Last February, when we were cleaning out our house, we dug through our freezer and found not one, not two, but five Costco bags of frozen cranberries. We couldn't waste them, so what else could we do? We shoved five bags into various gaps of space inside the car and drove them all the way to San Diego. Against all odds, these well traveled cranberries made it all the way to Tonga. The Galapagos 15 person inspection crew let them be, French Polynesia had no care whatsoever, the Rarotongan organic produce guards were not as strict as we suspected, and the Tongan "quarantine inspector" welcomed them in. Now as I try to settle Sonrisa in for her rest in the boat yard, the await their fate. Obviously, they cannot stay over the Cyclone season.
With Sonrisa out of the water and propped up on jack stands, we immediately started ticking away at tasks. It was Friday, and we had exactly one week to get everything done. It felt good to get busy on the work we knew we had to accomplish. Andrew set off on all the technical maintenance projects like changing oil, fuel filters, clearing the engine of all salt water, repairing broken parts, measuring the engine room for a possible scuba compressor, etc. I took over the grunt labor of cleaning. Starting from the bow, moving toward the stern I removed everything from every cabinet and locker, wiped the locker and its contents down with vinegar, vinegar/tea tree oil solution, pine sol or Clorox depending on the material I was wiping. I reorganize giant piles of clothing, tools, spare parts, nicknacks, camera equipment and other detritus that gathers in the far recesses of Sonrisa's bowels into categories to put back, throw away or relocate. n the interim, a growing giant pile of crap floats from one location to another trying to find its permeant home. There are so many things I regret bringing - Did you really need a cast iron pan? No. Did we really need 4 pairs of jeans? No. No one wants to wear jeans in the tropics. A guitar in a giant case that neither Andrew nor I actually know how to play? No. Did we really need 5 bags of frozen cranberries? …
We have the fans running, but besides that, there is very little breeze in the yard. This is good, as we want a place protected from any Cyclone winds, but nonetheless, it makes for a very hot layup experience. Sweat trickles into my eyes and soaks my t-shirt when I climb into Sonrisa’s deep lockers to clean.
Any time we need to use the restroom or wash dishes, we have to climb down a very tall ladder, approximately twelve or fifteen feet off the ground to get where we need to go. If we need the water hose, to wash clothes or rags, or other land-based tasks, down the ladder we go. By the end of the evening, my legs are tired from climbing the ladder, my back weary from carrying, positioning and re-positioning sails, heavy ropes, and other gear.
Around 5 p.m., the yard quiets down and all the workers go home. Around 6:30 or 7:00 Fredie the night guard and his dog Toot’ie arrives. His trademark frizzy hairdo gave him away immediately. He greets us with a smile and we quickly make a new friend. He asks us all sorts of questions about our trip, Sonrisa, and home. After each answer he laughs and says “Io, Io” which means “Yes, yes” in Tongan. But the sound changes depending on the context. Just like there are many ways to say “Yeah” in English, his intonation changes. “Eeeiiiioh; or Eooooohhhh; or short and punctuated “Eioh, Eioh.” If you want to call Toot’ie, he will only recognize his name if you pause like a hiccup between “Toot” and “ee”. Tongan is a hard language for me to replicate in my mouth, but intonation matters. Freddie nestles into a little guard shack for the night, and we head back to Sonrisa to cook dinner.
We open a bottle of wine and sit in Sonrisa’s cockpit high and dry. The Disease-Dragons a.k.a. mosquitos love the smell of our sweat and begin to swarm in droves, singing their high pitched buzz in my ear. We douse ourselves in Off and light mosquito coils. We resort to sleeping under a mosquito net. The fans are on, but it is still so hot. The salon benches are covered with messes, so there is no where else to sleep. Andrew and I sleep on the far edges of the bed trying to stay as far away from each other as possible. “Don’t touch me!” I gripe. Even from across the way, I can feel the heat radiating off his skin and the clamminess of his sweat. Even though I am tired, my brain whirs along thinking of where best to store this or that or planning tomorrow's reasonably edible meal from he dregs of Sonrisa’s dwindling food stores. I fret: are we going to be able to get all this done? Are we going to have to throw away all these cranberries?
Two or three times per night, we have to change out of our pajamas, climb down the ladder, and hoof across the yard to the restrooms. I marvel at how strange my life has become - did I ever expect to need fall protection in order to go to the bathroom at night? No. I did not. Toot’ie sees me descend and joins me in my walk across the yard sniffing and watching to make sure I stay on task. “You’ll keep Sonrisa company, won’t you, Toot’ie?” He tilts his head up at me and wags his tail when I scratch him behind his ears.
It’s the week of the full super-moon, so the yard is eerily lit in silver moonlight. The grass is dewy, and my toes get wet as I walk back to Sonrisa. I appreciate the midnight cool and the boats lined up in a row. They are an odd sight out of the water. You can really see the design of their underbelly, and I can appreciate how different Sonrisa is. Her bow tips upward like a pert little nose. Her bow comes to a sharp point, but then swoops wide with such graceful lines. When you compare her to her neighbors, it’s easy to see why she cuts through the water so much more smoothly than many of her sailing counterparts. I complain about the noise and pounding of the sea, but it would be so much worse on a different boat. She is a graceful sailing machine who deserves to sail far and wide. I feel guilty for putting her away on land.
Sonrisa’s starboard neighbor, Pacific Quest moves in next door. Pacific Quest’s owner has put her up on land about ten times already, so he is practiced in what to do. He gets everything tidied up and ready to sit out the season in the span of only 19 hours. Then, he is off on his plane. Sonrisa looks at us still puttering away at our chores and laughs: “I love you, too, guys.” She says.
On Wednesday morning Andrew dumps the last batch of cranberries into the blender for smoothies and I breathe a sigh of relief. Maybe we will get everything done. If we can make it through five bags of frozen cranberries, we can do anything, right?