I stopped trying to keep count on how long I have been here. At first I was keeping a journal, but I wore out my pencils and the pens stopped working some time ago. I transitioned to etching marks into the hull of the Lori Lee, but at some point it didn’t seem to matter how long I was here. My “B” plan for keeping track of time was to ask my rescuers, “what days is it?”. The life of the eternally hopeful castaway does revolve around the hope of rescue, but like my tracking of time, those thoughts faded into dull routine.
Mornings start whenever and naked. I thought that if I was to be rescued, I’d need clothes and what light clothing I had has been stored in my shore bags, so that I could be presentable when rescued. I have made some native style coverings so as to have some protection from the tropical sun, but for the most part, I just stay under the shade of the beach and keep my self well-oiled with a coconut paste I mash up. I am wealthy in coconuts and like the mythical rain of pets, they tend to drop whenever I need one.
Depending on energy levels, after breakfast, I go foraging among the tide pools in the reefs that split the island. Various shellfish and the occasional other edible creature can be found in the little pools created when the tide lets out. Depending on the tides, I can safely get to the north side to scavenge for drift wood. That is the main resource to be found on the northern beaches. The surf is much rougher up north, seemingly intent on either washing that side back into the depth of the ocean, but satisfied with littering the beaches with all sorts of debris. I generally go up there when I need firewood or to explore after storms to see what treasures have washed up on shore.
My prize was a dingy that washed up after one particularly rough few days of weather. That has been a blessing as it has made moving driftwood for fires south much easier. Before the dingy, I had to pull bundles across the shallowest parts of the lagoon and then wait a week or more for the wood to dry. I have rigged up sort of a ferry where I load up the dingy with wood and then walk back and pull the dingy over to my camp. Life is so much easier with the dingy.
I tend to spend a lot of time trying to invent stuff with paracord. I had about 100 feet of military paracord in my stores along with various amounts of it wrapped around my wrist in a bracelet. As if the ocean knew of my appreciation for paracord, I also found an old cargo chute on the beach up north after a particularly rough surf. Unfortunately whatever was attached to the end of the chute, if anything at all, was way beyond the zone I was going to swim for. My morbid fear of sharks and being swept to sea keep me out of the ocean up north. Instead I tied the chute off against some palms and then waded as far as I dare into the surf to cut the lines so as to salvage the parachute. Now I have an endless supply of magical paracord to experiment with.
My days usually have a routine. After my foraging, I exercise a bit, sprint up and down the beaches and then rinse off in the lagoon. If we have had a rain, I replenish my water stores and then I go about putting back any fish that might have been netted. If I happen to catch a lot of fish, I either smoke it or sun dry it. In either case that means cleaning, slicing, scoring and then either impaling the fish on my rack or smoking it in my smoke hut.
The smoke hut is a small, but overbuilt lean-to where I keep a fire going all the time. Overbuilt is an understatement because having a fire is a priority on several levels. First it is a pain to start a fire in a tropical environment, especially after a rain. Second, although I have a lot of ways to start a fire, those supplies are not endless and third, who knows when a signal fire will be needed. So life does revolve around keeping the smoke hut and it’s fire stoked.
During the occasional wicked storm, I do carry some fire into the building to protect it from the elements, but so far my smoke hut has protected my fire in monsoon level storms. I have it nestled between two outcroppings of rock almost at the top of the highest point of the atoll which is about a hundred yards above the block house. I carried more rocks up to build side walls and then put a thatched roof over the whole structure and pinned that down with timber and more rocks. In front of that is my drying rack and nearby are where my dry wood is stored.
Once my basic chores, exercising and explorations are done, comes the boredom. There are times I climb aboard the Lori Lee and see if there is anyway she would float, but I know that is hopeless. The sand is slowly working into her bilges from the massive crack in the hull at the transom. If she had beached anywhere else, she’d have been eaten by the surf within months of grounding. In the relative peace of the lagoon’s calm, storms do whip up enough action to push sand through every crack and over the partially submerged bow. The Lori Lee slowly settles into the beach with no hope of future ports.
My best chance at relief from boredom are naps and I have fashioned quite the hammock from my storm jib. This sail, the smallest in my inventory, was easiest to make a quick a hammock. Eventually I used some of the parachute material to make a tent-like covering over my hammock to deflect light rains and the occasional coconut bomb. I have hammocks set up all over the southern island and even one up north, but I seldom stay on the north side due to the rats. Rats are bold creatures and even more so when they have no fear of man. Rats are also extremely curious and almost every time I had to stay up there, the rats appear to move in to keep me company.
My favorite hammock is a deluxe model built up above the smoke hut. Between four perfectly placed palms, I stretched a hammock which has a large thatched roof, a side table and the best view of the atoll. From that hammock I can see in all directions to the horizon. The downside is that hammock tends to take the most damage during storms, but I am pretty good at repairing it.
When I feel really motivated, I play Scrabble against myself. Another treasure from my Mendocino county benefactor was a miniature Scrabble board. One thing I have learned about playing myself is the futility of cheating. It doesn’t matter if you cheat yourself because ultimately, well, your cheating is nullified when you again, cheat yourself to regain the advantage. Cheating just doesn’t work when the one you cheat, can cheat as well.
Chapter 3 The Day The Moon Broke