'Me and Tikopia' (anthropologists should get the joke)!
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Me andTikopia .
It was a gloriously sunny South Pacific day and I was spending the morning scuba diving with my good friend Bill ‘Doc’ Loftus. Doc was an MD from Adelaide, Australia and I was a redundant steel worker from Sheffield, England. Here we both were, working as crew aboard one of the world’s finest sailing vessels. We had been thrown together, along with another eighteen people to make up the deck crew of the 4-masted barque ‘Sea Cloud’. At 365 feet long and carrying 32,000 square feet of sail, Sea Cloud is amongst the biggest sailing vessels in the world. Built in 1931 and originally owned by Marjorie Merewether Post Hutton she set the benchmark for the fraternity of millionaire yachting, despite being built at the time of the great depression. Sea Cloud is now a passenger vessel with bed space for over 70 fee- paying passengers that sails to destinations all around the world. While Doc and I were enjoying chasing parrotfish into underwater caves our on-duty colleagues were ferrying passengers from the anchorage to the beach where they were going ashore to visit the local village. The ship was safely anchored and lay back on her chain in about 50 feet of water with her sails hanging in their gear and some of the on-duty crew were shuffling around in the rig, replacing worn bits of the running rigging, painting backstays and splicing in new ratlines. Other crew were on the deck giving pin rails and bulwarks a fresh coat of varnish while others painted the bottle screws at the foot of the shrouds on either side of the main mast. One of-duty crewmember was laid in the bowsprit netting, reading a novel and bronzing in the sunshine. Just beyond him, the ships figurehead of a golden eagle glimmered in the morning sun as the ship cast a huge shadow across the aqua blue sea. It was an idyllic scene and I was considering myself to be extremely fortunate to be where I was rather than being at home in Sheffield, on a rainy day. I had dreamed of times and places like this and I was now living my dream. How lucky was I?
We had sailed into the Pacific from the Mediterranean via the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean and the Panama Canal and had visited numerous archipelagos as we crossed this, the world’s biggest ocean. We had bumped into and had a beer with the actor Martin Sheen on the island of Bora Bora, which we cycled around with the aid of hired bicycles. We had swum with sea lions in the Galapagos Islands and visited the Darwin research institute to befriend a few giant tortoises. We visited the Moai statues of Easter Island and danced with Vahines in Tahiti. We had also heard stories from the fifth generation of the mutineers of HMS Bounty on Pitcairn Island and visited the place where the artist ‘Gaugin’ is buried in the Marquese’s islands. After sailing on to Tonga, Fiji and other Island groups, we had now arrived at the Island of Tikopia, an outlier of the Solomon Islands, which are in Melanesia. The Islanders however, are staunchly proud of the fact that they are Polynesians. Tikopia is a tiny volcanic island, which only measures about 3-by-5 kilometres. It rises to a little under 370 metres and has a volcanic lake that is called ‘Te Roto’. We had sailed here from the Santa Cruz archipelago, where I had learned of the famous feather money. This is a form of currency on the islands, which consists of thousands of scarlet red feathers from the honey bird, which are glued to roles of tapa cloth. These roles apparently, used to be up to ten metres in length and ten of them were considered to be a fair dowry for a bride. The Honey birds used to be caught but not killed so that feathers could be collected as they grew! The bigger the role of feather money you had, the wealthier you were considered to be. I had found this gem of cultural difference fascinating and had been told that Tikopia had an equally fascinating cultural history.
