Exchanging pain for shame

Senescence is a wily beast, constantly creeping up. While I am still immortal, as I approach my 8th decade I am feeling progressively less so.

It is 9 years since Tainui crossed the Southern Ocean. In an atypical moment of insight I have accepted that going back down into the high latitudes to visit Kerguelen Land en route Fremantle without Dave was a bit too adventurous. So here sits Tainui in the Galapagos, looking downwind across the South Pacific to French Polynesia. An altogether more palatable route home to Australia, even if El Nino means less wind that we would have liked.

I now pay someone else to antifoul the boat. My rotator cuffs have been very grateful and I am getting used to the embarrassment of asking for help with tedious tasks like that. Today, during a routine dive to check on our propellor, I discovered that the anode was two thirds eaten away and in need of immediate replacement. And after only 3 months. I suppose I could have replaced it free diving, but almost certainly I would have dropped at least one of the retaining bolts in the process. Karl, a nice youngster on an adjacent boat, came across with scuba gear and finished the job in 15 minutes flat.  

Alone back in Ayora I had little choice but to manhandle ten 20-litre bottles of water and 6 more of diesel down to the commercial jetty, and then from a bouncy water taxi up onto Tainui’s deck by myself. After all that was finished I had to retreat to bed, fanning myself.


Climbing in and out of the dinghy, John Anna and I groaned and creaked like the shaky timbers of a rotting jetty. I cherish my afternoon power naps, my quadriceps are mere shadows of their former selves and my once excellent balance is less sure. I am not so nimble on the foredeck and need to think before I do things. And memory? – the nouns are slipping away and I rely more and more on adjectives and words like “whatsit”, “thingumajig” and “you know what I mean”.

Now 40 years old, at least Tainui remains robust and solid, although after 10 years at sea she also is in need of cosmetic surgery. At least that can wait until Sydney.

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