Jul 10

1st Day

Tag: routeJonathon Haradon @ 10:15 am

(concerning events: June 17th)

The alarm sounds at 6 am.  Despite being in a deep sleep, I quickly lash out an arm, flopping it around searching for how to turn it off.  Matt and Karen will not be up for another two or three hours and I don’t want to disturb them.  Last night, I told them I was getting up early to watch the sunrise.  They scoffed and said I would get over that soon.  (Three weeks later, I am still getting up at 6 am almost every day to watch the sunrise. I don’t even need the alarm anymore.)

Up on deck, I quietly watch the sunrise.  While not the most spectacular I’ve seen, that wasn’t the point.  I envision maximizing each day, enjoying all that I can and seeing every moment of beauty.  This is the fantasy, and for the first day, at least, I’m going to make it happen.

I then find the dry bag and swimming goggles.  I put socks, shoes, and a shirt in the bag and roll it up, hoping it works; Matt voiced skepticism the night before.  I don the goggles and gingerly ease myself into the water, not because it is cold but because Matt and Karen might stir from a loud splash.  They have adapted to wake at any unusual sound, in case it might indicate something is wrong.  They have not had to deal with the morning sounds of a third person on the boat in over four months, much less a cannonball off the deck into the water.

The shore is only 200 yards away and I reach it quickly.  The one road is a mere 10 feet away.  Walking towards town on the one road of this section of the atoll, I wave at some locals driving by.  I walk past the school, the one room hospital, an advertisement for a chiropractic session.  An aged basketball hoop appears;  I wish there was a game going that I could have joined.  I wonder how often the hoop gets used? Who installed it?

Turning left of the main road I walk for 400 yards and find the ocean.  As Matt had promised, there are no wide, long white sandy beaches; the lagoon side of the atoll also lacked this traditional association with tropical paradise. The atolls have only small pieces of coral forming the shores.  After a stint along the ocean, with some pausing to soak in the beauty and awe of the atoll and the beauty and awe of the circumstances of chance and fortitude that brought me here, I walk back to the main road.  My distance along the ocean has brought me to the opposite end of town and so I begin the short walk back.  I find the a tiny grocery store.  The next day, I’ll swim to shore, retrieve a baguette, and swim back, baguette in dry bag.  Today finds me with no money.

Back to the boat, Matt and Karen are stirring.  After breakfast, we take the dinghy to shore, head to the one tiny grocery store to buy a few things.  We then visit a storefront for a pearl farm operation.  Through Matt and  Karen’s French, I inquire about a specific pearl farm I had read.  At one specific place, Havaraki Pearls, you can dive for your own oyster, retrieve it, and then crack it open and keep whatever pearl you find.  Sometimes, it’s an ok pearl, sometimes as the owner of Havarki explained later, sometimes though rarely, someone will find a pearl worth a few hundred dollars.  I may or may not have paid for the fun of getting my own oyster and leaving to chance what type of pearl I might find in it.

The exact second we walked up to Havarki Pearls they were beginning an explanation of pearl farming, complete with cracking open some shells and showing us how you seed an oyster, how to transplant pearls from one oyster to another, how to remove the pearl, and what part of the oyster is still edible.  We watched as the proprietor used tools one might find in a dentist office: tiny little mirrors, tiny little scrapers.  It was clearly micro-surgery to properly transplant and farm the oysters!

After the demonstration, it was about noon.  We decided that some drinks were in order.  Havarki pearls has a pension, which is a family-run place to stay, maybe a dozen individual thatch huts.  A beautiful open air restaurant and bar.  The bar: always open.   Awesome.  After drinks, it’s back to the boat and more catching up with Matt and Karen.  Matt and I discussed the tiny font, three column fully covered 8.5×11 page of paper listing all the work that should still be done to the boat.  It used to be Matt’s list.  Now it’s my list and I’m looking forward to tackling it, but it is laughingly long!

Day one done.  Day two, day three, day one thousand, they are waiting.

3 Responses to “1st Day”

  1. Barry Reese says:

    Brilliant. Can’t wait to hear more as those “next one thousand days” unfold. Cheers amigo.

  2. Vicki (MOM) says:

    Wonderful stories of your adventures, Jon. Thanks for posting. Am keeping your parents up to date by forwarding Karen’s emails. Enjoy your time in Tahiti. Sandy & I will see you in less than 2 weeks!! Vicki

  3. William says:

    Hey Jonathon,

    William here. I’ve chatted a bit with Matt, I’m in St. Croix right now working in the ER for the 6 weeks…..doing a lot of diving on my time off and looking forward to sailing through BVI next week myself. I will soon be in Florida starting my own sailing adventure. I applaud you guys for taking this time in life to seek out the adventures life holds.

    Love the blog and the pics.

    Keep the dream alive and stay safe.

    William and Amanda

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