In the afternoon all of the off duty crew were invited to join passengers for a formal welcome to the Island, hosted by the communities headman. We all congregated at the village meeting place. Surrounded by thatched huts with their roofs hanging low to the ground meaning that you had to get on your hands and knees to enter one through their 3-foot high entrances. The village was now a throng of people who had gathered to watch children dance and sing a welcome song to us. Some of the men wore bark skirts, while others wore western clothes in the form of football shorts and T-shirts. The women wore pareu’s. This is a brightly coloured piece of cloth that is wrapped around the body under the arms; much like a woman in the UK would wear a towel after bathing. All were barefoot and many were adorned with tattoos on their faces, as one would expect to see on a Maori warrior. Some of our hosts also wore earrings. These were in fact, mostly, small rolled up leaves that were inserted into extended holes in the lobes of their ears. Some also had hibiscus flowers behind their ears. Most of us were stood but some sat on logs that were placed in a rectangular fashion around the space that the dancers were performing in. The headman sat on a log in a central position. His ears were decorated with the largest and freshest looking leaves and he wore a large bark skirt that had seen better days. His hair was wild, grey and resembled a bundle of thin wire with static electricity running through it. This prompted me to nick name him “Einstein”. He spoke a few welcoming words and as other community elders nodded heads in agreement they also puffed on pipes and chewed on betel nuts. These are chewed in conjunction with lime and the leaves of the betel nut palm. The nut itself is an astringent seed of the palm. Occasionally they spat out great wads of pink and orange saliva and smiled, showing their red stained teeth and gums as they coughed into their surrounding haze of smoke. Benght Danielson, anthropologist and the writer of many books about all things Polynesian, was our expedition leader and he too said a few words from behind the distinguishing grey beard that hung limply about two feet from his chin, onto his chest. Benght was a hero! Originally from Sweden and now an octogenarian and living in Tahiti, with his French wife Marie-Clair. He had, in 1947, voyaged aboard the famous Kon Tiki raft with Thor Heyerdahl. He was a font of knowledge about the Pacific, its geography, history and people and I held him in great esteem. At the age of seventeen, I had read the story of the Kon Tiki expedition and had found it to be totally inspirational. So much so that I have, since then collected books that are concerned with the exploration of the Pacific and own numerous titles by both Heyerdahl and Danielson. Now, here I was sailing in the South Pacific with a living legend! We were all given single flowers to wear behind our ears. After this brief welcoming ceremony the crowd dispersed and people were getting ushered in different directions by family groups. We were now given the freedom of the village and were encouraged to visit the homes of the community members. There was a great deal of laughter occurring and new friendships were being forged despite clear cultural differences amongst us all. Initially, the main topic of conversation was around the flowers that we had been given and which ear we should wear them behind. Wearing a flower behind one ear is the Polynesian equivalent of a wedding ring. If you wear a flower behind the other ear, it is saying that you are single and willing to form a partnership. Most of the laughter occurring was at our expense as we tried to decide which ear to decorate. I still have not worked out which ear represents what! It was at this point, that I was approached by, a young man. He wore a pair of football shorts and a flower behind his ear but both his chest and feet were unclothed. His hair was a little like Einstein’s too except that it was jet black in colour but wild in its shape. It was as though each individual hair was trying it’s very hardest to get away from his head! He held out his hand to shake and said in very good English “hello Mr, you are very welcome to Tikopia, my name is Graham, would you like to see my home”? He was fit and lean and his teeth had not yet succumbed to the discolouring nuisance of the betel nut. I had by now lost Bill in the crowd and other crewmates were becoming pre-occupied with other members of the Tikopian community, so I accepted Grahams kind invitation to visit his home. He explained that he lived in another, smaller village, a short walk away. He led me through cocoanut plantations and teased hermit crabs that scurried ahead of us, by tapping their shells with a stick. This encouraged them to stop moving and hide inside their shells, which he then kicked into the undergrowth or chipped them into the air with his toes so that he could whack them with his stick, as though training to be a major league baseball player. As we walked along, we talked at length about our different ways of life. Graham clearly thought that I was very wealthy, how else could I afford to sail half way around the world? I explained that I was part of the ships crew and that it was my job to sail the ship and actually I was not particularly well paid and most certainty could not be considered to be wealthy. As we continued to talk however, I found myself admitting that by Tikopian standards I was indeed a very wealthy man. Graham had been educated in Honiara, the capitol of the Solomon Islands. This is where he had learned to speak such good English. He was very interested in Sea Cloud and kept asking me about the ship and where we had been and where were we going after our visit to Tikopia? He also told me about a fish cannery on a nearby island, where many of the communities men worked. But it was now the low season for fishing so there was no work to be had at the cannery at the moment. Some of the men had gone elsewhere to find work. Mostly they worked in Honiara or somewhere else on the main island of Guadalcanal. Some tried to scrape a living by placing lobster pots in ‘Iron bottom sound’. This is the bay at the entrance to the port of Honiara, so called due to the amount of iron on the seabed there, in the shape of Japanese and American war ships that were sunk during world war two. A couple of dogs had been following us, their tales wagging furiously, no doubt due to them thinking that we were off on a hunt of some kind, or