Day 152, Year 2: Thinking of a Dear Friend Back Home
Date: Sunday, September 23, 2007
Weather: Beautiful Day; No Wind
Location: Baie de Hienghene, Grande Terre, New Caledonia

An email arrived last night with bad news about a good friend. Barbara O’Brien is a teacher at Beaver Meadow School back in Concord, New Hampshire, and over the years we became good friends. She is considerably younger than myself, but heart problems don’t seem to strictly go by age guidelines. The email I received last night said that Barbara had been taken from school on Wednesday to the hospital in Concord for a cauterization and then on to Mary Hitchcock Hospital in Dartmouth for a by-pass
operation. I was in total shock. Barbara’s partner is Chris, a young man that was one of the first student teachers I supervised when I left the classroom and went to work out of the Central Office in Concord. I have stayed close to him over the years, and I know he must be in shock as well. Barbara is a “giver” and it must have taken its toll. She has given her life to her two children that she loves so dearly and to each and every child in her multi-age classroom year after year. If there
is a first or second grader at Beaver Meadow that is in desperate need of love and attention, they seem to end up in Barbara’s room. She has a way of healing the wounds that young children should never have had. So now, I can only hope that all of that giving can come back to help heal her. Barbara, I’m thinking of you and sending positive thoughts your way. I miss you and love you and hope you are back up and running (well, not literally) soon.

I spent the greater part of today doing something I am not very good at, and that is doing nothing. Mark and I probably drive other people crazy with our constant “on the go” mentality, but we didn’t sit still on land and we don’t sit still out here. In fact, I think we are much more aggressive about being on the go out here. We made the decision to sail around the world so we could see as much of the world as possible. So that is what we aim to do. I did spend part of the morning studying the
anchorages in New Caledonia. Since we had originally planned to arrive in the Loyalty Islands instead of here on the main island, I wanted to go back and refresh my mind with the reasons we wanted to go to the Loyalties in the first place. They are beautiful. I guess that was the reason, but now we have to weigh just how difficult it will be to go back east to those islands while fighting the prevailing winds against just how beautiful they are. I then studied the anchorages down the east coast
of Grand Terre to see what we would see if we day hop our way south. And then I took another look at the Iles of Pines off the southeast corner of this main island. The clock is ticking, and as always, we won’t be able to do and see everything, so we want to make our choices carefully. When we retired to go sailing, we both used spreadsheets extensively in our jobs. When we produce spreadsheets of our planned itineraries out here and share them with fellow cruisers, you can see them cringe.
They came sailing to get away from things like spreadsheets. But Mark and I both loved our jobs, and I guess we love spreadsheets, because we keep producing them to track weather, make travel plans, to tell us where things are stored on the boat, and on and on. Excel really can be a good friend. So in the next day or so, I’ll bet we come up with another spreadsheet of our proposed itinerary for the next three to four weeks. Then it will be on to Australia and the end of another cruising season.

Now to why I did basically nothing today. I am still not feeling good. Whatever I have is not letting go no matter how positively I think. I have a deep chest cough and it doesn’t sound good. Supposedly rest is good for healing the body, so I’m giving that a try. But I’m not sure how many days of this I can stand. Probably not one more! And of the five boats here, the women on four of those boats have this same thing. Marie on Ranger is the only healthy women among us. Let’s just hope she
can stay that way.

Batteries. Yes, Mark spent his day focused on batteries. Since the end of July, we have been having to charge our batteries for more time each day than we are used to. He has had friends come aboard and give us advice. He has read and reread every manual and book we have aboard dealing with the electrical system and he has tried every test he knows to try. But still he has not been able to isolate the problem. Today we ran the motor for almost five hours while the batteries equalized and he
consulted with Bruce on Incognita a couple of times and used various borrowed meters to check the flow of electricity. He thinks we has found one problem in our battery switch. Amperage comes in but a drastically reduced amount goes out. That confirms his theory that he needs to run a new line directly from the alternator to the battery bank. He bought the line in Port Vila, but he needs another connector. So Mark paid a visit to Gerry on Scot Free II. Gerry had just the connector he needs
so he plans to run the new cable tomorrow and see if that solves the problem. Unfortunately he thinks that the batteries are failing. They are about 5 years old and may need to be replaced in Australia. In the meantime, we will just have to run the engine twice a day to keep the electricity flowing.

Tomorrow is New Caledonia Day so we will probably take the dinghy up the river and see if anything is happening in town. If not, we will probably take a walk to a high point to get a view of the bay. There is also a cave just across from where we are anchored and I definitely want to check that out. Then on Tuesday morning we will check in with the authorities, give up all of our fresh fruits, veggies, dairy products, meat, and who knows what else. The authorities in Australia will take even
more, so this is just a warm-up.

I just asked Mark to come over and read this log to get it ready to send, but he was too busy. Guess what he is doing . . . making a spreadsheet!