailing, cruising to be precise, somewhere in the South Pacific where Captain Cook roamed two centuries before. The agreement with the captain/skipper/owner of the sailboat where I was the sailing cook (...or the cooking sailor!) was that I was to leave the boat in Suva. Fiji was the end of a leg and the next one was to sail directly to the Queensland coast. As I wanted to go home to New Caledonia I had to find another crew job with someone sailing from Fiji to New Caledonia.

What do I remember from this passage? The weather was fine. We sailed with fair winds or so, the so-called trade winds from the SW. When we go…