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Muscle recovery and cold/wet weather kept us in yesterday except for my RT session. This was my first one without calibration so went quite quickly once I reached my turn.

Had some more Skype calls. Got a chance to chat with son John who’d getting on without Ella and Bao. He’s using Skype to stay in daily (if not more) contact with them. He seems well.

We also had great chats with the David and Marian on Kilkea, Stuart and Sheila on Imagine and again with John from Sea Mist who’s now recovering from a hip replacement in Singapore. He’s doing well and for once seems to know not to push himself too hard.

It seems they’ll all be up in Langkawa, Malaysia soon. The opportunity to swing by there on our way out of Australia (by plane) and see our friends again is irresistible, particularly with many offers to stay aboard with our friends. Many factors could influence our being able to do this but it’s very high on our list.

We’ve also accepted an invite and made plans to have a Thanksgiving dinner with the Bristol Roses. Sam will come with us and their sons Elliot and Owen will be there. We last saw them in the middle of the Pacific. Also there will be Jack and Jan from Anthem. The song of the sea is truly playing loudly this side of the shore.

We continue to dance a dance of courtship with Dignity’s buyers. We all need to be cautious but we’re making positive steps. Contracts are now signed, deposits deposited and inspections booked.

This morning Helen found one of the buyers’ website – Helene Young. She’s an author as well as a commercial pilot. She has mentioned us in her blog so I must return the compliment. We’ll continue our dance of courtship and hopefully all get together soon.

Staying In Touch

It must be impossible for any reader of this blog to miss the fact that a big part of cruising are the fellow cruisers you meet. I, like many others, read other blogs prior to setting off as part of my research so I knew this would happen but didn’t fully appreciate how different this relationship forming would be to my normal life. And I’m not just talking about the sheer number of sundowners imbibed, even though this is a lot of fun in of itself.

I’ve often thought about why these relationships are so different and as ever I have come up with a number of factors :

There is a phrase ‘Your friends are not the people you like the most, they are simply the ones that got their first.‘  It is an interesting observation and it sort of applies to land life.  I don’t think I was ever concious of this while on land but I believe we had developed behaviours which recognised this.  Particularly considering how busy we all are on land, we develop this whole layered approach to relationship forming because once let into our personal space it’s difficult (and often simply not desirable) to let go of people.  This is very much driven by the fact that our neighbours at home stay where they are, the people at work are usually there the next day as are the folks in our clubs, groups, etc.

While cruising it is the exact opposite.  You may never meet your current neighbour again.  There is therefore very little downside in opening up with folks you meet.

I discovered the ‘social layers’ we acquired on land made us all less interesting as well as less approachable.  Stripped of these layers you really find out about each other quite quickly and discover and develop friendships that may never have been previously possible.

Then there’s the people you meet. Anyone who chooses to set off across the seas with nothing between them and the depths bar a thin piece of wood, plastic, metal or perhaps banana leaf is going to be a little different from the typical person you get to know ashore. I’ve often felt we all have something extra going on as well as something missing. Some of the younger folks who crossed the Pacific on a shoestring have an incredible spirit. The ‘retirees’ have all lead fascinating lives to reach the point where cruising is possible. The ‘kid boats’, ie those with home schooled children aboard, are simply amazing. It goes on. We are all ‘missing’ something that holds us to one spot which allows us to face the challenges of adventure. To a certain extent this is true of anyone you meet in life but these qualities are often harder to reveal in those ‘stuck’ ashore.

Then of course there is the shared experience. We are all out there facing the elements, the thrills, the challenges, the fears together. We help each other out. We support each other. We share notes on where we’ve been and where we’re going. We have our sundowners. We share the moments we have together.

The cruising life allows you to get very close to a lot of people. You develop friendships that are incredibly special.

All of the above became amplified during our Pacific crossing. Perhaps, by then, we had matured as cruisers. A lot of it, I think, is that those mad enough to cross the Pacific are a special subset of a special subset of people.

I have meant to share my thoughts on this for some time but I’m doing this now for two reasons. The first is we got back in touch with our friends John and Cheryl on Sea Mist yesterday having been out of contact with each other, really, since we saw them sail over the horizon out of Fiji last year. We had a long Skype call which was really quite emotional. I confess I broke down when the call ended.

I’m not singling them out as such but it is an real example of the type of friendships that form in these circumstances. We’re so glad to be back in touch.

The second reason is that while all of the above is true for me, I am aware that cruising is not the only way to form such close bonds with people. As our life’s adventure now moves into uncharted (for us) seas we are discovering much the same in this new phase of our adventure. Our stay here in Melbourne has resulted in a very close bond with the family here. We’ve shared a common passage, supported each other (in this case, Helen and I have received most of the support) and, yes, we’ve had our sundowners.

Having made such close friends it’s therefore important to stay in touch and that we endeavour to do.

And this brings me back to another reason for bringing all this out now. The poll I put out yesterday is so far unanimous and I am surprised by the number of votes (25 votes is not a lot compared to other polls but it’s more than I expected – keep voting) and touched by the comments. It reminds me how important the blog is to all these close friends but also for the unseen travellers coming along with us. It is touching to know that our story is seen as a single adventure than just a trip on a boat and that folks out there who we’ve never met (yet to meet?) care.

