More accurately, it was seeing him for the first time in the short 25 second video below that captured my attention, so take a look and a listen and then come on on back for the rest of this wonderful story.
Friday November 22nd, 2013 started out no different than any other of my days in Fiji at Vuda Point Marina, where I, ably assisted by Ruby the Wonderdog, was working feverishly to complete the latest and largest renovation on my 52’ steel sailboat sv Learnativity.
As with most such boat projects it was taking MUCH longer than expected and I was working non-stop because the Cyclone season begins in November and I should have left for Majuro in the Marshall Islands long before now. (click to enlarge the map or any photo)
These two maps will fill in some of the geographic information and the short story is that in general, as a liveaboard sailor, to be outside of the cyclone zone in the South Pacific, you want to be no more than 10 degrees from the equator. Vuda Pt. Marina is on the far SW corner of Fiji sits at 17º41’04”S
177º23’02”E so it well into the Cyclone Zone and yes, you can ask me how I know!
The atoll of Majuro, pictured here, is at 7.0667° N, 171.2667° E is well below the 10 degree limit and I had been there twice before to get out of the Cyclone Zone and just loved it so I was anxious to get back there ASAP.
If it were a straight line, the passage to sail those 24 degrees from Fiji at 17° S to Majuro at 7° N is about 2895 km/1799 miles/1563 nm but the actual sea miles of this passage are about 2000 nm, assuming not much tacking, would typically be about a 14-15 day sail.
But for me, a stop in the tiny spec of an island called Rotuma is a must. Rotuma is a much longer and fascinating story which I serendipitously stumbled upon when I read that it was still part of Fiji even though it is WAY up in the far NW corner about 500 nm from any other part of Fiji which meant I could wait till I got to Rotuma and still officially check out of Fiji.
So this stop over adds a few days to the passage and has taken me 17-18 days in the past.
OK, Wayne but what the heck does this have to do with the Barney video that changed your life so incredibly?
So back aboard the good ship Learnativity, that Friday morning 7 years ago, Ruby the Wonderdog (my little Black Spoodle who had been with me since I started my single handed sailing adventures in San Francisco in March 2007), and I were up just after sunrise as usual for most sailors, had fixed my breakfast and was sipping my morning Latte and enjoying yet another beautiful sunny morning up in the cockpit of LTY (Learnativity).
This was typically the only time each day when I could sit and relax a wee bit catch up with all the Emails and other online content that had come in the past 24 hours. As I was zipping through all those Emails I came across an auto-generated one informing me that there was a new post on the Write on the Water blog which was of the several hundred blogs that I subscribe to on a wild range of topics.
Little did I know that clicking on that link was going to be one of the most life changing events of my already VERY eventful life!
Seeing that “Write on the Water” name, I vaguely recalled that I had been subscribed to this blog several years ago because, Christine Kling, one of four writers/sailors who wrote one post a week on Write on the Water (get it?), and she was not only an author of some very good best seller mystery novels, she was also a fellow single handed and very experienced sailor, currently sailing around the Caribbean islands on her sailboat sv Tale Spinner from her home Port in Ft. Lauderdale Florida.
The link opened up the blog post fine, but there was no text, no story? Simply the Title “Barney the Yorkshire Terror” and that little face staring up at me with a “Click to Play” button on his nose. I hit Play and as I suspect he might have just done for you, Barney gave ma a good morning chuckle. It also piqued my curiosity as to how this cute little animated dog video had been made? So I quickly fired off a short comment to the author which just happen to have saved and it reads;
Wayne says: November 22, 2013 at 07:17 am (Fiji Time)
Very cute and fun Christine. I too am out single handed sailing with my 6 year old “Spoodle” Ruby the Wonderdog and we are currently in Vuda Pt. marina in Fiji finishing up the latest refit in preparation for the next few years sailing through the Marshall Islands, Micronesia and making my way through Indonesia. I’d be interested to know more about how you made this little video if you care to share?
Also enjoying your books and have several loaded on my Kindle for upcoming passages. Thanks for all.
I finished up my coffee and Email updates and got back to work on Learnativity.
Next morning, same routine and as I was enjoying my first coffee and going through the latest Emails, one was a WordPress comment from the Write on the Water blog, which thanks to the wonders of cloud storage and my somewhat geeky nature, I also still have a copy of so you can read it for yourself.
Apparently two of Christine’s blog followers had asked the same question so as you can see her response was to both Wayne and Gerald.
Nice of her to respond I thought as so many such questions go unanswered, and so being Canadian and just doing what I think is important, I wrote back a short note to thank her for getting back to me and that I would try out this little “My Talking Pet” app and maybe use it to make one with Ruby the Wonderdog. And then it was back to work for me and I never gave it another thought.
Well, as I was to learn weeks later, Christine was quite taken aback that someone had actually said “Thank You” ? Apparently when she dutifully answers all the thousands of questions a famous author receives, she rarely receives anything but more questions and never a Thank You. Who knew???
No need to read the whole Email, but if you do, you will see what a catastrophic error she makes in the very first sentence when she starts off with; “Hi Wayne, Thank you so much for the interesting note full of info about you and your boat. I love getting long emails, so don’t ever
worry about writing too much.”
I will spare my full response, lucky you!! and just share the first of my brief four page Email response.
Not to worry, I am NOT about to share ALL our Emails back and forth in the coming days and weeks, again Lucky, Lucky you!
