Thursday, May 1, 2014

As Everyone Else Heads Out to Sea

Cyclone season is officially over in the South Pacific.  The weather has shifted from "unbearably hot" to"uncomfortably hot". I am no longer glued to my gribs. We made it through cyclone season in one piece.

Time to sit back and relax a little. But, a couple of days ago, something strange started happening. People started leaving. I knew that some of my neighbours were only in the marina for cyclone season, but I didn't realize just how many were going to be booted out come May 1st. Here we are, on the Fête du Travail, and the boats are leaving in a steady stream.
Empty docks, waiting for new arrivals.

Even stranger is the fact that new boats are arriving. From other countries. How I failed to expect this I don't know - I suppose I have been in a routine for too long. Because when I saw my first Q flag on Tuesday, my heart gave a lurch. The flood of cruisers has begun. These people are smelly, dirty and dead tired. All they want is to tie up and sleep for fourteen hours, but first they need to rinse the decks, pack the sails, and head off to Customs and Immigration.

I am so jealous.

I introduced myself to a new neighbour yesterday, fresh from the crossing from Australia.
"So," she asked once the pleasantries were dispensed with.  "Do you live in the marina permanently?"
It gave me a start. Do we look so settled? I sometimes forget that we had only planned to be in New Caledonia for a couple of weeks, and here we are, eight months later. "No, no," I insisted, "We'll be leaving in a few months."
She nodded, but I saw the look in her eyes. Some cruisers live their lives on the cusp of departure... but they never go. Still repairs to do, still things to perfect, still comfortable here. Just a little longer. My neighbour's look said, "Good luck.  I hope you make it out of the tar pit."

Perhaps our unexpected stop has had some good consequences. We reassess our status every year or so, and this year I can safely say that I am not ready to stop yet. I want to keep cruising. If I envy every boat that comes and goes, that tells me something, and it is good to have that clear in my mind. Maybe this pause was the deep breath we all needed to say, Onward! More sailing! More cruising! More family adventures!

Before we know it, it will be time to wrap up in New Cal for real. I am newly determined to make the most of the time we have left.

I am ready to hoist the Q flag and go.

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