Departures and arrivals

Windyty

by Christine Kling

Say hello to the early arrival of the first tropical storm in the South Pacific this season. Just as the folks along the eastern Atlantic coast are sighing with relief that another hurricane season is coming to a close, here in Fiji, November 1 marks the start of the South Pacific cyclone season. Whenever we meet people off other boats now, the first question is always “Where are you going?” The most common answer is New Zealand, but some are headed down to Australia or up to the Marshall Islands. That first tropical storm is sliding down between Fiji and Vanuatu as you can see on the screenshot I took above on windyty.com. With this being an El Niño year, things are heating up around the equator. We’re hoping that the fact that the water temperature here in Fiji is colder than normal, will help us get through this upcoming season.

We, too, are facing our own departure time, but we are not leaving on board our boat—we’re flying back to the US and Canada. We decided some time ago that Learnativity would spend the cyclone season here in Fiji — mostly on the hard, and we will be gone for two of the six months of the season. What started with the decision to replace the keel cooler has turned into a major refit. We are having the boat painted, both the hull and the deck, remodeling the workshop in the engine room, and we are having all the interior woodwork refinished—including painting inside all the drawers and cupboards so we have to empty out everything into boxes. The labor costs here in Fiji are significantly less than in the US or Canada, so Wayne is working alongside a crew of guys to get all this work done. I’m helping with the packing and the inventory, but most days I spend off the boat working on book business.

As usual, things are not getting done as fast as we’d hoped. This is always the case no matter where you are on a boat, but here it is made a bit more challenging due to the concept of “Fiji time.” We love the culture of these island people who sing and dance and laugh, but that same culture means that they often don’t show up for work— and that’s not necessarily considered a bad thing here. This doesn’t mean they are lazy. The guys working on our boat work very hard. But their priorities are different. They understand that life is precious and we only get one chance to enjoy it. While North Americans work their frenzied lives away, Fijians focus on the moment. They see the beauty in life and family and stop to appreciate it. As much as we love the people and the culture, and we think we should learn from them, it can be frustrating when we are trying to get the work done. We had hoped to have at least one of the various projects finished before we left, but that’s not going to happen.

Vida Point Marina here is an official port of entry and when boats have been here for a long time and become friendly with lots of the staff, they get a singing send-off by a collection of marina, chandlery, and restaurant staff. The song is Isa Lei, the Fijian farewell song. I took a video of the departure they gave this Italian boat last week.

The main reason for our trip north is because of a new arrival. My son Tim and his wife Ashley are expecting their first born around Nov. 1st. Baby boy Liam will be our second grandchild, and we’re very excited about the opportunity to be there to welcome his arrival into the world.

Fair winds!

Christine

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About Christine Kling

I have spent more than thirty years living on and around boats and cruising the waters of the North and South Pacific, the Atlantic, and the Caribbean. I’ve written articles and stories for many boating publications including Sailing, Cruising World, Motor Boating & Sailing, and The Tiller and the Pen. When I was married, I helped my husband build a 55-foot custom sailing yacht. After launching her, we sailed through the Panama Canal to St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands where we chartered for over two years. While in the islands, I received my 100-ton Auxiliary Sail Captains license. It was that sailing experience that led me to set my first nautical suspense novel, SURFACE TENSION (2002), on the waterfront in Fort Lauderdale. Featuring Florida female tug and salvage captain, Seychelle Sullivan, the first book was followed by CROSS CURRENT (2004) and BITTER END (2005). The fourth book in the series, WRECKERS’ KEY was released in February 2007. At the end of the 2010-11 academic year, I took the motto of this blog to heart. I quit my day job as an English professor at Broward College in Fort Lauderdale (just when they offered me tenure, I said no thanks and took early retirement). I was living the dream of full-time cruising on board my 33-foot Caliber Talespinner on my very tiny pension and whatever I made from my books having parted ways with the big publishing establishment. I self-published two books on my own: a small collection of four short stories entitled SEA BITCH: Four Tales of Nautical Noir and my first stand-alone sailing thriller set in the Caribbean, CIRCLE OF BONES. In 2012 I was offered a publishing deal with Amazon's mystery/thriller imprint Thomas&Mercer and they reissued CIRCLE OF BONES. The sequel to that book, DRAGON'S TRIANGLE came out in June 2014. And as for me, I'm no longer a singlehander on my little boat. I met Wayne Hodgins in 2013 and after a whirlwind Skype courtship, I flew to meet him in Fiji and we sailed a nearly 2000 mile passage to the Marshall Islands for our "first date." We now sail together aboard LEARNATIVITY, a 52-foot motor sailor with our family including Barney, the Yorkshire Terror and Ruby, the Wonder Dog.
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