Refusal to Disembark into Normality

Let me offer a half-hearted apology for not keeping the blog up to date. Half-hearted because the excuses for being distracted are many and reasonably valid while the sin of failing to communicate is intrinsically inexcusable and unacceptable. After having done hardly any major maintenance and repair works on Aluna over the course of pretty much a whole year, the time had come to bite into the To Do List, which had grown more extensive and much less shiny than Rapunzel’s golden hair. Most of Aluna’s deck hatches had started to delaminate due to epoxy being used to glue and glass pieces of recycled oak timber, which in addition must have been laminated with furniture grade glue, since they literally started to fall apart.

It’s a sad sight!


The starboard aft hatch cover with new plywood frame

The handle and hinge knobs of the hatches are now screwed on in addition to being glued

The aft netting beam had fiercely chewed a notch into its socket on the sternpost of the port hull, most probably due to the swimming ramp’s lines creating a substantial pull forward on the beam. This notch needed to be filled before rot would set in, and the way of lashing the beam to the socket had to be changed so as to counteract the pull.


The anchor setup at the foot of the main mast and in the center of the number one beam was another glaring victim of cutting corners during the building process. The two side plates had been cut out of a shiny piece of good looking, but non-marine grade plywood. The glue holding its laminates together had simply vanished into thin air and they had not only become a sad sight but had disintegrated to the point of allowing our two anchors to fall off their stowed positions.


Don’t skimp on the plywood!

Now with custom mounts for each anchor type!

The aft solar panel had stopped charging the battery in the deckpod, which runs the quite essential autopilot and also the relatively important navigation lights. It turned out the wire connecting the panel to the charge controller on the battery had a tiny pinhole in its insulating cover. Corrosion had formed that ate up the copper leads to the point of interrupting the current completely. Now fresh wire with tinned innards brought everything back to working order. A new paddle was in need for the canoe, since the old one had decided to fall off and float away, or more likely: sink away, during one of the first nights here in Fiji.

It’s a hybrid with an experimental touch: lower part epoxy coated and painted, upper part left “au naturelle”, to see if the bamboo’s natural waxy coating can provide equal protection to the high-tech industrial approach.

As you can easily see, and most certainly will emphatically understand, there is enough substance and sustenance in that list, of which I burdened you with only a tiny fraction of its heart-wrenching content, to cause a major onslaught of emotional instability, if not outright and quasi-clinical depression.

Aluna rafted up to houseboat MV Curly and SV Wonderland, all held in place by a 5 ton mooring

After having lived through the exhilaration of life suspended on a fickle thread in a tempest of churning waters, who would dare to blame me for finding life on land a tad on the bland side anyway? Nephi had packed his things at blazing speed and within twenty-four hours of landing in Savusavu had vanished in a small inter-island plane heading through the turbulent trade wind air for Nadi International Airport on Viti Levu, from where he had booked an Air Pacific flight to Auckland. The longing for home and family proved stronger than the thirst for exploring new and exotic lands. I have not heard a word from him since then and am wondering if the pounds shed have found their way back onto his muscular self, and of course if my ever-nagging company has proved once again too inquisitive for a sustained relationship. Our fragile self-esteem rarely likes to be reminded of who we are in actual matter and fact, much less so through highly cynical interference of somebody else, and instinctively triggers highly laborious escape route planning. Without the help of conscious redirecting our actions are then sadly lead accordingly and we find ourselves living la vida not so loca, constantly on the run, playing an infinite game of very elaborate hide and seek evading diligently and eschewing desperately the subtle but persistent approaches of our most valuable friends. It seems that not even the utter chaos of furious storms at sea, nor the ego grinding wear and tear of a subtropical ocean voyage is sufficient to strip modern civilized human beings’ relating to each other of its impenetrable veil of self-entrapment, hypocrisy and the fiercest game of who screws whom.

