The last few weeks have been long and exhausting. This time of year in the South Pacific always is. As the heat of summer recedes and winter brings calmer weather and favorable winds there is a rush to get projects completed, to meet deadlines, to catch weather windows. But this year our transition from being a boat packed up and battened down for cyclone season to being a boat ready to sail into the wild blue yonder has been especially trying.
Trying for three weeks to organize the two boats behind us to move so we could launch Kate.
Trying to do semi impossible things like paint on a new coat of anti-foul while still in the hole.
Trying not to loose too much sleep or my cool while we wasted away on land when we could have been bobbing peacefully at anchor.
It was frustrating feeling like we were on someone elses schedule but, as they always do eventually, things worked out. Late last Wednesday afternoon, after moving the two other boats, the travel lift was able to wrap it’s slings around the hull and lift both the boat and our spirits. We moved Kate to higher ground for the night so we could touch up the anti-foul and sat resting on the keel and supported travel lift for a breezy evening aloft before splashing first thing in the morning.
There is no better feeling than having the boat floating again. Especially when it means that the thru-hulls that I replaced while Steve was away last year don’t leak (happy dance for girl-powered boat projects!). We got a tow across the marina as one of those thru-hulls was the engine cooling system and some replacement plumbing parts were being rather elusive; an American made boat in a metric world is always problematic. The yard staff at the marina did a professional job of guiding us into a slip and tying us up. No drama, no shouting, no damage. At 0900 on Thursday we sat in the cockpit enjoying a cup of tea and listening to the light slap of water on the hull.
We savoured every moment of our coffee break, but with our sights focused on the bigger picture-actually getting out of the marina-there was still lots of work to do. Steve scoured Lautoka and found all the plumbing bits he needed, finally. We spent a morning hoisting him up and down the mast checking the rigging and installing the last of the running rigging.
I toiled for hours under the vee berth and bent over storage compartments; sorting, tossing and giving things away. Making room for provisions, the sewing machine and our new mantra of less “stuff” more happiness. It felt like we were pushing, but not rushing uncontrollably, towards our goal of slipping the lines on Sunday.
Then finally, after a few loads of laundry, topping up the water tanks, off loading a considerable FREE STUFF pile and giving each other our ritual good luck kiss on the bow we untied the dock lines and quietly motored out of Vuda Marina almost unnoticed.
At the end of the channel we raised the sails in a steady 10kts of breeze. Kate heeled over slightly and skidded along Nadi Bay at 6.5kts on a beam reach. The sun was shining and the sky was blue and dotted with fluffy white clouds. It was exactly what I had been dreaming of for all those months on the hard.
We sailed 15NM over to the island of Malolo Lailai and picked up a mooring for a couple of days. The water here is clean enough to test the water maker and the north breeze from another late season storm, TC Solo that blew across New Caledonia last night, is keeping the wind generator busy.
Last night when we crawled into bed I remarked how dark it was, the ambient light from buildings and street lights and other boats no longer pouring in the hatches. This morning I sat quietly in the cockpit watching the sun creep over the island in the distance, alone except for my thoughts.
We still have things to do before we check out and start sailing west before the end of the month. Systems need to be tested, final provisions bought and stored, sailing plans charted out. However now we can work at our own pace, following the rhythm of the sea.