It’s a new day. There is sun and blue. The conditions are the same as yesterday, but the wind has a bit more guts to it. Enough guts to go skydiving if it wanted. Sometimes, after the squalls, the sea feels like sludge. It gets all lumpy and Juniper and I hobble down it, but I don’t shake any reefs because I’m being lazy. You know how I am by now. Don’t you?
I can still hear the other boats on the VHF which means we aren’t too far apart, but I know for certain that I’m the caboose. I’ll always get wherever I’m going last. It doesn’t matter. We all arrive when we arrive and perhaps it’s better to let somebody else pave the path or whack the bush or hit the reef.
I’m thinking a lot about the race. It’s going to be hard. I have a lot to learn. I need a lot of training. Juniper needs a lot of modifications. There will be moments when I’m so afraid that all I can do is bow down and pray. And of course I will be last, but as long as I make it all the way around then I will consider myself a winner.
Why do I like this stuff? Couldn’t I just want a boring safe life? Couldn’t I just settle down on one of these little islands and adopt a child and become a school teacher or something? I was a school teacher once. At a Montessori school. I enjoyed that. Life was enough. But now it’s not enough to be still and simple. It’s not enough unless I’m floating around the whole wide world seeking states of enlightenment.
Somebody traded tobacco for an island here in the Solomon’s. It’s not a big island but it’s all his and all it cost was some tobacco and now he really belongs somewhere. He owns sand and palm trees in the Solomon Sea. Can you believe it? Buy some tobacco, trade it for an island! Why can’t I want that?
I guess my boat is an island. A floating island. Traveling from country to county. But soon my island will begin to move fast in it’s new direction. In a few days I will leave my favorite buddy boats here in the Solomon’s so that I can get over to Indonesia. I got a little choked up today thinking about that. I’ve been with all of them since Fiji. On the water our friends are always coming and going, this anchorage, that country, then we find each other again under a different shaped moon. Somewhere. Unexpected.
I will see them all again, but who knows when?
You know how I know I’m supposed to do this race- I mean beyond the four dreams I’ve had of me doing it which feel like flying? There is an application fee. It’s heavy. Really heavy. I didn’t know how I was going to pay for it. Then I went to my bank account and by some touch of magic the exact amount I needed for the application had been added to my account. THE EXACT AMOUNT! Turns out a relative put some money in a bank account for me that I didn’t know about and the bank she put it in merged with my bank and there the money was in my account!THE EXACT AMOUNT! Magic. This life. That’s a flashing sign from God right there saying “You are on the right path my child!”
I’ve spent all this day just lounging around. Reading. Writing. Cooking. Getting tossed by waves when I walk. The day is almost done and I’m still 20 nautical miles from Santa Ana. I don’t want to arrive in the dark, but I’m gonna have to. Gosh darn it!
The moon is a sliver of a thing. I can see the shape of the island. It’s a black blob that I’m steering towards. There is a light flashing on the south east side of it and the smaller lights of fisherman bobbing all around. Complicite arrived to the anchorage just before sunset. Libre is about to enter the pass. I am still an hour away.
I am tired. I chug coffee. And more coffee. I am afraid. I am always afraid. All of these unknowns. I radio for a full report on the pass. Me, “Can I trust the charts?” Libre, “No, go just north of the soundings on the charts.” Me, “I’m scared.” Libre, “The pass is deep. Go slow.”
I’m at the pass. I’m following the soundings. I hear waves breaking all around. I’m watching my depth. I see 10 meters and I can also now clearly see the waves that I hear breaking. My heart is hop skipping it’s way out of my body. I get on the radio, “Libre this is Junie, I see 10 meters. What depths did you see in this pass?” Libre, “I never saw anything that shallow in the pass.” Me, “I feel sick. I want to throw up. I hate this!” Libre, “Just go slow.”
I am going slow! And now my stomach is all twisted up and I really do need to vomit. I chug more coffee. What do I do? What do I do? Where is my Planet Deep Blue? I do a ninety degree turn towards the soundings on the chart. I get as close to the north side of them as I can, make another 90 degree turn, and keep motoring slow.
I make it inside the bay. It’s called Port Mary. I think of my sister. I can’t tell which light is a house on shore and which light is a boat. I feel like I’m steering inside of a dark closet that has a few tiny holes in the wall that let the light in, but at least I’m beyond the reef. Isis radios, “Hey young lady, you’re safe now. You’re going to want to anchor in no less than 20 meters.” What? I don’t have that much chain!
I radio Libre, “Yo can I side tie to you?” Libre, “Yep, how do we do it?” Me, “I’m gonna set up fenders and lines, pull up to you like your a dock, and tie onto you. Can you put fenders out too?” I set up the lines, turn on my spreader lights, and motor towards Libre. It’s all jerking around. Twisting this way and that. And it’s all pitch black. I can’t tell what I’m looking at. Is that the stern or the bow?
I try once and fail. I don’t come close enough to Libre. I don’t want to do this in the dark. I have to do this in the dark. I make a circle and start again. Fish are jumping up out of the wet night beneath me. I steer slow. Straight for Libre. I am close now. I go to neutral. Then reverse. Then throttle up. Then throttle down. Then neutral again. Our boats are about to kiss. I run up to bow and start tossing lines. Bow to spring to stern.
Juniper is tied on. Somehow I made it. Nobody got hurt. Two boats. One anchor. A blood sizzling pass. I’m never ever ever ever ever ever ever arriving to a new anchorage again at night.