Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Headed for the Annapolis Sailboat Show
By Michael
WASHINGTON, DC


That was my sunrise view out the window of the A330 I just flew aboard from Nadi, Fiji, to LAX. I realized this was my 7th flight across the Pacific, the 6th on Fiji Airways. It’s a terribly long, overnight slog, but thankfully direct—and Nadi (pronounced nan-di) airport is an easy one to fly through and with a comfortable international terminal (they actually have these large, bed-like platforms that passengers are encouraged to spread out on).

I left Windy and the girls in Fiji and I’m headed for the Annapolis Sailboat Show. I’ve been to the show nearly a dozen times, but this will be my first visit where I’ll be working the show, from the Good Old Boat magazine stall. I’m not a salesman and have been anxious about the prospect of spending 4 days spreading the word about The Sailing Magazine for the Rest of Us. But that was then.

I just spent a few days in California visiting family as well as boatyards and marinas from Morro Bay to Oxnard, passing out magazine copies to sailors and telling them about Good Old Boat, my role as editor, and what we’ve got planned. I always received a warm, encouraging reception and I look forward to more.

I’m also looking forward to meeting in person all of the people I’ve known for years, but have never met. First are the fellow Good Old Boat folks with whom I email daily. Then there are all the editors of the magazines I’ve sold to over the years, my publisher Lin Pardey, my co-author Behan Gifford of Totem, my friend author Rob Avery—and I learned just this morning that my friend Brittany of Windtraveler will be at the show. It’s going to feel more like a party or festival than a boat show.

If your a Log of Del Viento reader, I hope to see you there too. Stop by the Good Old Boat exhibit and say hello.

--MR

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Hemispheric Travelers
By Michael
VITI LEVU, FIJI


Looking back at Del Viento from ashore.
So we got our window and made our short passage north, from Savusavu, Fiji, to Futuna, the smaller of the main islands that comprise Wallis & Futuna, the simply-named French protectorate out in vast Pacific Ocean.

It was sort of like returning to the Marquesas. Granted, everything is in French (though the 4,500 people on the island speak their own Polynesian language, Futunan, at home—and just them! The 9,500 people on Wallis speak Wallisian, blows my mind.) and the small supermarchés were filled with duck pâtés and cheeses and bread (bread that was much better than anything we ever got in all of French Polynesia), but what I'm talking about is the dense, green, rugged hillsides punctuated with dramatic sheer cliffs. "It reminds me of the Marquesas," is what we kept saying to each other after dropping the anchor.

All of this was unexpected. I'd focused solely on the understandable admonitions about Futuna, same as the widespread advice offered to us before we sailed to Pago Pago, American Samoa: "get in and quickly get out." I didn't expect else but the roadstead anchorage and the dinghy-killing pier. Following is the soundtrack aboard Del Viento en route:

"Girls, you know we're seriously only going to be here for the time it takes to drop anchor, check in, and check out—maybe as short as a couple hours."

"Seriously?! But we can't be stuck on a passage for two days and then not even spend the night."

The only place we found to get internet
on-island, outside the closed Gendarmerie.
"Guys, this is the whole point of this trip, to check in and check out and get back to Fiji. Besides, the anchorage is a shallow indentation and our weather window is closing—we can't be in this anchorage when our weather window closes and the wind comes up."

We arrived on a Saturday, early morning. We hit the beach running.

The Gendarmerie gave us the bad news: "You can check in and check out in this office today, but you must also go see the port captain for your zarpe and he won't be in-office before Monday."

Crap. We were told in Fiji we could do our check in and check out on a Saturday.

Fortunately, a quick check of the GRIBs showed that our weather window had accommodated us, expanding to give us the two placid days we needed.

Life is like that sometimes.

We didn't rock and roll in the roadstead anchorage, instead we sat peacefully for two days in a lovely, lovely setting, enjoying an unexpected Futuna experience.

Life is also like that sometimes.

Our sail home was as pleasant as our sail there. Both ways we crossed the antimeridian, exactly halfway around the world from Greenwich, England, and meaning that in our short trip we traveled east from the Eastern Hemisphere to the Western Hemisphere and then back to the Eastern Hemisphere.

--MR


Arriving Futuna.

Futuna streets.

Could be a Marquesan street for sure.

This is what the sail back to Fiji looked like.

