Friday, June 27, 2014

Boatsitting

After sitting in an airplane for twenty-seven hours with two increasingly rangy kids, there was only one thing I wanted when I got back to Noumea.  It wasn't a hot shower (although I needed it.)  It wasn't a good night's sleep on a horizontal surface (although I needed that even more.)  All I wanted as we pulled up to the marina was to see Papillon afloat.  Steal my luggage and cancel my credit cards, but please don't let my boat be resting in the mud.

Not that I left my home unattended: I asked a friend to keep an eye on Papillon.  But the problem with asking other cruisers to watch your boat is that, well, they're cruisers.  They cruise.  And so, a week into my vacation, I got an email that looked something like this:

Monday, June 23, 2014

Beautiful Places: Camping in the Tuamotus

Part of the fun of setting up this series of "remember when" posts has been reviewing our trip for myself. As I skimmed through French Polynesia, I was shocked to discover that I haven't posted any photos of the Tuamotus - one of the most beautiful places we have visited.  And so, for my last holiday post, I will remedy the oversight.  I'll be back to regular posts later in the week.

Originally posted as Sleeping in the Great Outdoors, September 4, 2012
My family did a lot of camping when I was young. Every summer we hitched our pop-up trailer to the big red van, and toodled around the great campgrounds of Southern Ontario. When I was a little older, I was introduced to the joys of a damp sleeping bag when I was sent to a summer camp in Algonquin Park. This was a canoe trip kind of camp, and we girls were sent out for a few days at a time to paddle the lakes as the blackflies buzzed and the mosquitoes whined. After a long day of paddling a canoe and acquiring a mild sunburn, occasionally punctuated by a tiring portage, our counsellors would guide us to a campsite. As the sun went down, we would coax the wet sticks we found into a fire and try to cook something before falling dead into our drippy canvas tents. (Note to the interested: Kraft pizza mix is a superior camping meal. Wrap the dough around a stick, cook it in the fire, then dip the dough stick into the tomato sauce and sprinkle with cheese. C├ęst magnifique. I only had this once during my camping career, and still remember it clearly almost thirty years later.) As a parent, I see how wise it was to tire out a quartet of nine-year-old girls in this way. Although I didn´t care for camp as a whole (too much rigidly-scheduled cheerfulness), I have fond memories of gliding across still lakes, listening to the birds overhead, and eating charred, sticky marshmallows at the end of the day.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Through the Panama Canal

I'm not going to lie to you: crossing the Panama Canal is exciting.  Massive cargo ships, other sailboats, the prospect of getting dashed against the walls and sinking in the lock - the Canal has it all.  Lucky for me, my computer-savvy family was able to capture part of the journey via the webcams set up at each lock - be sure to watch the flipbook at the end of the post!

Originally appeared in Canal Win! on May 5, 2012
Waiting for your canal date is a lot like waiting for Christmas when you are six years old.  Time moves unendurably slowly, and at some point you are convinced the big day is never going to arrive.  And then it does.  And then you are so excited and jumpy and full of sugar that you can hardly focus long enough to enjoy the experience.  But, since I'm a grown-up and all mature and stuff, I was able to calmly record my observations.  When I wasn't busy being excited and jumpy and full of sugar.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Onboard Haircuts: A Necessary Evil

Although I can't claim we spend our days in yachting whites, we aboard Papillon do make an effort to meet a minimum standard of grooming.  This isn't always easy when your choice is between sufficient drinking water and a nice shower, but we do our best. One of our persistent problems has to do with hair. Let's face it: we're a hairy boat.  So how do we manage those strands of waste protein that just won't stop growing?

Originally appeared as Long, Beautiful Hair on November 12, 2012
When I was little, Saturday morning was not complete without cartoons on channel 29 out of Buffalo. One of the staple commercials breaking up He-Man and Scooby Doo was The Hair Club For Men. Happy clients shook their newly-thickened locks as they cavorted in hot tubs with young models in blue eyeshadow and grinned knowingly at us, the viewers, around their Burt Reynolds mustaches. I never understood why men would want those elaborate, shiny perms, and I put it down to Strange Things Grown-Ups Do.

Maybe the problem was that I didn´t identify with the untamed styles of the late 70s. In my family, hair was neatly cut, no matter whether you tended to the thinner end of the hair continuum, or you fell on the hairy end of the curve. When my brothers were about seven and ten, a movie was filmed at their summer camp. My brothers were instantly cast to wrestle in the background of a certain shot. Why? Because the movie was set in the 50s, and their crewcuts were perfect.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Communication Breakdown: Helping Family Let Go

Around about now, I expect I am somewhere on the East coast, dining out with friends.  Worried about exactly where I am? I'm used to that. Back in the day, some well-meaning family members got a little nervous about our whereabouts, too.

Originally posted as Calling All Worrywarts, or, Next Stop, 1996! on December 15, 2010
As this little blog has grown, I have gotten the odd bit of mail from you, my dear readers.  Most of it is kind.  Some of it is mystifying.  But much of it comes from landlubberly types.  With that in mind, it is time for the educational (or, as Stylish, age 3, would have put it, edumacational) portion of our blog.  This will take the form of a Q&A with concerned readers Heckle and Jeckle.  Today's topic is:

When do we call the Coast Guard?
"I'm concerned about this sailing business, old bean!"

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Stitches, Burns and Breaks: The Injury Hall of Fame

Here I am again, that old good-for-nothing bird, runaway Mayzie - still on vacation and still just as lazy.* Today, let's review some of the better injuries we've had aboard. I have even included a bonus, hitherto-unreported injury for those of you willing to make it to the end. (But be warned: this post contains mildly yucky photos, so if you don't like blood, you'd best skip along.)

Injury 1: Amy's broken finger.  Originally appeared in Question and Answer Time, November 15, 2010.
Q:  What is worse than having to do the dishes by hand three times a day?
A.  Having to do the dishes by hand three times a day with a finger you can't get wet.

It was a sunny morning.  We'd gotten the anchor up with minimal annoyance (read: mud), and I was clearing up the deck and feeling rather good about life in general and this trip in particular.  I opened the port deck box to put away a hose.

Wham!

The spring holding the lid buckled.  Down came the lid onto my right index finger.  It hurt so much I didn't make a sound; I just crumpled onto the deck.  And just how bad did it look?  Well, let me show you.
 
Google