This has been the best experience of my life–barring the birth and life of my beloved son. I can hardly put into words my thoughts and feelings right now. Suffice it to say that for the last few days, my little corner at Alan’s house has looked like campaign headquarters, and today it was like “get out the vote” the night before election day. Prayers were sent up. Meditations were targeted toward allowing me to stay in New Zealand for at least long enough to say goodbye to my captain when he arrives this weekend. Alas, it was not to be. Alvei just didn’t get here quickly enough for Evan (my captain) to save the day.
So, what this means now. This means that I have to leave New Zealand, and a host of women sailors, that matched the likes of Christian “prayer warriors” who pulled every trick out of their hats, including deciding that I needed to fly to Australia and back because if you leave New Zealand you can come right back–no waiting for the length of time you were in the county like some places. So, why so much drama when it comes to normal visa extensions, you’d have to ask immigration, parliament, and whom ever sets immigration policy. I have not the energy to care at this point. Nevertheless, the flying to and from Oz, plus purchasing a one way ticket to Oz (to show a flight leaving New Zealand), plus needing to have thousands in the bank to fund my continued stay, and despite the fact that I am boat crew, which falls under different criteria, Immigration New Zealand decided that I couldn’t stay for four to six more days to prove that I am still boat crew. Rules are rules. (They are very rules oriented.)
As many of you know, when people travel, they usually have round trip tickets for fights. But, boat crew and yachties are different. They enter the country with a one-way ticket because they leave on a boat instead of a plane. We have letters of onward passage, from our boat captains detailing the boat and our roles on it. But, my onward passage is from November, and it’s now February. So, why don’t I have a current onward passage? Because my captain has been stuck in cyclones, the calms, ha dealt with blown sails, and low fuel causing this passage to take twice as long as usual. Boats can’t say exactly when they’ll arrive. Albeit this trip wins the record for the longest passage Alevi has ever had going from Vanuatu to New Zealand.
Across the world, most yachties just refer to themselves as the nomads because many of us don’t have addresses or one phone number. For example, I have a prepaid phone for Vanuatu, and would have had one for New Zealand too, but you know that story. We don’t have residency anywhere unless we travel part-time. But, in trade, we have a level of freedom that I’ve never experienced before, and I’ve never felt so alive. That’s why I have spent the last two hours with tears in my eyes as I began packing to leave.
I suppose I need to look at this as a temporary period in the dugout, and not see it as the whole game. There are boats closer to home that I can crew aboard and be able to see my son more often. Also, I can maintain my Vanuatu contacts from anywhere and continue to work on projects I started in that area from the states–until my son graduates from university. I can use my contacts in Vanuatu to assist my son’s classmates plan a trip to help take sustainable energy training to the villages there and maybe go as a guide, don’t know. At any rate, this is not just a new chapter, it’s Part IV of my life’s book.
But, this will have ramifications beyond my dreams and commitments. Alvei, my boat, is planning to go on airbnb while in New Zealand. I was put n charge of this, and have spent hours creating a page for each cabin and bunk we have to accommodate up to 24 people at a time at varying price points from cabins to individual bunks on the saloon. Now, our captain will have to manage it, and he hasn’t even seen our sites yet. Also, he’s never done this, and is at his best when going over charts and strategizing about the best course. He’s not a “hospitality industry” guy. I am. That’s why he chose me for the project.
Moreover, I had made arrangements with two aerial acrobats to perform their,in the air, pirate routine from our masts and yardarms as a media event on Alvei’s homecoming to New Zealand. It was to be a spectacular event that our battered crew could watch not have to take over at the last minute when they’re already sea battered. The local paper will still do a story, but I’m pretty sure the aerial show is off.
Tonight, I drink red wine, and eat Hokey Pokey ice cream. I say good-bye to the best Sauvignon Blanc on the planet, and to palms and giant pamplemousse. I say, “see you soon” to my sisters of the sea, and feel the breeze generated by Cyclone Winston far to the north. I say, see you another time, to the stingrays at the marina and bullying red nosed gulls. I say good-bye to the Ni-Vanuatu migrant workers whom also came to New Zealand to try to make a buck for their villages back home. Good-bye to the blue heron that posed like a runway model. Good-bye S/V Alvei, you’re more woman than I am. Good-bye bowls of chips that feed a crew of four for US$6.00. Good-bye turquoise water and dolphin escorts. Good-bye sea sickness, you son of a bitch. Good-bye to the British Commonwealth, and good riddance. Good-bye to the flat stomach and emerging bi-cpets. It was nice to see you again. Hello winter, I’m coming home.
A Brief Photo Recap of the Last Six Months
World’s Tiniest Shore Boat