I’ve been sailing for 35 years now, almost 36. I have sailed at least 75,000 nautical miles between my time spent in the Caribbean, my three trips through (and around) the Pacific, and my several trips to Mexico. I love all my miles: upwind, downwind, crosswise to waves - they are all fine by me. But, I’m not immune to the pure joy one can experience during a perfect sailing day.
It’s more rare than you might think. Finding the perfect sailing day is like Goldilocks looking for Baby-Bear’s porridge. Maybe it’s too hot, too little wind. Sometimes it’s too cold, with too much wind. Someone is seasick, there’s too much rain, the waves are too big, too many reefs to dodge, too many clouds, not a full moon, or it is a full moon and you can’t see any stars. Wha-wha-wah. So, when a perfect sailing day happens, we must toss a slosh of rum to Neptune and say: “That was mighty good.”
We had one such day on our way to the Ysawas. With all the grumpy weather and upwind sailing we have had in Fiji, this day did not come a moment too soon.
The day looked promising. We had a calm night’s sleep in the bay of Nanaua - i - cake. As the sun rose over the palm trees, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. It seemed for a moment like we would have a windless day, but as Andrew and Leslie enjoyed freshly brewed coffee, potatoes, onions and eggs, a light breeze started tickling my bow. By the time we were ready to go, it was a pleasant pressure of 10 - 12 knots of wind.
We pulled up the anchor, headed South and immediately pulled out my large genoa sail. It filled, and I scooted over nothing but ripples in the water. We were sailing inside the reef, and the absence of the ocean swell was disorienting. Where we would be usually tipping and rolling, bouncing or rocking, today, there was nothing. It felt like we were floating on air, sliding over perfect glass. Even Tasman the rolly-polly adventure Kiwi found a place to sail without tipping over.
The only sound we could hear were the five knot gurgles that bubble up behind my stern. Grin tugs along behind us, sliding right, then left in my slipstream. The wind was not howling or whistling, the motor was not chugging.
Leslie went forward on my bow, stretching and lounging in the sun like a lizard. She checks for reefs whenever pass a tight spot. Andrew remained sheltered beneath the Bimini enjoying the cool shade. We watched as the golden grassy hills of Fiji glide next to us. Every now and then, we must follow the curve of the land outward or inward, and this requires a gybe. But, even that is not too much trouble. Leslie helps the sail around on the bow, Andrew sheets it in (tightens it) from the cockpit and we maintain our speed.
This lasts for our entire seven hour sail. We went farther than planned because it was so pleasant and perfect. Everyone is a little sad to stop when we drop our anchor, but it is getting dark soon. We watch a big orange ball of sun drop in the west, leaving streaks of blue in the sky. Then, one by one the stars arrive. Eventually, a fistful of sparkles are thrown into the air, and they hang in the night sky like dewdrops on spiderwebs.
After dinner, Andrew and Leslie take the beanbags, a blanket and a few pillows to my bow and make a flat nest. They lay on their backs for hours and watch the milky way rise until it stretches directly above me, a mist of stars from one horizon to the other. Our soft breeze continues, keeping everyone pleasantly cool. When everyone is too tired to stay awake any longer, Andrew and Leslie climb downstairs into their bunk and sleep a perfect sleep filled with perfect sail dreams.
And the next week of sailing remained good. We sailed from anchorage to anchorage, enjoying nice wind, few waves and amazing scenery. We popped into Blue Lagoon, where I was sure a seaplane was going to land on top of me.
We enjoyed Dawaqa and Naviti Islands for three days.
Andrew and Leslie visited the manta rays, and watched them do barrel rolls and somersaults to collect their food. When two get together, they twirl and dance together.
They SCUBA dived with five beautiful turtles and three lobsters, each as big as a Rugby ball. Leslie knew it was going to be an amazing dive as soon as she hit the water, because it was at that moment her camera fizzled out.
They enjoyed happy hour at the Manta Ray Beach Resort, met new friends from Chile, Norway, Singapore, and Canada. Our new friends even came out to visit me, so I showed them my sunset.
Leslie finally cut Andrew’s hair at her new “salon”: a white sand beach lined with purple flowers. His “shampoo” was completed in the bright turquoise waves that rolled up and tickled his toes. Now, he looks more snazzy. We are getting back into the rhythm of cruising, and it feels so good!