It’s just after 5:00 am.
The night is black, but I can hear the buzz of a city outside. After a 3-day sail from Raivavae, I lost myself in slumber the moment I lied down on the settee last night at 9:00 pm. When Neil tried to awaken me to come to bed, I clearly couldn’t revive myself enough to take five steps to the aft cabin. I know because it’s eight hours later and here I am still.
A rhythmic ping stirred me awake; the sound of water bouncing onto metal. The cabin top is being tickled by a light drizzle. I stand, blinking and rubbing my eyes, and begin to pull closed our hatches.
The ping-ting persists.
I forgot we opened the hatch above the galley sink in last night’s swelter. It’s impressive the temperature difference between here (the Society Islands) and the Austral Islands, where nights are much cooler. The ting-ping is the sound of raindrops bouncing off the teapot. I close that hatch, too, and climb into the cockpit. We haven’t been tied to a dock in 148 nights. Until tonight. It’s almost disorienting to be here, tied to a dock, rather than a-swing at anchor.
We’re snug in Marina de Papeete in Tahiti, in the heart of the South Pacific’s largest city. Our bow points toward the industrial zone of the port; our stern toward busy Boulevard Pomare. Despite it being an hour before the sun will even start to tease this island with false dawn, a seemingly endless stream of cars, trucks, mopeds, buses, and pedestrians are humming by. Life on this island is far busier than in the remote corners of Polynesia we’ve explored in recent months. What is a city doing awake at this hour?
I have a very strange feeling in the pit of my stomach, an uneasiness of sorts.
In this moment, being in a city feels more foreign to me than being hundreds of miles from land in the middle of the ocean.