Del Viento back on a Waitui mooring in Savusavu.

First thing we did upon returning was get together
with our friends Robin and Fiona from MonArk.
The couple are Good Old Boat contributing editors who
also run a site that encourages younger folks to get into
sailing and cruising. Check it out: youngandsalty.com

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Dreary Paradise
By Michael
SAVUSAVU, FIJI


Frances with a roadside vendor.
We've not enjoyed a lot of sunshine this month. Lots of drizzle—not a good thing. Drizzle is for San Francisco. Precipitation in Fiji is usually the warm, Tropical-rain kind, the kind that allows us to collect water in the tanks and bathe on the foredeck with a smile on our face. This is cool drizzle that turns dust to mud streaks. This drizzle is off-and-on and sends us opening and closing our hatches like jack-in-the-boxes.

It's where we are, Savusavu. It's got its own little wet climate, a result of the moisture-condensing mountains around us. There's a rain forest a few miles from our mooring.

All of that wouldn't be so dreary if I didn't feel stuck. The clock is ticking on Del Viento's time in Fiji. We've been trying to get her out-of-country since I arrived back from the July I spent in the States—a 2-day passage to Wallis-Futuna and two days back—but the weather hasn't cooperated. Not the drizzle this time, but the contrary winds that make that trip notorious. We're just looking for a break.

Is that all?

No.

I've got the job of my dreams, editor of a great sailing magazine. I can work from Fiji and anywhere, it's a dream job that allows us to cruise indefinitely.

But what does that look like?

The crab Eleanor found.
I'm working more than 40 hours a week. I'll remind you that this cruising life is work in and of itself. Getting water, fuel, groceries, and sundries, and disposing of trash, and doing laundry, and repairing and maintaining the boat, is nearly a full-time job. The cruising life is best when the cruisers are unencumbered to tend to the demands of self-sufficiency, like we were for the first five years of this adventure. Cruising doesn't easily accommodate full-time workers. It doesn't feel like we're cruising anymore.

And while working full-time in paradise is still more appealing than a conventional land-based life in the States, there's more.

Our kids are turning teen (Eleanor turns 14 next month!). This means we're confronting the characteristic needs for social lives that involve a more constant presence of other young adults. I cannot relate, but I cannot ignore.

Added into our life stew are aging parents; my mom in particular isn't doing well.

We've met cruising teens who pine for richer social lives. We've met cruisers who need to spend time caring for aging parents. But these were other people, these were their stories. We never saw our story the same way.

We're not throwing in the towel, this isn't my farewell post. I don't know what our cruising life holds. We're actively trying to figure that out. We're a family accustomed to an uncertain future, we just need to find the best way to make that future the best it can be.

Maybe when the drizzle clears.

--MR

Frances was keen on having a spa day aboard Del Viento and sold
Windy and Eleanor on the idea. This is what it looked like and on the
girls' faces is Frances's own oatmeal concoction.

At the nearby Waisali Rainforest Preserve.

A Fijian village near a stream. Note the women doing laundry.

A deserted beach we found--I love this little motu.

This dock and a few moorings comprise the Savusavu Marina
where we've spent a lot of time, and where we plan to again leave
Del Viento (on a mooring) over the cyclone season.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

In the Front Door
By Michael
SAVUSAVU, FIJI


Frances was obsessed with me
capturing this photo. I think this
is take number 17.
I wrote a while back about how the cruising life has given us unique access to many fancy resorts. There's a symbiotic relationship between snazzy beachfront resorts and cruising boats (seen as yachts by resort managers and guests alike) anchored off the beach. Anchored yachts make a snazzy place seem snazzier. The hick-up to this symbiosis is that there is an unalienable third party to this relationship, the unbathed, poorly dressed cruisers aboard these anchored yachts. While there may be a fortress-like guarded gate at the land entrance to these places, the beach is a wide open path to a snazzy pool and other amenities. Resorts usually either welcome us or they just tolerate us. We've seen it both ways, we don't care.

The other day was another such occasion, only this time we were invited to drive in the front entrance, of La Dolce Vita Holiday Villas here on Venua Levu.

Thanks Susan and Jeff.

--MR

This floor mural is made of countless tiny
tiles.

Another tiled mural. The detail was exquisite.

See? These are people in one of those arches.

