07/12/2011, Cloudbreak, Fiji
Well apparently one of the big surf spots in the world is right around the corner from us and it is big and beautiful right now. We heard last week that it was supposed to come in perfect this week. Yesterday Mark and Chris (Mooneshine) went out to check it out. We weren't really sure I'd be able to handle the dinghy ride since it's a ways out and then we weren't sure what the conditions would be like sitting there so I stayed home. When they got back they thought it was cool enough that I should give it a shot. Mark said the dinghy ride wasn't that bad and sitting there wasn't an issue. So today Mark and I packed up the dinghy with snacks, drinks, and extra fuel and headed out. It was a bit of a ride to get out there and we did hit a rough patch that the boys didn't experience yesterday (we determined that there is more wind today) but overall it wasn't too bad. At first the surf wasn't as good as yesterday, according to Mark, but as we sat and watched some good waves started to come in. It was pretty cool to see these gigantic waves up close and people surfing them. It's amazing you can sit that close to a wave that is breaking and you don't have to worry about it hitting you. We got some good pictures but didn't stay out to long. Apparently there are some big names out there (Kelly Slater is the only one I've ever heard of but I have no idea what he looks like) so I'm sure my pictures are of some famous surfers but I don't know who they are.
07/11/2011, Malolo, Fiji
Well I suppose the time has come to let you all in on a little secret Mark and I have been carrying since we got to Fiji.... I have been harboring a stowaway. I'm almost 14 weeks pregnant. As you know our passage from NZ to Fiji was a hard one. But even so I usually start to feel better at some point. I never got over the seasickness, was strangely hungry (I woke up one night and made Mark make me one of our emergency dehydrated meals), and I could smell everything on the boat. Something just gave me the feeling so I took a pregnancy test when we got in (yes, I always keep a box on the boat because I feel this is to important to be in a place and not be able to find out). Sure enough it came back positive and so did the second one. My sister of course asked me why I took two? Her comment was "if that line turns blue you're pregnant." I took two because I was not going to some crazy Fiji doctor without being sure. I was going to wait till the following Monday to go to the doctor but if you remember my eye was all irritated from the passage again so I ended up in the emergency over the weekend. I told them my suspicions and they did the blood test for confirmation. Later in the week we saw the OB, had the rest the the blood tests, and and ultrasound done. Everything looked good. They gave me a due date of January 23rd. It was actually a really nice clinic with really good doctors.
It was now clear that Mark and I had to reassess our plans for the year. We were planning to sail down and around South Africa and back up into the Med. We started tossing around all the options. I definitely couldn't do the Indian Ocean. 1. It's far too many long passages and 2. way too late in the year. We looked into shipping the boat into the Med but the cost of doing so just seems like a silly waste. Initially we decided that Mark would get crew and go without me. I would leave him in Bali. The plan has changed once again and is now pretty solid. We are obviously still in Fiji. We will leave for New Caledonia as soon as we have our new set of sails. It's about a 5-6 day passage (possibly less - hopefully less!). We will spend a few weeks there and then head over to Australia (7 day passage). Depending on when we get there I will help Mark close up the boat or I will go straight home. My goal is to be on a plane October 1st and home for my third trimester. Mark will probably stay behind for a month and get some projects done and officially close up the boat. Our goal is to have him home in time for the holidays. This is the plan for today anyhow. We of course change it daily at least a little.
I'm sure everyone's big question is "Are we still going to sail." And the answer is yes. But we will be slowing down a bit. We plan to stay at home for about 3 months after the baby is born (more if there is any reason to - the baby is obviously #1 priority). We will then return to the boat in Australia. Under normal circumstances we would then sail off but we are now planning to stay in Australia for the cruising season and an additional cyclone season. We want to be in a place that is close to doctors and supplies. We will be there until after the babies 1st birthday. After which we will decide what to do.
Next you're probably saying "you can't have a baby on a boat." Well I've been lucky enough to be surrounded by a ton of boats with kids lately; some that have lived on their boat since birth. When people find out we are expecting they are happy to give me their two-cents and I am happy to take it. It may not work out for us but we won't know until we give it a try.
