As we come the end of October we are officially entering the South Pacific Cyclone Season. It is a time of year that is fraught with angst as people keep a close watch on the weather and do one of two things: 1. Sail to some place that is less storm ridden, like Australia and New Zealand. Or 2. Batten down the hatches, cross their fingers and stick it out some place like Fiji.
Everyone we know that has chosen the sail away route says that New Zealand it is an amazing (once you get there). But the prospect of sailing to a place that is notorious for its rough weather and cool temperatures has never appealed to us. As the old saying says, “Nothing goes to weather like a Boeing 747.” We’ll get there. Someday. Just not with Kate.
We, like 39 other boats, have elected to spend the season in Fiji (again), safely tucked into a cyclone pit. Or as they are also called, a Graveyard berth. There are still a few empty pits in the yard but boats are hauling out daily and very soon there won’t be a empty seat in the house. Since this has been a bit of a fill-the-coffers year for us we hulled in June, when most boats were out sailing, which meant we had pick of the pits. We chose one that away from the crowd, had a nice view and a bit of breeze. It was comfortable, quiet and private. That was until earlier this week when we got next door neighbours.
Of course it was expected, and in the coming weeks the empty pits astern of us will be filled too, and there will be a hive of activity as people frantically pull down sails, clear the decks and secure their homes for pending storms. But that doesn’t make it easier. Hearing someones conversation at 7am while you’re trying to enjoy a quiet coffee before the noise of the yard takes over the day, or listening to the drone of power tools before 6am when you’re lying in bed is not fun.
The boat they put beside us is large, very large, and this week was hot, very hot. The slight breeze that was blowing was directly out of the west, and that new very large boat is directly west of us. It completely blocked any whisper of air that was heading our way. All we could do was sweat in miserable silence.
And being so much larger than us also means their decks are practically level with our bimini, so they have views into our cockpit and down the into the cabin. Now to go aft of the settee we have to be fully dressed, making the crawl out of bed and make a pot of coffee half awake nearly impossible (to turn on the LPG I have to sneak outside). We spend considerable time in our cockpit, it’s virtually our living room. Not this week. Not even for a hopefully puff of air and a break from the heat.
But unlike most of the other 39 boats we are not packing up, locking the doors and heading back home to await the magical month that is declared end of the tropical storm threat. Kate is our home, and we’ll be living on board for most of the cyclone season.
One the best things about living on a sailboat is when another boat throws the hook in your bay a little too close, or plays music too loud or has shouting matches on deck (all of which have happened) we can get away from our new neighbours. We can just pull up anchor and move. Not so easy when, as our good friend John said on skype this morning, we are sailing the grassy sea.
This week has been trying; feeling like our lives are on display, witnessing the private moments of strangers and living on other peoples schedules. But I know like a rain squall this too will pass (tomorrow our neighbours head to the airport) and things will start to look sunnier soon. Then, like all good sailor’s yarns, we’ll just chalk it up as some unpleasant conditions that we weathered this season.