Another tiled mural. If you're noticing an Italian theme, the place is
owned and built by Margaret and Luigi. We ate great pizza from one
of two huge wood-fired ovens on the property.

Frances looking out at the saltwater play lagoon.

One of many Fijian totems we saw here and many places in Fiji.

Happy Windy.

Happy Frances.

Crossing Windy.

Pictures to Windy's left are two of the guest villas. As you can see,
the place was empty, we had it to ourselves all day.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Small World, Great Game
By Michael
SAVUSAVU, FIJI


Fair winds Meri and Jim, we'll see you in Ajo!
So we got an email late last year, from a young cruising couple we'd never met.

"We are currently in Tonga headed to Fiji probably this week. Hopefully our paths will cross and we can meet." Amy continued, "In it's-a-small-world news, my uncle is friends with a couple named Mary Kate and Rick who worked with Windy in Washington, D.C."

Well well, MK and Rick aren't just former co-workers, they're dear friends, and about as far removed from the sailing life as any two people we know. It really is a small world.

As it turned out, Amy and David ended up spending the cyclone season in Tonga, so we didn't see them then. But they sailed into Savusavu aboard Starry Horizons a few weeks ago and we got together soon after. It was a pleasure and on a subsequent get-together aboard their boat, they introduced us to a game, the perfect cruisers' game.

It's an old parlor game called Fictionary, like what they play on the NPR quiz show, "Says You!" We used no board or dice or cards or anything, just scraps of paper, some pens, and a dictionary.

So here's the deal.

One person looks for a word in the dictionary that they think nobody else will know. They poll the players, "Does anyone know the word bibble?"

If anyone knows the word, the dictionary holder goes back to the dictionary in search of another. But ideally, everyone stares back blankly.
Now round one can start.

The player holding the dictionary does not share the definition of bibble with anyone. Rather, they write it down, paraphrasing colloquially, on their scrap of paper before folding it in half so that the definition is not visible. Meanwhile, each of the other players comes up with an imagined definition of bibble, writes it on their scrap of paper along with their initials, folds it in half, and passes it to the dictionary holder.

At this point, the dictionary holder should have a bunch of folded scraps of paper before them, equal to the number of players, including themselves. Nobody at the table should have any idea what is written on any scrap of paper except what they wrote on their own.

So the dictionary holder takes up all the scraps of paper, reviews them to be sure the writing is legible and that they'll be able to read each one as seamlessly as their own, and then begins reading them aloud, in random order.

As they do so, one of the players, the score keeper, transcribes the definitions, as multiple readings will likely be necessary.

The rest of the players listen, with the goal of choosing the actual definition.

That is surprisingly difficult. I secretly figured I came into the game with an unfair advantage as surely I'd be able to identify and exclude my daughters' attempts at a made-up definition, but I couldn't. It was great.
The game is surprisingly fun as each player (except the dictionary holder) weighs in with their guess and the score keeper records the guesses.

Scoring:

  • If nobody guesses the actual definition, the dictionary holder earns 5 points. This is huge.
  • If a player guesses a player's made-up definition as the actual definition, the author of the made-up definition earns a point (one for each player who falls prey to that definition).
  • Any player who guesses the actual definition, earns a point (and dashes the dictionary holder's only chance at earning any points).

That's it.

Then the dictionary holder passes the dictionary clockwise and round two can begin.

We played with Amy and David (6 people total) and one game took a while, and we enjoyed every minute.

More recently, we played with the crew of two other boats, 8 people total, and it was just as fun, and took even longer.

Oh, and bibble—v. to drink often; to eat and/or drink noisily

And I'll note that one of the other crews we played with was Meri, Jim, and Caroline of Hotspur.

We said goodbye to them yesterday, shortly before they boarded a ferry for Suva, a bus to Nadi, and a plane back to the States. They're not coming back. It looks like they've found a buyer for Hotspur and they're shopping for an RV trailer to tow behind the truck they just bought. They're going to cruise the U.S., for now, as empty nesters.

Savusavu already feels empty without them.

--MR
Caroline and Eleanor fictionalizing aboard Del Viento.
David and Amy of Starry Horizons with us at
Lia Café in Savusavu.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Slow Travel Tidbits
By Michael
SAVUSAVU, FIJI


It's good to be back home with Windy
and the girls.
Just last month I stepped up to the counter at a Bank of America in Camarillo, California.

