Trip Reports

Mr. Shrode's Wild Ride (24-Sep-2001-23-00):
11:00 PM local time, Monday, Sept. 24 (1300 Sept. 24 UTC) 09 27 S 147 09 E. Temp. 83, Humidity 78%, Cloud Cover 60%. Windy. Royal Papua Yacht Club, Port Moresby, Papua, New Guinea.

On Sunday we were introduced to the crew of Okiva, Paul and Francis. Paul is from Santa Barbara, is about 45, and is quite mad. He met Francis, who is a native of Fiji and has worked as professional skipper on other yachts, in Fiji and they are planning a world cruise, adding other crew, including Paul's wife, Paula, like the song, here and there. They invited the Captain and Ship's Harmonica Stylist Terry Shrode over to the boat and broke out a bottle of rum. Actually a number of bottles of rum: four or five was the official total as close as could be determined. They played the impressive stereo real loud and soon we broke out guitars and harmonicas and were jamming.

As the day wore on, Paul suggested to the Captain that we go see what was going on in the boat next door, a large charter powerboat where a party was underway. Paul got on board and immediately went to the helm. He told your correspondent, authoritatively, that we would be taking the boat out, and that an announcement should be made informing everyone of that fact. "How soon shall I tell them we're leaving?" I asked. "Oh, fifteen minutes."

So this reporter announced loudly and clearly so everyone present could hear, in a voice that to him sounded quite official, "Ladies and gentlemen, in fifteen minutes we will depart on a harbor cruise. If you'd like to come along you're welcome to stay aboard, but otherwise we need you to disembark as soon as you can." I returned to Paul and told him the announcement had been made. He was having a hard time getting the boat started and told me he needed a screwdriver to hot wire it. I went back to Paul's boat and told Francis we needed a screwdriver to start the powerboat. Francis instantly realized that what Paul was up to, with my assistance, was stealing a $750,000 yacht. This took me rather by surprise, for at no point had your correspondent recognized that there was anything untoward about our plans. Rum connoisseurs may recognize this syndrome. Francis said, "Tony, you stay right here. Do not move." He went over to the other boat to try to save Paul from further misadventures, but by that time security had been called and he was persuaded to leave the boat without further incident.

Later, about two in the morning, after the Captain had, shall we say, retired, Mr. Shrode was enlisted by Paul to join him in his very fast dinghy on a joy ride around the harbor at suicidal speed. Paul was sitting in the bottom of the stern of the dinghy where he could not have seen where he was going even if he were sober, and was driving. Mr. Shrode, on the bow when he could keep his balance, could dimly see through the spray and shouted commands. They stopped at various container ships and pounded on the side trying to wake up the crews to see if anyone aboard might be in the mood for a cocktail. In this, they were unsuccessful; but they did run into a few things.

The staff here at the Royal Papua Yacht Club has made no mention of this and in general one is treated as one imagines lesser royals are treated, and that includes having one's lapses in behavior ignored to an almost surreal degree and never spoken of again. Unless it's a violation of the dress code, which is of course not to be tolerated. Like the case of the Royal Suva Yacht Club, its use of the word "Royal" is an honor officially granted by the Queen of England. It's a very elegant club and meticulously maintained, as befits something royal in the British Commonwealth. There must be a paid staff of thirty, so the yachting community is doing what it can to support the local economy. The membership fee and dues here are no doubt substantial, but voyagers like us are in general welcome to have complete use of the facilities at this and all similar clubs for next to nothing. It's amazing, really.

It's not a little odd that a couple of grotty Americans have found themselves hanging with the swells since we left French Polynesia, where one would have thought things might be rather more organized than they were. There is really nothing worthy of the name "yacht club" until you leave there and go further west, where one, being ignorant of such things, would have thought the situation might have been a bit more primitive. But the influence of British, Australian, and Kiwi colonialism has left its mark, and in addition there is a steady flow of yachtspeople from the latter two that sail no further east than Tonga on their adventures in the South Pacific. We don't go to the yacht clubs because of our affexction for colonialism but because in every locale they furnish the exact things we need: a safe anchorage, information on how to clear customs, fix your boat, etc., laundry, showers, and other cruisers, the majority of whom have better local knowledge than you could find from any other source. And like Dave and Ros of Arafura Maid here, they are not infrequently spectacularly generous with their help.

But back to Paul. A few days later Paula had arrived and they had us over for dinner. As I left Paul walked me up the ramp, raised his arms, and confessed to me as one skipper to another, in a voice which could have been heard throughout the marina and perhaps throughout Papua New Guinea, "I'm the captain of a boat going all the way around. I've got the best job in the world!"

Next report from this loocation: The Kite That Took A Flight

Back to the Progress Chart | Back to Trip Reports
Progress ChartTrip ReportsPhoto GalleryAbout MaverickThe CrewGlossary & Technical Weather Check