(Downtown Papeete Marina, Tahiti, Society Islands, French Polynesia)
It is hard to put to words the euphoria that grabbed today and wrapped it up in its lovely arms. The big black cloud that was our failing side shroud fitting was becoming less immediately crippling as the big island of Tahiti, and imminent refuge, came into view. Then with a stroke of unbelievable luck and a heavy dose of positive karmic retribution, Gregory spotted the boat Panormitis on the horizon.
We had met Delma and Gary on Panormitis back in Hiva Oa. Gregory and Gary bonded quickly as they are both the proud owners of Lagoon 410s. I remember Gregory disappearing for hours at a time. He’d come back with many stories from his fast-friend Gary. They swapped Australian surfing stories (albeit decades apart), gabbed on about heavy machinery in the most manly fashion, and, like true yacht owners, shared all the pertinent information on their favourite girls. I’m obviously talking about Oceanna and Panormitis.
So with the sight of Panormitis in the distance Gregory immediately remembered talking to Gary about the preventative measures he himself had taken against the exact type of side shroud failure we were experiencing. Less than six months back, Gary had replaced his sound shroud fittings at the recommendation of another Lagoon owner who had had a t-post failure of their own. Gary replaced the fitting completely from cable to base plate. With this in mind we hailed Panormitis on the radio. The conversation went something like this:
Gregory – Hey Gary! Just a quick question, I was wondering if you kept your old fittings when you redid your side shrouds?
Gary – Sure I did. Got em right here.
Gregory – Oh boy, we had a little failure over here and I was wondering if I could buy your old ones off you?
Gary – No you can’t buy them…. you can just have them.
What a guy! And although they were outbound from Tahiti to Moorea they pulled a u-turn and motored back in our direction to meet us. When we pulled alongside one another in the wide open water off the coast of Tahiti and Moorea we were at a loss as to how to convey our good fortune and severe gratitude. Gregory jumped in the water pushing a surfboard ferrying a bucket of Coronas and a bottle of wine. Returning with the same bucket filled with the exact parts we needed to fix our problem.
What a world! I’ve said it before and I know I’ll say it again, but there isn’t a community with better people in it than cruisers. Everyone looks out for each other and is more than happy to offer a helping hand wherever they possibly can. And what an example this all was of that. Not even 24 hours after we found a potentially devastating failure in our rigging, we had the precise parts to remediate the breakdown, and we hadn’t even touched land!!
A million thank yous wouldn’t begin to cover our appreciation to Delma and Gary, though I hope they know what saviours they are to us. And I can only hope that one day we will be able to pay forward the huge favour they gave us today.
With the open water transaction complete we parted ways extremely buoyed with good vibes and lightened stress levels. As we entered Papeete’s harbour the excitement aboard Oceanna was palpable. Catastrophe had been avoided, replacement fittings were in hand, our first marina in 10 months was in view, and a metropolis of fresh food and holiday festivities awaited.
Now of course it took us a minute to recall the finer points of docking. Dock lines? Yes we had those somewhere. And those things that went between the dock and the boat? Ah fenders, yup, should be able to dig those out of somewhere too. But with the help of Megan, Andy, and Tawn we managed to get Oceanna snuggly docked at Papeete’s downtown marina.
The remainder of the day was spent bargaining our slip rate with our new best friend working the marina desk, drinking celebratory Wiwosas to a sketchy passage successfully brought to port, and strolling the city streets of Papeete.
Manicured walkways through beautifully designed green parks and an entire downtown courtyard filled with savoury food trucks hawking everything from crepes to chow-mein was almost too much for this salty cruiser to take in. Almost too much, but really just oh so good.