After we splashed, we spent a few days in Nieafu while Andrew and Leslie collected various provisions, finished putting together my odds and ends, and checked in-water related systems like the water maker, engine cooling refrigerator, etc. Andrew’s itchy feet put toe prints all over me, from bow to stern because he just could not sit still. “I think we should leave on Friday,” he declares. I make a face and look toward Leslie. Ships do not depart on Fridays.
Leading up to this week, Leslie has been chipper about our departure to Fiji. She seems almost as excited to go as Andrew, which is a little unusual because she tends to get anxious and a little crabby before a passage. With eight months since our last passage, I think she has forgotten to be anxious.
As predicted, Leslie nixes the idea to leave Friday. “No, we cannot leave on a Friday.”
“Ok, Saturday morning then.”
Leslie requests that Andrew show her the weather. He turns the computer around and it demonstrates that Saturday morning might have a decent enough breeze, but Saturday afternoon, Sunday and all day Monday have ZERO wind, especially once we get about 100 miles from Tonga.
“Why in the world would we want to motor for three days to get to Fiji?” Leslie asks. I nod. Yes, why would we do that? I mean, I’m glad to have a motor, but I’m a sailboat! I prefer to sail! But, Andrew just can’t wait so we strike a compromise. On Thursday, Andrew and Leslie went through the paperwork process to check out of Tonga, and schedule our departure out of Port Maurelle a few days later. We would have good wind all day Sunday, motor Monday, then be back in the wind by Tuesday.
When Andrew and Leslie return on Thursday night, Leslie’s attitude is starting to nosedive. I can tell she is sad to say goodbye to all the friends they made in Tonga. After checking out, they spent the day visiting Freddie and Toah one last time, seeing everyone at the yard, petting Binta, Tout’e and the new yard dog Bender. Thursday night, they planned goodbye-beers at the Aquarium (Restaurant) owned by Calvin, even though Calvin recently declared himself a BYU fan.
Let's go back. When we first arrived in Tonga, Andrew and Leslie headed to the Acquarium to quaff a beer or two. There, they met the owner, Calvin who was donning a University of Utah t-shirt - the school of choice! Cheerful to meet a fellow Ute so far away from home, Leslie threw her hands in the hair and cheered, "A UTE!" Calvin smiled and said "Yep! Played a semester of football there." Unfortunately, last week, Calvin showed up to his restaurant wearing a BYU hat! The biggest rival? How. Dare. He. Leslie gave him a very hard time, and returned to me in a huff. “HOW can you play football for the Utes, but then be a BYU fan?” I commiserate with Leslie and agree. I’m betting he was a saboteur. But, Andrew and Leslie enjoyed no less than 25 Polynesian Pizzas and 100 Papaos at his establishment before he revealed his true blue nature, and Calvin is generally a good guy. So, I guess a goodbye is still in order. New yard friends Emmy and Archie were joining them too, and we didn’t have enough beer in the fridge. So, off to the Aquarium they go.
By the next morning, Leslie’s fear driven rage was in full tilt. “You haven’t checked this, we haven’t fixed that, we need to do this, we need to do that.” She pulled out dribs and drabs of various expired sea sickness medicines from the recesses of my cupboards and waves them around in a bit of a panic. “WE DIDN’T REMEMBER TO BUY SEA SICKNESS MEDS IN NZ!”
We are out of practice.
As we pull away from the mooring ball, we let my sails loose and discover the genoa sail track is parting from the roller furling. “Great.” Leslie scowls from behind the helm.
“We will fix it!” Andrew declares from the foredeck. We head to Port Maurelle.
“Should we lay an anchor instead of use the mooring balls so we can test the windless?” Leslie asks, but Andrew declines. He tested the winch in the yard, and it ran, so it’s fine.
Leslie grumbles again. I know she doesn’t feel like we are ready. I’m pretty sure we are okay, but she’s starting to get to my head.
As soon as we settle in at the anchorage, Andrew goes up the mast to do a rig check and repair the genoa sail track. He repairs the bilge pump. Leslie hands him tools and finalizes a few posts for the blog.
I gather a gaggle of birds on my bow, chittering away about nothing and leaving large splats of poop on my rails. Andrew boos them away when he jumps in for an evening swim. He and Leslie head to shore to watch sunset from the beach, and I am left in peace to complete my pre-game meditation.
It’s time to get fired up! I close my eyes and imagine the successful passage from start to finish. In my mind, I dip my bow and duck my nose out from under the mooring line. I turn toward the gap in Tonga’s little islands that lead to the open ocean.
I feel what it will feel like to roll open my sails and catch the wind. I romp along in my imaginary waves, bow on, then side on, then from the stern to make sure I remember how it feels to cut through the water while being rocked and bounced.
Then, I picture the puffy trade wind clouds coming up from the East, sliding beside me, then carrying forward waving cheerfully goodbye.
I imagine Andrew at his watch post, and Leslie happily clambering around to get some good pictures with my “selfie-stick.”
I envision a deep orange sunset, dropping directly before my West facing bow. I imagine what it will be like to silently slide along in pitch black water, under a full globe of stars from horizon to horizon.
I charge through the break in the reef, right in the middle, with no problems or scary currents.
Then, I see our new destination in my mind’s eye. First, it starts out like a small grey lump on the early morning horizon. The sun rises in the East, and the morning light dresses up my new island in its lush emerald green dress. I complete the visual with a successful anchoring at our new landfall.
Once my visualization is complete, I start my chant. At first, I whisper then grow the chant until it is a cheer at full volume:
I am a valiant ship.
I am a valiant ship.
I AM a valiant ship.
I am a VALIANT ship.
I am a valiant SHIP!
I AM A VALIANT SHIP!
I AM A VALIANT SHIP!
WHOO-HOOO! I AM A VALIANT SHIP!