1100 nm short of our destination. Winds remain consistently good allowing us to use our large area sail genniker. Crew spirits are high as they take every afternoon to prepare their cultural items for Tahiti. All appear well rested even though we are into three weeks at sea. In the last article, we updated some anecdotes about our ladies on board. Today's article will do the same for the men.
Aside from Jonathan our captain and Ben our cook, there are nine men on board the Uto Ni Yalo. Their ages range from early 20s through 60s. By experience there are three that are sailing with the Uto Ni Yalo for the first time and six who have sailed with her on previous voyages. Jone will be the only one leaving us in Tahiti as he has family commitments at home in Naitasiri. He has been a tower of strength sharing his electrical training and experience with the other five vakas. He will surely be missed for that and because he's a well liked addition to our crew. Who will continue his nocturnal hunt for squid and flying fish?
Moala has been a big contributor since we departed from the Galapagos Islands. He uses his spare time to do extra drua cleanup and he's working with Salome on a physical fitness program. He's affectionately known as "Charlie" in his watch crew of Filo, Iva and LeeAnn (the angels). We have seen him on more than one occasion helping Filo with the uli when conditions demand an extra hand to manage it effectively.
Seru is watch captain of the Bad Boys (Mausio, Jone and Kele). His leadership potential is evident as his crew is always on time and devotes extra effort to helping out after their shift. With his height and reach, he's a natural to help "reef" the sails. We still wonder how he fits into his bunk! He's got an active sense of humour especially when he and Mausio start to discuss on shore activities they've had on past trips! His easy going nature allows him to tease and accept teasing right back. He still remains the "awesome guy" to the crew.
Jim is watch captain of the Modern Family crew (Salome, Tuks, Kim and Bob). Although a newbie to the Uto Ni Yalo he comes with an impressive resume at sea as was highlighted in a previous article. His plans include a continuation of a career in some maritime arena. He would also like to restart his weight lifting program and qualify for upcoming international events. Although younger than many he has shown strong leadership qualities and a real desire to perfect his traditional sailing and navigational skills. Jim enjoys singing and playing the ukulele. He doesn't need much encouragement to burst into song!
Seta remains our hardworking traditional navigator and second in command. He responds quickly to pressure situations and obviously is very passionate about being at sea and learning more about sailing and navigation. Currently, he is maintaining a log of all his traditional navigation statistics which he shares each evening with Master Navigator Captain Paea. He is one of the leaders of the meke and bole that the crew is rehearsing each afternoon. Although soft spoken and of few words, Seta leads by example, often a difficult act to follow!
Kele is our other meke and bole leader. His enthusiastic style and expressive face makes him an ideal performer! He takes his fitness and bodybuilding seriously and trains in his spare time each day. His responsibility on board is to see to all the ropes and replace them when worn. As a result he is getting to be an expert at knot tying and which type of rope to use for each particular job. He enjoys playing the ukulele and is getting proficient with a variety of songs and tune types.
Tukana (Tuks) has created several new carvings after we left Galapagos. Somewhat restricted by rough seas when he needs a steady hand to carve, he has been working on the uli area; hatch covers; deck boxes and paddles. When he has a spare moment he continues to decoratively carve the tanoa we have on board that are given away as special gifts. His sense of humour has made him a favourite amongst the crew.
Mausio is an OKEANOS favourite. His rugged Polynesian features and slightly weather beaten look with full beard has made him a videographers delight. He's proud of his Rotuman heritage and can relate many traditional stories about his beloved island. His former career in education, a principal for many years, enables him to speak eloquently in three languages. This gift has been very evident during our devotional services and prayers before eating. Some have said he would make an excellent politician because he is honest, hardworking, has his people at heart, can speak in front of a group and he has come in contact with a variety of people through his many years involved in education in Fiji.
Ben continues to be our creative cook. He's a master at preparing tasty and nutritional meals even when given limited resources to work with. After all these days at sea our meals are still something to look forward to. He is in tune with the type of foods that the crew enjoys and makes every effort to insure that they are served things like fresh bread, "bani lolo", curries and roti and when a fish is caught and after he's done a surgeon's job on it, he can prepare it in many delicious ways. Ben is a conversationalist and enjoys relating stories from past Uto Ni Yalo trips and before that his time on the Naia with skipper. As a result he never had to ask for assistance as the crew is all willing to help with the preparation of a meal and the cleanup afterwards.
Last, but not least is our skipper, Captain Smith. The crew has to come to appreciate his knowledge of the sea and how best to make use of the sails and available winds. His experience has allowed him to anticipate wind and weather changes well in advance.
His lively wit and musical abilities keep the crew enthusiastic and focused. He's currently assisting the crew with their meke preparation. If that's not enough he's an avid fisherman and diver and his tales are entertaining.
Make no mistake however; he has high expectations from his crew. It's not sufficient that they do a job; they must react and do the job with speed and precision as that's the role of a traditional sailor. He is working with several of our younger crew encouraging and teaching them the finer points of sailing not just on our drua but in any maritime situation.
As we near French Polynesia, the crew becomes excited about the cultural exchanges in store for them. They are enthralled by tales of Fakrava, Raietea and Nuku Hiva as told to them by fellow crew members that visited there in years past.
Tabu soro Viti kei Rotuma ... our journey continues.