It really is.
Last year Steve was working overseas during the holidays and I spent Christmas Day alone. I didn’t think anything was missing from my celebrations, I went through the motions. I listened to endless hours of Christmas music while slaving over a hot oven. I had watched all the classic Christmas movies while drinking too much wine. I had put up the decorations and sat admiring the twinkling lights at night. But without friends and family around to enjoy the festivities with it just felt like any other day. It felt like Christmas had forgotten to come.
I wondered if without children of my own to keep the Christmas myth alive was I getting to old for Christmas. After 35 years had the magic finally disappeared?
As the final countdown to Christmas begins the days are noticeably longer in the Southern hemisphere. This is not exactly putting my cold Canadian heart in the festive mood. I really am dreaming of a white Christmas.
Thankfully we’ve recently gotten some much needed rain. I am talking middle of the night downpours with thunder and lightning that leave the yard a slippery muck hole in morning kinda rain. Add to that a couple days of sun and the grass is long and green and the all the flowers have perked up. It was beginning to look depressingly brown around here. Continue reading
So while I have been playing around in the galley Steve has been doing all the real work.
The shiny new diesel tank came back and after a minor modification (the addition of a couple tabs welded to to the top so it could actually be secured beneath the floor, who’d have thunk!) and it was successfully re-installed. Over the last couple years it seems like we’ve repaired or replaced almost every major system on board. Hopefully this is one of the last big hurdles so in commemoration we decided to sign and date the tank, literally putting our personal stamp on things. And with the newly varnished floor boards put back down, and the game of ‘don’t fall in the hole’ over, things inside are almost back to normal.
Delivered, Sealed and Signed
A man died at the marina on Friday.
I don’t know all the details, I didn’t ask, but I heard his heart stopped. They say he was sitting on shore near his boat at the time. A woman rushed over when he collapsed. She is a retired nurse and worked on him until the portable defibrillators were brought from the office. The ambulance arrived. No one could revive him.
I did not know the man.
His story got me thinking.
10. All the staff at the marina know you by name, that it isn’t your actual name no longer bothers you.
9. You know where all the local eateries and bars are in town that have the best air conditioning, making mid rainy season shopping trips a slightly less sweaty experience.
8. On said shopping trips to the market the vendors, some of which you know know by name, no longer try and charge you tourist prices, in fact they often put a few more veggies on your heap without charge.
7. You no longer have to order a drink at the bar; it is served automatically, just to your liking, and is often refreshed without having to ask. Continue reading
I love to get dressed up and I like to eat sweets, I mean really who doesn’t? Over the last two weeks we’ve had ample opportunity to do both as we’ve taken part in a multicultural trifecta of events here in Fiji.
First there was Diwali, a Hindu holiday that is in October/November each year. Known as the Festival of Lights it is a celebration of the triumphs of good over evil, knowledge over ignorance and hope over despair, well that’s what Wikipedia likes to think. Having been around for a couple Diwali’s now and having asked several people what it is all about the standard answer is “visiting your neighbours, eating sweets and lighting fireworks.” Of course to do all this requires a fancy dress, preferably new and covered with sparkles as every holiday dress should be. Never one to turn down an outfit with sparkles on it, and Steve rather keen on the fireworks side of things, it is a holiday that we both enjoy taking part in. Of course we stopped at our favourite Indian restaurant in Lautoka town and picked up a bag of barfi, a decadent Indian sweet sort of like fudge but spiced with cardamon, coconut, pineapple and a myriad of other exotic flavours. Happily this year Diwali also fell on a Thursday, or as it is known around the marina Thirsty Thursday, so we enjoyed cheap happy hour drinks before finding our way home in the dark and setting our fireworks booty alight. Everything went off with the appropriate bangs, and only a few of the cheaply made Chinese fireworks decided to shoot exploding flaming balls off in all directions instead of just skyward.
Fireworks in the Rigging
Diwali Window, Sparkles for Everyone!
Designs in Coloured Rice
Note to self; If quality control doesn’t catch spelling errors perhaps you should rethink your fireworks purchase.
We’ll be sitting under the plam trees in case you’re looking for us
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.
