Thursday, May 29, 2014

Battle of the Pests

Friends, I am doing something very exciting: for the first time in four years, I am going on vacation. "Amy," you say, "you live on vacation."  Well, yes.  But even when I am supposed to be lolling about on a beach somewhere, I am thinking of you, dear reader, and the stories I want to tell you.

But right now, I'm heading home to see my family.  And to mark this momentous occasion, I am going to leave my blog behind for a little while.  Now, don't start weeping into your hankies just yet.  I've dusted off some golden oldies for you to enjoy while I'm gone.  As a bonus, I've added an update to the bottom of each.  So while I am busy spoiling my nieces and nephew, you can hear about some of the fun we had during the early years on Papillon, and how things have changed since then.  Feel free to comment as usual, and I'll see you in a few weeks.

Originally posted as: Rodent vs Insect, July 20, 2011.  Rio Dulce, Guatemala
In my youth, I wasn’t very fond of spiders.  Alright, I was kind of scared of them.  This wasn’t helped by the fact that our house backed onto a ravine, and every once in a while a spider the size of the Loch Ness monster would scuttle across my bedroom floor.  In general, I could manage if they were a) outside the house, and b) couldn’t contact me in any way, but if they violated either of those terms, their creepy little lives were forfeit. 

Once I had Stylish, I tried very hard to get over my spider issues.  When we encountered bugs and spiders, I would take a steadying breath, then we would examine them and talk about how interesting they were.  Eventually, my feigned non-revulsion became real.  And once we moved aboard, I was quite happy for any spiders I saw, because I knew they were keeping the bug population down.  As for the bugs themselves, pfft.  Bugs.  Big deal.

And then, it happened.

A giant cockroach.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Sailing Acrobats

Both Stylish and Indy consider the lines aboard their own.  Yes, fine, we might need them for actual sailing now and again, but, as far as they are concerned, the lines are mainly for climbing.  We have had to set strict rules about the whens and hows of such activities.  Early in our voyage, Erik looked up from the deck to find Stylish most of the way to the spreaders.  Not wanting to scare her, he calmly asked her to come down, and we had a little talk about potential energy and how perhaps she didn't want to earn herself a wheelchair at age six.

At anchor, we often fix the spinnaker pole over the water, attach a line, and let the girls swing off the deck into the water.  Before long, they gave up on the ladder altogether, and were climbing back up the line again, monkey-style.
...and up again.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Being On Time: A Cultural Mystery

As close as we get to hurrying around here.
Many years ago, I stood waiting for a train in Switzerland.  Shortly before my train was due, a very apologetic-sounding announcement came over the loudspeaker.  By the third repetition, I had the Swiss-German mostly deciphered: our train would be two minutes late, and the management was deeply sorry for the inconvenience.  A collective sigh went up along the platform.  The elderly ladies waiting beside me were particularly put out, and continued to grumble until the train arrived - precisely two minutes late.

As a Canadian, I can't say I would have noticed a two-minutes-late train.  That falls within the standard error of "on time" as far as I am concerned.  A five to ten minute grace period doesn't seem unreasonable.  In Germany, they want to run their trains like the Swiss but in fact run them like the Canadians, so, again, waiting an extra few minutes from time to time isn't much of a surprise.

But the French, as has been widely noted through history, are different.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Keep It Accessible

What is wrong with this picture? Take a good look. We see a hose run above, a seacock below... wait a minute. What about that hose in the middle?  The part someone built into a wall and then painted over? Gee, I hope that never fails, because someone is going to have a hard time getting at it.


That hose did fail,and that person is me.  And if there is one thing I resent, it is making an easy job hard.  I have enough to do without battling this sort of nonsense.  So today, dear readers, we are going to take a refresher course on Things I Promise Never To Do On My Own Boat Or Amy Will Track Me Down And Beat Me Senseless With My Vicegrips And I'll Deserve It, Too.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Working the Priority List

Every sailor knows the true story behind the Odyssey.  It didn't take Odysseus ten years to get home after the Trojan War because the gods were annoyed with him and he got blown off-course: he was late because his boat kept breaking and he had to fix it.  Heck, if I had ten years of repair delays to explain, I'd tell my spouse the same thing.  "Sorry, honey, I was fighting a cyclops."  It sounds so much cooler than, "Sorry, honey, that hole in the bilge just kept opening up."

There is no such thing as a boat in perfect condition.  There is always work to be done.  Always.  The goal is to make it just a little further down the priority list.  Our holy grail, like that of many sailors, is to redo the teak.  When we have fixed and maintained the boat to the point that teak makes it to the top of the list,I'll know that our boat is pretty mint.  (Either that, or we'll be trying to sell it.)

I've been doing my best to keep Papillon in good repair while the captain is away.  I run the engine, watch the battery bank like a hawk, and generally try to keep us above water while still making sure the young ladies are educated, fed, clothed and otherwise presentable.

Some weeks it is easier than others.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

As Everyone Else Heads Out to Sea

Cyclone season is officially over in the South Pacific.  The weather has shifted from "unbearably hot" to"uncomfortably hot". I am no longer glued to my gribs. We made it through cyclone season in one piece.

Time to sit back and relax a little. But, a couple of days ago, something strange started happening. People started leaving. I knew that some of my neighbours were only in the marina for cyclone season, but I didn't realize just how many were going to be booted out come May 1st. Here we are, on the Fête du Travail, and the boats are leaving in a steady stream.
Empty docks, waiting for new arrivals.