I’m just out here staring at the sea and sky. Everything is the color of stone and this day feels just like a night without stars feels. The whole world is howling and biting and I’m wishing it would be different. Its not that it’s not beautiful, every mood of the sea is beautiful, it’s just my angle to it that’s foul…. a close reach, my next to least favorite. I’m moving at 6 knots and I’ve got 20-25 knots of wind coming at me from 60 degrees, plus a 10-15 foot southwest swell that’s pushing me north of rum. I’m heading slightly south of west so you can only imagine the damn discomfort of it all. And I swear on all that shimmers that there are like zero seconds between these waves. Bam, bam, bam, bam. Oh the jostling. If you don’t know what any of the above means, just imagine yourself swimming upstream in a river flush with rapids.
I’ve had plenty of waves in my mouth today, and it’s utterly surprising that I haven’t coughed up a fish yet. Pillows, books, seashells, and my body have been flying around the cabin all day. And then of course there are thumps and bumps and slaps and creaks and tings and moans and whistles rising out of Juniper, every single one of them making me flinch.
It has taken me half a day to get my sea legs and settle into this rock and roll. I spent an obscene portion of time just sitting in the cockpit with my whole body tweaking out like I was riding some rollercoaster ride that had no end. As if I’ve never seen these conditions before, but I swear that every single time I set sail, it feels like I’m doing it for the first time. At the start of the sail I was timid and super powered down, over-reefed and all, but it’s an uncomfortable suicide to go slow up against this swell, so that didn’t last long. Now I have two reefs in the main and the jib furled up about one third of the way.
I left Fiji around 11:30 AM. Timo on the flaming race boat came down to my slip with a machete in his hands. He wanted to slice my dock lines off. I told him he’d have to go talk to the blue eel first. There are four boats that left for Vanuatu when I did. We’re all headed to Tanna Island where there’s an active volcano and a blue cave and beach called Kiss Kiss. Timo’s gang – which includes a dog, three children, and six adults- is one of the boats out here. But lord knows where all of the boats are now. They’re probably already in the next dimension with the rest of the flamingos.
It’s almost 7 p.m. and it’s as dark as it was the moment just before everything on earth came into existence. Nothing out here is glowing, except for the crest of the waves and one big moving lit up thing on the horizon. I hope it’s not a cargo ship or something, I can’t see it clearly yet. Speaking of seeing, I can’t see a single thing at dusk on land or sea. It’s like I go blind for that portion of the day. Lights don’t help. Glasses don’t help. Maybe at that time of day I’m supposed to just stop doing what I’m doing and be.
I’m being a lounging lizard now. Laying on the settee cradled by my lee cloth. I’m getting tossed right, then left by the bump of the waves. I’m wearing purple pink sunset leggings, a long thermal grey shirt, and my personal flotation device on top. I have a headlamp on my head too. I’m just laying here waiting on this front to pass me by and for the trade winds to fill in from the east- like they’re supposed to, and for the swell to drop down- like it’s supposed to.
Before I left Fiji I ran around like I always do. I got fuel, food, water, did last minute repairs, cleared out of customs, and exchanged Fiji dollars for Vanuatu Vatu- that’s what the money is called, cute right?
Two nights before leaving I had a dream that I was sailing through the barrel of a wave and it was stellar except that these foil boarders were riding the top of the wave and I was worried they were going to slice my sails. The dream was right up there next to my flying dreams, but I‘d freak out if it happened in my waking life.
The day before leaving an Indian man drove me four hours just to blow a plant. That’s right! And when I blew it bubbles came out. Yes, real bubbles, like the kind you buy at the dollar store. I call it the bubble plant, but that’s not it’s name. Anyway it’s sap is soapy and I blew and blew and blew, plant after plant after plant, and I’ll tell you, only the young plants are any good, the older ones are too dried up. A twenty-four year old Fijian gal named Aggie was showing me the bubble plant way. It was me, her, and the Indian driver in the forest. Aggie kept saying that she and I were “hooligans” as we danced our way past the bubble plants and piles of horses to a waterfall. She introduced us to a bird that barks like a dog and made me a crown out of ferns and hibiscus flowers.
While I was in the forest the cops came to the marina looking for me. Good thing I wasn’t there. It’s a long story involving a quasi-legit rental car company and them wanting $2,500 for a rusted dent that has nothing to do with me.
Anyway, Fiji is one of the most exquisite places on earth, but hopefully the cops don’t chase me to Vanuatu and drag me back there! Leaving it was like the leaving always is. Bittersweet. I suppose I’m never ready to leave a place and the longer I sit in a place the harder it is to leave it and I’ve sat in a Fiji for a good long while. Farewell Fiji. I love every inch of you- your people, your surf, your coconuts, your laughter, your mangoes, your dragonflies, your islands, your dolphins, your clowns, the way the trade winds blow around your body, your chiefs, your grog, the way the southern cross hangs in your sky, and of course your deep blue love, but it’s time for me to keep chasing those sunsets west!