It’s the day of my arrival back to Fiji. The sky is raining and sunshining and raining. And everything moves all lickety split. Juniper’s belly gets paint painted on by fifteen people when the sun does shine. We put a flame to the prop to loosen it, remove it, grind all of it’s gunk off with a grinder, and juice it up with Propspeed- a yellow paint that costs as much as an exotic animal and makes the barnacles slip slide right off before they can even think about sucking on. We get the new heat exchanger installed. We slap a new holographic heart on Juniper’s stern and it’s bigger than before and more beautiful and blinding and prismatic than ever.
We splash. Juniper shines like a fresh penny. Reflecting the water, reflecting my face, reflecting fish, projecting all her little rainbows. She’s cuter than a puppy litter and more mystical than a flower.
It takes several days between work to get all of the sails back on. A sail a day is all I can muster and I put them on while still wearing my pajamas, which are green with mushrooms on them and they say “Life’s A Trip.” Yes, that’s how I sleep.
I have a new flag. It’s really a windsock, but let’s call it a flag. It’s a crush of colors in the shape of a fish, because I adore fish, and I’ve decided that I come from whatever planet fish come from. Don’t you think they exist somewhere else in the universe? Somewhere more ancient than earth? I hoist the fish. It flies. My fish flag flies and I’m gonna be floating around Fiji letting my fish flag fly high and free.
I have a new solar lantern, too. It has flowers cut into it and it makes the night look like a garden. I hang it in the cabin. Night blooms. This is home. I am home. This place. Home.
I’m sailing my home now. The water’s chopping, but there isn’t much wind, so the engines on too. I go down below to grab some chips. I look over at breaker panel, I see 16 volts pumping into the system. I throttle back. I cut the engine. I don’t know how long the voltage has been so high, but it about done fried my batteries. I play around, the alternator regulator is generating a fault and I don’t know why.
This happened to me once before. On a delivery. The boat was called Dreamcatcher. We were taking it from Panama to Georgia. Hard on the wind the whole way. Everyone was vomiting, including the captain, except for me. Inside stank of bile. I wasn’t ever hungry and I wanted off. One morning a warship about nailed us speeding out of Guantanamo, it was invisible on the radar. At some point the regulator stopped working, and in between throwing up, this commercial pilot- who threw plastic in the ocean and cussed a lot and pissed me right off, made this thing that we called a bulbulator. It sent all the excess power of the alternator to a light bulb. I wish I had paid more attention when he was making it.
I hobble into the mooring field at musket cove moving at 2 knots. The sun set is aflame, I split into sea and fall among the sand. My lantern invites a moth in, it eats my best dress while I sleep.
The shine starts early, 5:20 AM. It’s nice to be back among the sun and the salt. The water is blue heaven. Turtles are all the way down. Fish are spawning like fleas on the reefs. I’m swimming inside a bait ball of a bajillion frantic fish. A friend says they look like a blizzard, and it’s true, they do. The ride down waves is long on my Rasta longboard. The sun is a toaster and I’m a strawberry, but I don’t care.
Sunday comes and I go to church with a fisherman’s wife. She has a hymnal, I sing Fijian gospel songs. Jisu. Jisu. Jisu. All the people stare, their eyes wondering, “how can a white girl sing our songs?” I keep singing, it’s all in the hymnal and it looks like it sounds. They gift me coconut bread and taro leaf pancakes.
Meanwhile, on the water, the waves are a crime scene. A fishing boat with two fisherman went right into one of the breaks off Namotu. It knocked the boat down and tossed the two fishermen overboard. One never resurfaced. The locals say he’s a good swimmer, good captain, good liar. They say he knows this water well. They say they think it was a magical disappearing act in an effort to milk life insurance money for his family.
After church Diarm helps me take the alternator cable off my battery and I sail back to Denarau to fix the regulator. I’ve got 8 knots apparent slightly above the beam and I’m moving at 3.8 knots with the jib and main. That’s enough. Oh wait, there is lightening above the island mountains off starboard bow. Oh wait, there is a black cloud coming at me. Oh wait, now I’m getting headed 20 knots in my face. Blue turns to white. My sails are bashing back and forth like a lion fighting it’s way out of a canvas cage. I drop it all. A boat named Turquoise blows past me, it’s wake is wild.
It’s nice to be back among the rain and the sun and the salt.