the rainbow boat brotherhood of the sailing puffin pants

The first time I saw the vintage black steel sailboat with a rainbow painted on its side and strange flags flying from the shrouds, it was overflowing with young, handsome, bearded men in Atuona Harbor on Hiva Oa island in the Marquesas, French Polynesia.

I’d just sailed on Rapture from the northern Marquesas, Nuku Hiva and Ua Pou and we anchored in the jam packed harbor next to this mysterious vessel. I tried not to stare, but I hadn’t been around people my age for over a month, let alone potential romantic interests, so I didn’t let my pride keep me from casual ogling.

Even without the male eye candy, the small ship turned heads. She was custom built, I came to find out later, by a French man in 1979 to sail around the world with his family. Her lines stayed true to that era with an angled transom that rose above the waterline and a 45 degree bow with thick black pipe railings fortifying the bowsprit area. She evoked the Pink Floyd rainbow prism album cover, with a thick white painted band below the toe rail that enveloped rectangular portholes covered in protective plastic, silver bolts ringing each one like punk bracelets. Rust dripped across the white band and the rainbow’s lines were weathered.

A handmade looking metal support structure perched above the tiny stern held up solar panels and doubled as a storage area for a large crab pot, natural gas cans, buoys and buckets, all covered in a tarp secured with zig zagging bungee cords. Surf boards lived along one stern rail and poked out of their repurposed sleeping bag covers. A clear blue plastic observation bubble hatch cover behind the cockpit area added to Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic movie vibes.

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