Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Arrival in paradise!

Greetings ...

..from a boat that has stopped moving for the first time in two months! By that, I mean that our new anchorage is still - perfectly still. Sometimes the wind blows, and sometimes it doesn't, but the boat is steady and flat regardless. The first two times I sat Benjamin on the floor, he fell over right away; I joked that he wasn't used to being on a stable platform! It seems so ironic that Max had under-hull work to do last week when the boat was moving more than if we were at sea! It also feels a bit like our souls will have a chance to catch up with our bodies here, that we will have time to breathe, to explore, and to spend some time as a family.

Anyway, here we are. Max and the kids have gone ashore to explore, Benjamin is sitting (yes, sitting alone) beside me on the floor of the cockpit, and I am taking a moment before tackling dishes, diapers, and dinner (the phrase of my life at the moment) to begin a note.

This really is the kind of place that people sell their homes and sail around the world to see. Two years ago this week, we did just that, and it feels really good to have arrived here.

We have two neat photos on our camera from this morning. The first was of Victoria with Benjamin in my turquoise wrap ("Mommy, he is so heavy, how do you do this all day??") The second was taken by Victoria of Johnathan during a little swim from the boat after breakfast (just a little one ... they are still getting their heads around the fact that "there are sharks in them waters" and despite the clarity, they are venturing in slowly). It struck me that the colour of the water *really is* the same as the colour of my wrap! Amazing.

Our SSB was uncooperative during the last couple of days on passage; we are now too close to the site we were using and we were too busy to programme in other sites that might have better reception. What relief we feel when we actually make a connection! I also feel grateful to receive your notes and updates; home doesn't seem so far removed then.

{pause for the day to unfold}

As usual, now the boat is dark and quiet. Dishes got done, dinner got made, diapers will wait til tomorrow.

Max, Victoria and Johnathan went on two expeditions today - on foot ashore, and on fins to a nearby coral head. During their hike, they saw some black-tipped reef sharks (two medium sized ones (3 feet long) and a tiny one (1 1/2 feet long) - the kids figured it was a mom, a dad, and a baby) in the shallow water by the beach. Neither child had done much snorkelling before, so today was a bit of a warm-up for jaunts further afield; both did really well, and were excited to learn a new skill with Dad. They also helped him attach a buoy to our anchor chain so that more of it would be off the bottom and less likely to wrap around a coral head. (The water is so clear that we can see the entire chain and the anchor. Max could also see that the Splash Zone he put on the skeg bolts has stayed put. Yeah!)

Dinner tonight (and lunch this afternoon) was sashimi tuna (caught on the last day of our passage) and wahoo cooked in butter. With a baguette from the freezer, peppers and carrots to eat raw, and buttery pasta, we had two yummy meals. Lunch ended up being shared with the couple from the only other boat in this part of the lagoon - they dropped by as we were about to eat to say hello, it came up that she had never seen a sextant, so we invited them aboard to see Dad's beautiful old one in its wooden box, and to share what we had.

I must say that it is a relief to have finished our passage. The nights tended to be bouncy, and now they are already a bit of a blur. On one occasion, the wind went from close hauled at 7 kts wind speed (ie comfortable; full sails trimmed for maximum efficiency in the light wind) to 17 kts well forward of the beam (ie overpowered; multiple reefs needed) in a matter of seconds. From down below it sounded like the roar of a freight train. Another night, we had a multi-hour series of squalls with winds over 20 kts. These winds aren't bad when they are from behind, but when we are close-reaching, as we were doing for most of this passage, it is hard work, to say the least! Thankfully (for me, at least) both times this crazy weather came on Max's watch. It was so noisy in the aft cabin (autopilot, boat rolling, water heaving), that I ended up sleeping on our saloon settee with Benjamin one night just so I could sleep! The most unusual thing that happened on my watch was a 90-degree wind shift, just as we were approaching our destination. With 20 nm to go, all of a sudden I needed to steer West instead of South (again in a matter of seconds). With other islands in every direction, this became the moment when we started the engine. It was nice to arrive with batteries topped up and our hot water tank hot when we arrived!

[We did our first atoll pass entry with no problem timing it just before slack high tide. We were going to anchor near the entrance but we decided with the good visibility to motor the 9 nm or so across to the south-east corner of the lagoon. As you can see the bottom in 65 ft of depth navigation is simple but requires someone on the bow to watch for the coral heads.]

This has been a bit of a rambling catch-up email ... I am finding that when I don't send a little note every day, some of the highlights get blurred into memory very quickly!

Love to everyone,
At 6/23/2014 12:06 AM (utc) Fluenta's position was 16°57.20'S 144°34.85'W
At 6/23/2014 12:06 AM (utc) Fluenta's position was 16°57.20'S 144°34.85'W

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