Papeete is a recent memory and some 170 nm (300km!) astern of us already.
As I type this I can just see Rangiroa, as we pass less than 5 miles abeam of this the largest atoll of the Tuamotu Archipelago. An oval atoll, some 70 km long, and 35 km wide, comprising of a narrow motu (Un-submerged land) that runs all the way around its perimeter encasing an ocean lake rich in marine life.
I seem to remember that there are or were permanent inhabitants on some of these atolls! It does beg the question of how close or far away from One Point Zero living they would be? Living on a remote ‘island’ in the middle of the South Pacific: What would be your thoughts on their One Point Zero status? (It is a very simple and useful case study for learning about what One Point Zero, and Ecological Sustainability really means.)
I’m sure readers would value you share ‘your facts’, experiences, and emotive rustlings on this blog? Don’t be shy now, OK! (By the way thanks for all the comments so far, emails and Facebook messages, I’ll respond in some way here and directly as appropriate.)
Now heading directly for San Francisco, we have made a 30 degree north course change from the one we had to Tahiti. The wind is up to 30 knots, against us (which is a bit strange!) but being at 15 degrees south, it is just so nice and warm, and the Pacific has that deep purple colour out here. Compliant with the masters’ engine speed instructions, with this wind our speed has dropped from 16.5 knots down to 13 to 14 knots! Maybe the masters in their dominance want us to experience a little less robotic experience and more immersion in Nature’s Grand Adventure!
The arrival into Papeete was so special I give it its own section below:
The Middle of the Pacific: Romance, Happiness and Intensity!
Right now, I am almost in the middle of the South Pacific: It is 3200 nm (5800 km) to the eastern most point of Australia (near Fraser Island, Queensland) which is the Western limit of The Pacific Ocean, and we are 4000 nm (7200 km) from its eastern limit which is the western most point of South America, Punta Parinas in Ecuador. That’s a full 13000 km across of deep blue wilderness, the largest ‘desert’ in area on this planet! This represents about 37 % of the surface of the earth at this latitude band!
Only the big Southern Ocean some has some more limitless claim: Without any east / west boundaries it completely encircles our planet, making it the most free, wildest and restless of all the oceans. Seemingly long forgone the search for paradise, utopia, or increasing happiness it is on a never ending westward journey? Maybe the purpose of this journey void of destination or exploring its restraint is merely ‘the happiness’ of its restless intensity!
I wonder in if the Pacific in its bounded status feels secondary and in awe of the Southern Ocean’s unmatched Freedom. Maybe Freedom is our ultimate desire of as human beings. Our Shocking Success shows that maybe in pursuit of unrestrained Freedom we are increasingly breaking down Nature’s ‘obstacles’, when we should be accepting Nature’s conditional restraint! That’s what a One Point Zero world requires!
Mastery on Show: Our Arrival into Papeete
Definitely not wanting to miss out on the experience of coming into Papeete harbour on a huge container ship, I had a wonderful restless night, and eventually at 4:30am, not able to control my excitement anymore I headed up the two floors to The Bridge. I was just in time to hear over the radio the friendly French accent of the Papeete pilot giving his first contact instruction for the meeting position, where they wanted the access ladder down the side of the ship, and our berth orientation.
We were coming up to the channel between the large island of Tahiti, and the smaller, Tahitians weekend playground island of Moorea. With lots of other craft and a plethora of other potential hazards around, it was time for the ‘masters’ to take their places:
Able Seaman Raghu Komara was the ‘chosen’ Helmsman, and with The Captain they were ‘The Team’ to take us to our meeting point with The Pilot. As ‘we’ anticipated the hazards, the Captain issues course change instructions, like “Zero Five Zero”. To which Raghu would immediately respond with a “Zero Five Zero, Sir” and then purposefully make adjustments on the small Playstation like control handle. Within 20 or so seconds, once he ‘had the new course’ he would call loudly back: “One Five Zero, Sir”. The ‘Sir’, seemingly having no relation to power, domination or his submissiveness: merely reflecting the seriousness of the exercise and his commitment to follow the purely functional instruction to the best of his ability.
