Rich checked their position twice a day. He showed Ramona how to take readings also.
“You are the best first mate I’ve had since Salty,” Rich said.
“Is that supposed to make me feel good,” Ramona quipped, “I beat out a dog.”
“It seems like since I have been taking the readings we have been making less progress,” Ramona said.
Rich smiled. “Has nothing to do with it. We entered cross-currents and crosswinds.”
“We can use the wind,” Ramona said, “but the currents cannot be used to our advantage.”
“That’s right,” Rich said. “We must be patient. Sailing teaches patients. We will get there.”
“Will we stop anyplace on the way?” Ramona said.
“I think it might be best for both of us,” Rich said. “I will try to find an island on the way.”
“How far to the closest island?” Ramona said.
“The problem is,” Rich said. “there is a lot of open ocean between New Zealand and Reao. New Zealand is closer than any place else.”
Ramona looked out at the passing waters. It was difficult for Rich to discern what she might be thinking. Regrets—possible.
“What are you thinking? Rich said.
“Private thoughts,” Ramona said.
“I hope no regrets,” Rich said.
“I’m not sure,” Ramona said.
“Can I share something with you?” Rich said.
“Sure,” Ramona said.
“I shared this not so long ago with a young boy named Miguel. It may be useful to you. Over three years ago, I was waiting for my school bus,” Rich said. “I had a decision to make; either get on the bus and continue as if nothing was wrong or get on my bike and peddle away. You know what I chose—because here I am. Once I crested the first hill away from my home, I knew I could not return. Am I better or worse for it? I don’t know. All I know is that I changed. And if I did take the bus that morning, I would not be here nor would you.”
“I will miss my friends,” Ramona said.
“You will gain new friends,” Rich said. “They will not replace the old ones, they will merely enrich you. Friends can be like nutrients from the soil.”
“Thank you, Rich,” Ramona said.
“I don’t want you to think it is all whistles and balloons,” Rich said. “I told you I lived on a farm and the best way to restore nutrients to the soil is to spread manure on it. The point is this—you’re going to have to put up with some poop to grow a good life.”
“Thanks for the warning,” Ramona said.
“Let’s go below and see if we can find an island not too far out of the way,” Rich said.
Rich spread a map on the table in the cabin and they both carefully scanned it.
Ramona pointed to a group of islands north of their present location. “What about one of these islands”
“Those appear to be the closest,” Rich said. “Three to four days away.”
“Do you know anything about them?” Ramona said.
“I have an almanac that gives some very basic information,” Rich said. “What is interesting is that the description of a couple hundred islands often bear the same description.”
“What about this one?” Ramona said pointing to a small island.
“Rimatara,” Rich said and retrieved the almanac from the bookshelf and thumbed through it. “Rimatara, French Polynesia. How is your French?”
“I had it in school,” Ramona said. “Remember, Gigi.”
“I know a bit,” Rich said, “and sometimes English is spoken too. So let’s set a course for Rimatara and brush up on our parlez vous Francais.”