So thu and carton of smokes in hand, I stepped towards the ladder – but, seeing the boat so far below, hesitated again.

“Use the ladder,” a man said behind me. His tone was helpful, not sarcastic, as though I’d been considering making a leap. I turned. It was Chief Chuck from Chuuk. An enormous man, even by Pacific standards, Chief Chuck had a preference for snug, white thus.

“Watch,” he said and, just as a wave raised the dingy closer, Chief Chuck stepped in front of me and slid down the ladder, skipping every single rung. He landed on his side, rolled across a half-a-dozen baskets, and came to heavy stop against the side of the coffin. He waved for me to follow.

With one hand holding both the cigarettes and the other firmly holding my thu, I took a few steps down the ladder that now swung across the side of the ship. Then a few more steps down.