Thursday, August 18, 2016

Hanging The World

For years and years, we had a small inflatable globe aboard. It was a $6 impulse buy from a toy shop along our route, and you could tell. Place names were frequently misspelled, and colour fills didn't always match their intended borders. But we had drawn our route on the globe, and it was fun to twirl and look at where we had been.

Alas, our $6 globe was only $6 worth of robust, and developed a leak. It was now a sad deflated thing, sitting in a corner and waiting for me to consign it to the Great Map Collection in the Sky.

And now I can.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Reassuring the Boat

Something strange is going on around here.

First, the SSB/modem system wouldn't work, despite pretending all was well during frequent troubleshooting sessions. Then the inverter/charger began to charge erratically or not at all. The new lifelines wouldn't fit through the stanchions. The bolt for the bail on the mizzen was too short. Erik found a dubious spot way up the main. Some of these were little problems, some of them enormous. All of them were suspicious. Being a methodical sort of person, I sat down with a cup of tea and pen and paper to figure out what was going on.

Possible culprits for recent issues on Papillon
1. Ghost.
2. Saboteur.
3. Ghost-saboteur
4. Small-and-unusually-nimble crocodile escapee from the neighbouring mangroves
5. Angry Australian bird, likely deadly.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Sailing Around Pluto and Other Changes

Greetings, friends, from tropical Cairns! Let's take a look at how far we have sailed in the past two months. Hmm. About 850 nm. We're not exactly setting the world on fire. I can't say: "We've sailed a tenth of the way around Australia," - it has no zing. We need to reframe this whole discussion.

Lucky for me, Australia is a similar size as Pluto.
(Pluto-on-Australia photo credit: David Murray.) Waypoints added by yours truly.
"We've sailed a tenth of the way around Pluto." Aha! Much better. Henceforth, Australia is now Pluto, because I have deemed it to be so.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Lost in a Sea of Cheer


Yes, you. Come closer. I have to whisper; someone might overhear, and I'm not really sure what I'm allowed to say around here.

Friends, we seem to have landed in a most strange and unfamiliar place. Let me explain.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Micropost 2: Overheard on Passage

"It's starting to rain."
"The wind swung; time to jibe."
"We've got gusts to 32 knots, now."
"Wind changed again. Jibing."
"This swell is the pits."
"Wake up - we need to jibe."
"Probably sailing through that freighter anchorage in the middle of the night isn't a great idea. Let's jibe."
"Is it raining again?"
"Here come more gusts."
"Is the wind swinging again?"
"Time to jibe."
"Your seasickness meds aren't working very well this time, are they?"

But we eventually reached the Whitsundays, where it never ever rains.
Anchoring up in Solla Sollew, on the banks of the beautiful River Wahoo, where they never have troubles. At least, very few.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Micropost 1: Lady Musgrave

We've had an exciting few weeks aboard Papillon. Sadly, the internet here is shocking and our normally-reliable SSB has decided to pack it in, so I am rather behind in my updates to you, dear readers. To that end, I'll post a few quick snippets over the next few days to get you up to speed.

After the rain (rather RAIN) we experienced in Mooloolaba, we were dying to get to Lady Musgrave. It is a lovely little coral cay at the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef, with a small island, a zillion turtles, and some nice snorkelling. Perfect for the tropics-loving Papillon Crew.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

Like all good moms, my screensaver scrolls through my photo folder. And since I've taken a thousandfold more pictures on this trip than I did in all the years that preceded it, most of the pictures that flicker past are boat-related.

It would be easy to slide down into the caramel-coated Pit of Nostalgia every time I see how utterly adorable the girls were when we started out. I mean, look at this:
Smashing the squee-meter

But, lately, those early-day photos remind me of what a huge mental adjustment we had to make to succeed as cruisers. Erik was coming off years of constant travel and round-the-clock work. Stylish was in school full-time. Indy and I darted between swimming lessons, music group, library storytime, and all of the other activities that fill a city toddler's days. In short, we were people with a schedule, and we knew how to keep it.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Park It

I spend a lot of time with the kids at the park. But I'm the first the admit that "going to the park" isn't always as fun as it sounds. On a good day, it means the kids and I trek out to New Farm Park for a half day playing in the two-storey spider web among the banyans. On a bad day, it means we steal half an hour on the sad scrap of undeveloped land squeezed between the dock, the parking lot and the marina office.

