Vol 1: Spellbound‎ > ‎Read‎ > ‎

Ch 09: Kerry

Early February, 1978

II know my parents wanted me to come along on their sailing trip because they think I can’t get my life together.  I think I am doing just fine, but I liked the idea of getting away.  I am heart-broken.  Jim, the man I thought was the love of my life, well, I’ve decided isn’t good for me.  He never listens to what I want to do.  Before we left, I just couldn’t tell him it was over.  It was easier to just leave and let time take its toll.  Perhaps I will be able to tell him in a letter that I don’t want to be his girlfriend anymore.   I can’t imagine he will wait three years for me.  I think going to the South Pacific will clear my mind and give me time to figure out what to do next.  Plus, three years in the sun sounds like a lot of fun.

We were only gone from Seattle for two weeks and hadn’t made it any farther than California, but I was already really home sick.  I was glad Larry was here, it gave me somebody closer to my own age to talk to.  Traveling around the tip of Washington after we left Neah Bay made me sicker than a dog – it was pure hell.  I couldn’t eat or drink anything for three days.  Mom read in her medical book that the pills I was taking for an infection also make you nauseous, so I had a double whammy.

By the time we reached California I was feeling a little better.  We didn’t stay long in San Francisco since the staysail boom was broken and the marina in San Diego was the closest place we could fix it.   The Spellbound is such a large sailboat, not many marinas have a dry-dock large enough to take her out of the water.  We dropped off Gary the pilot – he wasn’t very cute – and pressed on.

Looking for a cure for homesickness, I decided to see what San Diego had to offer.  I met a nice guy named Jerry.  Dad wanted to go sailing in the Channel Islands, but I convinced him to wait an extra day so I could see Jerry again.  He was not like other men I’ve dated.  He cared about the way I felt and asked me what I wanted to do.  He was so polite, it has been a long time since anyone has treated me like I am somebody – a real lady.  While we were in San Diego, I continued to see him. The weeklong trip was fun with Larry, Mom, Dad, and Gary.  Gary and Larry did fight a lot, though.  You could feel the tension.  It reminded me of when we were younger. 

I wasn’t sure I could handle three years of that.  But, after we returned from our short trip, Larry announced he was not going on the trip. I understood his decision to leave; Gary can be trying at times.  I couldn’t believe my luck when Lori decided to join us.  Having another girl to party with and talk to will be a lot of fun.  More fun than Larry would have been, that’s for sure!  My outlook on crossing the Pacific picked up tremendously.

After twenty-seven long days at sea, we arrived at Nuku Hiva.   During the crossing, the days all blended together with my 2-hour navigational watch breaking up the month into 8-hour pieces.  And the blue got a bit tedious.  The only thing to do was eat and play puzzles.  The boys would shot at cans, the loud crack breaking the loud silence at sea.  I shot a few times.  The other girls always went inside.   After 20 days at sea, I wanted to through the puzzles in the air and shoot them. 

A few days after we arrived, we went to a wedding with free beer, wine, rum punch, and an amazing amount of food.  Mom danced with every native there.  I asked dad if he felt jealous.  He answered that he was flattered that everyone found his wife so attractive.  “Besides,” he said, “I know who she is going home with,” and he winked at me.  Boy, he’s come a long way!  Growing up, he was always so jealous when some man was interested in Mom.  Mom said it had something to do with his first wife.

It was a great party.  Lori, the natives and I smoked “cigarette No. 1.”  I danced all night with a dreamy guy off a boat from Los Angeles.  I think I am in love with his eyes and hard brown body.  I just have to get him alone and jump him. I guess a month at sea hasn’t changed me – it’s likely made me worse.

Every place we visit, the kids follow me around laughing.  They touch my back and long blonde hair and run away giggling and run back again.  The natives give us free food: coconuts, bananas, mangos, papayas, avocados, limes, and pamplemousse – a kind of large, sweet grapefruit.  This is the paradise Mom and Dad promised and a dream come true all rolled in to one.  I could stay here forever.

