Monday, January 28, 2013

Fish Out Of Water

Wait a minute...

Don’t be alarmed.  I know that is Papillon on the hard.  And you must be concerned.  Why are we out of the water?  Sure, we have no mizzen and lost our forestay, but that is no reason to haul out.  What could have possibly brought about this unwelcome change?  Because, as we all know, the hard is not one of your correspondent’s favorite places.  No running water.  No toilet.  Just grinder dust and painty elbows.

The fact of the matter is, into every life a little work must fall.  Cruising isn’t that expensive, aside from the repairs.  But one does need money in the bank account in order to eat regularly.  And call me an over-indulged first-worlder, but I like eating regularly.  And so, in order to keep eating and carry out all of those repairs we talked about, it is working time.

Long story short, we are in Adelaide for a couple of months.  Erik took the project on Tuesday, and by Saturday night we were in Australia.  I don’t think we’ve had to move that fast since we left Canada.  But here we are, in a sunny apartment in a lovely town, and I’m getting used to the ground staying still beneath my feet.  Erik starts work on Tuesday.  The girls start school a day or two later.  And poor Amy will be left at home, all alone, wondering what to do with her time.

Hee hee hee!

But in all seriousness, I have mixed feelings.  This is the first time we have been off the boat for any length of time since we moved aboard in October 2010.  I fear I have lost all of my land skills.  Can I readapt?  Do I want to readapt?  As much as I love having a fridge with a door in the front, is this really what I want long term?

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be examining the land life from a cruiser’s perspective.  The good, the bad and the ugly.  Then we’ll be back on our beloved Papillon, and we’ll see how that feels after a break on land.  I hope you’ll stick with me, and wish me luck during my time on an alien planet.

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Sniff Test

After a delightful month of sailing, traveling, eating, and fixing the boat, my in-laws have bid us goodbye.  And while I know they will miss us, there is one thing I know they won’t miss.   

And that is stinky feet.

After the forestay failed, we settled Papillon in Whangarei , rented a car and hit the open road.  First stop: Rotorua and the hot springs at Waiotapu.

Steamy and sulphurous.

We walked around all day.  It rained a little, so the kids (inevitably) jumped in some puddles.  We got back to the car, and the girls peeled off their wet shoes.

A cloud of toxic stench filled the car.  “Put your shoes back on!  Put your shoes back on!”  We rolled down the windows, gasping and coughing.  When we reached the hotel that evening, we left the shoes outside the door in the open air, in the vain hope that the situation would improve.

I’d only packed the girls one pair of socks each, so something had to be done.  Erik eyed the plastic bag that held the offending articles.  “I’m going downstairs,” he announced, and he was gone.

So it was up to me.  A mom’s life is a glamourous one, after all.  I boiled some water in the kettle, decanted the socks into the bathroom sink, added shampoo, and stirred the mixture until the water turned black.  Drain and repeat.  Here is a photo of sink #3.

There's nothing I like more than stirring a sink full of stinkwater.

Yep.  It was still that brown.  And when I was done - four washes and two rinses later - I had to clean the plastic bag, because it had taken on the offensive odor.

The next day dawned, rainy and cool.  And what was the first thing that Indy did when we went outside?  Jump in a puddle, of course.

“Indy!” I cried.  “Why did you do that?  You are going to have wet stinky feet again.”
She blinked at me.  “But I wanted to splash in the puddle.”

Well, what can you say to that?

Over the next few days, we saw the sights, from waterfalls to volcanoes to hot spring beaches.

Gollum's Pool (Gollum not included)
The most New Zealand-y landscape ever.
Dig, dammit!  Dig for your lives!
Ahhh, sitting in burning-hot water makes all that digging worthwhile.

And the shoes never got better.  Hopefully the marina washing machine can sort them out, because they aren't welcome aboard in their current state.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Plans Subject to Change Without Notice

Was it really only a week ago that we were in Mimiwhangata?  Indy lost a shoe, Erik lost a beloved hat (side note: Tilley hats sink like a stone.  Like a brick laced with lead weights, seriously.)  The girls became expert boogie boarders at the beach, and even Erik and I had some success. 

