Wednesday, May 25, 2016

PHOENIX : "How come change ya mind?"

     We came full circle on April 9, 1958, keeping Skipper's promise to get us to Hilo again by my 14th birthday.
     "We dropped anchor just off Kaulaiaiwi Island in almost the exact spot where we had anchored when we first arrived in Hilo," Skipper wrote later in All in the Same Boat. "With great solemnity Jessica filled in the red ink-line that completed an erratic circle around the inflatable globe which had been given her for her birthday in Lahaina three years before. The Phoenix--and five of her original crew--had completed a voyage around the world--Hilo, Hawaii, to Hilo, Hawaii.
     "Best of all, we had got ourselves into no trouble that we couldn't get out of by ourselves.
     "We shook hands rather solemnly all around, but I don't recall any particular sense of jubilation, only a sense of deep and abiding satisfaction. As we had done in over a hundred other ports, we unlashed the dinghy and put it over the side. . ."
     Now cut to my journal: "We came into the wind and anchored. . . We coiled ropes and tiddled sails and covered compass and lashed tiller, drank coca and looked through binoculars at the people fishing on the dock. . . Peace crept over us and we thought again and again, 'We dood it! We've been around the world, no matter what else happens. They can't take that away from us!'
    "A boat came along-side, said they would notify the officials, and trotted off dutifully. But no-one came. No one seemed to have noticed or cared. Skip was asleep, Nick and Ted reading below. Tears of disappointment pricked behind my eye-balls and Mum foresaw cans again for dinner--more canned beef or bully beef or tinned meat--all the same thing, more stale tank water, more and growing impatience. When Skipper came to, he called the Coast Guard, who answered with an immediate 'Do you have any traffic to conduct?' but no-one came. . . Mum sighed and went into the galley. . .clashing pots and pans more than necessary. . ."
     Keep in mind we'd been at sea almost three weeks, out of our own country for nine months and we had friends we couldn't see or even contact on shore, which was just a few hundred yards away, until we had been cleared by Immigration, Customs and Quarantine officials.
     Now we switch back to All in the Same Boat, written by Skipper and Mum in Skipper's voice: "When entry formalities had been completed and we finally rowed over to the dock, again we found representatives of the Hiroshima Ken [Prefecture] Society waiting to welcome us. It felt wonderfully familiar. Later we took a walk. The town looked just the same. We wandered a block or so from the dock, to the little Japanese market center where we had done much shopping before setting out. In the fishing tackle store the same reels, lines, and hooks seemed to be on display in the window; behind the counter sat the same Japanese proprietor, his grin as friendly as ever. Nothing had changed.
     "You on boat?" he asked.
     "Yes, on Phoenix."
     "Ahh--Ho-O-Maru," he said, giving her Japanese name.
     "That's right!" We were surprised and flattered. "So you remember us!"
     "Sure I remember! You came here while ago."
     "That's right!" Quite a while ago, I thought: 2 years, 10 months, and 15 days.
     "Say--" the proprietor said suddenly. "You folks say you gonna sail rounda world."
     "That's right," I admitted, preening myself slightly.
     "Okay. Why you no do it?" he said accusingly. "How come change ya mind?"

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