Lately, Erik and I have been beset by Guilty Feelings regarding the kids. For although one of our family mottoes is "You Get What You Get and You Don't Get Upset,"* let's be fair. We're six weeks behind schedule. The girls are stuck in a marina with a total lack of other children, an excess of biting flies, and two increasingly cranky parents. The odd outing to New Farm isn't really cutting it anymore.

And so Erik hatched a Cunning Plan.

Friday, May 6, 2016

You Are Likely To Be Eaten By A Grue

First, a very happy belated Star Wars Day to you all. May the Fourth be with you! We celebrated by watching The Empire Strikes Back. (We try to observe the most important days in the calendar. Raise the kids up right.)

Once again, I've been slow to blog. And I have heard your complaints. I submit two reasons for my poor performance, namely a) we have been working nonstop to get the boat ready and I just don't have it in me to write after ten long hours of manual labour, and b) I have been following the principle of If You Don't Have Anything Nice to Say, Don't Say Anything At All. We have spent the last two weeks wandering through the valley of the shadow of death. Everything broke. Nothing worked. A horde of tiny biting flies invaded. I reached epic levels of crabbiness. You would not have wanted a blow-by-blow.

But now, finally, we're getting there. Sure, the cockpit is still cushionless and full of junk, but Erik has built new shelves to stow all that stuff and new cushions sit below, awaiting only a clean surface on which to rest. The salon overflows with milk crates, but the new tool bench will absorb most of that. And so on. We have reached that point in the refit journey when we can crack open one eye to peak at the future. To ponder sandy beaches, clear snorkelling and our next port of call. To break the seal on the guide books.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Getting in the Water Again, Again

Last week, the marina Travelift parked around Papillon. The operators adjusted the straps, picked up the boat and drove her to the water's edge. We climbed aboard and were lowered into the murky Brisbane River. And once we splashed down, Erik and I inspected the boat.

We found four leaks.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Fashion Victim

On Saturday, Erik and I went out to dinner with friends. As we sat there, sipping wine and nibbling olives, I realized that this might be the last grown-up date we manage until 2017. The last Uber ride. The last excellent meal. The last time my good clothes escape from the vacuum-sealed prison of a Space Bag.

Cruisers aren't known for their fashion sense. As a group, our sartorial choices are less "haute couture" than "derelicte". But we're out there rocking the hobo chic with good reason. The sun and salt combo is hard on clothing. Lying on top on the engine to tinker with a cranky alternator is even harder. And if you want to wash your clothes? Find yourself a bucket, haul up some saltwater and have at 'er. If you're lucky, you can spare a little fresh water to rinse out your unmentionables. But usually it's bathing suit time until you hit the next laundromat. And that means that clothes suffer.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Back in the Saddle Again

Ahh, boat life. Protecting consumables from invading rats. Gently cooking from the 40 C heat at eight in the morning. Savouring the bouquet of freshly-cut sewage hoses  In short: an elegant plane of existence where one faces the eternal question: zen or madness?

I returned to the boat full of optimism. We would finish off a few critical jobs, get back in the water, finish more critical jobs, and set out for parts as-yet unexplored. Easy peasy.

Of course, I'd forgotten a few things. First, Erik had been aboard, unsupervised, for six weeks. To be clear: Erik is handy. Goodness knows the man can fix anything, and fix it well. But the dark side of this trait is that he wants to fix everything, and fix it to perfection. And so I walked into a construction site. No seat cushions, no floorboards. Just a disassembled cockpit, new runs of wiring, coils of replacement hoses, and shiny boxes of taps and chartplotters and who knows what else. And a 20-foot container full of all of our possessions.