Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Surviving the Onslaught

We had pretty awful weather for over a month and a
half. Though we did have a dry but cloudy day or two
during the duration, there were three weeks of
incredibly heavy rain nonstop, with intense lightening
and thunder showers that just about drove us insane.
That's when the boat feels too small: when you have
conditions that you just don't want to go out in for
weeks at a time. Thank God for the computers and the
Internet or we'd have gone crazy. It was so dark, we
had to run the lights in the daytime and blew through
the power. Our solar panels hadn't generated power for
weeks and we kept having to run the engine to charge
up the batteries to keep up with our heavy computer
usage. Loud and hot!

It's rained so hard that we had to bail the dinghy
often. Once I bailed the dinghy at midnight in
lighter rain because I couldn't sleep and I worried
that it would sink by morning or that our oars and
bailer would float off. The radio reported that 17,000
homes in southern China had been flooded out during
the period. And every time it rains, we get soot on
the boat from the factories in southern China. We
could write "Wash Me!" on the combing with our fingers
within about 24 hours of washing the boat, which we do
as often as we can. When we did venture off the boat
we got soaked. Since our clothes never would dry
again in the perpetually moist environment, we were
forced to send soaking wet clothes into the laundry
only to pay by the pound. Ouch!

I freaked out one day when I picked up a cushion and
there was a snake nestled in underneath - he'd
shimmied up the rudder from a tree branch that had
been floating by - part of the massive flooding from
this freak weather. I have no idea if he was poisonous
but didn't care to test it. After flinging him
overboard, he returned twice more before finally
giving up. The water around the boat was filled with
debris and the water a muddy brown.

We took a slightly dry day and hiked up the ridge and
then down into the next town for some exercise, have a
late lunch out (at a new Thai restaurant we've
discovered) and get some groceries. A scenic hike,
even though it was overcast and drizzly. It was
reasonably cooler than usual. And the exercise felt
good, although our legs got pretty scratched up going
through the overgrown sections.

At the Thai restaurant, we met a nice Chinese couple
that spoke very good English and love to travel. We
chatted for quite a while then toured around town
together and then they invited us back to their place
for tea. A driver took us all in a nice Mercedes to
their gorgeous multi-story house. They had a lovely
garden and a couple of dogs, and they served us fine
tea and fresh Papaya shakes. Afterwards, their driver
dropped us at the grocery store so we could pick up a
few things before heading home. What an interesting
afternoon we spent with them! You never know where
some conversations will lead! They wanted to introduce
us to an American friend of theirs who has a sailboat
and is married to a Chinese woman who owns a nearby
restarant. I went by to introduce myself when I saw
their boat tied to the dock; They were also very
friendly - keen to have us over to the restaurant they
own. Another couple of characters, but fun. What a
contrast to the Brits we've been meeting mostly that
take forever to get to know. They're friendly enough
over a pint of beer at the yacht club, but act like
they don't recognize you the following day! Very
awkward sometimes. But a few are beginning to melt
after a significant investment. Definitely different
than the social scene on Kwaj!