Monday, December 20, 2010

Anima Ready for Anything

Things were quite hectic as we prepared Anima for the cyclone season. As we are flying home to spend Christmas with friends and family, we needed to get the boat ready for anything. This meant all of the sails came inside, all of the awnings were put inside and anything loose was either securely tied down or put inside. Inside became very cramped which was made more so by my brother and his girlfriend visiting too! 

Rene spent an entire day tying over a dozen ropes from us to the surrounding marina. We look a little like a big boat spider sitting in a web of ropes. 

Taking down the jib.
Just some of the ropes we are tied down with!
Dinghy lashed on deck.
Me amongst the mess!

Tracing the official details onto the hull.
Centre-punching the numbers = PAIN!

Another milestone was that we are almost totally official in the eyes of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority. I got busy in the engine room again (groan!) by firstly tracing the new official number and official length and then painstakingly marking these letters and numbers in what seems to be an out-dated method. The requirements for a steel vessel are that the official details are to be permanently fixed to the hull through centre-punching or using a cold chisel. Rene and I both took turns banging out the numbers with a centre punch which was a devil of a job. Rene figures that if the boat is stolen, the pirates would be too lazy to mark the ship in such a time-consuming way and so, the ship would still be identifiable. I just think it's yet another hoop that I seem to have to jump through in this world of rules and regulations. 

Merry Christmas everyone! May the new year bring more travel, friends and fun!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Stormy Sailing and Visiting Family

Arthur Bay ~ Magnetic Island
 My brother and his girlfriend visited us over the weekend here in Townsville. They loved our air-conditioning as it's getting super hot here now. We hung out, played games, ate ice-cream, tried the local beer and went sailing among many other things. 
Tika & Aran take us ashore on 'Maggie'.
The highlight was our sail across to Magnetic Island (or Maggie as the locals call her). We anchored in Arthur Bay and took a picnic to shore. The sun blasted down at us and we all looked longingly at the cool water but were too cautious to swim in 'stinger season'. Some backpackers were swimming - totally covered in their stinger protection suits. Just last weekend a man was stung by an irukandji jellyfish in the Whitsundays and had to be airlifted to hospital. I wore long socks to take the dinghy in and still freaked out that I'd been stung! Turns out I had a graze from climbing the rocks that I didn't notice until the salt water started stinging it! 
Sitting in the shade of a boulder above the bay listening to summer sounds of crickets in the bush and the water lapping at the shore = bliss! 

Heading home into the storm.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Finally saw a jellyfish

My first jellyfish sighting in northern QLD
Many thanks to Nell from next door who showed me this beautiful jellyfish here in the marina. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Our request to change Anhinga's name to Ani was refused because it sounds like an existing Australian registered ship, Annie. So I put out the call to my Facebook friends and out of all of the wonderful suggestions, Beppe suggested Anima. We liked this name a lot and I just received an email back from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority to say that it is available! Anima means soul or vital force in Latin and Italian. It also has a rather complicated meaning that the psychologist, Jung, described in his theory of the collective unconscious, referring to femininity and masculinity. I like the stuff about it meaning soul!

Now I have to mark the ship. The requirements are pretty strict about font size, style and placement. I need to use a cold chisel or centre punch to permanently inscribe the number into the hull. This will involve hours squished into the engine room again (great!). Then the hull outside has to have the name, official number and home port painted on all sides. Once this is all done, we will receive the Australian registration and be allowed to sail overseas without getting in trouble with the authorities. 

Rene working on the mast.
Rene spent more hours perched atop the mast this last weekend as he worked on attaching the replacement masthead plate for the Spinnaker halyard. It isn't as pretty as it was before but it didn't cost us any more than the materials which is far less than the cost of removing the mast to have it done professionally!!! He still needs to sand off the edges so it isn't as sharp in case the spinnaker sail ever billows upwards while in use. 
Portside view of the new masthead plate.

New masthead plate.
As we bring in more things from on deck in preparation for leaving our boat over Christmas in a cyclone-prone area, the boat inside is becoming more crowded. Things reached boiling point on Sunday when the vice fell on Rene's toe and it cut open rather dramatically (lots of blood). So we set aside a few hours to sort through the over-flowing tool cupboard (again!) and this time managed to cull a few things (shock!). In fact, we are getting a little better at getting rid of belongings that we don't really need. I say 'a little better' because I'm sure we could improve further with our tendency to hoard things. 

I've made up patterns and diagrams for the portholes, cockpit floor and kitchen sink. While in Brissy, I plan to have plastic cut to size for the porthole mosquito screen edging. I wasn't happy with the poor standards I encountered (both in terms of customer service and materials here in Townsville at the local plastic fabrication place). I also hope that while visiting my parents, Dad can help me to build a wooden floor for the cockpit and a new chopping board for the galley. 