"Hi, I just want to cash this check I received." I pushed the Bank of America-drawn personal check and my ID to the teller.

"Okay, are you a Bank of America customer?"

"No."

"Okay, that's not a problem." She tapped on her keyboard and looked down at my driver's license. Then she tapped some more and looked down at my driver's license. "Hold on one second, I'm going to have to get a supervisor."

She walked over to where a supervisor seemed to be helping another teller. She waited and waited. Finally she gave up and came back to me. After more tapping and looking, she furrowed her brow, "I just don't see any licenses that match yours," she said, swinging her monitor around so I could see.

"Oh, those pictures are all examples of Washington state IDs, my driver's license is from Washington, DC."

She stared back at me blankly. And here I have to say, having lived a decade in the District, I'm no longer surprised by when I come across people who have no idea that Washington, D.C. is not a city in any of the 50 states and who can't even say what D.C. stands for.

"The District of Columbia," I added.

"Colombia?" she asked.

She was clearly a Latina and she pronounced the word like the South American country, with two long Os.

"Habla Espanol?" I asked.

"Si…" she answered, curious.

I went out on a limb, taking a chance she was Mexican. "El District of Columbia en Los Estados Unidos es como DF." I knew a Mexican would immediately get the DF reference.

Her face lit up, we were on the same page. She and I spent a few minutes talking (in English) about D.C., about how small it is, how it's home to the White House and Congress and many incredible museums, and how so few people live there that here in California, she is unlikely to ever see another D.C. ID.

She seemed appreciative.

And this is one reason why I love our nomadic life. Not sharing information, but acquiring it myself, in a way that our unique lives make possible. I could have traveled to Mexico a dozen times for vacation and never have learned that Mexicans refer to their seat of government, and usually Mexico City itself, as DF (pronounced "day effay"), that there is not a Mexican alive who doesn't instantly know what someone means when they hear those two letters. I know this only because our cruising life has allowed us to spend a lot of time in Mexico, and like the time we spend in every place we visit, it’s filled with the sundry tasks of laundry and shopping and doctor's visits and more that give us insights and knowledge we'd not gain traveling another way. It makes my experience, and my life, richer.

In the month I spent in the States, I mentioned Fiji to a ton of people. Many have seen the water bottle, many associate the name with an exotic vacation destination. Few know that it's a country, where it is on the planet, what the population looks like, what the greetings are, what the shopping malls in downtown Suva are like, what sevusevu with a village chief entails, and a million other things. And I don't report that as a slight—I know just as little about the hundreds of countries I've not visited.

But my point is that I want to visit all of them because of what I feel I've gained in perspective from the few I have visited. Knowing that many shop keepers in Tonga use Chinese calculators that feature a little speaker that shouts out the keypad numerals in Chinese as they're pressed, is a tidbit that means absolutely nothing, but that I cherish. Knowing the two-letter abbreviation that Mexicans use to refer to their capital won't make me rich, doesn't prepare me to write a book on Mexico, and doesn't make me any smarter than the bank teller and anyone else who doesn't share this knowledge. But these things, combined with all the hundreds of thousands of arcane bits of info I've acquired about the people and places we've been fortunate to visit over the past seven years, make me happy. These are miniscule pieces to life's puzzle, a puzzle that none of us can ever fully assemble, but which we're all lucky to spend time working on.

And of course, picking up knowledge—some of it useful, much of it meaningless—is something that happens to all of us as we age. And maybe the way in which it shapes perspective is what we refer to as wisdom. But a diversity of that knowledge is something that comes from slow travel. It's what I'm happiest about when I think of the benefits my family realizes from our nomadic life.

--MR
A near-daily trek into town from our Savusavu Marina mooring.

The crossroads in downtown Savusavu.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Pennies on the Dollar
By Michael
SAVUSAVU, FIJI


Hotspur has a very unique layout, with this aft
22-foot "great room."
Good old boats. Classic plastics. Call the older fiberglass monohull cruising boats what you will, they're plentiful and not going anywhere and growing in number. Whereas most of the wood-hulled cruising boats of yesteryear long ago wasted away to nothing, 40- and 50-year-old fiberglass good old boats are completing circumnavigations. In a world where a quarter-million dollars is close to the minimum cost of a new family-sized cruising boat, older fiberglass monohulls are an outstanding value.

