Monday, January 27, 2014

Denial and Other Adventures in Avoiding Reality

Everyone has their own way of dealing with life's unfortunate events.  Some people eat.  Some people cry.  Some people exercise until they fall down from exhaustion.  As for me, I grew up in a strong WASP-y tradition.  That means when the weather is hot, I'm accustomed to spying men in kneesocks and long shorts.  When it's Sunday dinner at Grandma's, we eat roast beef and Yorkshire pudding.  And when reality serves me something I don't want to deal with, I hide.

Mentally, of course.  You can't physically hide from reality - that would look ridiculous.  Did Lord Grantham lock himself in a cupboard when Downton was circling the drain?  No.  Like all good avoiders, he just locked himself into a mental pattern of "la la la, this isn't happening, I don't have to change my ways, oh good there's the gong, let's all dress for dinner."  And while some of us aboard Papillon take a, shall we say, more Teutonic approach to unwanted events, some of us are just chasing distractions while we wait for the metaphorical dinner gong.

Our cloud on the horizon is work.  This is a cloud-that-isn't-really-a-cloud.  Work means money means we can keep sailing... just not for a while.  The bad side of work is that it will remove Erik from the equation for a time.  Oh, the work will be exciting, and he has a great team, and he'll be home as often as he can, but nonetheless.  The whole point of this trip was to spend time as a foursome.  I'm selfishly sad to give that up, even for a little while.

So, how have we hidden from our woes?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Kids and Cyclones

"Are we really going to get a cyclone?  A real one?"  The girls looked at me with shining eyes, as though I had brought Christmas back eleven months early.
"Yep."  I shoved the awning onto the spare bunk.  "It's a real cyclone.  Tropical Cyclone June."
"Tropical Cyclone Juin," said Indy.
"Do we have to go to the cyclone shelter?" asked Stylish.
"Is the wind going to blow the boat over?" Indy made wind hands, puffing out her cheeks and destroying an imaginary fleet.
"Do we get to use the cyclone lines?"
"When is it going to get here?"
"Guys," I said, pausing in my struggle with the awning, "it is a cyclone, but not a big one.  And it is going to pass to the west of us, so we should be just fine.  It is going to be pretty windy and rainy for a few days.  That's it, probably."
"Like New Zealand?"  Stylish made a face.
"But warmer."
Their little shoulders slumped.  What a rip-off.  Here was a genuine, super-exciting natural disaster, and Mom was acting like it was just another day.  Parents don't understand anything.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Is That a Cyclone Coming?

I opened my email this morning and found the unwelcome subject line: "Not liking the look of weather toward the end of this week."  I put my head down on the table.  Erik had sent me the note from a land far away; apparently not even being up to his eyeballs in work could keep him from checking on the weather.  Sadly, when we "don´t like the look of the weather" around here, it doesn´t mean a little rain is going to ruin our picnic.  It doesn´t mean it will be too windy to hang out laundry.  It means something bad might be coming.  And something bad at this time of year means a cyclone.

Stop number one: the local marine forecast.  I called up
Hmm.  Kind of gusty, a couple of days of 20 kt winds, heavy rain - nothing too terrible.  But I know perfectly well that I made this stop number one because I knew I wouldn´t have to believe a single thing I saw.  The local forecast is strangely inaccurate and incomplete.  This was a brief attempt to reassure myself that nothing was going to happen.  But I know better.  Cyclone Ian just flattened Tonga.  Thinking it can´t happen here a few days later is only a foolish wish.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Bringing Home a New Dinghy

I have never owned a new vehicle.  My first car: used.  Ditto cars two through four.  Papillon is older than I am.  And all three of our dinghies were previously enjoyed.  (Even our former house was in its eighties when we bought it, but since it didn't stand up and walk around à la Howl's Moving Castle, I don't suppose it counts.)

Last year, we did a bit of a dinghy shuffle. We sold the old inflatable, and took on a tinny and a small sailing dinghy.  This was a good move.  The sailing dinghy is fun for the kids - especially Stylish, who loves to row it around the anchorage - and the tinny is perfect for Pacific conditions.  It can handle sharp coral-rubble beaches, and it is just right for longer trips around the lagoon.

But the tinny we bought was old and much-repaired.  We knew that going in, and we got it for a song.  It was the perfect tester; we knew it wouldn't be a long-term solution for us.  Much like the beater car that you can use in-town but not on the freeway, the Ramco will be great for someone sticking close to shore or going fishing up the river.  But the dinghy is our family car, and it needs to perform.  We needed something more.  And since dinghy prices in New Caledonia are surprisingly reasonable, it was time to make the big leap to Buying Something New.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Hitching a Ride Through the Lagoon

I have been living aboard this buoyant piece of formed aluminum for more than three years now, and I don't mind admitting that I am still figuring this whole sailing game out.  Once upon a time, friends tried to lure us back home back home with the carrot that the beautiful lots down the street from their house were for sale.  We joked that we would just dig a big hole, put Papillon in it and watch everyone's property value plummet.  But now, while we wait for the endless Christmas holidays to be over and our thrust bearing assembly doodads to arrive, I kind of feel like Papillon is sitting in that hole.  As December wore on, our neighbours sailed out, one by one, for holiday adventures on the lagoon.  And we sat.  We stayed.  We sighed.

But last week, some new friends invited us out on their boat for the afternoon.  And it was a revelation to your correspondent.  This opened a whole new world to me: the world of Mooching a Ride On Someone Else's Boat. 
Erik took the tiller at the earliest opportunity.