The words rang out clear over the water in the rain and mist hovering over the northern tip of Esperito Santo.
As the Uto ni Yalo glided into the waters of shelter provided by the small islands that cleared the white ahead of us, the sound of Tawhana Chadwick's voice lit up the wet and shivering crew preparing to make-fast to a stop on Tuesday.
Tawhana became visible on the deck of Te Matau, the New Zealand vaka that ploughed through the thick and thin with the Uto Ni Yalo and Marumaru Atua to the pier of derelicts, ships under repair and repair-need ships that operate from it. "Maroroi au!," the Uto replied
There was joy. They were coming to land together again and the Te Matau crew members would be back on the deck of the much-loved Fijian vaka. Eat, talk, laugh and sleep.
They joined the Marumaru Atua, the Maori tied their starboard side to the Cook Islanders and both their bows almost touching bottom.
Arriving unannounced again and reunited six days after their first storm-run-away to Wanderer Bay, they just wanted some R&R. But Esperito Santo was not ready. It was on public holiday and customs, immigration and quarrantine offices were closed.
Two hours after breaching the rule — disembarking without clearance to board the other boats for hugs, high-fives, hellos and a four-man game of touch rugby — a customs officer drove by, saw our yellow quarantine flags and came to find out. He returned with them all and we were cleared.
That night, under the rain and cold and huddled on the drenched earth below under a small tarpaulin cover tied to the Uto Ni Yalo and Marumaru, the cultural exchange continued among the Pacific Voyagers.
Over a tanoa, few beers and curry beef by Captain Jonathan Smith they reunited, exchanged experiences, shared songs and strengthened the bond born out of love and respect for the ocean in a way our forefathers in- a-once forgotten past had once done.
The rest of the Te Mana O Te Moana fleet, minus the Gaolofa, sped to us in Esperito Santo to replenish supplies and head back into the South Pacific Ocean. Their destination towards home hinges on where the winds will flow.
For the Uto Ni Yalo, it will be either New Caledonia — where the southerly winds are favourable to carry you home — or Rotuma, where the winds that we experienced getting us here favour taking us that way. That will become clearer in the next few days.
The captains of the Hine Moana, Fafaite, Haunui and Okeanos, the Vanuatu-based cargo-transportation canoe, will meet and decide what course to take. They arrived on Wednesday night.
It all depends on which way the winds blow from here. Estimates point to fringe winds from a high pressure system in Australia. No one knows when they move, or where to.
Uto Ni Yalo skipper Jonathan Smith said they were at the mercy of the elements as always.
"Not even our sophisticated equipment, our GPS, our weather forecasting systems and our experience can help us determine what the weather ahead of us will truly be like," he said.
"Our forefathers had the knowledge. They knew when was the right time to leave for their voyages, what sort of weather to face and which direction to take. Today's weather systems are changing and we take each day as it comes."
On the second day in Esperito Santo, fleet lead navigator, Captain Smith and some crew went into town and bought supplies, among them stock from Punjas.
Shop manager Rajnil said they were honoured to serve the voyagers.
The Uto Ni Yalo crew members were elated to see Fiji-made biscuits come on board. It's a hit on the high seas when you're mostly wet from the swells that sweep over the deck and the rain that's been almost never-ending on the Honiara-Wanderer Bay-Esperito Santo leg.
Later that night, we had beef again. Skipper made beef stew and the crew members had grog and some beers for washdown.
Esperito Santo's beef is one of the most highly-rated in the world.
Yesterday morning, the three vaka moved about 500m and beached at the Beachfront Resort where we were able to do our laundry, use hi-fi internet to contact our families and do maintenance and clean-up on the Uto Ni Yalo.
There is joy and some sadness while all this is going on. If the Uto Ni Yalo heads to Rotuma, this is finally goodbye for most of them.
They have exchanged ideas and have a better understanding of the ocean and traditional sailing that our ancestors mastered to be in harmony with nature and the ocean. The three-year adventure has shown how our languages, our cultures and traditions are linked some way or the other by the ocean that they have sailed.
"Maroroi au (protect me)," has been the norm for most part of this voyage.
Protect me, protect the ocean, protect our Pacific way of life.
In Esperito Santo, where the curious flock to the waterfront to go over the sailing canoes that have travelled more than 50,000km around the world at the equator, their message continues while the voyagers have their eyes on the horizon towards home.
Their focus is on their families where they must start from. The voyage may be coming to an end but a new one awaits them across the ocean that they must first cross.
This one will never end.