I love being on lockdown in Hawaii. It’s an excuse to repair Juniper all day and ignore everything else. I also suppose that lockdown doesn’t feel so severe because my home moves.
I moved Juniper today. Sailed her straight over to a shipyard. It’s like a boat hospital. Here, new boats are born and old boats are mended. They lifted Juniper out of the water on these big slings and propped her up on stilts.
When a boat is on land you say it’s “on the hard.”
So yea, I’m on the hard! I woke up this morning a fish and now I’m a bird. Sitting 15 feet above the earth. If the clouds aren’t careful I’m gonna tickle them.
I climb a ladder up and I climb a ladder down, all day long. And I can’t use my water or my head. So late at night my bathroom is a bucket, cause I’m not taking that long ladder at night. No siree, Bob!
The creepy thing is that I’m the only person here at night. It’s just me and some lights that are as bright as a football stadium, oh and a few drugheads who shout nonsense on the other side of the boatyard fence.
Right before sunset, two drugheads got into a fight over there. There was a lot of yelling and then one of them took a metal rod and broke a window out of some strangers fancy white truck. It was amazing how rapidly everything escalated.
And me, like everybody else, I couldn’t stop staring at the fight. Why do I do this? It’s like I can’t help but look at something awful. The drama of it all is so alluring.
I do the same with the scent of something stinky. Today I sniffed Juniper’s derriere and it smelled like a trillion dead things that have been baking in the sun for far too long. It was so gross that it made me take a step back. Then what did I do? I went right back up to it and inhaled one more big sip of air just to smell how bad it really smells, all over again. I do that. Why?! I guess it’s the animal in me.
I don’t know if I’m making sense anymore.
In the yard, off of starboard, there is this big tuna boat being built. It’s called Sea Spray. The guys working on it are so cool! They were born in Vietnam and raised in Alabama! When they told me that, I said, “Well hell y’all I’m from Arkansas! ”
The Asian Alabamans blast Thai, Vietnamese, and country jams all day. They dance and sing while welding, drinking beer, and cooking fresh oysters on an electric grill. They cracked a warm oyster, put hot sauce on it, and offered it to me. I ate a little and secretly tossed the rest. I can only eat small bites of meat from the sea.
After hanging out with them for a bit, one of the guys pulled out a microphone and dedicated a karaoke song to me. It was a Vietnamese love track. He was getting really into it. His movements and way of singing as mushy as the song itself. His friends couldn’t stop laughing.
This shipyard is so groovy.
Its breezy here and Juniper is shaking in ways I’ve never felt before. It’s like a perpetual earthquake up on these stilts. Boats don’t like land. They hate it so much that sometimes they try to sail right off the stilts. The yard owner says that the wind will catch a jib, unfurl it, and there goes the boat. I hope I don’t sail onto land!
The sail over to land was not exactly a pleasure cruise, but we did see a pod of dolphins right out of the gate. Spinner dolphins. Magical.
Last night we had a tsunami warning and today it was blowing 20 knots with puffs close to 30. I hate puffs that fluctuate drastically. They keep me on my toes. That’s the downside to sailing near land like the Hawaiian islands. Land here plays peek-a-boo with the wind. You’ll be in a wind shadow one minute and the next land is spitting truck loads of wind all over your face. No warning. Nothing. Just boom. You go from 10 knots to 25 knots in nothing flat. Your boats heeling low to the water, your hairs blowin’ right off your head, and your helm is all squirrelly. I don’t care much for that type of sailing, give me a steady breeze that doesn’t stray too far.
I could say that about everything.
My neighbor, Tom, and this French guy, Michel, came with me for the sail over. Both of them are the saltiest of salts. Tom was a boat builder and a cruiser back in the 70s. He sailed a 27 ft. Cheoy Lee all over the world. And he was a real cruiser, the kind of cruiser who sailed to Fiji with only .11 cents to his name! He would just fish for all of his food until he sold a piece of writing. And he wrote everything on a typewriter inside his little boat. A typewriter!
Michel has a gold earring in his ear and a dolphin tattooed on one ankle and peace sign tattooed on the other. He and his wife rounded Cape Horn a few years back. It was glass the day they were supposed to round, so Michel waited until the wind and the seas started twirling. He said in a thick and sexy accent “I didn’t go all that way to Cape Horn to motor around it!” I feel like French sailors are always the most daring. I met another French sailor who waited for the perfect storm and sailed a trimaran from NY to France in only three days. What a nut!
Is it odd that I get excited when I read stuff like this: “The waters around Cape Horn are particularly hazardous, owing to strong winds, large waves, strong currents and icebergs.”
I’m salivating. Maybe a part of me is French.
Tom says we must have all been pirates in our past lives. If I was a pirate my name would be Lady Squidlips or Mama Moonscar or Jolly Jellyfish Face or something cool like that in reference to the scar that cancer has now left on the skin between my lips and my nose. I’m still stitched up from my surgery a week ago, but I can see the roots of permanence taking shape.
Anywho, I was rusty as hell on the sail over. Like a fish out of water. Like a corroded piece of metal, pitted by salt, and longing to be stainless steal. Like a lover of a land. EEK!
I had forgotten that my freaking staysail sheets run on the outside of the foreword shrouds. I also put in both reefs but forgot to put the tack crinkle onto the gooseneck hook. It’s like I had never sailed before?! What happened to my sea legs? I used to know Juniper like the back of my hand, was able to run her in the black of night. Tom and Michel said this was normal. Said it always takes them a few days to get back in the groove after being on land for too long.
I don’t want to loose this groove ever again.
Tom and Michel were with me to help me look for the leak that has been plaguing the interior cabin when I’m close-hauled on a port tack. We didn’t go far enough off shore for me to mimic the conditions I see this in. I see it after hours of Juniper’s nose diving beneath waves and spray rushing down her decks. We did notice that the packing on my rudder shaft is leaking a lot. Enough to accumulate and form a small lake. So we are gonna change the packing and check all the thru-hulls and seacocks. That’s a good pirate name. The Flying Seacock! Maybe I’d call myself that if I wanted to throw people off the scent of a woman.