But the day came to move along, and move along we did.  We waited for a gale to pass, and set out the next day for Great Barrier Island.  Inevitably, no wind, no waves.  Just the Perkins 135 chugging along, and Erik’s sour mood at having to motor.

A few hours in, the wind came up.  Up went the main.  We tried to put out the jib... but it wouldn’t go.  Erik checked the bottom.  Nothing.  We hauled him up the mast to check the top.  Nothing.  And then the whole thing started to sag.

Our forestay had parted.

For those of you unfamiliar with sailboats, this is a really, really bad thing.  It means the big giant cable holding our mainmast forward was gone.

Goodbye, dreams of Great Barrier Island.  Hello, sharp right turn, destination Whangarei.

Luckily, we have a running forestay that we moved forward, and, as I said, we had no wind, no waves, and it was daylight.  An almost unimaginably lucky set of conditions.  We made it to the marina without a fuss, and there sits Papillon.  The rigger is busy ordering parts, and we are busy trying not to think about the cost.

And so, old plans scotched, we decided to take a quick inland trip.  Erik parents have to fly home on Saturday, so here we are in Rotorua, visiting hot springs and bubbling mud pools.  The girls, while less than enthusiastic about the long car ride, were ecstatic about the motel.  We have a little two-bedroom unit with a small hot tub in back, no doubt fed by a hot spring somewhere.  Indy has designated the tub “her pool”, and spends every motel-related moment  in the water.  Even sitting in a hot spring-fed pool in the woods today couldn’t compare; as soon as we were back in the water taxi, she was talking about her pool.  Chacun son gout.

Tomorrow will be colourful hot springs, and visiting the park.  Unless it isn’t.  As we’ve found, flexibility is the key to a happy life, on the water or off.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Papillon Photographs the Loch Ness Monster

Over the past 27 months living aboard Papillon, I’ve taken a lot of photos.  Many thousands.  The counter on my Fujifilm flipped back around to 0000 last summer.  And while I only own a little point-and-shoot, I’d like to think I’ve learned a little, and have taken a few decent photos in my day.


We are on our way down the east coast of the North Island, showing Erik’s parents the sights.  We’ve just been day sailing, but it has been a fun change for us to sail for a few hours at a time like normal people, instead of hauling up anchor and not putting it down again for at least ten days.

As we came around the tip of Cape Brett, we passed the Hole in the Rock, and the many, many tour boats that surround it.  And it was neat.

Yep, there's a hole in there, all right.
But when we passed the rock, we saw something jumping out of the water.  It was too big and too splashy to be a dolphin.  And it was surrounded by boats.


Now, lookit.  I’ve lived on this scrap of floating aluminum for years now, and we’ve put a lot of whaleless miles under the keel.  So you will forgive us if we on Papillon kind of lost our cool for a while there.  The other boats slowly left, and we sailed silently by.  The boat was rocking, but I’m the photography master now, right?  Well, not so much.  Because, while the actual experience of seeing a humpback whale calf smack its fins against the water and jump into the sky was really cool, my photos were ridiculous.  Most of my shots are of the jib or the rail.  The few whale pictures I managed are not only off-centre, but are so blurry as to be unrecognizable.  I could have been taking shots of an innertube in a backyard pool.  How bad was it?  Here are my two absolute best shots.

Humpback whale calf at play.  No, really.

You see that splash?  The breach that preceeded it was so cool, I'm telling you.


So, on we went to Whangamumu.  We dropped the anchor, the girls pulled on their wetsuits, and someone looked over the side.


Holy cats, it's a penguin!

How dare you doubt the veracity of my crappy pictures?  It's a penguin, I say!
Yes, I know those shots are as bad as the whale ones.  But for serious and no lie, we had a penguin swimming around our boat.  Friends, the water is COLD here, and that’s a fact.  The girls invited me in with them, but I politely declined.  Where does cold water get fun?  It doesn’t. I prefer my blood to continue circulating to my extremities, thank you.

We’re in Mimiwhangata now.  No whales or penguins today, but who knows what will come next when we continue to Great Barrier Island?  And this time, I’ll try to keep it all in focus.