So a whole summer has passed and we haven’t managed to sail Illusion at all. Oh dear. This is turning into a very slow journey from New Zealand to Vancouver, but life comes at you with all its unexpectedness and hey ho, you do what you can, with what you’ve got, where you are.
What we could do:
- Spend a couple of weeks on Illusion in the marina on Oahu, where she’s been since Doug solo sailed from the Marquesas last September.
- Clean her inside and out – including: scrubbing the hull and decks, polishing stanchions, wiping down walls and ceilings to stop any mold growing, fully cleaning out galley cupboards, floors, etc etc! (Luckily I do cleaning so rarely that I actually enjoy the novelty of it on the boat.)
- Get rid of two wasp nets in the aft head (toilet) – a brave and heroic effort by Captain Doug, backed up by me, from behind a door, with a can of wasp spray.
- Finish a job started back on Rapa (!) to clean out one of the hatches in the main bedroom in order to fit a new seal. Hours of picking/scraping out old glue, but we got it done in the end – no more will water splash through soaking the cushions while underway.
Rid one of the storage trunks of an infestation of some kind of weevily thing (started in the packages of raw oats) – oh my goodness, there were a lot! Luckily confined to one storage section, but wow, they’d taken it over.
- Work on the engine – install new injector pump, mend the cap on the heat exchanger (coolant storage) after it blew in the last attempt to get the engine going (next step: starter solenoid).
- Marvel at the wildlife in and around the marina – huge leatherback turtles, schools of bright fish, crabs of all sizes, colourful birds (spotted red-crested cardinals, cattle egrets, spotted doves, white terns, bul-buls, yellow fronted canaries and more within minutes of the boat), mongooses.
- Survive a sea urchin attack (Wowzers, they really hurt).
- Swim in the sea a few times.
- Explore Honolulu.
- Read a load of books about sailing to keep us inspired and motivated.
- Dream about maybe just setting off to sail to Vancouver, despite……
What we’ve got:
- A still not fully recovered shoulder and instructions from the surgeon to not even think about sailing anytime soon.
- A bad back (an old injury of Doug’s made worse by inability to do his usual exercise routine because of his recovering shoulder, and not helped by aeroplanes, buses, and days spent hunched up in the engine room).
- A growing bump! I’m pregnant and we’re expecting our first baby in December. (It turns out that heat and pregnancy are a horrible combination – it took all my effort to make it to the shower block in the marina, a 3 minute walk from the boat. Luckily my sensitivity to smells and constant nausea of the first trimester had almost left me in peace by the time we were on the boat – the forward head still managed to make me feel pretty sick, but that’s been stinky for ages!)
- Limited funds. (Our original plan was to get the boat to Vancouver last summer, and move on to it. Instead, because of the huge delays and the engine problems, we’ve ended up effectively paying double rent for the last year – our flat in Vancouver and the marina fees, which are, incredibly, more than we pay for the flat. Combined with my paltry teaching wage at the university and Doug’s involvement with a start-up company which has great potential, but currently no income, our savings are pretty much down to zero.)
Where we are:
- Back in Vancouver, after a couple of weeks on the boat in Hawaii and a fab five week trip to England to spend time with family and friends (Thanks mum and dad for making that possible!)
- Happy about the new addition to our crew, due in three months time!
- Working out if we can get the boat somewhere other than the marina (eg maybe haul it out over the winter) until summer and the next possibility of sailing.
- Aiming to earn some money asap to keep our boat-hopes alive!
- Coming to terms with the fact that I probably won’t be able to do the Hawaii to Vancouver stretch after all – 3 weeks at sea with a 6 month old baby sounds hard! – but that maybe we could join Doug and Illusion for some shakedown sails before he sets off.
- Still excited about our dream of living on the boat and sharing the sailing life with our child (or who knows, maybe children!)
- Out and about as much as possible exploring amazing British Columbia (often in our adored Westfalia) finding new places to get to know and revisiting favourite spots.
So that’s where we’re at at the moment – I know various friends have been wondering what’s going on with the sailing plans. It’s not quite where we’d hoped to be by now, but plans, boats and realities rarely match up, it seems! And through all of it, Illusion sits quietly, restrained, in her berth, even through two recent hurricanes passing fairly nearby. She’s quite a sight, sleek and low in the water, looking a little like an eagle ready to take flight or a giant fish, slyly watching and waiting, ready to dart off. Arriving from the airport in the dark and stepping on deck our first night down in Hawaii, I was immediately transported back to memories of being out on the ocean, sitting at the wheel, storming through the waves. Despite the little infestations colonising her from the inside, and the marina’s underwater world of fish and marine life, Illusion is unnaturally tamed. She just bobs a little or sways side to side, but you get the sense that, secretly, she’s straining at the lines, waiting to take off out into the open seas, re-find her natural habitat, show what she’s capable of…..
Thanks for sticking with us! It’s slower progress than we’d like, but we’ll keep trying to move things along…. and eventually we’ll get our boat to Vancouver, take all our friends out sailing, and no doubt have a massive party. Yay!!