at least this was what I, ever the romantic idealist, imagined. One of them got a little too yappy around Graham’s ankles and was given a good whack with the stick that he was carrying. The dog yelped loudly and then he and his mate slinked off, carrying their heads low and seemingly, feeling very unloved and I detected a bit of a mean streak in my host. Again, though, I found myself reflecting on our differences and on the fact that this was a place where life was hard and that a dog had a role as a living intruder alarm and not as a pet. Graham told me that he had to stay on the island because his mother was sick and he had to take care of her. I was rather taken aback at one point when he said, “God willing, perhaps she will soon die”? I tried hard to understand this statement but could not bring myself to question him as to why he would wish his own mother dead? But then I saw the pain in his face after he had spoken and sensed that his wish was not so much for the death of his mother but more for the opportunity to getaway from the island, a place that I thought of as a paradise. Grahams questions about my own home and the journey that I had undertaken to get to Tikopia underlined my suspicion that he was desperate to get away. This had me pondering deeply about the differences in our life styles and relative wealth and our different perceptions of it. Our individual lifestyles and associated cultural and social experiences were so at odds with each other that we were bound to have many different opinions about wealth and its relationship with materialism. However, what was clear was that we were both human and therefore social animals and we were able to communicate clearly with each other in order to form a mutually beneficial relationship, almost instantly. At the time though, I was not sure what benefit Graham was gaining from the experience of meeting me but I convinced myself that he was genuinely being friendly and had pride in his home and simply wanted to share a little bit of it with me. After about fifteen minutes we came to a small clearing with a couple of thatched dwellings and a couple more yapping dogs that were doing a good job as intruder alarms. When they realised that it was Graham approaching though, their barks were muted and the only sound that they made was the rustle of foliage as they rushed through it and the slap, slap, slap of their excited tales hitting Grahams legs as they started to totter along, close by his side. This was Graham’s home! The entrance to his house was so low that I had to get onto my knees to enter it, crawling beneath the overhang of its thatched roof. Inside there was no furniture of any description except for the floor covering of woven pandanus leaf matting. There were no divided rooms of any sort just one large open space. Graham asked me to sit yoga like, on the left of the room about one third of the way along its length which I estimated to be about 12 metres, with a width of around 8 metres. The ceiling was made from roughly hewn, wooden roof supports that still looked like tree branches. These were covered in layers of some sort of grass, which had been wrapped around thin wooden spines and laid over one and other. They seemed to be tied in place in a rather un-uniform manner but I saw no light coming through the ceiling and presumed that it was watertight. It was quite dark inside and it took me a while to adjust to this after walking in the bright sunshine outside. Not being a yoga guru, I soon became uncomfortable and sat with my legs outstretched, taking care not to point them in Grahams direction as I was not sure if this would be considered to be rude as is the case in Thailand. It was then that I noticed a pile of Hessian sacks in the far corner of the room. They caught my eye because there was some movement within the pile. “It’s my mother”, said Graham, “she is sleeping”! At that moment she sat up and let out a barrage of gritty and moist coughs. She very briefly looked in my direction and I noticed the red staining of betel nut chewing around her mouth. Her face was incredibly sad and she looked very old, with wrinkles so mature that her face resembled a walnut. She groaned a little then quickly slinked back into her temporary bed. Before I could respond to this surreal like event, Graham said “wait here I have gifts for you”! He jumped up and was gone leaving me to stare in the direction of his mother who had now disappeared again beneath the pile of sacks. The sacks slowly rose and sank as she breathed and I felt that I ought to do something for her but could not think of anything that would actually be helpful. It was silent and I was slightly bewildered by the situation that I was in and felt totally uneducated, I knew that this was a unique cultural experience but did not fully understand what was happening. I found myself wishing that I knew more about the islands history and about the people of the Pacific. I think that this was probably the moment that I began to recognise a seed of interest in all things anthropological, within my own psyche. After what seemed like a couple of minutes, Graham returned with a bundle in his hands and sat opposite me again, legs crossed and with a beaming smile. “Do you smoke”? “Not usually”! I replied, not wanting to offend him as I naively had the sense that some sort of customary smoking ceremony might be about to occur. Graham then proceeded to unravel a package made of a large green leaf. Within it there were several smaller, brown and dry leaves and a pile of what I presumed to be tobacco, along with a, rather antique looking box of ‘Swan Vesta’ matches. He rolled a huge, and slightly comical looking cigarette. It was conical in shape and the end of it looked untidy and frayed, rather like an exploding cigar in a cartoon. He lit it, puffed until vigorous flames licked the end of it and then offered it to me. I accepted, a little nervously as I had no idea what it was that I was about to smoke and was in a situation where I needed to keep my faculties in order! Immediately, I almost died of smoke inhalation! It was just like sucking up fire through a burning twig. There was no flavour to speak of and no sense of any altered state of mind or any physiological effect other than the need to cough energetically and with such verve that I was almost convinced that my lungs would show themselves via my mouth rather like a deflated balloon hanging from a drunken party goers bottom lip. Thankfully, my lungs stayed in tact but my eyes were now streaming, as