Thursday, May 7, 2009

from s/v Circadia

We have been "idylling" on the island of Nuku Hiva, waiting to leave for the Tuamotus,the winds at sea having dropped off to almost nothing for days. We remember the doldrums, the sails flapping and the boom banging, and content ourselves with the Marquesas. Which isn't so bad.  At the moment we are in Anaho Bay, a sweet anchorage, protected from the swell and rimmed with a few homes, communal gardens, and a path which takes you to a long sand beach in one direction, and in the other, over a steep trail to the village in the next bay, Hatiheu, a town of exuberant gardens, nestled in a perfect semi-circle of blue bay at the foot of long fingered mountains.

But lest you think life is perfect in paradise I have prepared a list, a REALITY CHECKLIST I guess you could say:

1. bug bites
For the last five days or so Farlyn and I have become covered with dozens of bites. You see, every beach is home to legions of tiny black flies, called no-no's. You can't feel them bite. In the next few days the little red spots become unbearably itchy. This lasts for about three days or until you are unwise enough to be seduced by another perfect white sand beach. We smear calamine lotion, we sit on our hands, we give in and scratch fiercely

2. miscellaneous injuries

foot and hand mostly, from the various ways you can injure yourself here: scrapes with the rigging, shoe blisters, stubbing toes on the deck hardware; and mystery lesions like the little red spots all over Kim's chest, or the jellyfish sting on Tavish's leg, which he didn't notice for a couple of days, or the sore on one of my ears which turned into a hive of angry blisters.

3. sharks
So far, snorkeling, we have only encountered harmless reef sharks. The other day, hanging out at one of the towns here, Tavish spotted a very big shark gliding past the pier. Turns out it was a bull shark, about 10 feet long. Our book says "considered dangerous." At the next anchorage we chatted with a local boy who told us that a bull shark had killed his cousin in January on nearby Ua Pou island. (We're sure he was killed, despite the fact that our French is so bad, by the way the boy drew his finger across his neck and rolled his eyes back in his head).

4. heat
see previous posts.

5. lack of privacy
Not to complain about my shipmates, but how much time can you expect the average person to enjoy living with three other people in 200 square feet, twenty-four hours a day?

Understand, this is not whining. I just thought, before you sold everything, quit your job, and bought a sailboat, you should know


Anonymous said...

Alison, that was so kind of you to send your reality check. Of course I wasn't thinking of taking off and follow your adventurous example -- too old and unfit to take on anything evenly remotely like your escapades for a weekend or even a day, let alone a year. But it's good to have the reality check, which actually does just make me admire you even more.

I bet at some times you must be itching to get back to your studio and your home writing desk. You have at least a couple of books ready to be written and your paintings and photographs are lovely. On the other hand, it's probably seeming like time is getting short now and you will be treasuring every day of your outlaw life. Carpe Diem indeed!

We're in Vancouver -- two people sharing 500 sq. ft which is hard enough! -- and getting out to lots of music and theatre. Once again I didn't do the mother's day swim this year but I believe Liza and Margaret did. And we'll all be swimming when you get back.

Can't wait to see you again and catch up on everything. Meanwhile, press on, brave friend. Mike sends love to you and Kim, as do I,

Julie Zickefoose said...

Well, I love everything you write, but this reality check hit home. It took me back to Guyana, when, seduced by the breeze in an open boat on a river, I got covered with painless blackfly bites that blossomed into itching hell the next day, everywhere, everywhere.

I am remembering you, checking your legs in Honduras, spluttering, "And what in the fresh hell is THIS??" And how we laughed about our pock-marked bods.

As I pick the poison ivy scabs off my elbow again, for the tenth time.

I can confidently say that 200 sq. ft. is about 2500 sq. ft too few for me. God love you girl, I'm ready to see you take a long straight hike through woods and fields, not looking back.

Alison Watt said...

thanks for checking in. Glad you liked the reality checklist. At the moment we are in a very very lovely spot, having a deep rest after getting a little beaten up on the sail down here (another point for the checklist I guess.) I am doing my emails from the most perfect romantic getaway imaginable--the Pearl Resort on the island of Manihi. One of those places with little cabanas on stilts in the coral shallows. Enjoyed reading Z. Herbert lately--esp. the chapters on non-heroic art, and the price of art. wonderful stuff.
I'm so looking forward to summer swims in our bay, love to you both

that's a Dorothy Parker quote (she's one of my favourites), Happy to report bites have healed and we are now in a no-no free zone. Grabbing a very short internet interlude and looking forward to longer connection in Tahiti in about a week.