Welcome Aboard !?!

After saying farewell to our friends and family we embarked on a grueling two week full-court press of packing our house, packing for our trip, and deep cleaning our house for our new renters (the sweetest family). It was all hands on deck at the very end when we were deciding what to keep and what put it into storage and finishing all of the cleaning. By the time we left for the airport, my fingers and hands were sore from scrubbing and my finger tips were almost bare of finger prints. We cleaned and cleaned and cleaned until literally the very last moment before we left. The girls were super helpful with the cleaning and together I think we did a pretty good job.

Our good friend, Stuart, took us to the airport in his giant contractors truck which was perfect to fit our two oversized surfboard bags, 10 other large checked bags, along with our 8 smaller carry on bags. We were feeling anxious about whether or not we would even be allowed to bring all of the bags on the flight and had a back up plan of which items we would have to leave if it came to that. I was also starting to wonder how we were ever going to fit all of this stuff into a 45 foot boat. At the airport, Fiji Airlines was extremely kind to us allowing us to bring so many bags and they gave us a VERY generous deal on the baggage fees. I was so extremely grateful for the friendly woman behind the counter who was shocked when we told her that the bags contained all of our belongings to move aboard a sailboat the next couple of years. With our bags checked we were off to security with our 8 carry on bags. The security check with TSA took quite a while as they were very curious about our creative packing. Our two guitars and one ukulele cavities were filled with legos, my sewing machine was dismantled into two separate bags to meet weight requirements, and we had several bins filled with a variety electronics. The poor folks behind us looked exasperated. After about 30 minutes of re-scanning and hand checking bags we were finally through security and on our way to the gate.

When we arrived at the gate our new Fiji Airlines ticket agent friend was there to greet us and help us board. She motioned for us to pre-board (we had kids after all) with the other families with little ones. This gave us an opportunity to find a place for all of our stuff. By the time we got in our seats I was feeling a little overwhelmed. It was the first time in weeks that I had sat down without stress or having something directly in front of me to do. My job was to let go and sit in my seat for the next 12 hours, just sit there with myself and all of my feels. I almost started to cry as I was tired, overwhelmed, thankful for the kindness of the airline employees, and on the precipice of living our dream life. Our flight was uneventful and before I knew it we were landing. After a quick immigration stop, our next step was to collect all 20 of our bags and then head to customs. It took four carts, fully loaded!

We had to rent an entire tour van to bring us to the boat with all of our stuff. It was like packing a clown car to fit us four and all of our bags into the van. Within 30 minutes we arrived at the boat and our new list of projects began.

When we arrived at the boat if was about 7am +1 day Fiji time. This meant that we had a whole day of daylight ahead of us to work, even though our bodies were ready for sleep. As we anticipated, there was no space on the boat for our things.
The previous owners had put everything inside of the boat for safe keeping. The cabins were full of sails, sail covers, cockpit cushions, and all of the stuff that is typically on the outside of the boat. The inside of the boat was dark with the curtains drawn, as well as damp and smelly from sitting in the tropical heat and humidity for 6 months. We quickly got to work opening hatches and ports, pushing back curtains, and turning on every working fan in the boat. This all shed a new light on what we were facing. We crawled through each cabin and made a quick inventory of what we needed to do to get us sleeping on the boat by sundown.  Brian quickly started to move the big stuff out of the way and I grabbed some cleaning supplies. I had my work out our for me cleaning the mold and mildew from just about everything, organizing all of the bits and pieces around the boat, and getting rid of a bunch of trash and personal items left by the previous owners. Over the next few hours (and days) I wiped down every surface of the boat. We moved big items into the cockpit such as sails, cushions, etc. I stripped the beds, cushions, and anything that was not attached to the boat, and started to do laundry.  At $16 FJ ($8 US) per load I only washed and then line dried everything. Slowly the boat started to smell better. We got things to a point where we could bring our 20 bags on board but we left most of our bags on the front deck for a few days. Thankfully there was no rain. We were able to sleep on board the first night but opted to eat at the restaurant as the galley was still in no condition to prepare a meal. For the next several days Brian and I worked from sunrise to sunset getting the boat ship-shape. We tossed at least 8 big garbage bags of trash, personal belongings, empty cardboard boxes, rusted out pots/pans, and other items off of the boat. Brian and I went through every compartment and sorted every single nut/bolt/screw/fastener/line/adhesive/tool/etc and gave each a new and logical storage spot. While each compartment was open I cleaned it and then we stowed the items back or moved them to a new spot. Condensing items gave us a lot more space.

After about 4 days the boat was looking and smelling more like home. The girls were having fun and exploring their new surroundings. Isla started going up to the General Store to make use of their air conditioning.. One day when we went up to the store ourselves, we found Isla sitting on a bar stool talking away to her new friend, Sila, who works in the store. At this point everyone at the Marina knows Isla by name. The resort next to the Marina let us come over and use their pool which made for a nice mid day break from boat work.

As we went along we tried to tackle a new system each day: Engine, fridge/freezer/batteries/propane/galley stove/water system/waste disposal/etc. At each system we were challenged. Thankfully, the previous owner was as responsive and helpful as he promised he would be when he told us we could "contact him any time". So far we have done lots of work on the boat to get her ready to get out of the Marina. Some of the items we were expecting and other have caught us by surprise. Either way we are working through each system and problem as it comes to get this old boat in good working order so we can get farther and farther off shore.

It has not been all work. We took a few days off to surf a sweet little surf spot down the coast.  The girls are testing theirs skills on the much faster and more powerful reef breaks, working on going left, and trying different boards. It has been fun to watch them gain confidence. I need to step up my game as mom-photographer and take more photos. I guess I have been a little busy and overexcited to get in the water myself.

We are now venturing off shore more often and spending less and less time in the Marina. We still have a few bigger jobs to tackle on the boat and our goal is to have hem all complete by the end of cyclone season around April. Then we can venture into cruising grounds that are more remote knowing that our floating home is up to the adventure.


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