were Grahams, as he clutched his stomach and rolled backwards and forwards in a bout of hysterical laughter. I managed a laugh too and gestured for him to take his fire stick back. He did so and relished in his superior ability to suck great plumes of smoke into himself and then expel them without so much as a quivering twitch from his face, which was now disappearing in the smog. With his home made cigarette in his mouth, my host then began to unravel a package made of tapa cloth, untying string with both hands, as he struggled to see what he was doing due to the haze of smoke that surrounded his head. He stopped to wipe the moisture from his squinting eyes and then discarded his cigarette in a flash of sparks as he stubbed it out on a large pebble that seemed to be designed for this very purpose. The cigarette had defeated him and I chuckled inside! He pondered for a moment and then offered me a small parcel of newspaper, which he had taken from his bigger, tapa parcel. I set to work unravelling, immediately and felt a bit like a kid at a birthday party. At first I was not sure what the gift was and then as graham began to explain, it became very clear. It was a hand made fishing hook, which had been carved from mother of pearl shell and had a coconut fibre lure which had been dyed pink. Graham explained that it was of a size that would be good to catch a big fish, maybe a tuna. I doubted that the sharp end of the hook was sharp enough to catch anything but still appreciated the gift which looked more ornamental than practical. This was followed, by the giving of a second gift and I began to feel guilty, as I could not reciprocate, as is the custom in Polynesian circles. The second gift was a bracelet carved from a large, single cone shell and I very much liked it. Alas it was too small to fit over my hand but I looked long and hard at it’s beauty as Graham explained the process of it’s making to me. First you need to saw away the large end of the cone shell and then cut away its centre leaving a ring, which is then sanded smooth. It sounded very simple but obvious craftsmanship was required in its making and no mention was made of the type of tools available for the job. The circumference of the ring is slightly thinner around one side of it, where I presume the cutting tool was a little too near to the edge of the shell. Nevertheless it is a gift that I still treasure! Graham then asked me in a slightly abrupt fashion whether or not I had any gifts to exchange. I explained that I did not have anything with me but I could get something for him from the ship, a little later. He seemed happy with this and grinned at me to demonstrate that he approved of gifts from ’Sea Cloud’. He then produced his ‘piece de resistance’. This was a tapa bark picture measuring about eighteen inches square. It has a simple depiction of the island on it, showing the coastline, reef, a couple of caves, lake Teroto and the location and name of the villages on the island. The painting is entitled ‘Tikopia ��" The very last paradise’. This was the best gift of all, as it would provide me with a pictorial memory of my visit to the island, for the rest of my life. I was very pleased and started to ask graham if I could give him pictures of ‘Sea Cloud’ as a gift. He nodded his head at this but I sensed that pictures of my ship were not his premier choice of gifts and I quickly realised that I was being quite ridiculous as Graham would clearly have no practical use of such pictures other than to jog his memory of the present events. I asked if there was anything in particular that I could get for him and at this point he gave me his broadest smile so far. I guessed that he had been waiting for this question and smiled back hoping that his requests would not be impossible for me to meet. He looked straight through me and tapped all of his fingers on his thighs in a fast, rhythmic movement while he considered what he might ask for. His finger tapping came to a crescendo and then abruptly stopped and he said “on your ship, do you have sand paper”? This came as rather a surprise to me and my mind raced back through the cocoanut plantation and out to the ship, along its main deck and under the fore deck and into the boatswains locker, at the very forward end of the ships port side. Here there were huge reels of sand paper of numerous grades. This was something that I could easily provide but why such a simple request and what did he want with sandpaper? Before I could ask the question, Graham spoke again. “It is very hard to get sandpaper on the island, it is very valuable to the men here” “it is used for wood and shell carving and the smoother the carving is the better the price can be” This made sense and it was now blindingly obvious to me and I felt very pleased because I knew that I could get loads of sandpaper for him but before I could respond, Graham continued rather profoundly, “mostly, I need lots of sandpaper for my canoe. With sandpaper, I can make it smooth so it goes faster in the water. This means that I can get to the fish first and catch the most”! This statement gave me a flashback to another book that I had read in my youth, ‘The old man and the sea’ by Hemmingway and I laughed out loudly and promised graham lots of sandpaper. Graham laughed too and said, “Lets eat”. He disappeared again and returned with another small parcel, only this time it was green and it soon became apparent that it was a bundle of fresh banana leaf. Inside was wrapped a couple of handfuls of cold, sticky rice, a small non-descript, whole, cooked fish and some chunks of cocoanut. Graham placed this on the matting floor between us and unwrapped it then invited me to tuck in first. As I did so he placed a couple of bananas alongside our leaf plate and then tucked in himself. We ate with our bare hands and talked about England as we did so. Graham only knew that the capitol was London and that the Queen lived there! I attempted to explain where Sheffield was and that it was famous for the manufacturing of cutlery. “Ah yes” stated Graham emphatically but I sensed that he didn’t have the foggiest idea what the hell I was talking about. “You know, knives and folks” I said and then smiled at myself with my hands covered in sticky rice and fish scales! Graham continued to eat with gusto and talked as he ate with the result that he had grains of rice stuck all around his mouth and on his chin. Occasionally, he sucked food from his fingers and seemed to relish the smack of his lips as they reached the end of a finger.