And the market for vintage, offshore, world-cruising boats has only gotten more buyer-friendly, perhaps for these few reasons:

  • Older, heavy, long-keeled and full-keeled cruising boats really cannot hold a candle to newer boats in terms of performance and sail-handling ease.
  • A huge swath of the cruising boat market has drifted over to multi-hulls.
  • The traditional M.O. of buying a boat outright and saving up a cruising kitty before casting off has waned as more and more couples and families cast off for a 2- to 3-year cruising sabbatical aboard a shiny, sleek new boat purchased with a mortgage and a plan to sell at the end of the road.

The decline in the value of these boats is not all bad (except for sellers of vintage cruising boats). We could not have embarked when we did on this cruising life had we not been able to find our then-33-year-old S&S-designed Fuji 40 for $64,000. We've gotten to know 20-somethings who have sailed across the Pacific in their own yachts. I'm not talking about trust-fund kids, but hard-working young people who have shunned the trappings their peers could not and have saved a chunk of change, found a bargain, invested a lot of sweat equity, and cast off. These old fiberglass boats make stories like this possible for the first time in human history. Imagine that!

And the impetus for this post is a 41-foot, offshore-ready classic plastic for sale just a few hundred yards from where I'm writing in Savusavu, Fiji. My friends Meri and Jim and their kids were blogosphere inspirations to us before we began cruising and now they've reached the end of their cruising road. Their Hotspur, a 1976 S&S-designed Tartan T.O.C.K (Tartan offshore cruising ketch) has carried them from Mexico to Fiji and everywhere in between. They've made numerous upgrades. They just last week returned to Fiji from a sail to the French protectorates of Wallis and Futuna. Hotspur is well-equipped and for sale for $29,000! Jim and Meri want to move on and understand the cost of leaving a boat sitting in the Tropics waiting to fetch top dollar. They've priced her to sell immediately. That's an amazing opportunity for the right buyer, a dream launched for pennies on the dollar. Just check out this video from their sale site. Can your $29K SUV offer anything close?



I'll add that Jim and Meri are good people with a strong positive reputation in the cruising community.

--MR

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

A Helpful Voyage
By Windy
SAVUSAVU, FIJI


The girls searching for whales aboard Caro Vita.
Last week the girls and I had the good fortune to meet a guy named Don who invited us on an overnight trip out to Koro Island on his beautiful, spacious sailboat, Caro Vita. There couldn't have been a better weather window. The passage, normally a nauseating slog to windward, was on calm and sparkling seas beneath a blue sky. On the way, Frances spotted two humpbacks in the distance and we diverted to get a closer look. When we arrived roughly where the whales had been, all was quiet until we heard an exhale nearby and there they were, mom and babe, surfacing parallel to Caro Vita. A little later, we heard the fishing line zing and reeled in a mahi-mahi (which Don later prepared as sashimi, with filets for dinner). As we neared Koro Island we took a detour, nosing through a pass in a ring of brilliant turquoise coral. We anchored and jumped into the clear water of a protected offshore lagoon for a refreshing swim and an unanticipated reminder of why we were there.

Through my dive mask I saw a reef that was a leveled field of gray, pulverized, rubble strewn with the toppled carcasses of mushroom corals the size of cars. I kicked toward the few bright sprouts of newly grown coral and their company of tiny multi-colored fish. We were swimming off the village of Nabuna, one of the villages devastated by cyclone Winston last year when it hit Koro Island head on.

Cyclone Winston is the most powerful and devastating storm ever recorded in the Southern Hemisphere with wind speeds nearing 200 miles per hour that powered massive storm waves. From my parents' home in California we watched as Winston zigged and zagged across the Pacific. At one point the storm headed directly toward Del Viento (then floating on a mooring in Tonga) but then it veered, hair-pinned, and intensified to a Category 5 cyclone as it bore down on Fiji, hitting Koro Island directly and at its peak intensity. Del Viento was spared, Fiji was not.

On Koro, villages are squeezed in between steep mountains and the sea, many homes sit just meters from the water's edge. Winston flattened whole villages, toppling sea walls and bringing down substantial concrete structures that had been used as cyclone shelters for decades. Of the 70 people killed by Winston, 35 died on sparsely populated Koro Island.

