A Very Special New Friend

This is a story that almost just happened.

This is a story about Coincidences that really aren’t.

This is the story of a casual acquaintance that turned into a strong Friendship within the course of a day.

Yesterday, Tuesday, was the day we were gearing up for departure from Rarotonga. A weather window was forming and we were planning to be ready to go today. But it was not too long after stepping on shore that we realized that plan was not meant to be the story we would be writing about today.

Walking across the quay came our fellow Brazilian cruiser. Bruised, limping, his right arm supported by a precarious cast, his face trying to disguise the obvious pain.

Two cruising boats – one departing from the US, in the Northeastern Pacific; another departing from the Atlantic coast of Brazil, one year later. What would be the likelihood of these boats meeting at one of the smallest island nations of the South Pacific? Of being the only two cruising yachts on that island for a week? Of being anchored side-by-side? I don’t know how big or small this likelihood is – but it happened to us. And as we casually exchanged casual chats and flags and a few other casual items along the week, it was amusing how much of a coincidence it had been. Until we saw him arriving yesterday.

A few hours earlier, he had suffered an accident with a rental scooter. Taken to the local hospital for first aid, he was advised to fly to New Zealand ASAP to get the right treatment there.

A mad rush ensued to find an acceptable solution for his yacht while he was away, and I was actually surprised when, a few hours later, the island’s only crane had been located and hired to lift the boat out of the water and a proper, safe place located for it to be in storage. Wow.

Surprise came again as Felipe – that’s his name – worked frantically to get the boat and himself ready for his departure a few hours earlier. With a broken arm, a seriously hurt foot, and bruises elsewhere, Felipe was still as strong as a workhorse, accomplishing tasks faster than Adriana and I could even help him with.

Evening came and we went to the airport to get him on a flight to New Zealand. What should have been the most straightforward part of the day – to buy a flight ticket over the counter – turned into a complicated affair. We were turned down by a local travel agency, tried in vain to buy tickets online, and finally had to scramble to fulfill a number of liability-inhibiting steps (which included a mad race to the local hospital to obtain a special certificate from the doctor) until Felipe was finally granted a place in the airplane which was about to depart. And all along this process, Felipe kept his poise and grace – the friendly smile on the face, the strong purposeful sight on his eyes, and playing with Paulo and Raquel all the time.

When the airplane roared a few hundred meters above our mast top just before midnight, we were relieved that our new friend was finally en route to receive proper treatment to his arm.

And then I started reminiscing the events of the day. What a day !

What I expected to be the most complex part of it – crafting a solution to keep Felipe’s yacht safe during his absence – was handled by him in a swift, almost magical way.

What I thought would be straightforward – to get him on his way to New Zealand – was made abnormally difficult by intricate processes and a certain lack of compassion from the actors in that part of the story.

And what gave a certain aspect of beauty to this otherwise odd story was Felipe’s persona itself.

A bright, high-revved young man, Felipe is a solo sailor. The stories of Solo Sailors have always been the utmost inspiration to me. And yet, I had never met one in person. And seeing his bravery and ability to get things done even in the face of extreme pain yesterday was as vivid as it gets an example to me of what it takes to sail and cruise alone across the oceans.

His gravitas was also a source of inspiration to Paulo and Raquel – what an example of Ownership, Can-Do and Positive Attitude this guy gave to them in a few hours !!!


And now, again, we are apart by thousand of miles. Felipe in New Zealand, us in the Cook Islands. His yacht and his dinghy are still within arms’ reach of us, and the memories of yesterday still very vivid in our minds.

We wish Felipe well, a swift recovery, and hope to meet again somewhere. Soon.


Fair Winds, Felipe !!!


Picture courtesy of Felipe