For those of you who are worried about me out here in the great blue sea I will tell you that I have been taking my vitamins, getting as many fresh fruits/veggies as possible, and resting a lot (hence the lack of activity on the blog lately). I had another check-up last week. This doctor wasn't as good as the first but we got another ultrasound and could see the baby jumping around. They changed my due date to Jan 11th because they said that 10 week babies don't jump and this baby was moving so I had to be at least 12 weeks. Everything is looking good and the doctor gave me the okay to do the New Caledonia passage.
Now that the news is out I'm sure I'll have much more to write about. It's been hard the last month or so because a lot of what we have or haven't done has revolved around my belly and I couldn't really say anything.
If anyone out there has any questions, comments, suggestions, or advice I'd love to hear them (well maybe not some of them). This is going to be a whole new adventure for Mark and I but I think it's gonna be a fun one!
We have made an attempt to let our friends and family know before posting on here but we are sure we have missed at least a few so my heartfelt apologies if you are finding out this way and should have received a personal phone call or e-mail from one of us.
07/08/2011, Malolo, Fiji
Broken Compass headed out yesterday for Bali. They plan to head to South Africa by the end of the year and be back on the East Coast of the US sometime next year. It was sad to see our friends go knowing that we won't be running into them in another anchorage anytime soon and being that they are headed home and we are not who knows when (or if) we will see them again. The thought of having our friends leave got me to thinking about just how funny friendships are out here. I looked up the definition of a friend just for kicks and here is what I found:
friend - a person you know well and regard with affection and trust
At home it takes a long time to develop a friendship. Possibly because we are constantly surrounded by so many people and have our usual group that we hang-out with. It takes a while to make sure that a new person will fit in with the group. We are also so busy that we are careful not to expend energy on anyone or anything that we don't get an equal return from (although in a really well developed friendship I think this should and does go away with time).
Out here friendships are very different. First we do all have something in common, the pure fact that we are out here sailing. But that in and of itself isn't enough to truly develop a friendship it usually takes something more and the time to find that something. But friendships out here can come and go with the bat of an eye. Each anchorage comes with a new set of boats and if you are lucky you run into people you have met before. I think for Mark and I it can be particularly difficult sometimes because we are some of the younger people out here. Most sailors are retired, their families are grown, and are at least a few years older than us. Sometimes I wonder whether these sailors befriend us because they like us or because they feel the instinct to "parent" and take care of us, or maybe we just remind them of their kids back home. Mark and I are simply at a different stage in life to really have much in common. While Mark has done a lot career wise, I haven't and do hope to do something when we get home. We have to family to speak of but expect we will soon. And there is nothing we can do about the age gap. Would we be friends with them if we lived on land. I can honestly say that we probably wouldn't because we would have never had the opportunity to meet them. But that's probably the case with most people out here.
If you look back at the definition of a friend the real question is do we really have any friends out here. How well do we know people that we see here and there and spend a few days at a time with. Surprisingly I do feel that we have a few we can really call friends in spite of this. There are people that you do feel put up the effort to keep in touch with you and see what you are doing, those that read your blog so they can keep tabs on where you are, and many that will even sail a little out of the way to see you. But still these will never be like the friendships developed back home.
Probably one of the saddest/hardest things about being out is keeping up those friendships back home. I used to have an hour (+/-) commute everyday. In the morning I'd talk to my mom and on the way home I'd talk to whoever had given me a ring or I just hadn't talked to in awhile. I lived far from most of my good friends but was pretty good about talking to everyone every couple of months or less. I'm not so good out here. E-mail helps but it just isn't the same as a good old fashion phone call. When the internet is good I am happy to have skype! What a difference the internet makes. But I always liked talking on my way home because I felt I was wisely filling time that would otherwise be wasted. Now there are always other things I should be doing and while I know a phone call to a friend is never a waste it still can take up a chunk of the day that could be otherwise spent. My phone calls used to be at the end of the day they now have to be at odd hours because the time difference for many of my friends is pretty dramatic. I even have trouble remembering to call my mom early enough. And in some ways I do feel like the some friendships are now one way because I have to make the effort even though we do have a US phone number that rings through skype to our computers it seems most people just won't use it. One thing I do know for sure is that my true friends will be there whenever I call. I have friends I had for years and have had incredible gaps between conversations but those friendships still exist and I know they will be there whenever we return to land. But sometimes I can honestly say I'd love to just have a weekly night out with the girls and not be constantly trying to develop new friendships that may last a week, a month, or if we are lucky a whole sailing season.
