Shepherd Moon - Brief encounter
Following our disappointing night at the monkey-less, Lindon Island, we decided pay a quick visit to the town of Portobello, once a major port for sending gold back to Spain, but now slightly shabby around the edges. The wind was blowing strongly offshore as we turned the headland and set course for the anchorage. As we headed into the bay I noticed the bows of a dugout canoe pointing upwards at an alarming angle. Then, in true Titanic style, it slipped slowly backwards into the water and disappeared. This was followed by some frantic whistling from a local guy who had been happily sitting in his canoe a few moments earlier, but now found himself in the sea, with his livelihood sinking beneath him.
With the wind blowing him out to sea, he clearly needed help. We altered course and motored over, launching the dinghy on the way. We looped around and managed to bring the dinghy close enough for him to scramble on board, but in the process he lost both his paddle and his canoe. The paddle proved relatively easy to recover, but the canoe was becoming more submarine like by the minute. We eventually managed to bring it alongside the bows of Shepherd Moon, and our new found friend sprung out of the dingy, ran to the front of the boat, and slid over the side, leaving just a hand and the heel of his foot hooked over the toe rail.
It's a long way from the deck to the water, especially at the front of the boat, too far, as it turned out, for even a lithe local to stretch. The hand and heel suddenly disappeared from view followed by a loud plop. I rushed to the side in time to see him sink like a stone, but after a second or two of panic (on both our parts), he re-surfaced, frantically scrabbling for the somewhat dubious security of the now totally waterlogged canoe. At this point I realised he probably couldn't swim and so I jumped in the dinghy, paddled around to the bows, hauled him aboard and then the two of us managed to right the canoe. He whipped out a machete, which had been jammed into the side of the canoe (our inflatable dinghy started to feel a little anxious at this stage), and started slashing away at some ropes and netting that seemed to be at least partially responsible for the canoe's submarine-like tendencies. With the lines gone, the canoe became more manageable.
By this time we had drifted nearly a mile back towards the entrance of the bay, and so we tied the canoe to the dinghy, and with the dinghy still tied to the back of Shepherd Moon, we snaked our way back towards the anchorage. Our friend sat in the dinghy with his back towards us, watching the canoe like a hawk. Suddenly he whipped off his top, slashed off the arms with the machete, and pulled the newly created tank-top back on. It turned out this move wasn't driven by an impetuous desire to make a fashion statement, but instead an attempt to slow the ingress of water into the canoe. He rolled the sleeves into a ball and stuffed them into the offending hole.
As we approached the anchorage, Vanessa tried to explain that Jacob and I would come with him in the dinghy and we'd together row for the shore. He was having none of it. As soon as we'd anchored, he bailed out the canoe, leapt in, and starting paddling for the shore, pausing just long enough to say thank you. The shore wasn't too far away if you paddled straight to it, but our friend didn't aim for that, he wanted to be on the other side of the bay. We watched him get further and further away, becoming increasing alarmed as the paddle-bail ratio become more of a paddle-paddle, bail-bail-bail, but thankfully he eventually made it to dry land. Whilst it was fortuitous that we happened to be in the right place at the right time, there was one down side. Vanessa now feels totally vindicated in her decision to ban "Camilla", my beloved kayak, from our round-the-world trip.
At 25/01/2018 03:17 (utc) our position was 09°30.80'N 078°36.90'W