Travelogue #7, Nov 24- December 3rd – Desperate for Durbin by Larry Caillouet

Thursday, Nov 24
Today is Thanksgiving Day in the USA, but just another workday in La Reunion. Diana is in Indianapolis getting ready to enjoy her sister Donna’s annual Thanksgiving Dinner extravaganza. I would be happy to feast on the turkey and ham and delicious casseroles and home made breads, but what I could really use is a big slug of pie. Any pie that Donna makes. I don’t know how the French people on this island can know so much about bread and little fru-fru pastries, and know so little about pie. Why don’t they send someone to 2047 N. Bosart Avenue and learn how to make pies?

Carmel prepared a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner for us on the boat. I am thankful for a good boat-cooked meal.

Friday, Nov 25
Carmel and Joe repaired the tear in the Genoa and we did a few small jobs on the boat. Alex and I went to the Peugeot dealer and rented a car again. We will need it to pick up the furler repair guy from Mauritius at the airport on Monday, and it will be nice to be unbound from the boat and marina. Our first excursion was to go out for dinner. Still no pie on the menu so we went to the grocery store and I found slices of flan in the bakery section. Flan is not exactly pie but it was cut in pie shapes, so I took a chance and bought a slice for each of us. It was good, but I’m still on the lookout for pie.

Saturday, Nov 26
Today was a big day. First it was Liberty laundry day. We didn’t have enough tokens for the dryer at the marina’s laundry so we turned the boat into a big floating backyard clothes line. Sheets, shirts, socks, and skivvies were hung on every line on the boat. This is part of the glamor of sailing around the world.

Today was France vs Denmark in the World Cup. Not too big a deal in the USA but here in France the street was closed in front of Le Boucanier restaurant where we went for supper and a giant screen was set up to televise the game. Tables were set up in the street and by the time the game started the tables were full. The crowd roared every time France threatened to score because actual scoring doesn’t happen much in soccer, or “football” as they call it here. France won 2 to 1, and the crowd was happy.

Most important, today was the 51st wedding anniversary for Diana and me. I wrote a song for the occasion. Get the tune of Glen Campbell’s song, “By the time I get to Phoenix” in your mind , hum it a time or two, then set these words to the same tune:

By the time I get to Durban
It’ll be December
The Oyster fleet won’t be there anymore
They’ll be sailing down the coast
To get to Cape Town
A dream I’ve had so many times before

By the time I get to Cape Town
They’ll be flying
Home to be with fam’lies they adore
I’ll miss my flight and I’ll be stuck in Cape Town
Regretting wasted days
That went before

By the time I make Kentucky
She’ll be waiting
She’ll run quickly and meet me at the door
She’ll smile just to know I’m really with her
And not just a promise on the phone
She just had to know
That I love her so 💕

Sunday, Nov 27
More bad news: We received a message assuring us that The Part that DHL promised would arrive last Tuesday, then promised for Thursday, then promised for Saturday, will arrive next Tuesday. Yeah, sure. Because they promised. We have drilled this well so deep waiting for this part that we don’t have much choice but to drill a little deeper.

Monday, Nov 28
If I could add a soundtrack to this travelogue, you would be hearing the swamp pop melody of Freddy Fender’s 1975 hit “Wasted Days and Wasted Nights” playing softly in the background. I’ve read every news item the internet has. Ask me anything—go on, really, anything. I’ve done my Cyber Monday shopping. I found some good deals. I’m so bored that I polished the rust off the stainless steel on the boat. I even used a stiff toothbrush to get the hard-to-reach parts. The boat is gleaming— all dressed up and nowhere to go. Freddie, your music is immortal.

Tuesday, Nov 29
Another day and a new sound track—Dionne Warwick’s hit “Promises, Promises” is the tune of the day. Jerome, the ace rigger, flew here from Mauritius to install The Part. DHL, the worldwide delivery company that promised1, promised2, promised3, promised4 delivery today, now says that they don’t know where The Part is. I don’t think they knew where it was when they promised us before, and now they admit their incompetence.

Still, there was work to do to be ready to install The Part when it finally comes. Jerome took the lead on the project to remove the broken foil, which was a complex operation. First we shackled both spinnaker halyards to the foredeck to stabilize the mast. Then we eased the tension on the forestay by detensioning the hydraulic backstay. The foil was fitted around the forestay and the forestay was anchored inside the Reckman furler which was bolted to the deck and hull, so to remove the broken section of the foil we had to disassemble the furling mechanism and free the bottom end of the forestay. Once that was achieved, Jerome used Alex’s angle grinder to carefully cut away the mangled edges of the foil that was still gripping the forestay. He was extra careful to not knick the forestay itself because any weakening of the forestay would compromise the integrity of the rig. We unbolted this section of foil from the section above it and finally we could slide this broken section of the foil off the forestay.

Another 2-3 hours would have seen the new foil installed, the Genoa re-installed, and Liberty liberated from its dock lines. But with the foil in the Twilight Zone we had done all we could, so Alex drove Jerome back to the airport.

Wednesday, Nov 30
Today was a snoozer of a day. Read some, dozed some. We did manage to re-assemble the forestay. By this we proved to ourselves that we know how to do it and have the parts and tools we need—except for The Part.

Thursday, Dec 1
New sound track: Merle Haggard’s 1973 country hit “If We Make It Through December.” We still have no information about The Part. We have brainstormed several options, all of which have serious deficiencies or drawbacks. With each passing wasted day our Christmas deadline looms larger before us.

If I make it through December,
Everything’s gonna be all right I know.
I’ve got 20 days to Cape Town
And 2250 miles to go.
If I make it through December,
Got plans to be with family at Christmas time
And then home back in Kentucky
If I make it through December, I’ll be fine.

Boat broke down again while sailing
And parts are hard to get so far from home.
DHL says they have sent it,
But they don’t know their a**hole from a bone
I don’t mean to hate December
It’s meant to be a happy time of year.
But my family won’t understand
Why it’s Christmas time and I can’t be with them.

If I make it home by Christmas,
Everything’s gonna be all right, I know
It’s cold now in Kentucky
But I don’t care if it’s covered up with snow.
If I make it home by Christmas
That’s all that’s on my mind
To be with my friends and fam’ly
If I make it home by Christmas, I’ll be fine

Friday, Dec 2
After a minor job of cleaning small mussels and barnacles out of a refrigeration drain line, we drove down the west coast to St. Pierre. There we turned onto the crooked highway that crosses the middle of the island between the three dormant volcano cirques to the north and the active volcano to the south. Near the middle of the island at about one mile altitude we stopped at the City of Volcanology Museum. This is a high quality museum dedicated to volcanic activity in general but specifically to the volcanic history of La Reunion. It included a 4D movie about volcanoes in which our seats shook, we felt hot air on our face, and we even got a small spray of water in our face.

Saturday, Dec 3
Alex received a message that the airline had escalated this problem to upper management. The Part had been placed on a numbered pallet and was scheduled to be put on the plane in Paris for the Friday night flight to La Reunion. It should arrive here sometime on Saturday. We will get it sometime Monday. We will install it Monday/Tuesday and test it. We will clear out with Customs and Immigration on Tuesday, turn in the rental car, and set sail for Durban.

Sent from my iPhone


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