With the mainsail busted and the air sucked dry of wind, the rest of our journey across the Bligh is a limp on an iron leg. We putter up to the uninhabited island of Yadua long after sunset. We don’t have any tracks for the pass, or cell service, and my calls on the VHF to the French crew are fruitless.
I need a parrot. If I had a parrot it could fly ahead and report information back to me. It would be named Turtle and it would say things like, “Look out. Look out. Look out. Wait for sun. Sun. Sun. Sun.” Followed by, “Turtle wants a cracker. Cracker. Cracker.”
Diarm and I discuss whether we should enter the pass at night. He says, “I wouldn’t enter a pass at night for the first time on my boat, but if you want to risk it on your boat we can.”
It’s not the answer I was hoping for, but maybe he’s right. Maybe my goose is cooked if I attempt it, but I’m tired, and I need to sleep, so I go for it even though the night is moonless. I pretend that I’m entering a porthole and that when I get to the other side I’ll be bestowed with a gift. My gift will be blue and beautiful and ancient, and it will sing too.
I charge forward towards the porthole. I’m a touch reckless… so what. You want to know something else horrifically charming about me? I’m the type of person that if you tell me anything along the lines of I can’t do something or shouldn’t do something, I will do that something to either prove to you that I can do it or live up to your expectations that I can’t.
My life is one big science experiment.
Anyway, I’m at the mouth of the pass and I can’t see boo turkey, it’s like I’m steering into a black hole. It’s a total acid trip and the water is an agitated mob of rattlesnakes that are trying to bite me.
I can’t keep the boat straight to save my life. North. East. South. West. North. It’s all so dizzying. I come to the conclusion that the chart plotter is to blame for everything, it’s destroying my vision and driving me crooked, so I cover it up and steer towards a faint star and the dark shadow of a mountain top, while Diarm follows along on his chart and says, “A little to starboard. A little to port. Turn 90 degrees. Now straighten out.”
We’re going through the most narrow part of the pass and I look down at the water. The bay is aglow with fistfuls of phosphorescence. Imagine a black field full of green neon wildflowers, sparkling like all that lives in the sky. I say, “Look at all the stars in the water!”
Diarm says, “Liv, focus on the pass please.” Then a minute later he laughs and says, “You’re such a fairy!” It’s the second nicest thing anybody’s ever said to me, I’m a fairy.
I was a fairy once on a TV show called “Treebop.” I wore a blue afro wig and my name was Lulu Laboomboom and my best friends was a unicorn. Kids loved it. I was more popular than Barney at the local birthday parties. I still have that blue wig if anybody needs any entertaining. Have work, will travel.
Anyways, back to my fairytale. We made it through the porthole. Safe and sound. The hook is down and I’m rag dogged, but wired from the excitement of the day. I fall asleep thinking about how one can never know the shape of the sea, because it’s shape changes constantly. Everything is always changing shape. Even humans. Watch what happens if you try to stay the same. The world makes it impossible to live without changing.
I just woke up and I’m the same as I ever was. The sun is rising pink and we’re the only souls in this wild and people-less place. This is it, my blue gift from the porthole! Imagine beaches without footprints, and peach-colored seashells and crabs and coral and flowers and coconuts. Imagine the sun mixing the water into prisms. Imagine all your visions of heaven. Imagine the fullness you feel when your head is empty of thoughts.
We spend the morning exploring and the island rocks me somewhere deep within the magnitude of my mind. In some place that stays up late and always blows bubbles and drizzles with a perpetual magnetic force.
I want to stay here for forever, but we have to ride the favorable wind to Savusavu before it turns mean. By 10 AM we’re gone and following obscure instructions on the chart like “Monkey Face in line with Naivakarube Point,” whatever on earth that means!
We pop the mainsail off underway and I call the one and only sailmaker in Fiji. He tells me he can have my sail back to me in a month. Then Diarm takes the phone with his long arms and says, “Hi, this is Diarm can you get us the sail any sooner?” And the sailmaker says, “Oh hi Diarm, yeah I’ll fix it for you tomorrow.” Damn! I wish I had long arms and an Irish accent.
By the time our trip was said and done, we survived a 55 knot squall with only a scratch to show for it, and we navigated all three passes of the journey in the dead of night. We became so comfortable navigating by night, that as we entered Savusavu’s pass we were watching cartoons more than we were watching the charts.
I’m back on that hibiscus highway now and my sea is changing!