Savusavu happens to be a little ramshackle town clinging to a long stretch of dusty road along the entrance of the Nakama Creek. Little shops and stores sell hardware, clothing items, electronic gadgets and many other objects of daily use and abuse. Most of them are run by dark skinned and brown-eyed Indians. Indians with a dot, that is, not with a feather, as the famous saying goes. Their ancestors had all left their tribal homes on the Indian subcontinent about a century and a half ago, brought here as indentured laborers by the British Empire to work the sugar cane fields. Since then their ever-busy diligence rewarded them with almost absolute control of everything commercial in the Fiji islands. But Fiji’s indigenous people control the land. Less than five percent of the country’s real estate is titled as freehold land, which means that it can be purchased by non-indigenous Fijians or foreigners. The sugar cane fields the Indians came here to work on was only given to them under a long-term lease. There is quite obviously a good bit of ethnic tensions between the two groups, and whenever those tensions flare many of the leases are withdrawn and all kinds of other inspired racial bullying enacted. But in spite of what was officially claimed, these interethnic tensions seemed not to have been at the root of the military coups that threw this country into a very elaborate state of progressive lawlessness. As usual, it’s the pretext that sticks and makes the official history, while the real causes of things are hidden away, obscured by a deliberate campaign of whitewashing brains. The growing power of the Lauans from the Eastern Islands with strong Tongan roots was what the mighty generals of Fiji’s powerful army wanted to get rid of. That power the generals generally and generously wanted to have for themselves. Anyway, this is a bit of a sidetrack and not all that well researched yet. But the feel of musty cronyism is in the air and economic stagnation stares you in the eye from the moment you step on land. If you dig your fingernails just a bit into the dust encrusted surface of this innocent looking settlement, which amongst many other unfortunate turns of events faces the not-so-subtle onslaught from the hordes of the ever so culturally insensitive yachties, you immediately screech to a halt in a climate of desperate fear. Snitching seems to be the favorite pastime of the obedient and self-restraint the one of the valiant. During the many years of reign by the military men the country has been purged of most every man and women who sees things for what they are and all positions of importance are now occupied by those who see and do as they are told.

Looking over the mooring field and Savusavu from atop SV Wonderland’s mast

I’ve been warned not to meddle too openly about anything of political and swallow my pride, forget about freedom of expression for a while and listen obediently to the weary chants of Methodist hymns that float like a honey sweet, molasses thick and corn syrup dripping sugar coating over the village at nightfall and all goddamn Sunday long. While creating little mounds of saw- and sanding dust aboard Aluna my mind every now and then allows itself an excursion into freefall mode and whines about being enslaved to this vessel of double hulls, that demands more blatant attention than any high-maintenance girlfriend of forcefully demonstrated upper class origin ever could muster up. As soon as you mended on thing, the ferocious sun and sea have already chewed up the next one, and there’s really no need to go into more details here, is there? Keep that in mind, you many enthusiastic and desperately persistent builders of boats out there in the wide and wicked world. Take a good and hard look at that driving dream of getting away from it all. Unless you’re a rich sucker handy with milking the very system you pretend to abhor, you better be ready to bear out a sentence for life, spending a good portion of you days, weeks and months minding very, very mundane tasks, wishing with a loose and almost fluttering heart that the many and much needed revolutions of human life and luster would happen a little more within reach of your nimble but feeble arms!


3 Responses to “Refusal to Disembark into Normality”

  1. rudy Says:

    Sounds like Fiji has not changed a bit. When we were there no Indians could buy land. Smart…

    Don’t know if this affects your position but it was announced that the GPS system maybe unreliable from this Sunday coming until September 9th due to updates and stuff. From your previous blog I understand that you now have a GPS device. I am sure you are on top of this.Your probably not traveling during that period of time anyway. Hope you’re having fun yet:-)
    Take care…


  2. Mario Mendoza Says:

    Hi Beat,

    No excuses needed on your part. You have consistently shared more than we do on the ‘normal’ side of existence. Our excuse is, of course, that we hunker down to the business of making a living and forgetting to just live!

    Warm regards, Mario

  3. Beatriz Restrepo Says:

    Como siempre escribes tan profundo y preciso que puedo sentir tu alma ahi. Estas haciendo lo correcto. Es nuestra casita y hay que cuidarla. pronto te estaré ayudando. Escribes tan profundo que me haces conmocionar mucho. Las cosas hay que decirlas como son y no tienes pelos en la lengua. Sigue con tu labor. Esta bien bonito todo lo que hisiste y tus manos son poderosas, magicas y fuertes.

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