We must have some kinda sickness for the grand quest. I can’t begin to tell you the amount of time, effort, and energy we’ve spent searching for the exact thingamabob that we just had to have or else a hole would exist in our otherwise complete lives. Some of our quests have felt kinda foolish like Marce’s endless search for Chuck Taylor All-Stars in any style or color at a steep discount, but some are quite noble and worth every effort, like my heart’s desire, a French Polynesian carved war club. But nothing compares to our quest for water toys that we can take with us on Escape Velocity while traveling around the world. Specifically kayaks.
We’d noticed happy kayakers paddling carefree around anchorages leaving us green with envy watching the fun. Sometimes it’s too shallow or rocky for our big heavy dinghy, or we face the dreaded wet landing on a tiny islet, but the kayakers can poke their noses anywhere, onto deserted beaches or up shallow winding rivers. Our budget doesn’t include a line item for kayaks but all the way through the Caribbean we were sure we’d run into a resort or vendor that would have a previously enjoyed kayak they’d be happy to let go for a price we could manage. Blank stares, head scratches, ear tugs were the usual response as we turned island after island upside down.
After our dismasting, and while we were awaiting our new rig in Costa Rica, we got this email from Marce’s cousins, intrepid travelers who’ve knocked off many of the 1000-places-to-go-before-you-die list.
Up until you left the Galapagos Islands the first time, we had been to most of the places that you have been although we had been either on land vacations or sailing on a cruise ship. The Galapagos Islands were one of our favorite vacations.
Now that Frank has trouble flying long distances we have reluctantly scratched Australia and New Zealand off our bucket list. But we have no doubt that you two will get there and we will be able to experience it through your eyes. That brings me to a story about the remodeling that we did to the kitchen in our West Amwell house. When we were planning the remodel, Aunt Lillian Tinney said that she had always wanted a special drawer in the kitchen that you pulled out and there was a trash can. She asked us to price the cost of this special drawer and she wanted to pay for it. So we did and she did and for all the years that we lived there we always referred to the trash drawer as the Lillian Tinney Memorial Drawer.
Well, I know you are not remodeling your kitchen — you are remasting your boat. And I don’t know what things on a boat cost, but Frank and I want to send you some money with the understanding that whatever you purchase with that you will name the Jean and Frank Fellow Traveler.
We were touched and grateful, and decided right away that if insurance covered our rerigging costs we’d use the windfall to finally get kayaks. It did, and we started shopping. We looked in Costa Rica but couldn’t find any for sale. During our trip back to the states we could have bought them in a number of places but the airlines declined to let us bring them back on the plane, and shipping was prohibitive. We looked in El Salvador then all across the Pacific in French Polynesia, Tahiti, Bora Bora, and Tonga. No joy. We needed to find kayaks small enough to fit on Escape Velocity, light enough to get on and off the boat, but sturdy enough to hold up in the harsh conditions.
Then soon after checking into Opua, New Zealand, we saw it. The Ozzie. A proudly made in New Zealand, not too big, not too small, not too flat, not too round, not too expensive, on sale Kayak. Could you make a deal for two Mr. Sales associate? Why yes, he could, but the concept of deal sweeteners has not reached New Zealand shores. Like they say down here, “It is what it is” so there were few extras, like no help with delivery and the store was a hike from the Town Basin.
Our friends on Toucan overheard us planning a circus balancing act through town using a dock cart and bungee cords with disaster written all over it, and with true cruiser generosity they jumped right in.
It’s been four and a half years, eighteen countries, 19,000 miles. Dear Escapees, meet Jean and Frank, Fellow Travelers.