Leone, a new friend and Koro island resident.
Last year, in the aftermath of cyclone Winston, our host, Don Salthouse, arrived in Savusavu from New Zealand wanting to help. He went to Jolene (the lovely soon-to-be-ex-manager of Waitui Marina, who knows everything and everyone) and asked her where help was needed most. When Don arrived at Koro the people were just beginning to rebuild and were simultaneously devastated and overwhelmed by the enormity of the task ahead. Don has a no-nonsense way about him and an ability to get to the core of things. He asked people what they needed. He learned that aid was coming in but that efforts to build were hampered. Key things were missing, like strapping to hold the structures together and tools to build with. Skilled carpenters were spread thin, but essential to train builders and to ensure that new homes were strongly built. So Don set out to fill in the gaps. He purchased power tools, generators, and materials off-island, and even found a carpenter willing to travel to Koro. He anchored his boat off villages and brought supplies in by dinghy.

On our trip to Koro we visited two villages, Nabuna and Navaga. Don delivered a chainsaw, fuel, some plastic bins, and other various small bits. With a gaggle of adorable kids in tow, all eager to hold our hands, we were given tours.

It has been over a year now since cyclone Winston hit and though there is still work to do, there is a justified feeling of pride and accomplishment in the villages. Through hard work, cooperation, and a bit of help from the outside, the people of Koro Island have been rebuilding their communities. All around us we saw brightly colored new homes, sprouting up like the colorful patches of new coral on the nearby reef.

If you would like to help Don in his successful efforts to help the villagers of Koro Island to rebuild their homes you can donate through our Paypal account (PayPal.Me/delviento) and we will make sure all money gets to Don. Any amount helps and 100% will be used for tools and materials for Koro Island--more than 100% actually, as Don pays out of pocket for related expenses, taxes, and is not above leaning on businesses to get good deals on supplies. Add a note to your remittance that the money is for Koro, not that we regularly get unsolicited funds sent to us via PayPal.

--WR
Cyclone Winston, 2016--that's Koro at the eye. For
reference, Savusavu is almost due north of the eye,
on Vanua Levu.

Don and Frances in Savusavu.

Tasty treats from the Koro islanders.

On Koro, new homes in the background.

Broken concrete is what remains of the church where residents
sought shelter during Winston, and from where many just escaped before it collapsed.

Windy, Frances, and Koro kids.

Group photo.

Eleanor in a play circle.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Big Boom and Departure
By Michael
TEMPLETON, CA


It wasn't this dramatic, the camera is playing tricks.
We didn't know anybody at the party, but there were lots of interesting people to talk to. There were Pinto and Lara, our gracious and charismatic hosts and long-term Fiji residents famous for their 4th of July parties on their sprawling property fronting a windward Fijian beach. There were the visiting South Africans who willingly gave me their own take on the state of race relations at the tip of the African continent. There was the American couple—ex-pats like Pinto and Lara—who both descended from scientists who worked at Los Alamos during development of the atomic bomb. She was a precision welder before retiring and a total science nerd. "Richard Feynman is my hero too!"

Fortunately, it was towards the end of the evening, while the live band played, that Windy and I sat across the yard, farther than anyone from where guests launched the excitingly close fireworks show. As they exploded overhead we compared notes about the new people we'd met that night, about our time back on the boat in Fiji, and about our unhappy plans for the coming days.

Then Windy leapt up and began purposefully, desperately pouring what was left of the 40-ounce beer we were sharing into her ear.

"Are you okay?!" Another shower of sparks had just exploded our way following a boom across the yard.

"I need to get inside, I'm burned."

Here we are waiting to check in our bags in
the hold of the overnight ferry we took last month from
Suva to Savusavu. Interestingly, the M/V Lomaiviti Princess
was formerly M/V Queen of Prince Rupert, one of the
many heavily used BC ferry boats. She was built in 1966
and left BC for Fiji in July 2011. She's not doing well.
 Too much deferred maintenance means that rails are
rusting away and the public toilets back up and
flood the carpeted interior walkways. It ain't pretty.
For 45 minutes she kept her head under the flow of cool water from the kitchen sink. The inside of her ear was badly blistered and the skin had already sloughed off. She was in a lot of pain. I fended off a parade of inebriated well-intentioned advice givers. She did willingly pause from the water flow to allow a couple of the four veterinarians in attendance (one Scottish, one English) to take a look and offer reasoned assurances and care instructions.