We polished off the food with the exception of the fish’s head, tail and spine and the skins of the bananas. Graham did have a good rummage at the fish head though to be certain that there was nothing worth eating, left. He then disappeared again, taking the food detritus with him. After a couple of minutes he returned with a shallow, white enamel bowl that had a blue rim, the type that a 1960’s scoutmaster might have carried in his rucksack. He placed this where the food had been and then picked up a 5 litre plastic bottle of the Castrol GTX type that had been leaning against the wall in the far corner of the hut, near to where his mother hid beneath her Hessian duvet. This was full of water, which he then poured into the enamel bowl in order that we could wash our hands, which we then dried on small pink hand towel that seemed totally out of place in a pandanus thatched hut in the South Pacific. Graham took the hand towel outside and hanged it over the low branches of a tree so that it could dry out. When he returned, he again sat opposite me and as he did so he placed both of his hands onto his chest and let out a gasp of satisfaction, as though he had just satisfied a great hunger. This seemed like a not very subtle hint so I thanked him for the meal and he smiled back at me and stated that it was just another gift between friends and asked what other gifts I might have for him to compliment that gift of sand paper that I was going to arrange. I was struggling to think of something that would be useful and appreciated and then Graham piped up with “I suppose that you must have soap on such a big ship as yours, I know that those wealthy Americans must like to have perfumed soap and I propose that your ship must have such a thing so that it can be provided for the passengers of your ship”? “Yes” I replied, “we have soap on the ship, would you like some soap”? “What kind of soap would you like”? “I would like perfumed soap and will be very happy if you can provide barred soap of different colours”! I was not sure about the different colours bit but knew that I could lay my hands on a box of soap simply be calling in a favour from one of the cabin stewardesses, who owed me, after I had saved her neck in a bar full of Fijian rugby players, a few weeks earlier, when we were in Suva. She had claimed that the All Blacks were a better team than Fiji and the banter had started to get a little too heavy handed but I recovered a situation that was getting nasty by accepting an arm wrestling challenge, knowing that I would get slaughtered. I was and bought the winner a bottle of scotch as recompense before making a quick escape to the relative safety of the dockyard, with the drunken stewardess in tow. Without mentioning colours, I told Graham that I could get him a box full of soap. He seemed really pleased with this and clapped his hands with apparent joy. “Good, good”, he exalted, “this will make my wife very happy, now she can wash and smell of perfume and she can wash the baby with soap too”! This statement took me completely by surprise. “You have a wife and baby”? “Yes and soap will make them very happy”! I could not get my head around this, as Graham, I guessed, was younger than me. “How old are you”? I asked. “I am nineteen”! “Your wife”? “She is sixteen and our baby boy is new, only 3 months old. My wife will be very happy with soap to clean him, Thank you for soap”. There had been no mention of any of this, or any clue that Graham might have any such relationship. I found myself pitying him slightly as I reflected on the responsibility of fatherhood at just nineteen and with a wife of just sixteen. I wondered if the female in this partnership was a willing bride or was it just the done thing in Polynesia, to be married at such a young age? I felt grateful that I was in a position where I could sail around the world and not have to worry about commitments to others at home. Graham did tell me the names of his wife and son but I quickly forgot them no doubt due to my state of total bewilderment at Grahams unexpected announcement. When I asked where his wife and son were he would only say that they were “not here” and would not elaborate on that. This made me consider the possibility that this new and young marriage might not be an entirely happy one. An uncomfortable silence occurred at this point, as I did not know quite how to respond to what Graham had told me or know why his news sat so awkwardly within me. Why was I so surprised by the fact that he was married and a father? I think that it was the fact that he seemed so genuinely pleased with the fact that I could supply him with soap with which to bathe his child. This was such a simplistic thing to me but to Graham it was massive and his response was so intense that I felt