by Christine Kling
Bula bula! from Vuda Point Marina in Fiji. For my blog post last week, I wrote the headline, “What’s next?” I had finished my novel and in that post I explained how I was feeling somewhat at a loss as to what to do with my time and myself. I had no clue then that what was next for me was 3 flights and 19 hours of travel to get from my boat in Merritt Island, here to the island of Viti Levu where I am joining a boat for the roughly 2000 mile passage north from Fiji to the Marshall Islands. But when this opportunity presented itself, my refrain changed from “What’s next?” to “Why not?”
Yes, I know, the friends and family who learned about this trip in the last few days were all shaking their heads and wondering at the wisdom of flying three quarters of the way around the world to go sailing on a boat with a fellow I’ve never met. I get that, but hey, life is a risk. I don’t want to be sitting around someday saying to myself, “If only I’d taken that chance.” I love sailing and I’ve had a hankering lately to get back to making some long passages. Part of the Write on the Water philosophy is that if you don’t go out there and grab life by the throat you won’t have nearly as many good stories to tell.
So, here I am. The boat is the sailing vessel Learnativity, a 52-foot steel cutter-rigged motor sailor built in Victoria, British Columbia and launched in 1994. The captain Wayne has been sailing singlehanded with his sweet little dog Ruby since his departure from the San Francisco Bay area in 2008. And he has been a reader of this blog, so that says he must be of good character, right? In fact, he’s been quite the gentleman, and as two experienced sailors, we settled right into the jobs of getting the boat ready to go with a short trip to the fuel dock and a tour of the boatyard. They are prepping for hurricane season here and the sailboats in the yard are put into these holes dug into the ground to accommodate their keels. There are no stands, they just rest on the tires on the ground, so there’s no way they could blow over. I think it makes the yard look like it’s full of dwarf boats.
Yesterday, we traveled all around various shops, markets and grocery stores getting the mounds of provisions for what will be a good three week sail when a few stops are factored in. Given that the last time I was in Fiji was in 1976, it has been quite an amazing experience to see how this country that once had village-life as the predominant culture has entered into the 21st century. There are now more cars than carts on the roads and electronics from cell phones to computers seem to be as common as they were in Thailand and the Philippines. The one thing that hasn’t changed though is the smiles on the faces of the Fijian people.
Wayne has a satellite phone, so I should be able to send in my weekly blog posts (no pictures, though). Like this post, however, they may come in at any point over the weekend. So I will do my best to keep you all updated on this grand adventure that will hopefully feed my need for long passages and new adventure stories.
One last word. Several years ago I was invited to a library luncheon in St. Pete at the fancy Don CeSar Hotel. It was a literary tea with the requisite finger sandwiches and I sat at a table with a crowd of lady library patrons. The head of the woman on my left only came halfway up to my shoulder and her face was thick with pink powder. She smiled and introduced herself then leaned in close to me and in a scolding whisper she said, “I’ve read your books and that Seychelle character of yours — she’s reckless.” I thought about that comment for many weeks after that and finally, I went to the dictionary and thesaurus and tried to understand the word. Here are some words that are supposedly synonyms:
adventurous, audacious, bold, daring, venturesome; hasty, headlong, hotheaded, impetuous, precipitate, rash, wild; blithe, carefree, happy-go-lucky, madcap, slaphappy.
So you know what? I decided I didn’t mind Seychelle being called that and it turns out she’s not all that different from her creator.
ChristineShare on Facebook