The last ten days, while Doug has been at sea, alone, heading towards Hawaii from Nuku Hiva, have gone slowly here in Vancouver. And while it’s felt slow to me, I know time will have been even weirder for him.
The seven day passage from Tahiti was a lesson in the bendiness of time. Time off (mainly sleeping or cooking) flew by. Watches, for the most part, didn’t. A three hour stint of steering the boat under the moonlight could feel like just a few minutes one night, and never-ending another. The three minutes between banging on the floor to ask for relief and somebody’s head popping up to say they’d be there in a minute dragged ridiculously. As did the next ten minutes waiting for them to get their drink and snacks and life jacket, and get up on deck to take over. Continue reading “The Illusion Show”
We’d been at Marina Taina on Tahiti since last Tuesday and, apart from a couple of trips to the giant Carrefour just down the road, hadn’t seen anything of the island. Saturday’s plan was to get to Papeete to try to find a replacement motor for the autopilot (which keeps failing on us) and to check in at the police station. Quite excited to be heading ‘off site’, we were up bright and early. Friday’s brunch on the boat with Janice had left us with some pancake batter to use up so Doug got to work making us breakfast, and we sat out on the deck with mugs of tea, ready to tuck in. One disgusting mouthful in, we realized something in the mix was as unaccustomed to the tropical heat as we are. Oh well, bananas and papaya it would have to be. We headed off out into the already burning sunshine, returning once for the water bottle and a second time for the camera with photos of the motor and parts we needed. We were already getting sick of our day out and it was still only 8.30am.
A car on the quay tooted its horn and we looked over to see Atu waving at us. We’d been about to haul up the dinghy to store it on deck for the journey, but luckily hadn’t yet, so it wasn’t too difficult to get the fuel back out of the anchor locker and make our way over to shore. Euloge, his wife Hilda and 15 year old daughter Atu had come to say goodbye! And brought with them a bag full of food for the journey – banana crepes, stew and rice, a bag of bananas – plus clothes as gifts and a shell necklace. We were bowled over by their generosity and thoughtfulness. After hugs and kisses and address swapping, we headed back to Illusion and waved goodbye as they drove off to church.
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”