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SEA Currents: SSV Corwith Cramer
May 01, 2019
Heimoa Take Two/To Sea Once More
The time is 5:05, the wind is a brisk and warm call to sea, and a directly windward challenge to make it to Papaeete! We will be fighting a headwind for our miles today. I'm writing my blog early in anticipation of tossing some cookies to Neptune, but also looking forward to filling our sails and getting underway. With a month of experience behind us, I imagine it will be quite different from our departure from New Zealand!
Raiatea is a colorful place. The first and most overwhelming color was that delicious GREEN we first saw from the ocean! The highest point on Raiatea is over 3,000 ft, and the land rises out of the ocean with a vertical ferocity matched only by the vegetation that manages to thickly blanket the mountain sides. As we approached and made fast to the dock, other colors emerged from the green. Along with other interns and some crew members, I spent a first afternoon in Raiatea looking after the boat for the day and accomplishing ships tasks in anticipation of a nearly free day onshore to follow. The interns and Cassie banded together to take on ships work, including sanding the boom and battling the main'sl into neat folds, quite an undertaking and accomplishment! That evening, as we wandered into town, more colors emerged - red hibiscus and pink-yellow plumeria blossoms framed pink and turquoise houses, and street murals stood tall on the buildings of the small main street.
Nearly the entire ship's company went on a tour the next morning, and no amount of color could have prepared us for the colorful nature of our guide Heimoa (pronounced Hey-Mao)! To call him simply our tour guide would be an insult - for three hours, he was our grandfather, sage, fountain of information and history and absolute and unquestioned expert on the stupidities of the modern age. Heimoa is 80 years old, and has lived every day of his life on the island of Raiatea.
As we piled into a blue and yellow bus and explored the east coast of the island he discussed at length it's history and religion, his compulsion to teach the younger generation about Polynesian culture, and his concern about the way that younger generations have grown away from nature. He peppered his teachings with stories of his family and the many children he has had over the course of a long life, called us his grandchildren and schooled us in questions - "If you are happy where you are, why you need to go? Stupid!" "If you don't need money, then why you get a job, be a slave to money? Stupid!" Heimoa eats once a day, and in his old age continues to provide from himself from the bounties of the island and his valley. When we told him we eat not one, not three, but SIX meals a day on the Seamans he was astounded -"Why you need to eat so much?
You don't have time! You have to live, too! Stupid!"
Now, I look back at this blog with the perspective of a full day at sea to temper my memories! We got off of the dock and through the shallow channels between aquamarine reefs and islands and into the wide ocean once more. The tables are gimbaled, and the portholes have resumed their washing-machine show of waves and sky. We have fallen almost seamlessly back into the rhythm of life underway, into the habits and sea-sensibilities we developed during our long passage. Raiatea and Heimoa seem far further than the (how many?) miles we've covered, and our focus is back to our people, our program, music and games and our last few precious days at sea together!
- Hannah Moench, Sailing Intern
Also, from Josie- Happy birthday mom!! Hope it's a good one, sorry I'm missing it