Flying into Fiji
Flying in to Nadi Airport at 5:30 a.m. last Saturday, I found myself somewhat overwhelmed with emotion. It had been an 11-hour flight from LAX, so I was exhausted, but there was more to it. I was alone, having left my husband Wayne at the Orlando Airport several days earlier as he took off on his adventures in Turkey and Tunisia searching for a boatyard we can afford to build our new dream boat. I’d also spent five weeks in California and Florida visiting the kids and grandkids of our blended family. In California, we welcomed our second precious granddaughter into the world and out in Florida, I got to spend wonderful cuddle time with Liam, our bright-eyed and beautiful grandson. I was missing all of them.
Knowing that I was leaving all that family behind—and not knowing when I will see them again is one of the most difficult parts of cruising. I absolutely love travel, and I have no regrets about my chosen lifestyle, but I admit, grandchildren are a powerful magnet. Wayne and I are just going to be the crazy traveling grandparents who send them postcards with foreign stamps, bring them exotic gifts, and who, when they get old enough, convince their parents to let us fly the kids out to us so we can turn them into little pirates.
But there was another aspect to my emotional return to Fiji. I was coming home to our beloved boat and to our dogs. Ruby was staying as a pampered guest aboard Summer Spirit with our friend Ian in the same marina where our boat was, and Barney was in Suva.
After a short taxi ride, and after the driver helped me get my two suitcases, computer bag and purse on board, I went below to find the boat an absolute mess. We had launched in a hurry and had to try to get all sorts of stuff back into the boat without stowing it properly. This is what our bunk in the aft cabin looked like.
The rest of the boat was in a similar state. I’d been crying wistful but happy tears on the plane—now, I was just crying painful tears. How was I going to live on this boat for the next two weeks before Wayne came back?
I called Wayne via the Facebook Messenger app, our go-to communication method these days. His voice came through loud and clear from Turkey where he had recently landed, too. I was telling him about my lovely welcome home where I had no bed, no water, no refrigeration and no head. Then I saw a black streak speed past the windows. I stood up and there was Ruby, out black spoodle, wagging her tail and smiling at me.
My Ruby reunion was fabulous, but something was still missing. Barney, the Yorkshire Terror. His dog sitter lived in Suva, a four hour drive away. Now the whole time we have been here in Fiji, I have been too afraid to drive. Due to the fact that they are a former British colony, the people here drive on the left side of the road. I decided I could not wait any longer, so after my Saturday arrival, I rented a car and first thing Sunday morning, I took off for Suva. I’d never driven here before, and I was gripping the wheel with white knuckles at ten and two o’clock as I undertook the arduous 8-hour round trip journey. Fortunately, traffic was light, and soon I found I was into driving on the curving mountain roads and passing the slow buses with abandon.
When we met in Suva, Barney’s dog-sitter told me he had not been himself. He’d been more of a cranky old man, often quiet and despondent. My pup and I had a joyous reunion, but after the excitement of it all, he reverted to a quiet, somewhat sad dog. Halfway back, I pulled off the road into the park at Maui Beach, and as you can see in the photo at the top of the page, the only thing ailing Barney was the fact that the sea dog had been cramped up in a house for six weeks!
He chased crabs in the tide pools, barked at the waves, and ran all the way out to the end of the pier, dragging me behind him.
On the road home, he slept contentedly knowing he was heading home to the boat. When I got back to the marina late in the afternoon, the reunion between our two dogs, Barney and Ruby, was the most fun to watch. I hope we won’t ever have to separate them again. They yipped and barked and licked each other. That night after my long tense drive fearing I would get into a head on collision by drifting onto the wrong side of the road, I ate a salami sandwich for dinner. The three of us then slept together on the settee in the main salon along with my two suitcases which I could not unpack because a toolbox and a drill press were blocking access to my drawers and hanging locker.
By Monday, things were looking up. Ben, our Fijian crew came to work on the boat, and we managed to stow all the stuff on my bunk, get the water working, clean up the cockpit, and clear the floor of the main salon.
What a difference it made just to be able to sleep in my own bed again!
Learnativity remains listed for sale, and while we do have several interested parties, no one has made us an offer yet. If you would like to learn more about our boat, you can click on the link here. Wayne returns from Turkey next week, and unless a buyer jumps in with an offer, we intend to sail for Vanuatu in early October. Our final destination will be Turkey by April or May via Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, the Maldives and the Red Sea to the Suez Canal.
In a few weeks, we should start getting some bids from the yards Wayne is visiting, and we’ll find out if this dream is within our reach or not.
Either way, I can’t wait to go sailing again!