Saturday, June 14, 2014

And On The Eighth Day

He made Tahanea.

Having a bit of experience at that point, He got things right.


Yesterday, after 23 days at sea, we entered Passe Teavatapu, Tahanea Atoll, and ended our passage from New Zealand. The place names of our start and finish points - Opua and Teavatapu - were left for us by the Polynesians, and remind us that our trip was just one possible arc through the Polynesian World, that vast oceanic realm where the tiny bits of land scattered across the chart are less dense by far than the legos on our cabin sole.

We didn't tell the boys beforehand that we were going to make landfall. For days I denied any knowledge or expectation of when the trip might end. I couldn't bear the prospect of their end-of-trip over-excitement, the running and screaming and sword fighting in our shared and limited space. So when Elias awoke, just before dawn, with the motus of Tahanea in plain sight to leeward, his thrill was immediate and untainted by long expectation. Plus! I had just chucked out the fishing lure, and we had a bite. Elias claimed the moment - harness on, tether clipped in - and proceeded to reel in a fine yellowfin tuna. "It's the biggest fish of my career!" was his one-sentence blurb. So now it's official - Elias is the only Galactic with a career.

Joking aside, this was our longest-ever passage, and certainly our longest with no fish. The idea of three weeks at sea in company of a four year old without the consolation of the world's freshest seafood dinners is too much to contemplate. This yellowfin saved us from a fish-less passage at the last possible moment.

As we knew it would, the simple act of navigating the pass - Alisa on the bow, the standing waves safely to starboard - carried us immediately between worlds. The long passage, the broken ribs, the days hove to, the galley portlight flexing under the load of a boarding wave, the questions about the bigger picture - all that was forgotten. Our attention was entirely captured by the tropical paradise we had entered. Tradewind clouds towered overhead, frigate birds harassed boobies, a dozen shades of turquoise marched up from the revelation-blue deep water of the lagoon to beaches the color of dried bone and the green of the motus above, riotous with plant life, the coconut palms always on the downwind side.

Grilled tuna for lunch, and then the family ashore. Walking, glorious walking for the adults, and endless running and screaming and playing with beach detritus for the boys. Then the whole family nekkid and scrubbing themselves in the shallows around the dinghy, the water perfectly cool after the no-wind oven created by the palms over the beach. Then another walk, and comments on all the palms that might be short enough to climb for their nuts, and a sit on the breeze-freshened beach at the windward side of the motu for the adults while Eric paddled an oldbucket ship in a pool and Elias dug channels, lakes, moats, seas in the porous beach sand.

Then sushi for dinner in the cockpit, and a few chapters of The Prince and the Pauper for a bedtime story, and a gin and tonic for my wife and me under the tropical full moon, bright enough to see the color turquoise and to distinguish the coral heads beneath us.

Elias before bed in a tired voice, and I swear uncoached by any statement from adult lips: "This is the best life there is."

1 comment:

  1. Congrats, enjoy the r&r. Hope the ribs improve soon.

    S/V BEKA