The other day, Gary copied the lyrics to “I Am Woman” for me and Lori and another girl named Rose who lived on a neighboring boat.  What a breakthrough for Gary!  He even bought us Christmas presents, something I haven’t received from him since I don’t know when.  Unfortunately, he’s also become a bit of a bore!  I am glad he’s being nicer to us, but he doesn’t want to go out any more.  Oh well, at least I have Lori.  She and I are getting along just like I think sisters should, not that I ever got along too well with my sisters.  We clash sometimes but all is forgiven five minutes later.

Rose, who is twenty-three, arrived in late November before we did, on a big 94-foot schooner called the Queen Mab.  The rest of the crew consisted of seven men ranging in age from early 20s to late 30s.  They are quite the bunch!  We met them on shore when Lori and I were having a beer.  Of course they invited us to join them at their table.  We managed to get blasted and they offered to row us home and invited us to their boat for a feast of Washington salmon.  We immediately agreed and climbed aboard their eighteen-foot dory.  The next thing we knew, we were taking in water at a rapid rate.  Laughing hysterically, we jumped into the sea.  The whole bay was watching and laughing.  The Queen Mab crew are as crazy as we are.

A few days later, Mom, Lori and I went to their boat for a few beers and again we found ourselves a bit sloshed.  Dad came looking for Mom eight hours later.  We told him we’d bring her home in a bit, which we did, and then went to shore for more fun.  We partied all night at the restaurant on the beach – another fabulous night in paradise.

In early December, which feels like July, Rose, Lori, and I went to explore the village.  We found a beautiful open stone church in a field.  We also went to a feast on the other side of the island a few days later and the native men wanted to marry us.  We pretended to be married to the Queen Mab crew. Of course we got prompt divorces when we returned to the Spellbound.  Nothing is better than being young, free and single in the South Pacific.

On Christmas Day all of the boaters (there were fourteen boats in the bay from England, Holland, Australia, Canada, Panama, and the US) gathered for a potluck in the pavilion.  It reminded me of Thanksgiving at home.  We were all a bit sad to be missing the holiday with the whole family.  My grandmother would make an amazing feast at her farm in Preston.  There would be tables running twenty feet long with turkeys and all of the sides you can imagine.  My aunts and uncles and their kids would join us.  Sometimes there would be fifty people.  I enjoyed these family gatherings.  It’s been a long time since we had one of those family feasts.  Too bad now that we are grown up we don’t get together like that anymore.  Christmas on the beach felt a lot like those Thanksgivings from before.  

After the pot-luck, we played football on the beach – the tackle kind – and sang songs.  I love being tackled by brown, hard-bodied men.  A French family who lives on the Island invited us to their home to party.  We danced all night.  We also shared New Year’s with all of our new friends.  It was a night of dancing, kissing, and hugging in the moonlight.  It was a sad day when the Queen Mab crew left a couple of weeks later.  Now that they are gone, my love life leaves something to be desired. 

I missed my niece Kara’s 4th birthday.  I wonder how much she has grown?  I hope she received my birthday greetings in time.  There is so much I will miss while being gone for at least two more birthdays.  Will she even remember me when we return?  I feel like I’ve been cut off from the world now that the Queen Mab crew is gone.  Sometimes it gets to me, the monotony of the sea and seeing the same five people every day. 

I can’t believe I survived the last month.  We’ve been ferrying around a boat full of natives.  I know the Spellbound is a large sailboat, but it’s hard to live with your parents, brother, and one other person in little more than a 1000 square feet.  Then add all these natives and I want to jump overboard.  At least most of them sleep on shore at night. 

We leave for Ahe tomorrow and then to Papette. My grandfather is sick and Dad is planning on flying home to say goodbye to him.  While I will be happy to get to Tahiti and meet some new guys, it means about ten days at sea.  I don’t know if I can face ten more days of seclusion, especially with Gary’s increasing surliness.  Hopefully, meeting some new people in Papeete will help me to shake my feeling of isolation and loneliness.