Lat: 15 31.931′ S
Lon: 159 40.463′ E

Dallas and Lauren have obligingly permitted me to have a go at a guest blog as I am urgently craving the attention of someone other than my fellow crew members who have been cooped up in close quarters with one another for a good 4 days and are on the verge of deciding who to eat if it comes to that. As I write this the debate is on and Lauren, being imminently democratic, has decided it should be put to a vote. I guess its time to start kissing babies and hugging puppies. Alas, lacking these requirements, I suppose I must do it the old fashion way and come up with something I can bribe people with. Too bad I’m out of chocolate.

Duty free shops were numerous in Port Villa, Vanuatu, the last real port the crew of the Pura Vida paid a visit to and I took full advantage. To those who are not familiar, duty free shopping is great because import (or export..who really gives a damn) taxes are not applied and once one is out of the country, you get to bust into your bag of goodies. In my case, I was craving chocolate (insert joke here) and managed to get my hands on some Toblerone and Snickers. Toblerone, for those who don’t know, is a Swiss brand of chocolate that comes in a large, triangular tube shape container and weighs about a pound. A pound of solid chocolaty goodness was a temptation I was not prepared to handle responsibly and as result it was completely devoured in a matter of hours. Now, if you are thinking, this is completely disgusting and offensive, you would be correct. Not only because I hid my treasure and refused to disclose my bounty afraid that I might have to share, but also it was just a hell of a lot of chocolate for one person to consume in that amount of time. (In my defense, I have contributed to the snack supply in the past so if one were inclined to imagine me hiding under a sheet in my berth, greedily devouring obnoxious amounts of chocolate; well, you’d have the right idea and I’m comfortable with that). Having not succumbed to a sugar-intake induced coma, my treachery was finally discovered and my punishment swift. The next day I polished metal on the boat.

Before we get to my brutal but much deserved sentence for failure to disclose and share yummy treats, I must touch upon the avian tragedy at sea that was suffered by the crew of the intrepid Pura Vida. I say we suffered, the bird that kissed the wind generator with his beak really suffered. Sitting in the salon (no not that type…we are not living in luxury out here folks), quietly and peacefully reading a book or trying to find my hidden stash of emergency snickers, my rest and relaxation was rudely interrupted by a loud crash outside and a few shrieks from Lauren or Shiroma. Apparently, a seabird of some sort or another had managed to fly a little too close to the spinning blades of one of the two wind generators toward the stern of the boat. The wind generators, two wind-vane shaped contraptions that extend about 8-9 ft. above the cockpit of the boat, have three blades that spin in decent winds and generate power for the boat so we have juice for the hairdryers, espresso machine and satellite TV in the salon.

Now, in decent wind, these things move. These things move fast. These blades achieve a rpm speed that has to be dangerous. I have visions of standing night watch as generator blades max out at the level for catastrophic structural failure and send high-velocity shrapnel through whatever might be in the way which would potentially include me as I typically occupy the cockpit during night watches to, you know, make sure we don’t hit something hard. So, the point is they move fast and shouldn’t have too much trouble slicing cleanly through whatever might happen to take a strange and twisted interest in them like a bird perhaps. The night before we had two and then later three seabirds take quite an interest in the top of the mast of the boat and attempt several landings where inevitably they intended on using the Pura Vida as the largest solid toilet they had ever seen. (You can’t blame them, how would you feel if you always had to go on a wet surface?).

Anyway, the bird struck solidly with a loud crash and after that we don’t have a clue. I am an animal lover of the first order so this was kind of a bummer but, things happen. The bird hopefully limped off thinking: man that did not go the way I planned it or dude, why did she have to hit me, all I was gonna do was ask for her freakin number. The wind generator seemed to have suffered little to no damage and we both parted ways hopefully to nurse our wounds and never meet again. Seriously though, at the time I thought this was sort of like two bullets managing to hit each other after being fired from a great distance, pointed at one another. Basically, very remote possibility of these things meeting right? I mean, what are the odds of two objects coming that close to one another out in the middle of this enormous thing called the Pacific Ocean and don’t these birds have some nest to go home to? I would be provided an answer to the first question the next day. As far as where these birds go when they get tired of flying around and crashing into things, I haven’t got the faintest clue and nor does anyone else as far as I’m concerned.

