Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Reliability of Generosity



Almost nothing is reliable in my world. I've seen failures in pumps, motors, line, anchoring, sails and my little dinghy. When in a place like I am where very few basic items and services are available, mending those failures can be a difficult task. However, in my quest to do so I have found that there is one thing in French Polynesia that is almost always reliable. It's the kindness and good-nature of the people I have met.
The personal encounters that I have had have been rich, inspiring, and helped me along the way.

In Taiohae bay, on Nuku Hiva I had some trouble with the dinghy. The entire deck came unglued from the sponsons, leaving me without a dink. The glue and marine plywood to fix it had to be shipped in by boat, due two weeks from the incident. Kevin Eliis had organized it for me, and meeting Kevin was worth all the trouble. He gave me unlimited use of his wood shop to do it myself, invited me into his home on several occasions, and most of all was always happy. In that time he managed to fix several other cruiser's issues, being an ex-cruiser himself he just plain old understood.

Again on Nuku-Hiva, in Taipivai I had an almost surreal amount of kindness shown to me by Simon, so much that I wrote an entire post about it already. Have a read if you're lacking faith in humanity.

Other cruisers are equally as helpful. My camera had stopped working and I needed another. I couldn't get one on Nuku Hiva, but the crew from the vessel SegĂșe was able to. They had family flying in from Canada. The camera was bought on a sunday in Canada and flown to Nuku Hiva, trusting that I had the cash to replace my beloved Canon G-series. It was personally delivered to my boat with a smile, a genuine act of kindness.

On the atoll of Takaroa I met friendly families, dreadlocked rastas, and even company managers. I quickly learned that all I had to do to get around was put out a thumb. Most of the time the first vehicle passing would pick me up. Everyone is eager to meet, and quick to lend a hand. Most often, they simply enjoy a bit of conversation. I've met so many different people by hopping into cars, each time a new experience.

Here in Rangiroa I've happened upon more fantastic people. I chose an anchorage near the village and away from all the other boats and met Philip right away. A French school teacher, Philip waved me into his house when I approached on my dinghy. We were pleased to meet, and he offered me everything he could. He let me use his shower, internet access, laundry machine, and even his car. His family was also kind and friendly, always happy to help and accomodating. Never did he ask for a thing, I only wished I could have given him a better bottle of wine!

When my chain was stuck at my new anchorage, Pitou came to my aid. As owner of Six Passengers diving, he offered me everything he could. He helped me fix my dinghy motor after a dunk in the sea, offered the use of his boat, and let me borrow some dive equipment that I subsequently lost during a mishap. Even after losing his gear, he offered me a cold beer and good conversation at his home in paradise. Yet again another person that is seemingly always smiling, and quick to lend a hand.

I don't know what makes people out here so much different. Maybe it's the easy lifestlye or the tropical beauty, it's difficult to speculate. Often I question it, never forming a decisive answer, but it's not to be questioned anyhow. Rather than question I've learned it's best to take in kindness, and find pride  in spreading it to the people I meet.


5 comments:

  1. Rob, Having spent much time racing on board Echo on San Francisco Bay, I'm curious. There was always an issue with the planking separating and seams opening up under the mast step. Jack thought he'd fixed it in 2007, but there were times . . . So, how has it held up? Has Echo stayed tight, or have you had to battle it out with the bilge pump? Another question: The rigging was always kept original, and I was always a little perplexed at the troubles I had with the spinnaker pole topping lift (seeming to be too short) - how has it worked for you as you've journeyed across the Pacific?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey John. Oh, she still opens up, but that's just how wooden boats are. When I tell people about how much water she takes on while beating to windward they sometimes gasp, but I know, as should anyone else on a classic, that a good hull flexes like Echo's.

      As far as the topping lift goes, I've long since replaced that. I noticed that on my first day out and replaced it with a longer lift as well as replacing all the other running rigging.

      Delete
    2. Hey John. Oh, she still opens up, but that's just how wooden boats are. When I tell people about how much water she takes on while beating to windward they sometimes gasp, but I know, as should anyone else on a classic, that a good hull flexes like Echo's.

      As far as the topping lift goes, I've long since replaced that. I noticed that on my first day out and replaced it with a longer lift as well as replacing all the other running rigging.

      Delete
  2. Hi Rob,
    As someone who raced on Echo in San Francisco, it's good to see the old girl out and about having adventure!
    Mathew Hernandez

    ReplyDelete