Suffice it to say, that the Email exchanges got longer and longer and more and more often.
Then Emails led to voice calls which followed my same “brevity challenged” arc.
Voice calls quickly led to Skype calls and let’s just say neither one of us got too much sleep in those first two weeks or so as we were living literally on the opposite sides of the world and I was on the other side of the International Date Line so we were not only many hours apart in different Time Zones, we were also on different days! Hence we were both on Skype calls in either the wee hours of our respective mornings or on very late night hours. Our internet connection had quite literally become the “International Date Line”.
Think about it for a minute and I’ll wait till you get it ……………………………….
OK, OK, enough already Wayne!!
You know where this is going so let me just quickly summarize what happened from there.
Video calls are fascinating, especially when you start logging hundreds of hours of them with someone you have never met. They pretty much cancel out any chances that either of you can be “faking it”, so you do end up learning more and more about the very real person on that screen for hours and in your ears and in hour head. But it still isn’t the same as the “real thing” and so at some point we started to talk about how, when and where we could meet up in person and find out if all the sparks that were flying back and forth through the ether were really real or just our twitterpated imaginations?
It was now December and so my first suggestions had been that I would sail up to Majuro and get Learnativity safely moored there as I had done in the past few years and then get the short flight from Majuro to Honolulu which happens 3 days a week and we could meet there. A bit longer but easy to get flights for Christine to fly from Florida to Honolulu and so that was the tentative plan. Emphasis on “tentative” of course because WAYNE still needed to finish the work on LTY, get her all sea worthy and ship shape for a relatively long passage and only then be able to know what sort of dates we could fly and meet.
Of course things never go as planned, especially when it comes to big boat projects. I was working longer and longer days, as was Christine who was in the midst of finishing and publishing her latest book at the time “Dragon’s Triangle” and we were both getting more and more frustrated that our “Launch Date” for this distant blooming romance seemed to be getting more and more elusive and later.
Hmmm, why does that sound so familiar??
Several hours into one of our Skype calls at that time, partly out of pure frustration, partly for some levity, I said something like “You know what would be really crazy, would be if you just flew here to Fiji and we could have our first date be the sail up to Rotuma and Majuro”.
Keep in mind that it is now only about two weeks before Christmas and I was sure that she would not want to be away from her family in Florida over the holidays so maybe Honolulu in the New Year would be best after all. So we started to look a the calendar and figure out the likely length of my sail up to Majuro and what dates early in the New Year we might be able to fly there and meet. So I simply asked “What date do you think you could fly?” And surely she understood I was talking about her flying to Honolulu right?
I had already learned that Christine can have some VERY “pregnant pauses” with her responses so I just patiently waited after asking what date she thought she could fly as I watched her eyes look up as if she was searching some calendar on the ceiling and then watched her lips moving a bit as she seemed to be doing some calculations in her head. After several minutes of this, she looked back at me on the screen and said “Tuesday”.
Huh? “Tuesday” I said? What do you mean “Tuesday”?
Never missing a beat and with a very quizzical look on her most serious face, she said; “I can be in Fiji on Tuesday.”
This was all happening late on a Friday night on Christine’s side of the International Date Line and in a very rare for me “pregnant pause” with my mind reeling with what I thought I had just heard I think I simply said “Are you kidding me?!?!?!”
She wasn’t kidding and while I don’t remember much of those next few days, I found myself standing in the Nadi airport early on the morning of December 19, 2013 intently watching the passengers of the just landed red-eye flight from LAX walk to the baggage claim when THIS vision of loveliness walked through those glass doors and into my heart.
We drove back to the marina where I had Learnativity pretty much finished and waiting for her to see for the first time and we were both giddy with excitement, nervousness and disbelief that this was all REALLY happening?!!!
I had borrowed my dear friends Ian and Coleen’s car to drive the 25km or so to the Nadi airport from Vuda Pt. Marina as their beautiful big boat mv Summer Spirt and had been my dock neighbors as you can see here, for all the months I had been there in Fiji over the last few years.
This is our first photo together, thanks Coleen, on the aft deck of Summer Spirit.
Ian and Coleen invited us over to mv Summer Sprit for lunch and so they could meet this mysterious woman who their dockside friend Wayne had been talking with and about endlessly for the past month.
Fast forwarding through the months and years that followed:
We had a VERY eventful 18 day “First Date” passage up to Majuro and that’s a much longer story for another time.
Captain of my heart by now and the only REAL sailor onboard.
We made it to Rotuma for another longer story of our first New Year’s Eve.
Crossed the equator for the first time as a couple after multiple times by ourselves. And Wayne was FINALLY able to swim across the equator, yet another much longer story for another time.
Sailed into the atoll of Major with no rudder and no steering. Another story for another time.
Took off a few days later for a whirlwind tour of Europe that Christine had previously all planned out as research for her next book that became “Knight’s Cross”. First stop the island of Malta
Where I proposed up on a grassy hillside overlooking a little harbour in Malta. And she said YES!!!
OK, OK OK!!! Seriously this time, ENOUGH WAYNE!!!!
More of those stories for another time.
Right now, I sit here in Antalya Turkey with my Beautiful Bride of six years making us another one of her delicious meals and we have a bottle of bubbly in the fridge that I’m about to go pop so we can celebrate the 7th anniversary of our First Contact.
I am the luckiest and richest man in the world all thanks to YOU!
I LOVE You Christine Louise!!