*Deep inhale, long sigh* Silence.
*Deep inhale…long sigh* Silence.
“Grin, seriously. What is it?” I ask. He’s been like this all weekend. At first, I figured he was bored because our anchorage at Gili Air was very close to shore and he didn’t have very far to roam. But, even after we left, he’s remained despondent and downright unresponsive. It’s annoying me.
I have mixed feelings right now, too. We were supposed to tour Gili Air, Gili Meno, and Gili “T” before heading over to the marina where I will spend a few months relaxing before we push North to Thailand. Unfortunately, strong Northwest monsoon weather came in and scuttled that plan. The three Gilis have poorly protected and small anchorages, so when bad weather comes in we are forced to ride waves and wind in a space too small and crowded to rely on The Trusty Birthday Anchor. Instead, we have to use a mooring ball of unknown installation technique or condition. I hate that. It makes me very nervous. In addition, the weather pushing me inward toward the beach, and you have a recipe for a very nervous Sonrisa.
Lucky for me, Andrew and Leslie took one look at this weather and declared we had to move on. The two other Gilis will have to wait for another day. We cast off and find shelter across the way for the night in a more protected anchorage. Then, we carry on to the marina squeezed safely between Gili Gede and mainland Lombok. It’s a great ride, there is even some moments in which the wind was blowing at 20 knots from behind me! We put out my sails and scooted right along. Then, as we reach our destination, Andrew and Leslie take care to roll my sails tighter than normal and wrap my genoa sheets around higher up than usual. We settle in on my new mooring ball.
Then, I sigh.
Andrew and Leslie sigh, with a sense of relief.
We are here. To the extent any circumnavigation has a destination, a place like this is the best we can do. This is a place where we stop and stay for longer than usual, where they tidy me up to let me rest, and then Andrew and Leslie leave me to go home and visit friends and family. It’s the close of a sailing season, its the time we wait out contrary winds and currents or cyclone season until the winds change and we can carry on.
I know, I know, I have nothing to complain about because they stayed with me longer this go-around than usual. I had them for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years, when usually they would leave around that time. In fact, we have been sailing for four months in the “wrong” season, sailing upwind and up current all this way since Timor Leste. I’ve loved it. I’d rather keep going and keep them with me all the time. Now, I’m trying to stave off the dread I get when they leave. I always get sad when they leave.
Grin isn’t helping. He lets out a long sigh again.
“Grin!” He looks up at me with dopey, sad eyes. “I seriously can’t take it anymore. What is the matter?”
On the edge of a long exhale he confesses: “Saltie hasn’t written me a letter in almost three months.” His eyes well up with tears. “I think she’s forgotten about me.”
Oh, here we go. In case you haven't been reading for long, Saltie is Grin’s long distance girlfriend. He met her in Vanuatu and fell in love with her tinny hull and salty-looking braided rub rail. “I’m sorry, Grin! I bet it’s just the mail. You know how international mail can be? Sometimes letters don’t get through. Maybe Andrew and Leslie can hail her on the SSB?”
Grin sulks. Then, he huffs. Andrew and Leslie emerge from down below ready to explore the new area. “Come on, Grin! Time to go on an adventure!” Leslie chimes.
Grin attempts to muster up some cheer, but just sinks lower on the waterline. “Oh…kaaaay.” Grin says. His “cheer” has a slower and flatter note than usual.
Leslie frowns, I know what she’s thinking. “What’s the matter with Grin?” But she doesn’t say it aloud, she just unties his tether and tentatively climbs aboard. She pats the bench she’s sitting on. “You okay, buddy?”
“Mmmhhhmmmmm…. fine.” he responds. I make a mental note to fill her in sometime when he’s not listening to us.
I watch them go to shore, leaving Grin alone on the beach. I settle in, shifting back and forth on my mooring ball to test its strength. Better to figure out something’s amiss now than when Andrew and Leslie are gone for a long time. The area looks good. Protected in all directions from open sea, there isn’t any direction of weather that I’m worried about. The only thing left to fret over is other ships coming loose from their mooring. I look around the field to see if there is anything concerning. My eyes land on a long time friend, Ostrika.
“Ostrika!” I yelp her name upon recognition, “Ostrika! Ostrika!” I call out a couple times, hoping she’ll hear me, but I think she’s still hibernating. I’ll say hello when she wakes up. Ostrika’s an old friend. We sailed the North Coast of Hiva Oa, Marquesas together and we keep meeting up in various unplanned destinations. I saw her again in the Tuamotus, Tonga, Vanuatu, and now, here! I also see a friend I met in Timor Leste named Red Dragonfly and twenty other new boats I’ve never met before. I’ll be glad to have some company when Andrew and Leslie leave.
After a while, I look up and realize it’s starting to get dark. I squint across the way, to shore, to see if I can see anything. I see Grin, waiting on shore and surrounded by local spider boats. (More on those later.) Where are they? I frown. I don’t care if they go off adventuring, but I really do like them to check in around sunset. I like them to visit me for sundowners, and then if they want to go find dinner that’s fine, too. It’s no big deal, just come check in, tell me everything is okay, and let me know the plans for the evening. Otherwise, I start to fret.
Soon, in the very last bit of evening twilight, I see them skitter across the bay with Kitty at full tilt. “Hi Sonrisa,” Leslie says as they pull along side my hull. She knows I’m annoyed. She ties Grin up and I wait for a good explanation.
“It’s a very nice little town over there.” She tells me.
“Yeah, yeah,” I think. “Get on with it, why are you late?”
“We were looking for a late lunch, so we asked where a Warung might be. (Warung = the name for a little Indonesian Restaurant.) They pointed us down a neighborhood street where we met a nice guy who will be our taxi driver to/from the airport or ferry docks for the next while. He took us to see the neighborhood gold mine at work.
I look over her shoulder at the photos on the back screen of her camera. “Cool,” I think, “but why are you late?”
“Then, after we finished seeing the gold mine, we were walking a back and everyone in the neighborhood wanted to stop us and invite us to drink Kopi (Indonesian coffee) on their porches. We had three different kopi-stops!” Leslie tells me as she thumbs through pictures of people sitting on porches in big groups.
This makes me smile. “They seem really nice. Did you go to the Warung?”
“No,” Leslie says, “We never found it!”
I laugh. At least they are all filled up on "Kopi". Then, I report my day - specifically, the condition of the mooring ball and the fact that Ostika is right next door. Everyone settles in for the evening. They fire up some nice music, pop open a Bintang, and wiggle each into their dent in their respective cockpit beanbags.
For now, I’m happy. Everyone is exactly where they are supposed to be.