Monday, July 29, 2013

Reaching Racing Saturation

I'm wearing my headlamp - that means I'm actually working, not taking a break.
Everyone needs a way to unwind.  Absolutely, they do.  Reading.  Running.  Ping pong.  Sailing, for example. But here we sit, still fixing our rig, and ways to relax are thin on the ground.  We've read all our books.  We've walked all of the scenic walks.  We can't swim here.  There is no wind, so we can't break out the sailing dinghy.  And so we fall back on that old standby, the internet.

Sometime during the Gangnam Style era, the girls introduced their father to YouTube.  Erik has never been a computer person; until that point, I'm pretty sure he thought computers were strictly for Excel, Power point, and Halo.  But now he has discovered that he can find sailing blogs.  And sailing photos.  And sailing videos.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Scavenger Cruiser

Last October, we were sitting in a cafe in Neiafu enjoying that great rarity: food and drink we didn't make ourselves.  As I took a sip of my coffee, Erik suddenly bent down and plucked something off the gravel floor.

"Look," he said, holding up his prize, "a zipper car!  And just the size I need!"  He put the precious car in his pocket and patted it happily, grinning from ear to ear.  I smiled and kept on drinking my coffee, because what just happened was such a completely normal thing.  Even if anyone else in the cruiser-filled cafe had seen it, they wouldn't have raised an eyebrow.  Because cruisers are scavengers.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Which Passage Were You On?

It is a banner day here on Papillon - we have completed our first passage since last January when the forestay parted and we made an unscheduled six-month stop in Whangarei.  This was only an overnight hop, but we were out at sea! and we got from there to here with barely a hiccup.

It has been a long time since I have been able to write to you, dear readers, about actual sailing stuff.  You have kindly put up with my posts about fixing the rigging, and living in the yard, and all of the cruising-related activities that have nothing to do with boat-on-water + wind = fun.  So now that we are back in motion, the natural thing would be for me to write about our passage.

But we didn't just have one passage, did we?  We had four.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Sailing Small

People often assume that we are fantastic sailors.  After all, we have made it from the Chesapeake to New Zealand - we must be awesome, right?  Well, I won't claim that we haven't picked up a skill or two along the way.  But cruising is a different kind of sailing.  In some ways, your boat turns into your car: a vehicle you use to eat up the miles in order to to reach faraway places.  You can slip into the habit of being destination-focused.  And that is a shame, because if sailing is good for anything, it is good for showing you the world very, very slowly.  If you don't enjoy the process of getting from here to there, then, brother, you are using the wrong mode of transportation.

Being in New Zealand has been a fun for a few reasons, not the least of which has been getting to day sail.  Imagine, going out in your boat just to toodle around for a few hours, then come back to the same place again!  No watches, no overnights, no cooking ahead for four days at a time - just relaxing with your guests and mucking around with the sails.  You can even see land!  This might be old hat to those of you reading this post, but to me, it has been a revelation.  Sailing... without getting anywhere?  Just for enjoyment?  Crazy talk.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Feed me, Seymour! A Basic Guide to Provisioning.

There is nothing that says "I'm ready to blow this popsicle stand!" like buying a hundred tins of veggies.  What's that?  You don't spend two thousand dollars at the grocery store before you go on vacation?  Well.  It is clear to me that you don't have to shop for six months at a stretch.  Let me guide you through it.

First, make your list.  Mine is three printed pages in an Excel spreadsheet.  I add in my notes on consumption from the last Big Shopping, make new estimates for what we need, and off I go.  Always keep in mind that fresh stuff usually gets confiscated when you enter a new country, so only buy as much meat and veg as you can eat between now and then.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Three Weddings on a Distant Shore

When I was six years old, I slept over at a friend’s house to watch The Royal Wedding.  I refer, of course, to Prince Charles and Lady Diana.  I remember it being A Big Deal in that distant, background way that kids treat all events not directly related to themselves.  Meaning, it was something adults wouldn’t stop talking about.  The closest I came to being interested in the proceedings was that I had a pretty picture of Lady Diana cut out from the Globe and Mail, which I liked because my mother had the same hairstyle.

The big day came, and my friend’s mother dragged us out of bed at some ungodly hour to sit in front of the television.  And the wedding went on and on.  I am blessed with minimal patience, and I remember wondering when they were going to just get on with it.  I guess the church was neat, and Lady-now-Princess Diana wore a fancy dress, and I suppose there must have been singing.  But my friend and I squirmed and sighed and wriggled on the carpet until we couldn’t stand it any longer, and we ran out to play in the backyard.  And that was my first electronic wedding.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Running from the Fashion Police

Yesterday was laundry day.  The dryers here are a little slow, so I spent the entire day wandering around the boatyard in my laundry day clothes: a red long-sleeved t-shirt, a green fleece, a pink fleece, a black fleece (it was cold, I'm telling you), and a pair of black long-winter-underwear pants.  And my formerly-white flip-flops.  I admit, it was a grim picture.  I must have talked to a dozen people over the course of the day.  But did I get a single funny look?  A raised eyebrow?  A muffled snicker?  I did not.  Because this is how cruisers look.

I always get a kick out of ads for "cruising wear".  We limp into port after ten days at sea, smelly and tired and on a three-t-shirt rotation, and the welcome wagon appears with a guide to the area.  The first thing I see is a full page glossy of two Barbie-like models, airbrushed to within an inch of their lives, wearing whites so bright I think I might have to put my sunglasses back on.  But I can turn the page with a clear conscience - this advertisement was not meant for me.  This ad was printed for people with a) taste, b) money, and c) regular access to washing facilities.  In a phrase: charter boaters.