Vaka Motu ‘Rangi’, May 4
Are we there yet?
So there you have it: 2000 plus nautical miles, averaging 6knts per hour, all nearly done and dusted. What you may notice is I’m not giving a definite date of arrival. What that’s about, is sailors through out history are inherently superstitious. What ever it takes to ensure well-being and safe passage. I won’t say when our arrival date is cause i may jinx it. The weather’s bigger than all of us, and the weather gods don’t usually read forcasts. We’ve all learnt about predicting ETAs… An example would be Galapogos to Tahiti: Our waka got so fed up with ETAs being passed around the fleet, that we’d smile and comment “another one or whatever”. We’ve learnt it’s best to prep for the worst, everything else is a welcome bonus. “Don’t count chickens before they’re hatched”, while pulling in a fish don’t talk about how you’d cook it until its landed.
So many times we’ve seen the fish escape, hence the saying: ” Eoow you ate it before you caught it.” Sailing vocab is prevalent in modern times. “Not enough room to swing a cat” refers to the practice of flogging sailors with the “Cat o Nine Tails”. “To the bitter end” talks about the end of the anchor rope being connected to the vessel at the Bit end.
Some modern fishing vessels don’t carry bananas as they’re considered bad luck. The total opposite for us as this food is a staple in the tropics. We have stories of chiefs (captains) finding a particular individual the result of bad morale or bad weather; the only obvious action was to get rid of the problem. Captain Cook did the same with his crew members but he whipped the problem out of his sailors.
Superstition is an unfair word that doesn’t really encapsulate the true meanings of the how and why people operate. Take traditional legends for example: Did Maui catch the sun or produce a calendar? Behind the legend is a truth a fact. Being retold in its abstract form ensures retention. Not that our captain will throw crew over board but these types of examples help us remember what works on waka and what doesn’t, i.e work as a team and be mindful of others.
The veteran sailor Slocom, who sailed the world on his own, once said: “There are no heathens on the ocean” which for us means rejoice in our cultural beliefs, name your waka after your gods, your ancestors, cover your sails, hulls and decks with designs that relate to spirituality and culture. What ever ensures safe passage and well-being.
So like the chicken and fish story, I won’t be giving any ETA’s till I see all the signs that tell me land is close by. Just to be safe.
80nm to Papaeete.
Position: 18 52.68 S 150 02.37 W
Speed: 7 knts
Wind: 15-20 knts ENE
Course: 20 degrees
Swell: 0.5 m East
Cloud cover: 75%
Blog written by Pat