After the drama of the anchor dragging we settled into an amazing week on the island of Raivavae, a place I’d never even heard of which suddenly became home to us. Mostly we were working on the engine or trying to do other boat jobs to prepare to set sail so we didn’t see the stuff tourists go for – beautiful beaches off out by the reef, mountain walks with incredible views, diving, snorkelling, canoeing. Apparently that’s what tourists do anyway, when tourists visit. Chez Linda, the attractive pension run by the lovely Linda and John, where John and Deb were staying, organized all that kind of thing, along with lending bikes and cooking delicious meals. In the time we were there, though, I think only two other couples arrived. Interestingly there was a lot of local opposition to the airport being built thirteen years ago and you still get the feeling that, despite being welcoming and friendly, this is an island that is quite happy to not be inundated with visitors.
After three flights (Vancouver to LA, LA to Tahiti, Tahiti to Raivavae) it was pretty amazing to arrive at the tiny airport and see Doug, complete with an amusing amount of hair, waiting for me. Henriette, whom Doug had met a couple of days earlier, sorted us out with a ride to the other side of the island where Illusion was moored, and I was glad I’d made time for a practise French session with my friend Cristina the day before leaving Vancouver. Our hour of chatting had slightly prepared me for the first significant French-speaking experience since finishing my A-levels, seventeen years ago. (Aaaaack! I can’t believe that was 17 years ago!). Then we were alone, at the quay, and there was the dinghy waiting to take us out to the boat. I guess I hadn’t really thought about how we’d get there – that was a pretty cool moment. So we headed off onto the water, for my first meeting with Illusion and my first experience of living on board a sailboat. Continue reading “Ḿeeting Illusion”
Just before Doug and the Illusion crew left the boatyard, we discovered Google Talk. Skype had been letting us down, and we’d been relying on WhatsApp messages. While that’s great for speedy interactions and sharing photos*, nothing beats a (free!) voice call, or even better a video call. It didn’t always work, but if he went to just the right spot in the yard, and managed to time it so the lawnmower or some other engine wasn’t running, and nobody was stopping to talk to him, we could just about manage a proper conversation. Yay! Continue reading “Remembering to talk about the birds”
So Doug left Vancouver and is now on the boat and I’m spending my days waiting for the familiar ping of a WhatsApp message arriving and being pleased that the time difference is a respectable 21 hours. It was a crazy last few days: whizzing back from Texas, getting everything organized, and then him rushing off again. And now the house is all quiet and everything feels like it’s on hold, waiting for news from Illusion. (So far it’s mainly been about mold, gulls and, er, more mold. Oh, and how there’s no electricity. And that the batteries don’t work. And did I mention the bird poo? And the mold?!) Knowing that it’ll likely be a few days before he has enough internet access to write a full update on here, I get to do a little catch-up post about our recent USA trip. Continue reading “¡Su casa es mi casa!”
Just had the best couple of days in and around San Francisco on our trip to the States to see Doug’s family and friends before he heads off to New Zealand. He thought it was just a chance to show me where he used to live, not realizing my ulterior motive for the visit – checking a) whether he really does have a sailboat, b) whether he knows how to sail it and c) what he’s like as a captain. And the results of my research? Affirmative for the first two questions, mixed responses to the third….
We had a great time at the Vancouver Boat Show over the Family Day weekend. We wandered round talking to various people about insurance, local marinas (for when Doug and Illusion return to Vancouver) and options for heating and lighting on the boat. I was excited to meet the lovely people staffing the Bluewater Cruising Association stand – they were very reassuring about the fact I don’t have a clue about sailing and I look forward to heading to some of their events while Doug is away. Continue reading “At the Vancouver Boat Show”
Reading Doug’s post about cruising safety reminded me of our endless Skype conversations when we first got together. Telling me about some of the people he’d met sailing, on more than one occasion the seemingly happy little anecdote ended with ‘and the boat sunk’, or ‘and he died’. An explanation would follow of how, with a little more care, the disaster could have been avoided. I think this was meant to help me feel better about the idea of going on his boat sometime, but it got to the point where I made him tell me the ending first, so I could be prepared. Most stories, though, are better told from the beginning. For example, how does an English girl based in Spain end up in Canada, about to wave her American husband off on a six month (or maybe seven, every time I ask it gets a little longer) sailing trip? And aren’t you worried about being apart that long? Well, it happened pretty much like this… Continue reading ““Fancy a sail?”: a bit of background”
Apart from wanting to spend Christmas with the family, one of the main reasons we went over to the UK these holidays was to be at the wedding of my lifelong friend, Vanessa. Living so far from friends and family means missing all sorts of important occasions, so it was fantastic to be able to get there for this one. And what a beautiful, elegant, warm, joyful occasion it was! Well worth the jet lag and all those hours trying to get the volume right on the in-flight movies. (Is it just me or does everyone spend most of the flight with your hand on the controls, trying to make out the dialogue without damaging your ears in the process?) Continue reading “Each Summer I went swimming”
The journey from our place in Vancouver to see my family in the North of England involved two buses, the Skytrain, two aeroplanes, the London Underground, a short walk between Kings Cross and Euston (stopping in a for a swift half of real ale at The Euston Flyer), a train journey (made somewhat more fun by the free wine offered in first class) and finally a short car ride from the station to the house. Sailing certainly seems a more relaxing alternative… Continue reading “Clouds from both sides”
I’d always thought of sailing as quite a solitary occupation – days out on the ocean with just the wind and the waves, all the time in the world to think and dream and wonder. So it surprised me to hear from Doug that one of the things he most loved about his past years of sailing were the people of all ages he met along the way and the sense of community they shared. Continue reading “Community”