It takes a long journey to be a true sailor
AFTER BEING dragged kicking and screaming from the protection of Suva Harbor, I'm back in the open ocean again, heading this time for New Caledonia.
I'm only partially joking about the kicking and screaming. I didn't really want to leave Fiji. After two months of being in small towns, or no towns at all, I loved the hustle and bustle of Suva, Fiji's capitol. Besides that, the weather forecasts were spooky.
"The wind predictions aren't great," I said to Scott on the morning we chose to leave. "Maybe we should stay here a little longer."
"Susan, the weather reports haven't been good, or accurate, this entire trip," he said.
"Well, that guy who arrived yesterday talking about 45 and 50 mph west winds scared me."
"Our forecast isn't that bad," Scott said. "It's only one day of moderate west winds."
"But what if they're wrong?" I whined.
HE SIGHED. "I don't think the weather is the problem here. The problem is your lack of self-confidence."
He was right. And I'm short of self-confidence because I don't feel like a real sailor.
Take, for instance, my broken wind speed and wind direction machine. I sent it back to Hawaii where Craig, my sailing mentor and co-owner of this boat, had it fixed. He e-mailed that he was sending it to New Caledonia and added this comment: "Now that you've learned to sail without it, having it will be a curiosity and luxury rather than a crutch."
Oh, sure. Craig doesn't know that I practically have neck strain from constantly looking up at the mast top to check the Windex, my less sophisticated wind direction tool. I even climbed the mast recently to tighten the screws of my precious Windex. I will never be able to sail by just feeling the wind.
Nor will I ever get over being seasick. I'm not violently ill the first few days of a passage, but I'm queasy enough to make every task a major chore. The nausea usually decreases as time goes on, but not always. Two nights ago, during my watch, after four days at sea, I suddenly lost my dinner over the rail.
"WHAT ON EARTH is a 58-year-old woman with no sailing sense doing out here skippering a boat?" I wondered as I crashed around in the head at 3 a.m., trying to brush my teeth. When I lost my hormones, I must have lost my mind, too.
But like it or not, here I am, wind howling, waves slamming the hull and the boat tossing us around like so much salad.
I recently got so fed up with this raging wind and water that I spent most of the day in my cabin, curtains drawn, listening to my audio books. Late that afternoon, I ventured into the cockpit, hanging on for dear life to check our position and the wind direction (looking up at the Windex, of course). I stared sullenly at the angry ocean.
"Beautiful, isn't it?" said crew member Steve, a lifelong sailor. "Sailing doesn't get any better than this!"
I stared at him to see if he was joking. He was not. I sighed. To be a real sailor, I've got a ways to go.