Over dinner the other night, I was asked for the umpteenth time: what had brought us to this part of the world, isolated as we were, in a small village where nobody knew us? What was it that had impelled our decision to move here? I paused and reflected that it could only have been an attack of temporary insanity. One of those spur of the moment decisions that affect you for the rest of your life and you end up wondering how it all started.
My five passengers in the van were sick as dogs. They’d been retching and heaving since waking up that morning and were spending most of the ride to the sea dozing off and wallowing in self-pity. Curiously, I felt fine, though something in last night’s dinner seemed to have affected the rest. Worst of all was the Old Turkey Hand, who considered himself an expert, having lived in-country with his family for several years in his youth. Confident of Pamukkale’s medicinal properties, he had drunk from the spring with great élan and now his belly had bloated up like a rock. Despite his bravado and apparent savoir-faire, the rest of the crew had timidly resisted the temptation to share in Pamukkale’s medicinal waters and now, in the clear light of day, we were beginning to get an inkling as to why there were so many tombs lined up outside Pamukkale.
At dawn on the twelfth day we raised the twin crests of Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea shimmering under a clear sky on the Southeast horizon. It had been a brisk run since leaving Sausalito, the trades well abaft the beam, allowing us to sail for days on end with only the slightest of trim adjustments to the spinnaker. The sailing had been as pleasant as one could have hoped, and the three of us had finally stowed our foul weather gear, glad to finally be in the limpid tropics after so many cold days and nights. But the constant pressures under sail had caused an ominous fracture to develop in the gooseneck, the swivel fitting that joins the boom to the mast and, since a complete break could disable the vessel, it was imperative to get it repaired. We headed for Hilo, aiming to find a welder.