There’s a novel you may have read called “The hundred year old man who climbed out of the window”. It’s a rip roaring tale of a man with a remarkable history who lurches from one crazy unbelievable situation to another. He finds himself meeting prominent people, being at significant historical events and even at 100 years old, the crazy madness hasn’t stopped. I think we have met the real life 100 year old man. Only difference is he’s just 87.
Our new friends, Bob and Mina, who’s a mere 75, live on Takaroa, an atoll in the Tuamotus. We’re anchored off their property in the lagoon. As a pair they are bright and sparkly with an ongoing zest for life. Both have amazing stories to tell.
The iceberg tip of Bob’s tales include being a stowaway on a ship to Australia when he was 16, surviving an explosion at sea then rowing to land which took three days, meeting Donald Trump in a restaurant back in the ‘70’s and making money and losing it again in the Pearl Farming Industry.
Mina equally has a colourful history. Accidentally having breakfast with the King of Samoa, playing golf for French Polynesia all round the world and meeting Princess Margaret while working for Air Tahiti at a time when Maggie’s drinking was not in the public eye, are just a few of her stories.
Together they are a joy to be around. A story to provide evidence. They have a crack in the bottom of their boat. It’s 3 miles across the lagoon to the village and they are the only people who live on this side of the lagoon. The boat is their lifeline.
Bob is upside down in the boat investigating. He’s struggling to get out as he’s wedged in a small space. Mina is trying to help him by pulling his tee shirt but it’s tightening around his neck. When we catch up with them they are falling around laughing. “She thinks she’s helping me, but actually she’s killing me!” reports Bob in between guffaws of mirth.
We’ve had breakfast with them once and lunch twice, not to mention the spent time just passing the time of day. Lunch in true french style lasts several hours because of all the chatting.
To get here we initially followed the marked channel from the dock. We hit the dodgy shallow dogleg bang on high water slack. Even then, the water is dancing fairly manically. Coming across the lagoon, I was on the bow spotting any ‘bommies’ which are areas of solid coral. You want to avoid these.
It was all more straightforward than I’d anticipated. But still a slightly anxious time. The reward, an anchorage in blue green clear water. Farrow and Ball, Little Green, Dulux and Crown do not have a selection of paint colours this vivid. A vista of beach and palm trees, the full on Pacific island experience. And nestling in the trees behind, Bob and Mina to entertain us.
We are the only sail boat here on this atoll which makes it even more special too.
Photos to follow. We have very limited comms here so I’m sending this via Lisa on the sat phone email. Thanks Lisa.