As my wise and cherished friend Kathi reminded me of a quote from Winnie the Pooh, "How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard." It is an understatement! We are now in our last 3 weeks here in New Caledonia and have been running around packing boxes and getting ready to leave our floating home for our land home. It is a very emotional time for me. I am really excited about seeing all our friends and family and the simple conveniences that land life brings. The ability to get in and out of your home without getting wet and sandy, a washing machine, grocery stores that you know, less maintenance issues, and going for long walks in a straight line... as I sit here I realize how little my list really is of the simple conveniences and now looking back they actually seem like pleasures instead of annoyances. I am looking forward to sharing a morning coffee with a friend and a long walk if anyone is up for it.
As we have mentioned a few million times, sailing community is outgoing, friendly, helpful, generous and some of the most amazing people we have come across. Unless you are on the same sailing path the bonds you make are a strong connection for a short time period and it isn't the same as a permanent residence. We kept running into "Fearless Fred" a 74 year old single hander. He reminds me so much of my dad that we had an immediate connection. Super sweet guy and amazing man with so many crazy stories. He is a decorated Vietnam veteran on his 3rd circumnavigation. We started running into him in Tahiti, Tonga, Fiji, New Zealand and now shared dock space in New Caledonia. We had dinner the night before he left and saw him depart to complete his circumnavigation... we will definitely be in Port Angeles when he arrives to finish his journey in a few years with big welcoming hugs...
We are always on the move and going in different directions. There are so many wonderful cruising families that are out on the water and we have been fortunate enough to meet and spend time with many. You never forget your friendships out here and often wonder what and how they are doing. I am afraid to list them all because I don't want to leave anyone out (Apropos, Field trip, Little Explorers, Javalot, Bob the Cat, Por Dos, Ohana, Breeze, Sarita, Lorien, Miss Good Night, Miss behaving, Tinkerbell to name a few) Reading their blogs, or facebook posts and keeping in touch and sharing their experiences whether you have done the same things or not is really fun. There are two families that we bonded with immediately and were fortunate enough to be on the same path almost daily and to share anchorages/ grocery shopping/ diving/ sunsets/ beaches/ snorkeling/ routes/ destinations/ weather/ customs/ boat repairs/ parts/ kids/ dinners/ books/ movies/ walks/ drinks/ advice/ school/ anxieties/ appreciation and the list goes on. We have really been lucky to cruise with them for months and our bonds are like family and we think of them very often and are excited to reunite... Shine and Pelagic. We also were lucky to have them split our time half with Pelagic all through Mexico and the other half with Shine from Tuamotos to Fiji. As a family cruising, and you here this from many other families, when you connect with another kid boat you stick to them like glue for the companionship/friendship/sisterhood.... I will just say now sorry for stalking both of you guys... I know there were times that you tried to shake us and we caught up to you... there is no hiding behind other boats in the bay... even without AIS Patrick! We will always find you.. hee hee. Both of you were and are such a blessing for us and made our adventure/journey so special. You are in our hearts forever!
Zihuatanejo our last day with Pelagics as they continue traveling south and us going west... Our endless Tiki battles are some of my most favorite memories along with the spicy soup giggle fest... it always puts a smile on my face remembering..
We have a wonderful couple that is looking at buying the boat so we have been going through the process with them, boat showing, test sail, surveys, haul out... it is quite a process. It is a lot of work as anyone who has sold a house. The boat isn't sold yet, everything is going well, there are still a few conditions outstanding but it looks like it may be a good fit. In any case it is always nice to meet new people and learn of their stories and why they want to take an adventure like this. I am excited for them and for the start of their new journey and hopefully choosing to take family circus into new waters. It is always nice to imagine the house that you have spent so much time caring for and attaching yourself too because she has brought you safely across so many ocean miles... about 14,000 I think, will continue on giving another family enjoyment and bring new opportunities for them to connect and experience life like we have.
New Caledonia is a gem and we are loving it here. It truly is unspoken because they don't need to advertise for tourism. It isn't one of their economic factors because nickel is their primary income, they are the 5th largest producer and have about 10% of the worlds nickel on this tiny little island. With that being said there are a crazy amount of permanent boats here that many french, kiwi and aussies use for vacationing or permanent residence. One of our concerns for the end of our trip was where to store the boat. If we weren't able to sell her we needed to find a home to store her and keep her safe and watched over until November. During our process of hauling out we found a wonderful community of people at the boat yard we hauled out at. It turns out there are only 2 yards that are able to lift a catamaran and one had a broken lift. So we were directed to Carenocean a tiny boat yard at the bottom of a cliff. As we pull up to get hauled out Raul comes out in his dinghy, directs us where to go then says he has to change and tells us to wait until he motions us to move forward. He jumps on his boat and then comes out with swim trunks and a waterproof remote control. He jumps in the water and swims to the lift and tells us to drive over him and then hands us straps to the lift and then begins to guide the boat onto the ramp by standing on the ramp and maneuvering the boat with his hands underneath... and then with the remote begins to move the boat out of the water.... literally a one man operation and it was the smoothest haul out we have had.
We had the boat pressure washed for the survey because the hull had to be clean. The next morning Chris goes to check on the hull before the surveyor comes out and what does he find but little muddy hand prints in decorative designs all up and down the keels and hull... Hee Hee kids and boat yards... it is always fun to play in the mud and find the junk to build stuff.
So we have started packing up our boat for shipment home. This was also another concern and was a challenge finding a reasonable company where they would store our boxes for a reasonable price and put them on a container ship to arrive in Oakland at some point in the next 6 months. As luck would have it we came across Frederic that has been a god send and is a true pleasure to work with. He works for a shipping company here called IES. He told us where to get our boxes, and once packed he came to pick them up at the marina here and store them for us until the ship leaves on 8/3. We have to get him our second and final shipment pick up by Thursday this week. Let's just say our waterline has come up by about 4 inches. Taking off all of the school books, games, toys and such makes the boat look so uncluttered and clean... I wish we could have cruised with less and after packing some of the items I KNOW we could have cruised with less.
Tristan is taking his finals and trying to finish up school so at least he will have a couple weeks break before he starts back school at home. Schooling on the boat has been one of the most difficult but rewarding parts of our trip. I can see why people choose to homeschool. Being able to discuss and learn together has been a lot of fun and seeing them make connections from what they learn to real life it definitely more rewarding than I thought it would be.
Otherwise... we are enjoying the market and the sunrises while we are stuck dockside and as soon as we can get our last shipment off to Fredric and Tristan's finals taken we will be off to enjoy our last 10 days of boat life.
Hugs and love to all and we are looking forward to coming home.