We left when she was ready, a potted aloe plant under one arm, courtesy of Pinto and Lara.

The next day I was able to swab all of the powder residue out of her ear with a Q-tip saturated with burn gel. Apparently, a burning piece of firework had found its target in one of the little crooks in the inside of her outer ear. "I could hear it hissing as I extinguished it with the beer." She told me.

That was a couple weeks ago. She is healing. The pain is gone.

The following day I was gone, the unhappy plan in action.

We've long heard countless stories from cruisers older than we about the need to return home to care for parents, since our first cruising spell in the mid-1990s. Now I guess we are older. I left Windy and the girls in Fiji the afternoon of July 5 to return to the States to help care for my mom, to take some of the load off my dad and sisters. Fortunately, this will not be a long-term, cruise-ending event as it is for so many. I plan to return to Fiji to rejoin my family in early August. Unfortunately, we're all booked on a flight back to the States again in late September. So this sojourn interrupts an already brief Fiji cruise.

But that's life.

And overall, life is good. My job, the job of all of us, is to enjoy every bit of it to the extent we're able. For ourselves, for our kids.

Fortunately, Windy and the girls are able to do just that in my absence. Hopefully she'll soon report here from the islands. Stay tuned.


--MR

Scene from a bus we took from the hills above Suva down to
the city center. We love Suva, something about it, nice vibe.











Friday, June 30, 2017

Our Mold Hell
By Michael
SAVUSAVU, FIJI


So check out this dorade vent,
shiny white before we left.
Out in the sun the whole time.
Last year we flew back to the States and left Del Viento afloat in Tonga, for 3 months. When we returned, she looked surprisingly similar to how we'd left her. That experience set our expectations for our recent return to Del Viento in Fiji, after what turned into an 8-month absence. Disappointment is a product of expectations. We arrived back to Del Viento disappointed.

We shouldn't have been, we should have known better.

Things turned out so well in Tonga that we got complacent. We didn't have a regular minder this time, to open the boat weekly and check on the batteries. We smugly assumed we'd left a leak-free boat behind. We hadn't. That latter fact made all the difference in the world.

Photos tell the story best, so I'll use them to do so.

The silver lining is that we had a great dinner ashore the other night with Meri, Jim, and Carolyne of Hotspur. (They're housesitting in a hillside home with a million-dollar view and a killer porch to enjoy it from. All isn't roses with regard to that situation, but the downsides only add fuel to the great stories Meri has to share.) Well, the silver lining I'm talking about isn't the dinner, but the story idea that came out of our mold hell. Meri and I are going to co-write a magazine article about it.

--MR

So check this out, upon dinghying up to the boat for the first time,
I saw these blisters--never had them before--all over the hull. I
know our gelcoat is shot and we've plans to paint, someday, but
above-the-waterline blisters is something I don't want to deal with.
Turns out they are all spider webs, and I had to touch one before
I was sure, bullet dodged!

This looks bad, but cleans up super easily, it's already done.
This ain't mold hell, just what we expected.

The start of mold hell. The cushion that sat here, beneath a drip,
we didn't know about, is in awful shape.

Frances cleaning out the fridge. Interestingly, there was
no mold in there--we'd cleaned it thoroughly before leaving
and we'd left the hatch propped open. Yet it obviously served
as a cockroach meeting place because there were dead bodies
in there and it was streaked with crap. Ugh.

So the Force 10 stove grate is rusting away and this teapot
kind of highlights the general state of things. 

This is the depth of mold hell. These painted fiberglass surfaces were shiny
white when we left. I sanded and painted them all with Interlux one-part
polyurethane in 2015. They were gorgeous. It's a hard shiny surface
on which I would not have expected mold. And there is not a speck of mold in those books
below. Doesn't jive. I'd have thought it easy to clean mold from these hard, shiny surfaces.
It's not. Vinegar and hydrogen peroxide and scrubbing failed. Then, literally minutes
after handing this blog post over to Windy to review, I tried a Kiwi solution
I bought in town, Exit Mould. It's a miracle product.

But really, This is the view ashore. This is where we get to clean
mold. We returned to a boat still afloat. I'm not complaining.

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