Daily Blog 15 – Antony Vavia


Daily Blog 15: Antony Vavia

Kia orana, bula Vinaka Day 17 out here at the moment at about 8-degrees north of the equator. I only recently realised that exactly five years ago marks my first voyage on Marumaru Atua. We had departed NZ on the 18th of May 2019, and arrived in Rarotonga on the 6th of June. I’m really grateful to be on this voyage. The last couple of years have been saturated with work and life’s strange obstacles.

All of 2023 I promised myself not to do any sails to focus on work. And now we’re here, in the middle of Te Moana Nui o Kiva, what a blessing. I’ve missed the whimsical thrill of watching the stars, salty ocean breeze combing through my hair, vivid dreams, open-door toilet views of the sunrise, and slicing through the sea learning to sail and navigate from Cap. More than ever for me, this has been a time to meditate on stuff, reflect (but not too much, it steals the peace from being in the moment), decompress, ponder on the future (but not too much, that too steals the peace from being in-the-moment), and appreciate family and friends.

Shux though, I haven’t particularly missed waking up at the ungodly hours of 3am for watch, but you get used to it. Nor have I missed rocket launching my meals from the depths of my gut straight into the ocean. I’ll admit that I was the first suspect to the sea’s movements… four times on the first day all within the space of 2-hours. No more after that though since my stomach learned to dance with the vaka. I’m gutted that our Starlink has been a failure. It seems to be a physical connection issue somewhere.

It’s a pain because we were all hyped to show vaka life to all our friends and family. As the media guy onboard, it’s been my job to capture those moments. That’s a bit difficult when those moments can happen at any time, everyday, beyond my watch hours, while doing other jobs! I left the GoPro camera out for the other two watches to film content should they deem anything worthy of capturing.

However, three times now, the Pa Enua boys have completely chewed up the battery filming… I don’t even know what. Done a couple of plastic trawls. Mostly, the conditions haven’t been optimal to deploy our spectacular-looking manta-ray trawl. It has some Maori designs on it too. Maybe we should call it, the “MANA-ray” trawl, oooush! But yeah nah, we’ve traveled too fast for it almost everyday so it’s safer not to deploy it during those times. Got a few shots of the birds we’ve encountered along this journey too. Blimmin’ hard to capture though since they’re swift and small bodies soar the skies while I’m trying not to lose balance on the vaka. Apparently, I’ve done a better job than Kelvin at TIS.

Since we exhausted our meat supply within the first week of sailing, we’ve had to tap into our non-perishable canned foods. We were quite keen as a crew to start catching fish to supplement our daily meals as the main protein. We achieved that by hauling in two 50kg+ ‘a’ai (yellowfin tuna). In fact, we overachieved that because we quickly became tuna’d the heck out – back to the canned foods. Apparently, you are what you eat. Therefore, that makes me a peanut butter and cabin bread, tinned cow (corned beef) and spaghetti for the last week and half.

It’s been quite hot especially the more northern we climb. Adding to the heat exhaustion is working the oe. Going to have some decent guns by the time we arrive to the point I’ll be asked for a permit by customs. I’ve accomplished a decent tan, sautéed in akari pi coconut oil. Worried to shave my beard in case I have a hideous beard tan. Slightly pakapaka. I am how I like my steak, medium rare. Miss Raro’s best steak dish, Café Ariki (ahem, sponsored shout for the crew? – ‘side eye emoji’). Sorry, jumping back to the topic of food again – the “do you know what would be nice right now…” talks have begun. “What would be nice is a fat T-bone steak, medium rare, mushroom sauce, a side of poached eggs and cold, crisp can of coke… or a beer… or both?” “We have a $1 oyster bar in Hawai’i” “Let’s have oysters too then”

It was a fantastic achievement sailing through the doldrums, for me at least, anyway. It’s different up here, so strange, so odd… the creatures here are alien-looking. Or maybe I’ve just spent too much time with my crew. They’re all good people. That’s one of the first lessons I learnt that matters. On day 9 of my first voyage in 2019, I can recall asking our captain how he selected his crew considering the infancy in our sailing skills at the time. He said “I select good people. You can teach anyone to sail. But you can’t teach anyone to be a good person”. Mic drop, am I right? It seems this was a success in that regard.

Had a swim yesterday which was amazeballs, right before telling the crew about oceanic white-tips to activate their imagination. Tried to GoPro the experience, but surprise, surprise… the battery was dead again. A new sound has become more apparent, the toppling over and clanging of the eight or so Te Ipukarea Society drink bottles on deck, thanks TIS team.

To wrap up this chapter of my thesis, it’s been great and I’m blessed to be a part of this journey. At the same time, however, I’m already reminiscing the moment. I’m not sure if that’s at my detriment by stealing my peace from being in the moment. Or if it enforces living in the moment even more.

Just gotta lean into it 😉

Okay ra! Ka keets, VoyaChur Ant


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