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.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Speake, Rattus Rattus - updated

As the sun set yesterday, I sat wedged between a wall and a cardboard box, watching peanut butter drip off a piece of ham. Why? Because we have a rat.

Some of you will remember our last experience with a rat. We were enjoying the quiet waters of Guatemala when an unwelcome guest swam out to the boat and stole up the anchor chain. Those were innocent days on Papillon; although I was careful to keep food sealed in tins and bags and tucked away in the cupboard, I hadn't yet developed our current draconian everything-stays-in-locked-Tupperware-no-matter-what system. Indeed, it was Samuel Whiskers the First that prompted such changes.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Where Are We Going?

In a few short days the girls and I will fly back to Australia to rejoin Erik and Papillon. In a perfect world, the plumbing would be plumbed, the electricals electrified and the chartplotter plotted. In reality, I expect I'll be back in my ratty t-shirt and shorts, grubbing around in the bilge by Hour 3 of our return. That's okay. I got to skip the fun of two tins of pineapple exploding in a locker on a hot day last month, so I suppose I owe Erik some help.

I hear you asking: "Where are you going?" Historically, I have always had an answer to this question. I should say: I've always had an answer to this question, even though I knew the plan I was earnestly explaining had a non-zero probability of being chucked out at any moment. So much can interfere with planning: weather, family, the prospect of interesting work. But this time, dear reader, this time I think I am almost certainly giving you the straight goods. It's an exciting day for optimism and not learning from the past. And since I currently have the option of either a) packing our bags or b) writing this post, well. I'd be delighted to walk you through it.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Slowly Waking Up

What is this delicious piece of gorgeousness? A blocked toilet hose? I don't know about you, but this puts me in mind of arterial plaques and makes me want to treat my circulatory system with gentle kindness.

More importantly, does this mean that things are afoot aboard the Good Ship Papillon? Indeed it does! Erik is tearing through our to-do list like a lion taking down a zebra. The girls and I are waiting out the worst of the destruction from afar. If all goes well, the four of us will move back into our floating home in another month, and this blog will emerge from hibernation.

Until then, dear readers.

Sunday, September 6, 2015


"Oh, ho!" you say, sipping your morning coffee. "Amy has finally written something new. That slacker. Took long enough."

And you're right. My record has been more than a little spotty this past year. And I owe you, my loyal readers, a short explanation.

Let's face it: this is, at heart, a family travel blog. And while the family part remains intact, the travel aspect has ground to a halt. Not forever, but for now.

The other issue I face is that we currently live in a teeny-tiny community. And while I could record many (many, many) funny stories about living here, I wouldn't feel very good about it. Family aside, I try to preserve the anonymity of the people in my anecdotes. That would be impossible here. If those people ever glanced at my blog, they would recognize themselves and each other all too quickly. It would be awfully arrogant and unkind of me to mine my friends and neighbours for blog material. So I won't do it.

That leaves me with precious little to write about in this space. I am still writing, but I am concentrating on other projects.

In short, dear reader, you will have to consider me to be in hibernation. I may post the odd picture or funny story when the opportunity arises, but, for the most part, I am going to let this ground lie fallow until we return to Papillon next March.

I hope to see you all when we finally - FINALLY - start sailing again.

Thursday, August 27, 2015