At least I'm sailing with my favorite friend. On the high seas your spouse really does need to be your best friend. You spend all of your time together. Every activity, job, and meal are together. Every decision has to be thought through as a team. We have 53 feet of space to live in and sometimes can't get off the boat for days. It isn't always easy but no true friendship is (and even so a marriage).
In the end we have met some truly amazing people out here (Broken Compass included) and we do hope that these friendships, while they may be sporadic and fleeting in the developmental stages, do end up lasting a lifetime wherever we all end up in this world.
07/04/2011, Port Denarau, Fiji
The 4th of July is my favorite holiday (I just love it!) and if you are a regular reader you know that I don't like holidays to go by uncelebrated. I think in some ways it's even more important to celebrate them on a boat and make a big deal out of them because you aren't surrounded by friends and family.
I love the 4th. For me it's a no stress holiday with something amazing to be celebrate. You can do what you want, where you want, and with who you want. Don't get me wrong I am not saying I don't love spending holidays with my fam but it's nice that you don't have to worry about big travel and the cost of airfare, you don't have to go crazy trying to find the perfect gift (although in my family a lot of the time we go shopping together pick something out and hand it to the other to buy and then wrap it up for under the tree - trust me this works great), you don't have to worry someone might get you a gift and you didn't get one for them. Plus a lot of people blow a lot of money they don't have at Christmas on things people don't need or want.
So that being said. I love the reduced stress of the 4th, the good (and much easier prepared) bbq fixings, and of course a great fireworks show. I also love what we are celebrating (and everyone who lives in the US should be!) Just because Mark and I don't live in the US full-time does not mean we don't love it (we fly a huge American flag off the back of this boat). In fact the more I travel the more I appreciate all the opportunity and freedoms we have in the US as well as all the material things that we have available to us. Even though I know somethings are rough at home right now I have also seen that in comparison to many places in the world we really don't have it that bad and it could be far worse...
...and so I always have a burning desire to celebrate the amazing country that I am so fortunate to call my own. There aren't a lot of American's in Port Denarau right now (a few more over in Musket Cove but we couldn't get over there in time) so we invited our American friends from Caledonia and Broken Compass over for a BBQ celebration. Mark and I (mostly I) made up burgers, chips-and-dip, baked beans, salad, watermelon, and an apple pie to top it off (I made up some ice-cream too but it didn't freeze in time). Caledonia brought over another salad and fresh-squeezed lemonade and Broken Compass brought some Kentucky State (a mixed drink in a can that the isn't really from Kentucky but we pretended it was). So together we put together a real American meal. It was great to celebrate with some other American's who too are proud of where they come from and much of the evenings conversations included talk of home. After our apple pie desert we had our very own Fireworks show! Earlier in the day Mark and I had to go into town and at the supermarket I found a little surprise for the day. Initially I was going to get the little party poppers (you know the one's you use for New Year's) but half the bag was already popped so after a little debate I went for the big guns. I wasn't really sure how well they would work or how much stuff would actually come out of them (after all they were in a grocery in Fiji) but they ended up being a big success (and a big mess - so worth it). We intended for them be done overboard but it was more fun in the cockpit and I think Clara (a little girl on Caledonia really enjoyed the show). We had a great celebration here and I hope all the celebrations back home are just as amazingly fun!
