“Don’t worry buddy, we got your back,” said Pierre, Sabrina’s brother. He and girlfriend Lianna were about to fly from California to join us in the Marquesas, where Aldebaran is currently hobbling around with damage to the hull.
They were bringing us a large box of supplies from Westmarine to repair the boat. Pierre and Sabrina’s mom, Jackie, picked up the important merchandise; their dad, Jean-Claude, added two rolls of water sealing tape and an awesome multi-function screwdriver to the repair inventory. Last-minute additions from the pantry were tossed in to fill open space (pasta, coffee beans, snack bars…) Lianna taped all corners of the box to secure the several yards of fiberglass, protective masks, and a heavy tub of underwater epoxy. “Operation Rescue Aldebaran” had begun!
All was going well until their connecting flight from SFO to LAX got delayed an hour. “You won’t be able to make your connection”, warns the airline agent, giving them a hotel voucher. They contacted Expedia to change their flights. But upon arriving in LAX, they were hailed and advised urgently: “RUN! You might make your flight! The gate closes in ten minutes!”
Lianna said it was like a scene from the movie Rat Race. They ran for 9 minutes straight before Pierre stopped dead in his tracks. “A lucky penny!” Arriving at the gate, truly out of breath, they were greeted by a nonchalant attendant: “I’m sorry, the gate is closed.” They were a second too late… To complicate matters, they no longer had tickets for this flight, as they were re-assigned for a flight the following day!
With Lianna holding back frustrated tears, Pierre reached for the lucky penny in his pocket and asked the attendant for “a little human decency”. They were miraculously permitted aboard onto the flight, and arrived in Tahiti at 5am as planned… but without any baggage! Their baggage was now supposed to arrive 36 hours later, supposedly in time for their inter-island flight to join the Aldebaran crew.
Pierre and Lianna were unfazed though, being veterans of the Green Coconut Run. They had met us in Mexico during our first year of voyaging, where Pierre enjoyed 6 stitches, an illegal visit to a prison island, and Lianna swam with sharks mid-ocean (despite a proclaimed distaste for such activities). How’s a little boat damage in French Polynesia going to stop the fun?
Well, Air Tahiti almost delayed things. Initially it looked like a replay of our last crewmate’s arrival, Deena, whose flight to meet us in Gambier got turned around due to a storm.
Sabrina, who was at the little airport in Hiva Oa awaiting their arrival, was shocked to see it raining so hard she couldn’t see the landing strip.
“My knuckles were bone-white!” Pierre recalls after the pilot tried to land once and aborted, suddenly shooting the plane back up into the sky.
Also on the flight, joining Aldebaran on this leg of the voyage, was Chris, Sabrina’s buddy from studying abroad in New Zealand. Like Pierre, Chris is a school teacher, and works as an EMT during summers (he is a first responder medic in an ambulance). He was looking very relaxed.
“We must have circled the island for 20 minutes, waiting for a break in the clouds to land,” told us Chris. As an EMT, he copes with stress in a mellow manner. “I just kept my eye mask on.”
The three of them walked off the wet tarmac in good spirits. During the subsequent downpour, Pierre told us all about the delightful time he and Lianna had spent in a beachfront resort in Tahiti’s crystal clear lagoon. Chris nodded sagely and agreed the weather in Papeete had been quite nice.
I looked around our boat: the harbor was muddy brown from river water. “Well folks,” I said, stowing the Rescue box in the boat’s lazarette. “Welcome to Marquesas!”