A ‘problematic’ yacht either knowingly trying to test its place in the hierarchy or merely being ‘incompetent’ challenge our course for an extended period before the Captain after using many expletives to describe the skipper of the yacht, ordered the 2nd officer to “Give five short blasts on the horn“…. That seemed to work, although it still took a while for the yacht to take make a capitulated course change and retreat from the one-sided conflict. Everyone seemed relieved, and it was a valuable experience for the sailor in me, be able to view the world from this side of the fence!
While all this was happening, the crew was busy doing all the jobs required to have us ready for harbour entry and docking. The big electric bow thruster was commissioned and the pilot access ladder lowered and then checked on its bottom rung requirement to be precisely 1.5 m above water line.
Many course changes later and a reduction in engine speed had us doing 5 knots at the Pilot rendezvous point. The radio call soon came up: “Pilot on board”, and after about 10 minutes the Pilot burst through the Bridge station door full of warm laughter and welcoming hellos. He had a glance around seemed to belong straight away, and then pulled out a piece of paper, which he used to discuss his plan with the Captain. Then to my absolute surprise seemingly without a word exchanged on the matter, he displaced the Captain and started issuing course instructions to Raghu on the wheel. The Captain had been ‘ousted’ but seemed quite relaxed and desiring of his new ‘demotion’ to ‘observer’!
By now it was pre sunrise light and with the Cap Capricorn heading at 5knots on collision course with the island dead ahead seemingly struggling to align it’s self with the two navigation lights marking the small channel opening ahead. I saw Michael the Pilot quickly change to a serious yet very calm demeanour. As the tolerance for error became rapidly less, and the cost of error significantly higher, the instructions to Raghu, went from being compass bearings, to rudder angles: “Ten degrees Port”, Hard Starboard, “Mid-ship” course The tempo of new instructions also increased and the intensity of Michael’s total focus on the task at hand was obvious. As he had planned the Cap Capricorn’s apparent misalignment was perfectly by the wind and tide. With barely 25 metres to spare each side and never changing the full 237 metres passed perfectly on the centreline of the two channel marker buoys. I looked at the coral reefs on either side of the larger channel gap, and was in awe of the professionalism and precision I had just witnessed.
I recalled two years ago when I had brought Allone into the narrower, non-commercial craft, break in the reef a few miles down the coast. That day it was blowing 30 knots and the large swell striking the fringe reef had created wonderful pipeline shaped waves that surfers were clearly enjoying. Lining up for my entry, I picked a swell, and as Allone surfed through the gap in the channel parted waves, I remember looking either way and seeing down inside each tube and the surfer it had entombed. Once through the gap, the water was still idyllic, but I did wonder how ‘Michael and Raghu’ would have managed with Cap Capricorn on a day like that: Somehow I felt with Michael’s calm intensity it would have been no more different to what I had witnessed! He certainly was The Master of the day!
For the ‘all of me’, I was totally enthralled, and as merely a spectator of this truly amazing 3 hour show, I thanked Michael, The Captain, and Roghu for providing me this unique intimate experience.
With the help of a tug, the bow thruster, and the final bit of magic from the ‘Michael and Raghu’ team Cap Capricorn was alongside the wharf without drama. The crew got to work in securing her to the jetty, the container guys started their loading schedule, and I was able to have an informal chat with Michael. He had been a super tanker captain for many years, and now loves this challenge to ‘just do the exciting part’ without having the boredom and monotony of weeks at sea. He appeared so calm that I couldn’t help ask if he found it at all stressful? With a smile that said: “That’s the secret”, he said: “Yes, but you have to keep that inside you!” I then took the photo of him and the Captain, we shook hands and as he walked off his sweat soaked back showed what I thought: This was bloody stressful bringing our big Cap Capricorn into this small harbour, but the man loved being the Master of the Challenge!
