We hoist anchor at 10:30 a.m. Downwind on a flat lagoon. Bliss. The anchorage near the south pass is hot. Boats and people have exploded like firecrackers along it’s shore. They are waiting for Flower Moon.
I think about stopping, even furl the jib, but I have a hard time at anchorages with a lot of people. I prefer the intimacy of a drizzle of boats, plus with the high about to still the world, I decide to exit the pass. It is 11:30. The tide is still incoming, but mellow. I only have half a knot of current to fight.
The south pass weaves and I am belly dancing Juniper between coral, snorkelers, floating coconuts, and divers. Cici is on the bow pointing left and right and down. I hear, “Que Bonita,” coming from out of the water, and I yell back, “Mamacita.” It’s Titou, the 13 year old twin who taught me how to fillet a fish properly. It’s our inside joke from the disco dance party aboard his families boat. We scream it at each other across anchorages, across motus, flying past each other on dinghies. This might be the last time I ever see that family. Sailors have to be good at saying goodbye.
The colors are real pretty in the channel, like they are painted fresh; the green of land, the teal of low depths.
I get to the ocean and it’s waves are chaotic confusion. They extend for a long ways. Breakers running way out and ruffling all the edges of Fakarava. I hoist the main and unfurl the jib.
The lady of the wind is dancing light, 12 knots. We are on a beam reach. Bouncing between 4 and 5 knots. The sea fizzes all around. I love the sound.
I forgot to set up my windvane so we are hand steering. I have an autopilot but it’s loud and uses energy.
It’s hard to teach someone how to steer, especially when there is nothing still to steer towards. I show Cici the instruments. I tell her the relationship we should be to each of them. I tell her the waves are pushing us one way and the wind pulling us the other and our movements are subtle because the push and pull balance each other out for the most part. Plus a keel like Juniper’s can track for a long time. Sometimes I don’t move my hands for five minutes and when I do, the turning of the helm is magician slight. I also explain that once you make a turn, and you see that Juniper is turning, you must turn back the other direction and center the wheel.
It’s a lot to digest. I tell her to close her eyes and feel what the sweet spot feels like, bottle that feeling up, and steer with it trapped inside. Sails bash back and forth. With time and experimentation, she gets the feeling!
We are doing two hour watches to start. Tomorrow, with a long day, we will switch to four.
Night comes with a chill and the moon is a silver sun. Bedazzling the water. Casting indigo shadows. I follow her moonlight. When she sets the world is faceless and the wind is dead. Winding in circles like a clock that lost track of time. I can’t see Juniper’s sails but I can hear them searching for something to hold onto.
I also keep hear the beginning notes of Jefferson Airplane’s song, “White Rabbit.” It gets to “one pill makes your larger and one pill makes you small,” then starts over again. It’s driving me cuckoo pachoo-choo. I can’t figure out the songs origin and therefore can’t shut it up.
The sun is slow to rise. It casts a purple ring across the south. I am staring at it. Motoring to make wind. Praying for real wind. I have also enlisted the coconut that my friend Mato gave me. He is a Polynesian sailor from the Marquises. He put the goddess of the wind inside the coconut for me. He told me anytime the wind is light, all I have to do is hang it from the boom and wait for it to rise. It has risen from 2 to 6 knots since I put it there ten minutes ago. I can hear the coconut humming. Humming, for the wind.