May 30, 2011

Toward the Tuamotus--in convoy

The four of us (WGD, Piko & Britannia)left Ua Pou yesterday. And this morning, as the sun comes up, I can see two masthead lights around me. I'm thinking Brittania, with their leaking rudder stock, is taking it slower than us and is the missing light. Because even though Piko, at 35', is the smallest, the Laurens are racers and they sail the hardest. We are sailing at 7-8 knots, reefed down. We could go faster--but until the wind shifts it's upwind to Makemo. We don't like going full-out upwind. In a couple of hours we'll have our morning net on the SSB--which is funny, because our VFH's would be adequate. But Bluemoon is starting their trip today and they'll also be checking in.

It may seem odd that the boats out here work so hard to stay together. If you've read the old voyaging adventures you'll know it should be one man (or one family) and the sea; having solitary adventures; befriending the locals; experiencing the world... But when we started doing this, I realized that so much of my time is spent on the very edge of my comfort zone that I need friends and a community like never before.

It's easy for me to romanticize this life and wax poetic about its charms. Except for maybe those moments like last night when I was woken from a sound sleep by a wave coming down a hatch I thought was dogged shut. When those moments happen and I'm seasick and stripping the bed in my precious off-watch moments the poetry sort of stops. But when I tell people at home that there are times when this is hard, really hard; and that sometimes I wake to howling wind full of fear and wishing I was in a solid home, or tied to a dock; or that the other night just when we were congratulating ourselves on attending a non-touristy celebration and are loving the atmosphere the banquet arrived, complete with all sorts of little sea creatures I never knew were food and that could have really benefit from a visit to the stove...

I'm not complaining. I wouldn't change this. But this is why we travel together. It gives us someone to share and savour the best moments with but also someone to lean on when one too many things goes wrong. But this morning all is well. The sun has come up into a clear blue sky. Our friends are sailing nearby in moderate tradewinds. In a few days we'll arrive in the atolls and the next part of this adventure will be underway.

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