Customs took two hours two arrive, but having seen Papeete, I was just happy to download and read the NYT and London Times. I was in no hurry to take off on my bicycle to join all the consumers across the bay! As I read more, I was shocked at what a changing and challenging week it has been out there ‘for you guys’!: The Florida shootings, UK MP shooting, Trump challenges, Democrat regroup, Brexit volatility increasing, Russians banned from Rio, but nothing about Our One Point Zero Challenge!
Customs and Immigration was a non-event, not even a passport stamp, ‘we’ were soon free to explore Papeete. This informality, then having the bicycle and all its attached freedom of being able to hit the ground running (Ha-ha!) in a convenient, yet One Point Zero way made me feel I really could get used to this ‘Ship Travel’! Being at the container depot, it was quite a ride, but an interesting one that took me past a docked cruise ship, and its entire heavy footprint, hedonistic enticements!
Tahiti and Papeete
I hope most of you weren’t expecting this to be the big story of the day?
I loved being back on Tahiti, just feeling its unique Polynesian / French culture mix charm. I sensed from our discussions that my fellow passengers were searching for the idyllic beaches, Tahitian cocktails, ‘beautiful island girls’, crystal clear waters, vast coral reefs, teeming with brightly coloured tropical fish, etc…? Papeete is not like that, and even Tahiti struggles to be like that…? In 2014 I cycled for a week around the main island and across the isthmus to the adjoining island, exploring all it has to offer. This to me is not anything special, the magic of French Polynesia lives in the more remote Society Islands. Tahiti is the first stop, and Papeete the commercial capital and becoming increasingly a clogged up consumption ground. A few days experiencing its French / Polynesian culture, and then it should be used as a gateway for exploring the real gems, the more remote Society islands etc. Papeete is also very expensive, and probably even more so than when I visited in 2014. I was flabbergasted then and again this time: How do the locals afford to live? Almost everything of any significant value or in the supermarket comes from France as expected, and so one can clearly see the economics of the Parent / Child relationship from France’s side, but I can’t see how the long term fundamentals of an adult / adult relationship will work out….
Anyway, I love the Papeete local market and all its authentic offerings, and then just walking around observing and talking to people was fun!
I did get to have a swim in pretty clear water, and saw lots of coral and a few parrot fish: This all part of an illegal, unseen harbour swim not far from the channel entrance Cap Capricorn came through!
There is a strong element of French creativity, anarchism, and aesthetic beauty that pops out all over the place. Add to this the very strong Polynesian origins, and one walks around being presented with almost confused western / island fused ‘novelty’ that is unique and both emotive and thought provoking. I like that. These huge murals are almost graffiti, but appear all over the city on building that present a convenient and eye catching canvas. Here are some examples, and these are huge, as you may be able to see from the one that has a parked car in the foreground.
I guess in these murals my passenger friends may have got some of the Tahitian exotics they expected, but presented in an unexpected media! It was quite strange seeing my first females in almost one week! Gee are we so lucky to have the eternal mystical wonder of male and female diversity that makes for a fundamental richness in our lives!
Finally: Upcoming Attractions!!!
In the next few days I’ll be responding (holistically) to the great open and even challenging comments that have been posted. These debates are what are needed, and I don’t plan on ducking ANY issues!
I just wanted to get this Tahiti over stimulation out of the way…. ‘Same old, same old’ ocean of the next 10 days will allow for lots of focused One Point Zero stuff.
Still coming very soon is my flying journey and how I got to the No Flying decision. (I wonder if you have reflected on your relationship over the years with flying?)
I want to talk about The Facts and how followers may see them, not believe them, reject them, etc…. Also ‘The Facts’ behind The Facts, trying to make it real, practical and tangible for all of us. I have an analogy taking shape that may ‘stir the pot’, but I hope that in in its simple, everyday life way of animating the truths will help us all get our heads around a complex issue.
There is two worthy stories from the past few days that are too long to include today. The One is entitled: “YouTube, Exploring, and being Entertained.” The other is entitled: “How I deal with The Crowd Truths? By Jean Paul of Papeete.”
Just a few teasers for the week ahead, and there is no doubt that there will be whole lot more too…!
Bye for now…