"Honey, let's quit work, sell everything and move onto a boat with our tiny daredevil children."
[four years later]
"Feel like moving to a tiny island in Papua New Guinea for a few months?" "Sign me up!"
Cruising has a lot of positives. You become more flexible. You learn to live simply. You slow down. But these mental shifts have their drawbacks. Primarily, you (read: I) lose all perspective about what "normal life" looks like. Cruisers live in a world where you wake up in the morning, discover the local conga festival is starting, and spend a happy day admiring costumes and eating meat-on-a-stick. There is no planning. There are no logistics. Wake, discover, enjoy. That's it.
The problem comes when you return to regular life with a regular schedule. Suddenly, your vacations have to be planned - ahead of time and everything. Book travel, book hotels, try not to cringe when you think of eating restaurant meals for a week. And not only do you have to plan, but your years on the boat have given you a warped notion of what a vacation should look like. There will be no beach holiday at an all-inclusive. There will be no Disneyland. No, what you are looking for is more along the lines of sitting in the grass under an umbrella and hanging out with the locals. Hopefully with a snappy dance number.
It has been said that women let the memory of childbirth fade very quickly; if they didn't they would never have another baby. So too with this passage. Although I know very well the whole thing was a pain in the neck, a short month later and the sharp edges are fading. I'm still not in a hurry to do another passage any time soon, but the months will go by and soon I will only remember the good parts. By then it will be time to hop aboard once more.
So let's review the highlights before they fade completely, shall we?
I told you all a giant fib. I won't be writing my next hotly-anticipated Moving the Boat segment this week. We're off to the PNG Mask Festival, so the thrilling tale of our wavy trip from Noumea to Brisbane will just have to wait a little bit longer.
In the meantime, I present the following educational piece:
How to Buy Bananas in the Tropics
Step 1: Look off the porch. Notice bananas growing behind your house are ripe.
Dissatisfied Reader writes: How blase we have become. That title is not up
to your usual high standards. If you do not want to call it Passage to Oz (parts I, II etc.) you can still do better
than "Moving the Boat". You
crossed the Coral Sea, [...] for the love of
Pete. I realize this was a friendly, joking note. I do. But I think this topic is worth explaining, so I am going to pretend this was a serious criticism. And it's nice to know that people aren't shy about expressing themselves around here. Don't let the quality slip, people! Keep me honest!
Ahh, peaceful Baie Maa. A lovely little bay just north of Noumea, and a perfect place to stop when everything is going to hell around you. Soak in this lovely photo of the girls, because it took some major excitement to get to that point.
It was a misty moisty morning when we pulled out of Port Moselle for the last time. As we filled the diesel tanks at the nearby fuel dock, the winds howled louder and the rain came harder. I shielded the diesel inlet while Erik filled, trying desperately to avoid taking on a tankful of water, and we exchanged a grim look. It was a rotten day to depart. But what could we do? Normally we would never go anywhere in weather like that, but we had already checked out of the country and Erik was due back at work. All of the typical excuses. You have heard me say for years that sailing to a schedule is both foolish and dangerous. And here we were, ignoring our own rules and sailing under time pressure.
I don't know about you, but I'm exhausted. It has been a busy month of picnicking on the beach, troubleshooting leaks, painting antifouling and moving hither and yon. And I'll tell you all about it, I will. Just give me a day or two to recover.
I spent the day confirming plane tickets and stuffing underwear into a bag. Why? Because it is time, people. Time to return to Papillon. Our good old Papioni-pepperoni.
Not permanently. No, that would be too much to ask. Erik is still firmly in the grip of his work addiction, so we'll have to ride out the land life for a few months longer. However, the good people of Nouvelle-Calédonie are ready to be rid of our fine vessel, so it is time to jump aboard and sail the boat to Brisbane.
This morning I fulfilled the usual family breakfast orders. A bowl of Sultana Bran for Indy (Raisin Bran to those of you ten time zones away), cheesy scrambled eggs for Stylish, and a slice of peanut butter toast for me. I noticed the peanut butter was getting pretty low, so I looked in the pantry for another jar. No peanut butter. I started to hyperventilate, then I had a heart attack and died.
Not really. But I could have. This is a disaster; I was sure I had one more jar. In fact, I'm going to go check again right now.
I'm back. No peanut butter. "Amy," I hear you saying, "stop being so dramatic. Get off your keister and go buy some more." Well, smarty pants, I can't. Because there isn't any. There is no more peanut butter on this island. And who knows when more will arrive?
I have a problem. My neighbours are too nice. Specifically, they are too nice to my girls. Why is that an issue? They are making me look bad, that's why. I have enough trouble meeting minimum congeniality standards without having to fend off heavy competition from next door.
Our neighbours have been travelling lately. And when they come home, they bring things for the kids. They bring things for me, for crying out loud. When Erik travels, what does he bring home? Nuffink. If I were to travel on my own (dream the dream)? Double nuffink. We love our ladies dearly, but buying presents just because Daddy has a few days of meetings somewhere else? Dream on. When Erik comes home, any extra carry-on room is reserved for new flip flops and packets of EasiYo. Practical things. Impossible-to-get-here things. Not fun things.
And then Mr and Mrs Santa Claus - who do not share our Scrooge-y philosophy - come home, and look at the result. Look at those faces.