Rain lashed across the deck driven before the gale force winds of an unexpected squall. Small pools of light from our head lamps lit the wet deck as we let go of the halyard and pulled the big genoa down. Andre disappeared in a wall of spray as the bow dove into a wave. As it lifted clear again he grinned, shook his head and carried on securing the sail. We had the staysail, much smaller, ready to go and as the crew heaved on the halyard and the sail shot skyward I saw the sheet snake across the deck and dove for it. A sheet is the rope on the end of the sail and in 35 + knots the sail cracks like a whip and the sheet if not secured whips like a wild thing. I had the end of it in my hand, but the bit between my hand and the sail went beserk. Trying desperately to get the sheet around a cleat and under control I swore. I’m sorry Mum, but each time that 12mm line hit me in the leg or the shoulder or across the side of the head I swore. Half a dozen modest blows to the body can be quite a motivator so before too long it was secured and the sail under control. As the squall whipped water off the sea and flung it along with the rain in our faces we made our way aft. For all it’s fury and the madness of the moment it’s exhilarating and part of why we’re out here.
Quick jump ahead: We’ve arrived in Honiara floating outside the port for the night and landing to a nice welcome and some warm reunions.
It’s been wonderful to reconnect with friends who’ve come for this final chapter in our voyage. At 4am this morning, a little bleary eyed we hauled ourselves on deck and sailed out into the dark. The Pacific Festival of Arts opened before sunrise with fireworks and as a beautiful dawn emerged before us a dozen long war canoes raced along the shore in front of the people gathered at the waters edge. We sat just behind them our sails open as they dashed towards the beach to brake inches from the delighted crowd. It was a great spectacle and as they pulled away we moved forward to present ourselves and our haka.
Different communities gathered in front of their respective canoes to welcome and challenge according to their customs. One by one we pushed up to the beach and returned the greetings with our own haka before blowing the conch a last time and returning to the small harbour.
It promises to be a rich time here with so many people from so many nations.
Dunc and Faafaite