Erika and I spent three or four days exploring Raivavae. We walked down to the far end of the island and then climbed the cliff up to “the lookout” for a spectacular view of the island and the lagoon. Another day we climbed the “steep” road over the central spine of the island, then walked back along the south shore and up over the “short” road back to the harbour. In the end we had walked just about every mile of road or path on the island and decided we should shift anchorage and move out to one of the motus at the edge of the lagoon to enjoy some of the tropical swimming and snorkeling along with white sand beaches.
So, we got the boat in order and fired up the navigation system, only to find that it didn’t know where we were. Normally the GPS is running 24/7 and feeding our position information to the chart plotter. On this day the chart plotter had no idea where we were. Which led to yet another episode of “fixing the boat in an exotic port.” A quick investigation found that the cable between the GPS and the plotter was torn to shreds. As were two other cables in the same bundle. Rats. Literally. The only plausible explanation was that some stowaway of the rodent variety had decided that the insulation on the wiring was tasty.
And thus began our hunt, both for the unwanted visitor and for their method of boarding. For the latter, we had no good ideas. The evidence of a rodent was pretty thin, indicating that he (we hope it was a he) hadn’t been aboard for very long. The last time we were tied up to a shore of any kind was in February in New Zealand. No way he had been hiding for that long without leaving any sign. We hadn’t brought any packaging aboard here in the Australs, or much of anything else, so it was unlikely that he had come aboard with stuff we brought from shore.
As a cruiser I’ve always heard stories of rats swimming out to boats and climbing up the anchor rode or finding some other way up. And I’ve always considered those stories to be apocryphal. But Occam and Sherlock tell us that if there is no other explanation… Then we found the most significant collection of evidence up on the port foredeck. Our guest had spent a fair amount of time outdoors on the foredeck under the kayaks before coming indoors. Why would he do that? Unless of course that was the first sheltered, hidden spot he found after coming up the anchor rode. We don’t have any other explanation, so that’s the only one we can come up with.
Of course, you always want to properly welcome a guest in your home, and we didn’t have anything socially appropriate for a member of the rodent family, so we took the dinghy across the lagoon to Raivavae (we had moved to the motu after the cable discovery using the backup chart system) and traipsed all around the island again contributing to the local economy and collecting a variety of traps and other rat catching paraphernalia. We didn’t have success accommodating our guest the first night, so we made this trip again the next day. I can’t say we bought up everything on the island, but we did put a fair dent in their stock until the next ship comes in.
In the end it all worked out, we found some suitable accommodations for our guest and he is now resting elsewhere. The stereo speakers in the cockpit still aren’t working, but we are hopeful that we’ve found everything else that he decided to chew through. In all we spent the better part of three days getting the rooms in order for our guest and cleaning up after them. Ain’t cruising grand?