Sakau nights, sailboat days

The end of the term has not brought an end to the work to be done, but the pace is a less driven pace. Instead of spending a Friday night grading, I can spend an evening at a local mud hole wallowing in kavalactones.

D & A's market in Nett
D & A’s market in Nett

The next day was a Pohnpei Sailing Club day. While a two-day fishing tournament wrapped up involving a plurality of expats and some seriously expensive water craft, the local youth continued to reconnect with the sea and to learn to sail.

Rigging a Topper
Rigging a Topper

A close look at the lanyard dangling from the mastgate reveals that the toggle is not there. The toggle became untied. The Toppers are taking their share of knocks from the learning-to-sail junior members.

Working together
Working together

The club started with five Toppers, but a boom went missing from the dock last spring. The fleet is now four Toppers.

Learning to lean
Learning to lean

The future skippers tend to capsize with some regularity, but for the most part they are quite proficient at righting their Toppers. The local neighborhood youth are completely at home in the water, swimming around the lagoon without regard to distance from shore.

Heading out in command, a skipper in the making
Heading out in command, a skipper in the making

When a Topper capsizes, the Kapingan youth skippers simply swim around and right the boat using the daggerboard. Some can right their boats in under 15 seconds, and all are competent at this task. Going in the water is never a cause for concern for them.

Spectators
Spectators

On Saturday, however, a first class non-Kapingan student who was soloing ran downwind out of the practice area and capsized the boat. I had noted this student to be somewhat uncomfortable in the water, and never one to ever take off his life jacket.

Out on the water, SLL at the helm
Out on the water, SLL at the helm

No sooner than he had capsized, he began yelling “Help!” while bobbing around in his life jacket. By the time the other boats could reach him the boat had turned too far over and the rudder – not properly mounted – fell off and sank into the depths of the mud bottom lagoon. He never did swim around to right the boat, the boat only getting righted by the Kapingan youth.

Bring the boat back to dock
Bring the boat back to dock

Minus a rudder, the hapless and helpless student had to be towed back in to the dock. As he was towed in power boats came down the center of the lagoon, returning from the second day of the fishing tournament. Some of the boats were in clearly in the over one hundred thousand dollar category. The plurality of the boats owned by expats.

I was out in the lagoon swimming around as were some of the Kapingan youth. They called out to each other, impressed by the power boats and their massive twin outboard motors. An hour of fuel for one of those boats would replace more than a Topper rudder.

Umezu on the right
Umezu on the right

In bringing in the Toppers, Umezu has done the unprecedented. He has chosen to share the joy of sailing with the local youth and has clearly made a significant outlay to acquire the Toppers and to bring them to Pohnpei. He has not only been generous to the community here, but his choice to target the youth with the free lessons is inspired. He is giving them responsibility and authority, providing a unique learning experience.

Sustainability of this project, however, remains uncertain. At present Umezu is the sole source of funding for the project, and the Toppers are getting hard use.

After an afternoon of swimming and watching a next generation of sailors being born, a sunny evening called for bookends weekend sakau. A good friend tipped me off to an Olter family fund raiser.

Fund raiser at the Olter place
Fund raiser at the Olter place

The sakau was excellent and the company was all the better.

Sakau production staff
Sakau production staff
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