Well, if everything comes together in the next few hours we will be shoving off from Noumea, New Caledonia, bound for Australia. Will have to catch up on New Cal doings when we reach Oz, in about a week. Meanwhile, here's a post from Alisa.
I am doing an experiment to see if eating a hazelnut chocolate bar eases a sore back. So far so good, although an increased sample size might be needed. My back hurts from bending over a sewing machine for 2 hours this afternoon while stitching long patches on another boat’s mainsail. They were unlucky and got caught in a squall between Fiji and here that brought sustained winds of 60 kt for an hour. Stories like this give me the creeps and I find I have to remind myself that no one was injured and their boat is fine – therein telling myself that if it had been us, Pelagic also would have faired as well. Being in a crowded anchorage like this one in Noumea, New Caledonia, we are subjected to frequent electrified conversations regarding the weather and passage to Australia; along with this is the need for people to retell and elaborate on the misfortunes of the previous passage.
This next passage to Bundaberg will be our final passage on this trip and it is nearly 800 miles of offshore sailing, which I mostly enjoy. Today Mike made a point of telling me how glad he is that I am looking forward to our upcoming passage. Then he made some offhand comment about the large number of wives that we’ve met that fly from port to port and let their husbands sail the boat. True, our last passage between Fiji and New Caledonia was a challenge. The winds ranged from southeast 20 – 30 kt with steep seas that were on our beam. One night on the Pacific Seafarers Net I reported seas of 8 – 15 feet. Imagine trying to keep a 2-year old on his toilet seat that keeps sliding around as the boat pitches and heels. Every cabinet on the port side would spill its contents when opened; a quick reach for a screwdriver would lead to an avalanche of glue, varnish cans, tools on the cabin sole. I took my trusty seasickness pills that I discovered in Mexico – Stugeron – and managed down below with Elias. But due to the violent motion it was pretty much impossible to allow Elias to walk unaided. I had to strap him into his chair whenever I needed two hands for myself. He did not go into the cockpit for 3 days, poor kid. On top of it all, the deck leaks returned and we had a soaked v-berth and an unusable starboard settee. And did I mention that after lunch on the second day of our passage Mike got sick, vomited, and then passed out for the rest of the night. It was blowing 26 – 30 kt at the time but thankfully the boat was well tuned and the monitor was doing its job so I just had to watch for traffic and do minor sail adjustments while I tended to Elias and to Mike. As you can imagine, there were a few times during the passage when I thought longingly of that sweet little house on Kodiak that we sold.
Yarrr, but the ocean is a marvel, and to venture out on an 11 meter sailboat you have to accept that you will occasionally be reminded how very small you are. While I can do without the nausea, exhaustion and squalls, the salty night breeze and limitless sea-scape await. And at the end of the passage my tendency is to remember the bright moments and not dwell on discomfort. Each day progresses with amazing speed, and all the days of this voyage have zipped by. Have we really been gone for over a year? I miss my family and friends a great deal. My first purchase in Oz will be a cell phone. I am eager to return to yoga (cures a sore back better than chocolate) and fitness and be near a library for Elias who devours his books – and heck, maybe even a laundromat. But before we get there, we have a week of sailing to do. Onward and onward.