So rest assured I will keep this blog going and not move off elsewhere. I’ll be using the blog, at least, to stay in touch with you all. Changing the name is an idea I am considering. The boat name Dignity came from the song of the same name which at one level, as I’ve explained before, talks about working hard to accomplish a sailing dream. At another level it’s about living your life with dignity which is now particularly apt. So I won’t be changing the name much, if at all. I need to think about this.

I will say that if you google “Dignity” you will find a bunch of websites about dying with dignity. As I have no intention of dying just yet, that connection is not relevant.

Where we can we’ll endeavour to stay in touch more personally. Next weekend we’re off to see our friends Brian & Janine and their ‘kids’ Ben and Holly over the other side of Melbourne. We shared a couple of special weeks with them all aboard Dignity and they’ve been supporting us with the loan of their car. We’re very much looking forward to sharing an anchorage with them again for a few days.

Last Day in Denaru

A week in Denaru is about 4-5 days too long. We will be leaving today. No doubt about it.

During the day, yesterday, we made a final trip into Nadi to pick up fresh food and eat lunch. In the evening we met up ashore with the Leu Cats, Sea Misters and True Companions for drinks followed by dinner at Cardod. We bumped into the Jaranas again and the Passageses joined us at the table.

For the Leu Cats and Sea Misters it was a final, final farewell as we are off today and so are they, to Vanuatu. They are on sailing plans which will be impossible for us to catch so again this was a little emotional. While cruising one makes some terrific friends but at some point there is a last goodbye. Sometimes you know when it is. Sometimes paths simply never meet again.

This morning I’ve been out and about in the Dinghy. This did involve going over to Leu Cat to drop off some butter and to pick up some hot peppers. This was a chance for a final, final, final farewell. Sea Mist was nearby so final^3 farewells there too.

Next stop …. Not here.

Boat work

The morning stayed wet and drizzly confirming our choice to stay put. I did go out to mail some passport photos to the village of Naqara where I’d promised to make some up for one of the guys we’d met there. I also located the machine shop to make a plate to fit under the stair our sliding privacy door runs across. It has been awkwardly propped up with books for the last few weeks following my slip down the stairs which weakened the step. The cost of the metal was a bit of a shock but I needed the work done so I gave the go ahead as long as they could get the work done that day.

In the afternoon I filled the dinghy fuel tank and went to pick up the plate. My design was deliberately overkill as the cost and pain of fixing the wooden step, should it break, would be far greater than this fix. I needed to screw 30 screws in from under the step. Each screw would need a hole to be drilled from underneath. Without being able to remove the step this was looking to be a pain to do. I’d bumped into John from Sea Mist at the fuel counter. He didn’t have a tool that would help. On the way back with my new plate and screws I stopped by Leu Cat to see if they had any tools to help. They did were happy to lend the tool. I hadn’t held out much hope but it sure pays to ask.

Back on the boat I fixed the plate. Now the step feels firm and we can remove the books to protect it.

After returning the tool to Leu Cat we made arrangements with them and with the Sea Misters for a another last meal out together tonight.

Lautoka and more Au Revoirs

We’d agreed to meet up with our taxi driver at 8am and were at the meeting point on time. Around 8:05am another taxi driver came by and offered us the trip for less. We’d heard of others whose drivers didn’t show so rather than take a risk we took the new taxi driver. I kept an eye open for ours along the way out of Denaru and didn’t see him so I didn’t feel too bad.

Apart from a brief stop to replace a flat tire we made it to Lautoka in good time. We’d asked to be dropped off at the customs office and be picked up in town later on. It turned out we needed to be in the customs office at the wharf (obvious really) rather than the one in town so we walked the approx mile between the two. We’d been advised by many to tell them our boat was nearby when asked where it was. I find it difficult to tell a bold lie so when it came down to it I said we were in Denaru. No problem. Soon we were out with coastal clearance for just about everywhere around here so we’re sorted on that front.

Next stop was immigration to extend our visas. It turned out it was in the unmarked building next to the first customs office we’d been to. So we walked back. It took a while and few Fiji dollars to get our extension. They required proof of our ability to sustain ourselves while here. In the end they were satisfied by taking copies of our credit cards and conceding on the need for copies of statements.

So now, unless we decide to go back to Suva or something like that, we have no more paperwork to do until we leave Fiji.

Next we walked around town. I bought a couple of shirts. The experience was a lot more pleasant than in Nadi where the shop keepers campaign heavily for your custom as you walk down the street. In Lautoka there was none of that. On the downside, the supermarkets with international produce were fewer and less well stocked than Nadi.

By the time we’d eaten lunch we were already a little late for our rendezvous. We didn’t lose our taxi as we’d bumped into him a couple of times already. We picked up a few more provisions before heading back to Denaru and the boat.

We didn’t do a great deal more in the afternoon. John from Sea Mist popped by having just arrived in the anchorage. He’d been invited to the evening out with the Leu Cats. That was great as this may be our last opportunity to see them for a while at best, if ever at worst.

The evening went well. We met up at Lulu’s having a round of cocktails together followed by dinner at Indigo’s – an Indian Restaurant – where we briefly bumped into the Jaranas who were just leaving. The evening was excellent and somehow we managed to stay out quite late, at least for us.

At the dinghy dock we said our emotional Au Revoirs. It’s never goodbye as one never knows how or when we’ll meet up again.

The answer to that is probably here and today as the weather has turned out crap and looks to stay that way today and tomorrow. We’re not moving on and when we do it looks like it’s out west.