Writing in Sand
22 November 2009 | Noumea, New Caledonia
When asked about their future plans many cruisers reply that their plans are written in sand... at low-tide. It's understandable. This lifestyle seems more at odds with schedules and agendas than any other I can think of. Obviously the weather plays a factor. Uncooperative winds or worse can put the kibosh on your itinerary faster than you can say "tropical depression" (an apt description, by the way).
Other distractions can keep one in port longer than planned, or headed out to sea sooner than expected. Home-based concerns and keeping in company with buddy-boats have both played a part in our cruising history.
Last season seemed to be all about easy decisions: just keep going west, following the "Coconut Milk Run" and end up in Nirvana...er, I mean New Zealand. This year has been more difficult. Our cruising friends are scattering in all different directions- at all different times. And there is still SO MUCH South Pacific yet to see. Given that this was to be our last cruising season we thought we had a good plan in place: New Zealand to Fiji, then Vanuatu, then New Caledonia and back to New Zealand. But we have found ourselves almost constantly second-guessing our plan: well, we could stay the WHOLE season in Fiji... or we could head north and work our way up to the Marshalls... or we could...??? John and I were essentially scratching our heads and saying. "Duh... where do you want to go?" "Duh... I don't know, where do you want to go?"
Meanwhile our dear friends on Tin Soldier and Airstream kept saying, "Come to Australia, like us! C'mon! All the cool kids are doing it!" The only problem with that idea was that we really LOVE New Zealand... and we didn't have any burning desire to see Australia. (No offense to the Aussies, it's just that their country is so DARN big! How're you ever going to do it justice? Particularly from a sailboat?)
But while we've been gorging ourselves on baguettes and waiting for a reasonable weather window to head for NZ (a passage which has the potential to be a miserable up-wind slog) we started thinking about the land called Oz. Right off the bat it's an easier, downwind passage. (enough said, right?) And with our change in focus (from enjoying another laid-back season in New Zealand to developing an "exit strategy" for getting ourselves back to the states before we run completely out of money), Australia makes more sense.
So we've changed our minds and are heading to Australia. We expect to check out of New Caledonia within the next two days and head west to see the wizard mid-week.
Of course this plan, like all our others, is in writing...
...in the sand.