Monday, September 30, 2013

No More Pencils, No More Books

"Time to start school."
"I don´t wanna do school, today."
"You have to do school - it´s important."
"Come on, it won´t take long."
"Alright, alright! Fine! I´ll do school." I turn away from Erik and lean out of the cockpit. "Kids! Time for school!"

Teaching is my primary job aboard Papillon. It took me a while to figure it out - don´t ever think that elementary school teachers are just breezing through life - but now the kids and I have a system that works well for us. Most days I look forward to our school time, and all three of us have fun. But there are days when I open my eyes in the morning and the weather is cold and rainy, or we´re in a particularly interesting place, or I don´t feel so great, or I´m just plain lazy. On those days I want to call in sick and skip the whole thing. I´m having one of those times. And this is not helped by the fact that the girls are having one of those times, too.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Engine Woes and Sailing Anyway

I can always tell that we have been in port too long when Erik and I start to bicker. As soon as we start breaking out the why-don`t-you-get-it-yourselfs and the can`t-you-show-a-little-enthusiam-heres, it means we are cranky and bored. Time to move on.

Not that I have anything against Noumea. The people are extremely friendly and helpful, and a baguette costs 80 cents. You can`t beat that. But we have been up to our eyeballs in stress about what is wrong with our engine-propeller run. The short answer is, we can jolly things along for now, but we need to plan on a major repair during cyclone season. The propeller shaft coupling that self-destructed was only a symptom of a larger problem: the whole assembly was badly designed, and needs to be pulled. That means a haul-out, an expert, and all sorts of other time-taking, money-costing nonsense that makes me want to hide under the table and eat Cheetos. Alas, Cheetos don`t provide the answer to all of life`s problems. But sometimes sailing does.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Naming Names: What Should I Call My Boat?

I'm still collecting questions for my Q&A, so don't feel like you're too late.  Leave a comment on the original post, or drop me a line.  No query too small to be considered!

Q:  What should I name my boat?
A:  I'm glad you asked.  Choosing a boat name is a bigger deal than you think, especially if you are cruising.  Why?  Because, dear reader, when you move aboard, you lose your own name, and become your boat name. Before you name your boat, you need to ask yourself two questions: 1. Is it easy to read and understand? 2. Do I like it enough that I can live with being called this every day?

Let's knock through this with imaginary cruising couple, John and Betsy.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Question Department is Open

In a few short weeks, we will reach our third anniversary aboard Papillon.  Not bad for a trip that was only supposed to be two years long.  And although I've baked enough cakes lately to last me until the end of time, I come from a birthday/anniversary/Groundhog Day-celebrating tribe.  What to do to mark the occasion?

Monday, September 16, 2013

All the Colors of the Rainbow

There is not much I resent more than a sunburn.  It is a self-inflicted injury of the stupidest sort.  We all had a decent tan going for our first two years aboard, but, when we sailed to New Zealand, our skin returned to its regular pasty hue.  So we had to start all over again when we came north again. 

Which was fine, but a couple of days ago, as we were finishing breakfast, our neighbors came by and invited us for a morning coffee.  We all hopped in the dinghy and went.  But it meant we didn't finish our morning routine, ie. applying sunscreen.  And I ended up stuck in the sun in their cockpit for three hours.  And I burnt.

So when we went to the beach on Ilot Canard yesterday, I was rocking a stylish combination of a bikini plus a t-shirt wound around my neck from my collarbone to my chin.  (Thankfully, the girls are still young enough not to care that their mother looks ridiculous.  Or maybe they are just so used to that they don't bother to fight the battle.)  If I can just keep this burn covered for a couple more days, it will fade enough for safety.  If not, it will worsen catastrophically and I'll look like someone attacked me with red lipstick.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Sending Missives From the Front

As a kid, I was a mail hound.  I loved getting letters.  I had pen pals all over the place, and a good chunk of my allowance went into buying fancy paper so I could write them back and get more mail in return.  I still think getting mail is fun.  And now that we are in a warm place again, Mom has been on a Postcard Mission.

The girls and I sat down and made a list.  Some friends, some family, some school - anyone we thought might smile to get a colourful picture in their mailbox some misty, moisty morning a few weeks from now.  Then off to the Tabac.

The shopkeeper stared at our stack of cards.  "Vingt-cinq?  You want twenty-five cards?"
"Yes.  No.  Stylish, I forgot someone - go grab another card.  Vingt-six, s'il vous plait."

Friday, September 6, 2013

When Two Become Five

Since we arrived at anchor, the girls have lived outside.  They have swung from the halyards and splashed noisily in the water.  They eat on deck, read on deck, and generally spent every moment they can in the open air.

Why?  Not because we are finally somewhere warm(ish).  Not to escape Dad pulling up the floorboards (which only happened twice.)  No.  Their loud, obvious presence was a beacon, a signal fire: We're Here.  Come Play With Us.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Back Home Again In A New Place

I knew I liked New Caledonia as soon as we entered the pass.  Erik and the girls were at the bow while I was checking the chart when I heard cries of: “Dolphin!  Dolphin!”  And sure enough, we had a cetacean visitor guiding us in to Noumea.  Very civilized.  Or rather, wild, which is the way we like it
Job number one when we get to port is to let the girls run.  Ten days is a long time to be cooped up in a small space, and even swinging on the handholds (our own personal monkey bars) can only do so much.  So while Erik and I got water and worked on the boat, they practiced kung fu by day and danced outside to the live band playing in the cafe every evening.  In short, they shook their sillies out.