And Now, I’ll Show You Climate Change!

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Rising sea level has made this village unreachable and forced the Catholic Church, at back, to relocate to a new site inland.

The kids are always the first to spot what’s coming. They have safety in numbers, proceeding in a pack out of the palm shadows to the edge of the beach to eventually wave abundantly at us I-Matang in our funny hats riding ashore in a rubber boat with wheels.

Mao was the eldest, tall and teethy, with a dramatic swath of black hair. She didn’t know what we wanted, but we didn’t know what we wanted either. We rowed ashore because it’s what you do when you anchor off a village; this one just happened to be far off the well-sailed paths and they seemed baffled by our sudden appearance. We were at the very northern tip of Abaiang, an atoll just 30 miles from Tarawa, the main island of western Kiribati.

Continue reading “And Now, I’ll Show You Climate Change!”

Living the Dream

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“I would kill a man for a box of Cheez-its right now,” I said, my stomach writhing with competing cries for junk food and vomit.

“I would kill a man for you, baby.”

That’s my guy, rising to the occasion when I needed him the most.

We were off our game. Sitting around marinas for five years had made us soft. Departing from New Zealand, the weather predictions had called for favorable southeast winds. That didn’t happen. We had strong northeast winds in the 25-35 knot range instead, with a short, steep sea state in the 10-12 foot range. As many of you know, close-hauled is not the Clara Katherine’s preferred point of sail, due to her general obesity and utter lack of keel. We were not making great way. And we were not feeling great.

The number of times I’ve been seasick is so few I can count them on one hand. It’s not that I’m particularly hearty – I’ve long believed that there are two things you can do to stave off The Vom:  Continue reading “Living the Dream”

We Always Leave on Fridays

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The plan was for Thursday. By Wednesday evening, the last of the errands and chores were completed – we were, technically, ready to sail. And we were barely speaking to each other, broken by the stress of preparations and last minute fixes.

Friends from the marina, aboard for a last supper together, were picking up the tension in our airwaves and it seemed like everything we said was just another denigration of New Zealand. After nearly five years in the country, Brian’s daily pastime had become criticizing Kiwis, however he’d drained most of the joy he could get out of this and just wanted to move on. “Your minds have already left; your bodies just need to catch up,” our friend, Phil, succinctly observed.

The boat needed to catch up, too, and the weather wasn’t cooperating. The forecast called for westerly winds, 25-35 knots, gusting 45. The only thing favorable was the direction. A gale warning was set for the region, but Brian was dismissive. “I just want to get out of here,” he kept saying. By the time we turned down the tunes and the bed covers, the wind was banshee shrieking through the rigs around us. We didn’t sleep and we said no kind words as we tousled in different directions on the berth, each trying to steal an extra vindictive wrap of blanket from the other. I kept thinking of our friends, Bill and Penny, who set sail from Wellington into a rising gale and how full of disbelief I was watching them cast off their dock lines, knowing that I’d never set off in weather like that. Not if I could avoid it.

But Brian’s stubbornness and determination to put New Zealand astern felt unavoidable. Continue reading “We Always Leave on Fridays”