Friday, November 23, 2012

Anchored in Pulawat

We had a blissful 3 day/2 night sail to Pulawat. Yes, I said blissful. It started out slow, but just as we thought we would have to spend another night at sea, the winds picked up and we were sailing along at a consistent 7-8 knots. I think we even saw 10 kts at one point.

We traversed a rather tricky pass and quite shallow. It was high tide and the sun was behind us - we couldn't have had better conditions - yet the shallowest point under our rudders still showed 8 feet... woohoo. We anchored in the entrance of the lagoon, as the google earth pictures looked much more shallow than the charts for getting into the actual bay. Andy and Jake went to check it out in the dinghy with a depth sounder. People were waving on the land, so as not to be rude, they checked in with them. The mayor, Dale and his translator Stan, gave Andy a coconut and said we were more than welcome to stay as long as we like....for $35. No sweat, we were expecting they came back to the boat to get me and our little gifts for the mayor.

The old meets the new
On our way in, we were met with two canoes with a man looking none too happy. He said he was the chief's nephew and we were to give him the money. His name was Joey and he wanted to see our permit and if we looked on the computer we would find his name as the person we needed to pay. He told us the fee was no longer $30, but now it was $50. But we could "pay it down" if we had other stuff to trade, like coffee, cigarettes, sugar, etc. He wanted to come to the boat to "see what we had." Um, no. We told him we would go back to the boat and get our permit and would meet him on shore. $35 later, we were down a knife, fishing line, fishing hooks, coffee, and a nice jack we caught on the way in. And we still had to go back to see the mayor.

We went back to the boat and got another knife, fishing hooks and lures and off we went. When we got back to the mayor in the men's meeting house and explained the situation, they said that Joey was wrong and this is a problem with all of the yachts that come in here (funny, that's what Joey said). But they were extremely nice and told us not to worry about it, they would work it out between themselves. Then they gave us some more coconuts and we talked.

I've left out a few things...this place is half way between primitive and half way between the Mortlocks...they still wear their lava lava's (think loin cloths), but they cut their wood with chainsaws. Speaking of chainsaws, Andy has an appointment to fix mayor/chief? Dale's chainsaw in the morning. They all paddle around in their traditional canoes, yet Andy has an appointment to fix Joey's fiberglass boat in the morning. It looks like his day is filling up!

Traditional Sailing Canoes, made here in Pulawat
So, tonight I have mixed emotions. This island has more of the feel of the Marshall's where is was gimme gimme and what can I fix for you, as opposed to the genuine happiness and appreciativeness of the Mortlock's that we just left. Mayor Dale and his crew seemed very welcoming, yet Joey and his klan were not quite as nice (not nice at all actually). The jury is still out. We've only been here a few hours and well, we're tired so maybe my judgment is a little off. We're going to have a nice Thanksgiving dinner of Tuna shashimi (we caught a nice skipjack on the way) and rice and the last of our cucumbers (don't worry, tomorrow I'll have time to make that pumpkin pie!). We'll wash it down with a nice coconut while watching Pirates of the Caribbean. Tomorrow is another day, a new perspective.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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