I can always tell that we have been in port too long when Erik and I start to bicker. As soon as we start
breaking out the why-don`t-you-get-it-yourselfs and the can`t-you-show-a-little-enthusiam-heres, it
means we are cranky and bored. Time to move on.
Not that I have anything against Noumea. The people are extremely friendly and helpful, and a
baguette costs 80 cents. You can`t beat that. But we have been up to our eyeballs in stress about
what is wrong with our engine-propeller run. The short answer is, we can jolly things along for now,
but we need to plan on a major repair during cyclone season. The propeller shaft coupling that self-
destructed was only a symptom of a larger problem: the whole assembly was badly designed, and
needs to be pulled. That means a haul-out, an expert, and all sorts of other time-taking, money-
costing nonsense that makes me want to hide under the table and eat Cheetos. Alas, Cheetos don`t
provide the answer to all of life`s problems. But sometimes sailing does.
Erik and I were grumping around the cockpit after talking it all through and bickering some more and
generally being irritable and not worth talking to. Erik checked the weather.
“We`re going to lose our wind tomorrow,” he said.
“Grump,” I replied.
“We’re going to be stuck here another five days. We have to go right now. Do you want to go right
It was already noon. We had five and a half hours to make it somewhere – anywhere – before sunset.
“Grump,” I said again. (This was a positive grump. You speak grump, don’t you?)
And we were off and running. Haul up the dinghy tie down the dinghy clear away the towels and
wetsuits and bathing suits and hairbands and books from the cockpit get those damn boogieboards
out of my way stow the companionway boards where did you put the oh there it is turn on the fuel
primer pump and away we go.
And we had a beautiful afternoon of sailing. As our new motto is “baby the engine,” we sailed off our
anchor, kept the engine on only as a backup through the pass, and sailed down to Baie du Prony on a
beautiful SW breeze. We had no seastate in the lagoon – just calm waters and red cliffs falling past us
at 8 knots. We sailed through Canal Woodin dead downwind – usually a nightmare for Papillon – but
since the waters were flat, even our jib stayed full. Erik even got to break out the binoculars as we glided past a nickel mining operation. We sailed into our anchorage just as the sun was setting. You couldn’t ask for a better afternoon.
Now we have a day of waterfalls and hotsprings behind us. Some friends should join up with us later today. And when the wind comes back, we’ll head down to Ile des Pins to get some snorkelling in.
So the next time you and your spouse are locked in a bickerwar, consider a change of pace. Sometimes you can sail away from your problems.