St Paul Island, circa 1903. Photograph by Carl Chun, from "Aus den Tiefen des Weltmeeres"
January 18, 2014
St Paul Island, 38°43S 77°31E
We made it. The anchor went down at dusk on Tuesday just outside of the flooded crater and we went to bed for the first uninterrupted sleep in two and a half weeks. The next morning was sunny, warm and most importantly, fairly calm. The occasional swell rocked us but only small breakers rolled over the crater’s mouth- entering was possible.
Unfortunately, I decided it would be smart to launch the dinghy and check out the gap before heading in with the big boat. Just when we had it suspended over the deck and I was pushing it over the side, a series of rollers reached us swinging the dinghy wildly and knocking me backwards, slamming my back into a rail and breaking a rib. Jeannie dropped the line and the dinghy landed back in place while I assessed my ability to move.
The scouting plan was abandoned and near high tide, when there was two inches of water more than our 8 ½ feet, we approached the gap, Jeannie signaling from the bow, at dead slow speed. We bumped once over the twenty yard wide shallows and headed across the mile wide circular pond amid jumping seals and swimming albatrosses to a charted spot shallow enough for our anchor. An hour later we were secured including a line to shore.
I felt like an NFL quarterback who had just won the Super Bowl. I have never been so happy and in so much pain at the same time. We could now safely make the repairs that would get us to Australia but my back was in need of serious pain medication. As it happened, we had just refreshed our medical chest in Cape Town.
The next two days were spent drilling and tapping holes into which six new bolts were driven. Then the braces were modified and wedged into place. Jeannie did all of the heavy work while the cripple supervised. We finished and admired a job that we know will not move until we reach a good boatyard in Australia.
Jeannie turned sixty-five on Thursday and she claimed the fixed steering was the best birthday present she had ever received. That afternoon we toured the shoreline by dinghy. There are stone ruins of an old settlement from the nineteenth century where fishermen and farmers tried to make a go of it; a few metal pillars, perhaps from whaling or sealing; a rustic cabin that is used by French research teams; a hut with survival rations for the desperate seamen who might wash up here; and, thank you France, a tide gage that produced the tide charts. The cabin has an official proclamation in French and English declaring that being here is strictly forbidden.
Friday was a rest day. My back gets a little better each day and, except for a repair on the generator, it was so nice for the body and the soul to take a day off.
It is time to pull in the shore line and collapse the dinghy. We will have Onora ready for the sea again near high tide in four hours. We will leave this secure haven and head east 1950 miles to Australia but never forget our R&R on St. Paul.
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