Wednesday, June 25, 2014


I can't remember how long Alisa and I have been married unless I think about it for a minute.

But I always know how long it's been since we started sailing full-time.

Yesterday was the seventh anniversary of our departure from Kodiak. (!)

We have always made a point of celebrating the day. Fathers' Day I could do without, but if you have an event in your past as momentous as the day you set out to sail across the Pacific with a toddler, I figure you owe it to yourself to treat the day as a holiday.

In a nice bit of symmetry, Tahanea, where we celebrated this anniversary, was also the place where we celebrated the first. Elias was a year and ten months old then, and Alisa taught him how to say, "Dad, let's party!" just for the event.

Comparing the pictures of him at Tahanea then and now is quite an eye-opener.

We moved to a new anchorage yesterday, putting up with traveling in poor light for spotting coral, me in the spreaders, in order to reach a place with better swinging room for an expected change in wind direction. We've been using two anchors in series and short scope to help out with the restricted anchoring room amongst the coral and it was all a bit of a maneuver - get the two anchors up, navigate by eyeball with bad light, find a new spot, get the two anchors and the trip line down and set and checked. But I have to admit that I kind of enjoy that sort of muscular working of the boat. The adventurous life for me!

And when we were settled in the new spot, I dove on the anchor as per usual modus in the tropics and - another milestone! - Elias came along and dove on the anchor with me for the first time ever.

"Pretty soon," I says to Alisa, "he'll be old enough to dive on it by himself. And by that time Eric will be big enough to reach into the fridge and fetch me a cold beer while he's doing it."

The new spot is remarkably different for being only five and a half miles away. The last spot had three sandy motus to chose from, but this one is all about the reef, which is very close and narrow at this point, with the open ocean on the other side. The reef gives great walking with the boys, with the very big attraction of very active moray eels (reticulated morays?) in the tidepools. The motus are coral rubble rather than sand, and from the reef you can clearly see that the water level in the lagoon is higher than that of the open ocean outside. And this place feels larger, more open, than the last anchorage - perhaps because of the long sweep of the reef arcing off to each side of us, strung with motus that disappear into the distance. That and the heavenly light, the big blue sky with the tradewind clouds disappearing over the horizon, the Milky Way and Southern Cross and a thousand thousand other stars above us at night.

In the new anchorage Alisa made pizza and cake for our celebratory dinner.

Elias continues to produce the quotable quotes for our Tuamotu sojourn.

"Ahhh," he says as he hoists himself into the dinghy at the end of our late-afternoon snorkel the other day. "That's why I like life so much."

"Really?" I asks him. "Why's that?"

"Because it's so much fun."

Point taken.

Eric, on the other hand, might not have hit his stride just yet.

In the morning Elias and Alisa do school while I work. Eric is encouraged to play quietly by himself, except for the breaks in Elias' school when Alisa gives Eric his brief lessons. Sometimes Alisa gets the boys ashore before lunch, but other days we're moving the boat or working on some boat job, and the boys play in the saloon. Eric's behavior is sending the message that this might add up to a little too much time hanging around a confined space and could we find him a preschool already please?

Alisa, meanwhile, had this reflection to offer as we went to bed the day before the anniversary: "Hmm. Seven years. It feels like eight."

The end of this trip is closer than the beginning. We are all, to some degree, starting to dream of Alaska.

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