The very first thing Eloise wanted to see when she first re-acquainted herself with Nomad three weeks ago, was her “baby bed.” It has been a year and eight months since she lived on Nomad but our stories and pictures have kept alive in her a familiarity and curiosity. The other thing she immediately wanted to see was the blue hammock. In Tonga and Fiji, Brian often rigged our turquoise hammock in the forward rigging. Then, Eloise would spend hours in it. This was pre-speech. She would request time in the hammock by humming the first four notes to our “swinging, swinging…” song. Now she just says, “Can we do the hammock today, Daddy?”
So, Eloise has easily acclimated to boat life. She LOVES going fast in the dinghy (with life jacket on), and likes jumping off the side of the boat in Brian’s arms (with life jacket on). She has figured out how to make a stool out of the firm cockpit cushions by placing them on top of each other. In fact, last week, I was outside and wondering why she was tossing cushions down the companionway. I peaked in and caught her red-handed standing on the cushions, stretching up to the inside ledge in our galley where I had placed her birthday lollipops out of reach. She is very at home.
Brian and I spent the first three weeks in Kona, getting Nomad out of dry dock, painting her bottom, cleaning inside and out, unpacking sails, boards and gear out of the salon and placing them back in their proper places on deck, trouble-shooting minor electrical issues, re-provisioning, and generally making a home again. It was all made possible because my mom came with us for the first two weeks and watched Eloise, ran errands, did piles of boat laundry, and supported in many many ways while we got the boat in shape. Jeff and Jane, Kona locals also were a huge support with friendship, local knowledge, the use of their car, sewing machine and laundry. We’re still getting systems organized but we set sail from Kona on July 6. A great image I have of leaving the harbor is of Eloise standing in the cockpit (wearing harness and tether), holding on to the dodger braces with both hands eagerly looking out to sea ahead of us. We had a fantastic passage across a notoriously very windy channel. “Light” winds meant we had a reef in the main trying to slow ourselves down in the smooth water.
We are waiting for the next period of light trade winds to come back around as we sit comfortably in the 20-boat marina on Lanai. This is the first that we have felt truly on vacation. On Hawaii, we did go to some hula dancing (Eloise LOVED the hula and wanted to go on stage every time), attended an amazing luau, and went to the beach frequently, and attended 4th of July festivities, but it was all interspersed with chores. On Lanai, we are truly relaxing together as a family and having fun at the beach, on the grass at the marina, driving around the island, or going to the park in the one town on the island.
We arrived in Lanai at 7:30 am on Eloise’s birthday. Her first present was opened under way. The rest of the day was spent swimming and attending a huge community gathering/potluck/send-off to the Hukolea, a well-known traditional sailing canoe that was visiting. The best part of it was that Eloise got to run around bare-footed till late at night playing with local kids. A very close second best was the amazing food and feeling of community we experienced.
Brian and I regularly experience things that make us feel nostalgic for our Polynesian crossing in 2009. Everything from tattoos, plants, rakes, architecture, and the aloha spirit brings back good memories. Cruising in Hawaii has been a good blend of American conveniences and Polynesian culture. We’ll see what the next three weeks hold. That is all that is left before Brian and his friend Mike set off on the 3-week crossing to return Nomad to Santa Cruz.