Saturday 4th June
Opportunistic rain. Emily wakes me by massaging my shoulders, a very pleasant way to wake, pulling me in from a cold hard sleep in which I’m in a cardboard box in the rain. In real life - I am too. Well, on the cardboard. It’s 2am, its raining. We’re here.
As the tarp is reeled back the rain releases an enthusiastic burst Auckland would be proud of. It finishes just as we reach shelter. While I complain vividly to Emily who is still smiling and singing, Carla and Michelle claim us for collection. This is a break through - given the timing of our arrival, and that the Sea Runner hadn’t been in dock when we called to say we’d arrived, I’d expected we were in for another few hours wait.
We’re wet, and slightly bitter. No that’s just me. Emily is still happy. Michelle and Carla walk us to the Sea Runner, the trimaran that will be our home for the next 7 weeks, moored nearby. Wonderfully easily we are stripped of soaked clothes and collapsing into one of Sea Runners surprisingly roomy berths. Before you can say Lemony Snicket, Craig’s alarm, the song ‘Automatic’ by Zhu, is going off and we’re on route to the markets to get the good stuff before it goes.
Vava’u is understated and glorious. Curvy streets and quirky and creative architecture, luxuriously spaced alongside the road. We pass an art deco church white with red crosses on the picket fence and two story homes with wooden decks. The bay protected and serene, houses dot the hills lining the bay; Wellington springs to mind. Dense green foliage dangles tips into the liquid blue supporting the boats.
The current crew surge forward like seasoned islanders. Browned, be-shorted and mission focussed.
At the markets team politics emerge. Everyone is the Boss but Craig has to sign off Foundation Money. The crew has swollen overnight from 3 to 6. Five strong independent women and Craig. Everyone tries to be helpful and not step on toes. This shop is important because it needs to last for six days. We can’t restock while in Hunga and there’s no refrigeration on Sea Runner.
After shopping we taxi back to our ship for breakfast. We discover Emily is the Oats Queen. Grainy not gluey yet flowing, smooth on the palette, almonds, banana and apple waiting within. Then we swim wash. This mean diving overboard into water so rich and warm it’s like an all over body kiss. I pirouette underwater and can’t believe my eyes, what my body is telling me; that I’m here after all stress of preparation and letting go of things that made up my world, my job, my studio and my kitty.
There is more work to do, we pack up and go into town for Sarah, Emily and Craig to finalise the training programme and manual at Tropicana Cafe. Carla, Michelle and I will do more restocking of staples and duffle bags for the medical kits. My new crew, whom I had met but not spent much time with are kindly and inclusive. They go out of their way to help me find back-up jandals. My concerns about being the introvert grazed on all sides from living with people in too small a space start to melt.
We eat chinese together, three vegans, a vegetarian and two omnis and have a beer (I have a juice) at Coconet Cafe - where I leave my new glasses. Gutted, I thought about those tortoise shells for weeks. Stories flow, it sounds like people getting to know each other with excitement. Back on board I’m so buoyed I volunteer to chef - which I then regret because the first time cooking for new people is intense. Especially because I’m trying to cook lu which I’ve had a hit and miss history cooking, in a tiny ship kitchen. Carla films me for a little bit - which we will post. I think my nerves show through.
The lu turns out just fine, smokey and creamy. There is a lot of moaning at dinner and plates are cleaned shiny white. Sure I’ll cook again.
Crew first impressions;
Craig; Proposed nickname - Knots, it’s all about the pace, a flurry of passion, surprisingly smooth singer. Able to juggle multi-story problems with a single hand. Crew corralling expert.
Emily; the good at everything girl. Living her second tom boy girl hood. Boat nightingale - this could cause problems for me. Nickname; Boaty McBoatface, most likely to smash her face in jumping off or into the boat.
Sarah; Efficient, proactive, sharp as a tack. The get stuff done girl. Sings along with Emily. Girly SWAT. Snazzy dresser.
Michelle; Dark horse comedian. Most likely to save you if you fall overboard. Good at assigning nick names. Redhead who lives up to her hair she says. 2nd funniest girl on board
Carla; Softly spoken and chilled. Incredibly capable. A reassuring confident presence, least likely to cause drama. Happy to play supportive roles, but also able to lead.