07/04/2011, Port Denarau, Fiji
I know, I know it's been far to long since my last blog post but we've been busy and the internet in the outer islands wasn't great. Mark may be willing to sit and wait while stuff takes an hour to load but I am not!
To give you an little update Eli left a few days ago. We spent the month with him out in the Mamanuca and Yasawa Islands. I was a bit disappointed with the islands but we did find a few good places. The problem here is that no ones charts are correct so you have to constantly be on the lookout for reefs which can be a little nerve wrecking. We know of at least five or six boats that have hit reefs this season and at least two that are totaled. It's always scary to anchor because you are always close to a reef. There isn't much to do on most of these islands so it's been really disappointing that the snorkeling hasn't really been any good. The visibility has been poor and in many places there just haven't been any fish. We tried to see the Man-a-ray but they apparently have disappeared for a few weeks (probably because a shark took a bite out of one a couple weeks ago). But the reef did provide for one of the better snorkeling places we have found. We also visited a neat cave that the boys swam into an inner cave. I wasn't to happy when we got there because we were told it was $2-5 dollars to get in and then they charged us $10 each. A little much for 15 minutes of swimming but it was a cool experience, especially for Eli who had never been in a cave like that. We've also found that the resorts aren't as welcoming of cruisers as we were led to believe. We went into one anchorage that had signs to keep of the beach. One of the resorts wouldn't take a dinner reservation unless it was made early in the day (they said they only feed there guests and people who make early reservations), they wouldn't even add us to a friends existing reservation. We talked to a couple other people who were told to move their boat and then got chased down by the owner telling them to move it again. So it's no wonder that you will find a good many cruisers hanging out a Musket Cove on Malolo Island. They are so cruiser friendly. We can use all the facilities including the pool. There is a golf course and a couple of restaurants. They have a separate bar and they light the fire-pit grills every night so you can bring your own food and cook it up and eat with friends. It really is a great place and where most everyone has been hanging out. It was also the one place the boys were really successful spear-fishing which meant they were off the boat a lot and I got some quilting done (I even finished the front of one!) We are back in Port Denarau now. We had to drop off Eli last week and get a few parts taken care of. We are waiting on our new sails and a package from the states (one that I am starting to debate will even arrive). We may head back out to Malolo for a bit and return when the stuff gets here but it has been nice being a short walk from a handful of good restaurants, a proper market, and some shops.
06/07/2011, Plantation Island, Fiji
Eli, Mark's nephew, arrived two days ago and has been a huge help around the boat. Him and Mark have been working on various projects but so that we can get out to some of the outer islands but yesterday we took the day off of projects for some fun. Our friends Bret and Chad from Broken Compass came over and I (with some help from Mark) made pancakes and bacon for breakfast. Then the four of us headed out to Plantation Island. Mark had asked some local fishermen where to go spearfishing and this was were they suggested. There was only about 1.5k of wind so we motored over. It took about an hour and a half to get there but it was a nice place when we arrived. The four boys piled into the dinghy and headed toward the reef while I sat on the boat did a little lunch prep (which ended up being dinner) and relaxed. Unfortunately the wind switched directions and picked up which made what looked like a nice calm area to anchor a little uncomfortable so I mostly laid down and watched a movie instead of quilting like I had planned on. The boys were gone for about an hour and a half and came back with three fish. Bret had gotten a good sized one and Chad and Mark each got a smaller colorful fish. Bret and Chad were rather impressed that Mark had gotten one on his first time out they couldn't remember anyone else they had taught to spearfish that had done that. Now Mark wants to get a spear gun so him and Eli can do some more over the next few weeks that Eli is here. I wasn't so happy about the anchorage getting rolly but it did mean that we were able to sail all the way back. When we got in Chad and Bret took the fish back to their boat and cleaned them up (I don't do seafood so they were helping me out by keeping the guts off our boat). I cooked up the Chicken stir-fry that I had prepped for lunch but decided that we would just eat it for dinner. The boys enjoyed their fish and now I'm worried Mark may want to do fish on our boat more often (yuck!).