They say there is no rest for the wicked. So we must be getting penalized for having a bit of a cruisey first week home because nothing has gone to plan since we started back to work.
I had noticed a couple months back that the cupboard under the galley sink was looking rather lopsided inside. Steve brought it up again when he was considering the re-plumbing job he’ll be doing on the water maker system nearby. We agreed it was pretty rotten and that it could replaced and made larger, giving us some much needed storage space in the galley. So this week we ripped it out, and in the process broke the bottom fitting on the fresh water hand pump for the galley sink.
Thankfully we had kept the old hand pump and I was able to cannibalize it and fix our mistake. But the thing with the hand pump is that it constantly drips and leaks, leaving the newly refinished ebony counter top wet. Besides the fact that you need one hand to operate it, which makes doing dishes a bit of a pain. Now that we had the cupboard ripped out we saw potential room to install a much lusted after foot pump. The chandlery at the marina happen to have one in stock, and was willing give us a nice discount. After double checking space and clearances we decided to buy it.
When we got it home we realized all the hose needed to install it was a completely different size than what was already in place. But of course. So, after a day sourcing hose and bits in Lautoka and another morning cutting holes and blindly pulling hose through the bilge Steve had the new foot pump installed. I happily dirtied dishes just so I could wash them in a constant stream of water with two hands. What can I say, sometimes it is the little things that make the big difference.
Look Mom, no hands!!
We just returned from a trip to Australia-hence the silence on the blog front this past month.
At the end of August Steve was finishing up his work contract overseas and I was finishing up the time on my Fijian visa- it seemed like a perfect excuse to meet in the middle and reconnect. It had been three months since we’d seen each other so we treated ourselves to a nice hotel for our rendezvous in Melbourne. After a couple busy days in the big smoke we repacked our bags (bulging slightly after ticking a few things off our “We can buy that in Australia” list) and boarded a train north to visit family.
We had a great time catching up, then we rescued the motorbike from storage and got some serious kilometers under the tires on a three week road trip. It was another great adventure, one we both agreed could have gone on as long as we had a decent road to ride on; break downs, flat tires and all. But vacations can’t last forever, so here we are back on board adjusting to the humidity that is the pending rainy season in tropical Fiji.
I didn’t realize until we returned how much I missed the boat, how glad I would be to finally be home after weeks of being away, and how big of a void Steve’s absence had been for all those months.
Traveling has always been an exciting experience for me; I enjoy the constant movement, the changing landscape, the chance encounters and new cultures that I meet on the road. But there is nothing better than coming home, unpacking my suitcase for the last time and relaxing in the space that we created for ourselves.
Perhaps I have been spoiled by sailing these past years; after all I get to travel the world from the comfort of my own boat, no luggage to drag around or strange beds to sleep in. Or perhaps I am just getting older and prefer the comforts of home; however strange and small they might seem to others.
They say “it’s not a house, it’s a home” and that “a man’s home is his castle.” Well, I don’t own a house but I certainly feel like our boat is my home. And it surely must be a castle, because you should see the size of the moat!
His and Her’s and Home
Like ships of centuries past we carry a comprehensive medical kit on board. In it there is everything from good old saline solution and band-aids to an arsenal of antibiotics. There are over the counter remedies for cough and cold, constipation and diarrhea, swimmer’s ear and pink eye. We have suture kits, emergency dental repair compound and a varied selection of prescription pain killers. But most of this is “just in case” stuff. Just in case we find ourselves in an emergency situation 1000NM from any medical facilities, or point of land for that matter.
What probably gets the most use is a pot of Tiger Balm, a vial of Arnica Montana tablets and a little red tube of Lucas’ Pawpaw Ointment, a salve made out of papaya fruit that cures everything from chapped lips, burns, scratches and minor topical infections. As you can tell we have a healthy respect for natural medicine.
But despite my usual judgement last week I kept surprising myself by refusing to try using some local bush medicine. I don’t know why I was so reticent when several of the Fijian staff at the marina kept suggesting it to me. Every time someone insisted I found myself making excuses, thanking them politely and then hobbling away. Time, I figured, I just needed some more time. Continue reading