Christmas barrel of diesel and the logistics of getting the contents aboard

The much awaited monthly delivery ship arrived in the Gambiers late on Christmas Eve which meant unloading on Christmas Day and not the scheduled Christmas Eve.

The ship arriving is such an event here that church was cancelled on Christmas Day as the whole island congregates and works at the dock to receive their packages and deliveries.

(We joined a Christmas Eve church service instead which was packed in their impressive coral decorated cathedral. The singing in the Polynesian islands is amazing and if you have an opportunity to attend a church service on one of the islands do, it’s an amazing musical experience, even if you can’t understand a word.)

But back to the dock on Christmas Day…to our western eyes it all looked rather chaotic and haphazard but apparently this delivery was well organised!

Finding your delivery…

Russell went to start queuing for diesel at 6am. It wasn’t going to be the normal family Christmas Day for anyone. You have to queue to ask and then pay for a barrel of diesel, along with the rest of the islanders who want the same for their generators, cars and boats, lots of paperwork and lots and of cash later a barrel is chalked with your name on it. You then have a few hours to transfer the diesel and return the barrel. We have a small inflatable dinghy, only a 2.5 hp outboard and two 20 litre fuel cans. We were allocated 200 litres of diesel. You can do the maths, it’s a lot of trips from the dock in a dinghy to our yacht (there is no way you can move or carry a barrel!)

This is where the kindness of fellow sailing cruisers comes into its own. Despite being 6am on Christmas Day morning four yachts pooled all their diesel containers together and made a tag team of decanting diesel from the barrel in the port, carrying to the dinghy and transporting to the yacht and then pouring it in the yacht at the other end. That is a lot of lifting and carrying full 20 and 30l fuel containers from awkward heights on moving boats. Back breaking work basically. Together we managed to refuel s/y Auntie and ourselves 200 litres apiece. A huge monstrous thanks to s/y Major Tom (Swedish) and s/y Sugar Shack (USA) who spent four hours of Christmas morning helping us. It would have taken us all day on our own and the ship left by early evening! A big thanks to s/y Two Canoes (French) for lending fuel containers too.

The good news is that our Christmas wish for fuel truly came true and we have enough to keep us going for a bit.

We sang carols with s/y’s Auntie, Sugar Shack and Major Tom. Later we had Christmas drinks and our cake aboard Auntie later to celebrate. The kindness of people is what made our Christmas.

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