Passage Hawaii to Vancouver - Day 13
23 July 2013
Halleluiah for Gloria! About 5 years ago I was running along the beach near our home, my short legs trying to keep up to the long legs of my running partner and friend, Gloria. Suddenly she stopped and told me she had some news. I saw the excitement in her eyes. Gloria announced that she and her husband, Michael, had decided to go offshore sailing. Wow! Amazing! I was thrilled for her. They had been west coast sailors for years. I knew when they purchased their third sailboat, "Paikea Mist", a well equipped Beneteau Custom 50, they had in mind to take her offshore. That time had come. I realized I was excited, not just for Gloria but for myself, because I too shared her dream of going offshore sailing.
Over the next year Norm and I watched as Gloria and Michael worked through the long list of items that are necessary for offshore voyaging: upgrading equipment on the boat, winding down jobs, moving out of their house and renting it, and saying goodbye to family and friends. We learned so much from them. Even though the preparations looked incredibly arduous, Norm and I decided to take "Sarah Jean II" offshore as well. We began to get ready.
Gloria and Michael invited us to sail with them over New Year's in the Sea of Cortez in Mexico. We had such fun and the timing was perfect for us. On "Paikea Mist" we were able learn more about offshore sailing; see their boat set up, ask questions about communication at sea, study route planning across the Pacific and so much more. It was invaluable for us. It also confirmed for us that we were going to love the cruising lifestyle.
Gloria emailed me frequently during that first year after they left Vancouver, sharing their experiences. She wrote from French Polynesia saying "Don't miss the hike at Daniel's Bay in Nuka Hiva. You'll love it". Other tips included: "Be sure to bring some quick dry clothes with you as cotton fabrics take forever to dry on the boat"; "Buy a yogurt maker in Tahiti so you can make your own yogurt at sea"; "Go diving with the sharks at Fakarava. It's incredible." When I received these emails from places like Tahiti, the Cook Islands and Tonga, they sounded so exotic. Gloria was always enthusiastic about what they were experiencing. I could feel my own excitement build as I realized that we too were going to sail to these amazing islands in the South Pacific. We had so much to look forward to.
As Norm and I set out on our adventure Gloria and I continued to exchange emails every few days, sharing the joys and the challenges of the cruising life. She provided me with such a wealth of information about South Pacific anchorages that her notes became my unofficial cruising guide. We enjoy many of the same things; remote anchorages, scuba diving and hiking. Eventually "Sarah Jean II" just went where "Paikea Mist" had gone before which made our cruising decisions easy.
Finally the moment came. "Paikea Mist" and "Sarah Jean II" met up for the first time and only time offshore. Norm and I had just completed our passage to New Zealand from Tonga. We pulled up to the marina in Opua and I spotted a distinctive tall figure with blond hair waving wildly from the dock. Tears filled my eyes as I recognized my friend Gloria. I could hardly wait to see her. Over the next week we shared anchorages in the Bay of Islands in New Zealand, hiking, sailing, drinking wine together and of course chatting a mile a minute.
After New Zealand our cruising lives took different paths. Michael and Gloria made the decision to continue westward. They sailed to Vanuatu, Australia, Indonesia and Thailand last year and then shipped their boat to Turkey in the Mediterranean. Their current cruising plans include living and working in Vancouver for 6 months of the year and cruising the Med for the other 6 months. Sounds pretty idyllic doesn't it?
"Sarah Jean II" continued to follow in the wake of "Paikea Mist" for another year as we cruised Fiji, Vanuatu and the east coast of New Zealand. Gloria emailed me from Bali and Pukhet, more exotic places. They sounded tempting. But for us the lure of home was stronger.
As we near Vancouver and I look back on our incredible 3 years of cruising I am thankful to Gloria for all that she shared with me. We were so lucky to have friends sailing ahead of us on the Coconut Milk Run across the South Pacific. It enriched our own journey in so many ways. More than anything, being able to "talk" to a friend who was going through the same experiences as me was priceless. Gloria knew what it was like to feel exhausted on passage. She understood the challenges of provisioning in remote locations. Missing family at home was an emotion very familiar to her. We both knew the incredible anticipation you feel as you approach landfall, the excitement of exploring a new country for the first time, and the joy in your soul as the wind fills your sails and you head out for a new destination.
I've known Gloria for almost 20 years, but our friendship has really flourished in the past 3 years since we've both been cruising. We've shared so much. It's been wonderful to have her with me every step of the way on our journey. Thank heavens for good friends . . and for email at sea!