Tag Archives: first world problems

So Here’s My Problem

Weird Al Yankovich performing in Henderson Nevada, fall 2014.

Weird Al looks like he certainly has a problem. The poor man has no face! I picked this picture deliberately to go with this post. This post is about my real problem as a creative individual (I hope.) Weird Al wrote and performs a song titled First World Problems, wherein he outlines such tragedies as having to brush his teeth manually when the batteries die in his electric toothbrush. I relate to that, I truly do. Because, I, too, am besieged by First World Problems, and not much else.

It’s taken a lot longer than I’d hoped to put up the shed I bought at Sam’s Club last Winter. My hearing aid batteries only last 4 or 5 days. My dog sometimes poops in the house. My house is so big that it’s almost impossible to keep clean. My optometrist recently moved far away and I have to find a new one. My local supermarket stopped carrying my favorite 35 percent fruit muesli in bulk. See what I mean? I could go on and on.

Boo-hoo, I hear you saying. I say that too, but this really is a problem. I have observed, and psychology backs me up on this, that the most creative efforts arise from relatively tortured circumstances. The one time I wrote a good poem was just after a break-up. It really was a good poem, but it’s gone forever because I lost whatever media it was on. (Another first world problem, I know.) It’s so bad that I actually got a comedy bit out of the situation. It’s a bit that ends with a song that I wrote, a song that is the only blues that I can legitimately sing. The song is called the I Ain’t Got No Troubles Blues.” And that’s the trouble with me. I’ll record it and post it to YouTube sometime, and put a link to it here while I’m at it.

Meantime, for my own version of Imposter Syndrome, I worry that I may never sell any significant amount of fiction because I’ve just lived too easy a life!

That’s probably another first world problem, huh?

The Tonga/New Zealand Problem

We’ve been having a lot of fun out here, but there is one problem nagging us (me) since we reached the Marquesas. What are we doing for Cyclone season? When we left San Diego, we had grand plans in mind. We wanted to sail from San Diego => Cabo San Lucas => Galapagos Islands => Marquesas => Society Islands => Cook Islands => Tonga => Fiji => Vanuatu => New Caledonia => New Zealand. At the time we made this plan, we were still headlong in jobs that allowed us (at best) two weeks of vacation per year. With that reality in mind, having only two weeks in each of these island groups seemed fantastic. A two week vacation over and over again? That would have to be satisfying. But, there were several realities about sailing we hadn’t wrapped our heads around: (1) there is a lot of boat administration that must be done in order to survive out here like acquiring diesel, parts for repairs, etc. (2) everything takes (much) longer than you anticipate; and (3) passage making takes a bit of recovery time. By the time we reached the Marquesas, we were passage weary. We had spent 53 days of 90 at sea. The idea of leaving the Marquesas in a short two weeks was painful, especially after spending five full days on just Hiva Oa alone. We either could not or did not want to try to move through entire countries at a two week pace for the rest of this season. We also learned about the beautiful Tuamotus (remember Manihi and Fakarava?) and realized we had to add them to our list of destinations. So, we started trying to figure out how to reshuffle Fiji, Vanuatu, and New Caledonia into next season. As fate would have it, we ran into some cruisers who knew some other cruisers who wanted to offload a cyclone rated mooring in Tonga. They had reserved their mooring months prior, but then after making the crossing to the Marquesas they realized they did not like open ocean sailing. They hired a captain to take their boat back to Mexico for them, leaving their Tonga mooring open for the picking. Could this be a good solution for us? The deposit was only $140.00 and there was no cancellation penalty, so that seemed like a low price to pay to have options. We could see several benefits to mooring in Tonga. It would give us a better jumping off point for the next season to sail through Fiji, New Caledonia and Vanuatu all the way North to Thailand by the end of the 2017 season. We would fly to New Zealand and Australia to travel by land while we wait out this Cyclone season. This way, we can still see all the places we want to see;, we would just shuffle the timing around a bit. In addition, we would not have to sail South to New Zealand, which is known as one of the stormier bits of sea in this part of the world. If you sail to New Zealand, you are guaranteed to hit at least one storm on the way there and on the way back when you sail North the next season. We know Sonrisa could handle the path (she’s done it twice before), but it just sounds unpleasant. So, Tonga sounds great, right? There is one large drawback to Tonga: it gets hit by at least one cyclone most years. Some years, it gets hit by multiple cyclones. Reading all the cruising guides, Va’avu Tonga is a “known hurricane shelter”. Shaped like a snail-shell, it is supposed to be a protected area where boats can ride out all manner of horrible weather. There are a number of reports written by other cruisers indicating they had a good experience leaving their boat in Tonga, either on moorings or on land. We had talked to an old sailing-codger in Galapagos islands a while back who could not understand why we were moving so fast. His position was that many boats ride out cyclones/hurricanes in all parts of the world without problems: Florida, Mexico, etc. etc., and therefore, there is no reason why we have to push to get to New Zealand by the end of this season. Just store her properly and you will be fine. His experienced opinion (after doing two circumnavigations) was that the South Pacific deserved at least two sailing seasons of exploration. This made some bit of sense to us at the time. So, we tentatively reserved the mooring ball, and sailed on. As time went on, I felt a bit of homesickness. It is rare to get this much time away from work. I am getting to explore the world, and it is amazing, but I am also a half a world away from my family and friends. The only thing that would make this year more perfect would be if I could spent a bit of time with family and friends, too. “Hey!” I think, “what if we spent half of November and all of December at home?” Then, I could cap off this perfect year seeing people I love, return Jan/Feb. to explore Australia, fly March/April to mountain bike New Zealand, then return to Sonrisa and sail her from Tonga to Fiji, Vanuatu and New Caledonia at

Source: The Tonga/New Zealand Problem