embarrassed. It all seems crazy now but at the time I really did feel that Graham was totally overwhelmed by the prospect of being given not a bar but a whole box of soap and I was totally overwhelmed by his response to this and the reasons that he wanted it in the first place. How could such a simple thing make someone appear to be so happy? So there we both were, both of us overwhelmed. I sensed a cultural crossroads but couldn’t put my finger on it. There was something around the exchanging of gifts that was simple and yet powerful. We were two individuals from vastly different places, backgrounds, cultures and histories but both had an understanding and recognition of the giving and receiving of gifts as an expression of friendship. But I was about to be given a lesson in the meaning of globalisation that I have never forgotten! As I struggled to understand the dichotomy of this simple, Tikopian, style of living and values that were embroiled with and had been penetrated by the influence of western culture, education and materialistic needs, the bomb shell was dropped! I was totally taken in by what I perceived as a romantic, pioneer type of experience. I was being totally naïve though and this reality hit hard when Graham said, “there is one other thing that I would very much like to have if you can provide it” “of course “ I said, “what is it”? Grahams response knocked me flat! “Could you give me batteries for my walkman”? I had to rewind the question in my head several times before it registered. I was bitterly disappointed and could not believe what I had heard. Until now, my perceptions of Grahams lifestyle had been totally indulged in my own romanticisms and assumptions of what Pacific Island life is like. Reality was hard to bare! I felt sad that Graham owned a Walkman and wished that he had not let me know about it. I also felt guilty because I realised that I had been indulging myself in a utopian fantasy of my own making. After all, Graham was an educated young man, he was bilingual something that I was not, he had an interest in politics and an awareness of my own culture that was greatly superior to my awareness of his. Why should he not have a Walkman? I found myself pondering on my perceived contradictions of a man in a place where people wore bark skirts and owned Walkmans. Was my attitude racist? Colonial? Naïve? I Told Graham that I did not have any batteries, though in reality, I didn’t even think about whether I had or not. I didn’t want Graham to listen to a Walkman, I wanted him to play traditional Polynesian instruments and tell stories through songs and dances. As it happens, I didn’t have any batteries but I could get them at the end of the week when the ships bonded stores were opened for crew to purchase personal supplies. By this time we would be well clear of Tikopia anyway.
Graham accompanied me back to the beach landing and I got the Captains consent to bring him aboard. We sat in the crew mess for a while and talked about the ship but he did not seem as enthusiastic about our conversation has he had been earlier. He was not at all comfortable sat in a place where nearby there was an ice machine spewing chunks of cooling, frozen water into a deep tub. A video player was screening a movie on the television above the ice machine and above our heads, a fan span around at high speed, creating a vortex within the sticky, humid air and cooling the room. After about an hour, a message came down to the mess from the ships bridge, via the public address system. We were to prepare for sea and would be departing in one hour. Graham had to leave and I had to go to work, so I took up to the Foredeck, where all the tools and equipment were, along with some of the stores and gave him his box of soap and a good selection of different grades of sand paper. I also threw in a good measure of marlin twine, which I thought might be useful, as it is superb for lashing things with. I confirmed that I did not have batteries and to this Graham nodded his head. We walked down to the gangway so that Graham could get aboard the last tender to shore and there we said our goodbyes, with a firm handshake. “Come and see us again,” he said as I looked down to the tender. The last I saw of him was as the tender whizzed away towards the beach. He was clutching onto his box of soap with his arms around it and a black refuge sack full of sandpaper, hanging from his left hand, below the soapbox. He never looked back! Forty five minutes later, I was on the anchor winch, heaving a hundred and twenty metres of chain and a one and a half tonne anchor back into its housing. We set topsails and headed towards the Vanuatu archipelago and the main Island of Espiritu Santo and Tikopia and Graham disappeared as the sea and sky melted into a new horizon.