I debated whether or not to write about our passage from New Zealand to Tonga as it was ‘my’ worst in 12 years of living on Daisy. But then I thought of all the people who constantly say how jealous they are of my incredible lifestyle, and it seemed appropriate to enlighten them with the actual realities of life on a yacht!
It’s not always about lazing around sunning yourself on deck with a cocktail, or lounging in a hammock strung between a couple of palm trees on an isolated island. Sometimes, yes that can be the case, but mostly it’s about maintenance, and dealing with the logistics and difficulties of a “sea gypsy” lifestyle. Not having a permanent land base, proper address, or anything resembling normality can present incredible challenges and difficulties when trying to deal with ordinary things landlubbers take for granted.
Anyway, back to my story:
Bob and I had to depart New Zealand before May 30th. That wasn’t initially going to be a problem as the rally was due to leave for Tonga on the 20th May. However, due to the bad weather the rally departure was delayed, and our days were quickly running out, so not to overstay our allowed days in New Zealand, Bob and I jumped on a plane to Australia, leaving Glenn aboard to take care of Daisy. The plan being, as soon as there was a good weather window for us to set sail we would immediately fly back and sail out on the same day. ‘Ha’ good plan you would think, with the exception of relying on the airlines! We booked a flight that would get us back into New Zealand just after midnight on the Tuesday, with the plan to sail out Tuesday midday. This would have worked well except the plane we were on, sat on the runway for 4 hours while the broken engines were worked on! We were all eventually turned off the plane and shuttled into a hotel for the night, with an alternative flight out that afternoon, this wouldn’t get us back into New Zealand until 9pm Tuesday, too late to sail out with the fleet, so we would miss our weather window. Now we only had one day before we had to leave. The decision was made and agreed by all 3 of us to check out anyway in front of the next bad weather system and head South, (the opposite direction to where we needed to go, but avoiding the storm). We sailed slowly South for 2 days in rough seas to avoid the bad weather, before turning North and getting in front of the next system that was due through… If you’re not confused by now I must be explaining it too well. The 4 days at sea were spent rocking gunnel to gunnel non-stop. It was like being stuck on a really bad fairground ride that you couldn’t get off. I was in bed throwing up for the full 4 days, and when I say ‘in bed’, I was being constantly tossed around, rolling from one side of the bed to the other, so I couldn’t sleep as I spent the whole time just hanging on; I couldn’t put the lee cloths up because that made it too difficult for me to get out of bed quickly, and getting to the bathroom was already a challenge which several times proved too much, so I was throwing up in bed, this involved much changing of the bed, yet another major challenge while rolling around. The mountain of bedding was mounting up… Once we managed to actually turn around and head in the right direction, the next bad weather system was on our tail the whole way, the seas were big, around 4-5 meters, so even under sail and motoring we were still rocking and rolling, everything was stowed, but it was still all crashing and banging around in the cupboards, and that coupled with the noise of the engine, there was no quiet, I had a pounding headache, I was sick and cold, the weather was really cold, and my hatch started leaking so I had cold water dripping on me in bed, the bed was really damp, I was about as miserable as I’ve ever been. We may have been heading for Paradise, but we were going through Hell to get there. Out of the 9 days at sea, there were only 2 where I was able to get up and move about the boat, fix meals and perform with some semblance of normality. It wasn’t much fun for Bob or Glenn either, they had to man all the watches between the two of them, and take care of “her indoors” moaning bitching and throwing up everywhere.
Do I ever want to do another passage? “Absolutely not” this will be my last major passage, from now on, even with all the unreliability and nonsense the airlines throw at you, I’m flying and meeting the boat there.