Provisions from the Maristella

If only I had known the challenge of getting diesel from the “Maristella” ship! It arrives in Hao every 3 weeks or so and sells a drum of diesel of 200 liters (53 gallons).

It had been months since we’d filled Aldebaran’s fuel tank. The constant trade winds helped us to keep sailing and hibernating Mr. Isuzu.

Then in January, I had finally planned to refuel at the dock at Marina Taina (while in Tahiti to pickup Sabrina). But the weather was bad, with stormy north-west winds. The nearly 60 mile roundtrip didn’t seem appealing in those conditions. So we just hunkered down in the sheltered bay of Taravao.

However, that meant we needed to top off our diesel tank here in the atoll of Hao, in eastern Tuamotos. I thought that being an ex-military base, Hao would have a fuel station with a dock. Not so! The only option was to purchase a drum of diesel from the ship, and syphon it into my fuel jugs, and then lug it by skiff to Aldebaran, which was anchored offshore.

Syphoning diesel into and out of jerry cans proved to be a mess. To complicate matters, as the fuel reached the bottom of the drum, the diesel was filthy. Oh great. Now I had to filter everything slowly into my tank over several tedious hours, all the while making more or a mess. The only saving grace were two fishermen who kindly helped me, seeing as I was looking like a lost gringo.

Besides diesel, the ship also sets up a mini “store” that sells vegetables and food staples for the 6 hours it is in port. If you miss it, you can buy food at the store at a higher premium. Placing the food order was similar to placing an order in a sushi bar where you write the quantity of what you want from a long list of items. How many kilos of carrots did I want? Shucks I don’t know.

Result: I purchased too much (most of the produce is refrigerated aboard the ship and won’t keep terribly well). Ipu and his wife Alda, who helped us so much with laundry, ended up the happy recipients of a big box of veggies.

They came aboard Aldebaran with their kids for an afternoon of boat fun. They left with veggies, more gifts, and big smiles on their faces.