LandHo! I love yelling LandHO! Yo-HO, Yo-HO, it's land! Land HOOOOOO!
The last week of this passage, everyone settled into the routine and started enjoying themselves. I trounced along at 5-7 knots most of the way. The jumbly waves tossed me around a bit, often hitting the side of my hull and splashing onto my deck, but I keep to it. After weeks of seeing nothing but blue on the GPS charts, Hiva Oa finally fit on the same screen. The puffy tradewind clouds, blue sky and blue sea made for friendly sailing.
Andrew tried fishing, caught a Mahi Mahi that was too small to keep, but just large enough to twirl himself (and the fishing line to which he was hooked) around our second fishing line still being trolled. Once Andrew set him free, Andrew then spent the next four hours painstakingly untangling the two lines. After that project was complete, Andrew was too grumpy to try to fish again, so he decided he wanted a new hairstyle instead. Very chic?
The next day, he mustered the gumption to try again and was rewarded with a small but sufficient Mahi Mahi. The first day, Leslie pan fried the tail fillets in coconut oil and butter, then poached the filet for a few minutes longer in a sauce made of chicken stock, the juice of a green Ecuadorian lemon/orange thing, capers, parsley, salt and pepper. Simple, but very tasty when poured over rice. Leslie then prepared a marinade for the second filets from the brine of her preserve Meyer lemons (bay leaf, garlic, cinnamon, cardamom, salt, and lemon juice). Andrew prepared caramelized potatoes and onions to accompany the grilled, marinated fish. Two excellent dinners enjoyed under lovely ocean sunsets, with excellent wine and an even better mood amongst the crew.
Andrew requested a rainstorm to wash all the salt from my rigging and decks, and one day from land the ocean saw fit to grant him his request. So, we all enjoyed a fresh water shower.
After the rainstorm passed, the wind died off and we were forced to motor the last 100 miles or so. As I cruised along the home stretch, I had the chance to think over this passage. In the middle of the passage, we are 1500 miles from any speck of land anywhere; we float 10,000 feet or more over the ocean floor. You cannot get more solitude than that. It can set you up for "great peace at the bottom of your soul", or a sweaty panic attack. Really, it depends on your outlook.
Andrew and Leslie chose the "great peace" option on this trip. Although the sea state was not particularly comfortable, Andrew and Leslie were good company. At least one of them stayed awake and sailed with me any time of day. They are always ready to pounce on the first sign of trouble. They change sails, adjust my steering vane, put up the pole, take the pole down, and fix any little part or piece that goes haywire. Neither of them ever got frustrated or down. I think they both internalized a key passage-making lesson.
You see, one key to enjoying a long passage is to release desire for anything different. What do I mean? Well, anyone who has taken a hot yoga class will probably understand. In your first few classes, it feels hot -- really hot -- and humid. On top of that, some skinny lady in bikini shorts wants you to exercise. The room smells like feet and sweat. Standing in front of you is a hairy guy in a speedo, with a steady trickle of sweat running from his bottom. It's gross. About 20 minutes into the class you feel light headed, nauseated, and you are questioning the wisdom of paying $20.00 for the privilege of being here. By 30 minutes into the class you are close to blacking out. You are trying to remain standing, but you have given up trying to do the exercises completely. The teacher lets you lay down, and you think: "Good, now I will recover." But laying down just causes the heat and humidity and nasty sweat in the air to settle on top of your face. You think: "This is so dumb. I want to leave." But no, the first rule of hot yoga is that you should not leave the room. Even if all you do the entire class is lay there, you are supposed to stay in the room. Waves of nausea pass over you, and the desire to leave is so strong it makes panic rise up in your throat and chest. If you are going to be able to stay, the only thing you can do is breathe through your nose, empty your mind, give up. Give up desire, stop trying, relax....
I know, I know, you are saying now: "But Sonrisa, how would you know what it is like to be in a hot yoga class? Boats don't do yoga!" And I say to you: What do you think it is to sail in the tropics? Hot yoga. Anyway....
Drive and desire are the enemy of any long haul effort. The desire to reach your goal, the desire to come to an end, the desire for conditions to be different in any way will cause tightness, striving, frustration and panic. It makes unpleasantness more unpleasant. It wipes out your ability to observe the voice of God and the beautiful moments in the middle of any journey, both which are soft and quiet and not easily noticed. There is a time to fire up ambition, and there are times to settle into a steady rhythm of effort.
On this trip, Andrew and Leslie both said: "we will get there when we get there." The waves were jumbly and unpleasant, but Andrew and Leslie could not change the waves. They let go of the desire for the passage to be any different than it was. In return, they enjoyed the stars, the phosphorescence, and the waxing moon more. The days quickly passed, and each evening, they greeted their watch schedule with surprise that it was already there. By the end of the passage, I heard Andrew say: "I'm almost sad the passage is over. It has been so nice." Leslie agreed, and it made me smile. I knew they would get there.
Of course, all good things come to an end. Andrew spotted land as first light broke on the horizon on May 27, 2016. He woke Leslie, and everyone enjoyed watching 17 miles of Hiva Oa pass to starboard. We pulled into the anchorage and set the hook around 8:30 a.m., local time.