Boredom at sea is something I can imagine many sailors have had to combat throughout the history of this insanely delightful mode of transportation. I’m sure many solutions cannot be mentioned here and the crew of the Pura Vida is quite adept at coming up with wholesome and in no way degrading or embarassing ways of entertaining themselves at sea. Reading, playing games and conversations about food are popular methods especially as the passage wears on. At the moment, we are four days into the passage and sanity levels are (if we comply with Homeland Security specifications) at a solid and safe yellow stage in a non-cabin-fever, Jack Nicholson-lurking-about-the-Overlook-Hotel-with-an-axe kind of way. No practical jokes or needless humiliation or degradation at fellow crew members expense has taken place and peace reigns supreme. Until today.

Today, I am guessing due to my chocolate treachery, that Dallas, in his always pragmatic way, cheerfully suggested that the solution to our current state of boredom might be some boat maintenance. (In order to clarify, Dallas and Lauren are the furthest from slavedrivers you could possibly imagine…in fact, I’m quite certain if I just sat on my rear and did absolutely nothing to help they wouldn’t say a word in protest). I am inclined to help out on the boat because I am generally useless as this is my first sailing voyage. I know nothing of sailing except when to stay out of the way and sometimes I even got that wrong. Not to mention I owe Dallas and Lauren lots of stuff that has managed to find its’ way overboard when under my care. Right now I believe my tally is three plates, one steak knife, one spearhead and one hacky sack, don’t ask. So needless to say, I am eager to help when I can. This was apparently one of those times but honestly, I think Dallas was trying to make a point that dumping things overboard and hording chocolate was completely inappropriate behavior aboard their vessel. My punishment was polishing the lifelines that run along the lateral edges of the boat and keep crewmembers onboard which is nice.

While there was nothing extraordinary about the chore, (it was actually nice to spend some time in the sun and contribute something to the workload) it did afford me the amusing thought that perhaps Dallas or Ash, the first mate, might put on an Admiral hat and come berate the lazy sailors polishing steel and bark at us saying things like, "I wanna see my face shining back at me in that steel you worthless pile of @#$%". As I finished polishing the starboard lifelines, Lauren was working on the port side, not due to corporal punishment as was I but just due to her nature as a solid contributor to workload and general well-being of the boat and crew. As she was finishing the job toward the stern of the boat, instinctively she looked forward off the port bow in the way that one who has been out here awhile does to occasionally take a look around even if it isn’t ones’ watch and she spied a boat on the horizon. A large boat. A large boat that wasn’t changing directions and was headed in our general direction.

Now, before panic ensues among loyal readers of this blog and alarms begin sounding to call the Australian Coast Guard to begin the search, I could not have posted this from the life raft which is designed more for survival than Internet access so, we are fine. Lauren had noticed the boat on the horizon and having notified Dallas, authorities on the boat had the situation well in hand. While a sharp eye was kept on the boat by Lauren; Dallas hailed them on the radio and of course, I grabbed my camera. While this may sound like the most useless thing to do under the circumstances, that’s only cause it was but it was also the only thing I could do. If in doubt, document.

With calls from the Pura Vida untranslatable, the only verbal response was one of, "no English". The boat was clearly of Asian origin with what appeared to Chinese characters painted across the main superstructure. Most likely a fishing trawler, approximately 80 -100 ft. long, the boat changed course about a half-mile from the Pura Vida, crossing in front not risking a collision across the starboard side of the boat. Although not seeming to rattle the more experienced members of the crew, the encounter was exciting. I’m not sure whether the sight of something other than things I like to dump overboard floating to the bottom or birds that like to get up close and personal with supersonic wind generator blades was the catalyst for excitement or if it just felt like a close call. Regardless, blood pressure elevated and boredom for the moment was suspended as we watched this thing leave us in the dust, not so much as a wave or salute or gift of fish which had to be plentiful on this thing cause we haven’t caught anything in days. Clearly, these guys were hogging all the tuna and that makes me mad. Too bad I’m out of chocolate.

colin Somebody get this guy some chocolate!!