So, as usual, things have been pretty busy. My brother and his girlfriend arrive this weekend to visit. After they've gone we need to remove EVERYTHING from on deck to store inside in case a cyclone comes while we are in Brisbane. It's getting warmer and warmer here in the tropics. We are waking early and heading to the beautiful park just 5 minutes from the marina. Rene practices his Wing Chun and I do my Ashtanga Yoga. I've recently had another injury (groan!) which I think probably resulted from me being over-zealous with my yoga practice - pushing myself too far too soon. I'm slowly mending again and learning to not expect too much too quickly! 

Yoga in the pagoda.
Wing Chun practice.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

"Baching it"

Rene had to fly down to Brisbane for work, leaving me on the boat "baching it". I actually didn't mind too much - there's so much for me to do on the boat and the locals here on 'E' finger in the marina are very welcoming and friendly so the time went by super fast and I managed not to become too lonely. 

Mosquito screens finally finished! (close up detail)
While he was away I managed to knock a few things off the daunting 'To Do' list. 
The mosquito screens for all of the large hatches are finally finished. My grand plans of harnessing the power of magnets didn't work. I ended up having to glue velcro to the area surrounding each of the hatches and then sew the other side of the velcro to the mosquito mesh. I'm pretty happy with the result and now just have to do all of the portholes - these are much trickier though! 

Galley is now more secure for sailing.
The galley is now more sailing-friendly with the new fruit hanger and barrier that I've installed. It could still do with some tweaking, but I'm really happy with how it's working so far. On a yacht, all space is integral and this area was not being utilised well.. until now! The photo makes it look so easy and simple but let me tell you that this job took HOURS! So many awkward angles to drill/screw and so much figuring out exactly what I wanted. 

I also went out sailing on Water Frontier, one of the yachts here in the marina. A fellow bachelor (Les) came along too and we all had a fantastic day out on the water. This boat is so much faster than what I'm accustomed to! It was hard not to get too jealous of the great features that Water Frontier held. I fell in love with self tailing winches and found that the boat sailed so well that I didn't feel scared at all! We were all there to test out their new MPS (multi purpose spinnaker) that they'd just had made. It looked amazing when up... pulling it all down again was interesting though! I'm feeling quite daunted of one of my jobs which is to sew a 'sock & bucket' devise for hauling our MPS down. Oh dear! I'm in for so many big jobs! 
Water Frontier's new MPS

Leanne & me - note how relaxed I look!
Winch envy.

Les & John tacking 'Water Frontier'.

Rene is back now, working hard at his laptop again. I'm happy he's back as it was a little lonely here without him. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

List Obsession + Homesick for Friends & Family

Lists lists lists lists lists!
I'll admit it - I have an obsession with making, keeping and crossing off lists. This habit is great in some ways - I'm generally really organised and know where everything is. However, there is a darker side to the list keeper - that horrid, ugly thing that lurks behind me even while on holiday... stress! 

Braving the engine room.
One job I never planned on doing was cleaning out and organising the engine room - a room I have always tried to avoid. It's dirty, hot, squishy and full of weird tools, pipes, spares and machinery. Now, I love Rene but he's not a very organised man - the engine room has never been sorted through. When we bought the boat 3 and a half years ago, the engine room shelves were brimming with all sorts of mysterious things. All that has happened in the time since then is that Rene has added to the mystery and mess by piling more things into the dim depths. Duty called - my super power was needed! Like all super heroes, I had my moments of self doubt 'why me?', 'I'm not that good', etc. but, with persistence, I survived and the engine room is now clean(er), is rid of old/broken things and is organised (for now!). While pulling out all manner of bizarre and curious things, I learnt more about tools and oil and grease and things.. though not enough to get back in there in a hurry!

Another job completed this past week has been scanning the 'Ships Manual'. Originally written by Max, (the builder of Anhinga back in 1983) the years of use, sea air and sunlight were taking toll on the book - so now we have a digital copy. It's such an impressive feat - 70 pages of details on how to troubleshoot and care for the boat in fantastic detail. The manual has helped us so many times to figure out how to fix or maintain various parts of the ship. 

'Brrr - I love air conditioning!'
The wet season seems to have arrived here in Townsville. With the torrential rain comes increased humidity - especially when all the portholes and hatches have to be closed (still, less humid than having them open!). We managed to buy a really cheap second-hand air conditioner and this week we fired it up. I sewed a cover (making the dinghy cover has given me skills!) so it can work efficiently inside one of our hatches. It is such a blessing to have a cool cabin - especially for Rene who works inside on his laptop and can't escape to the cold lands of shopping centres. 

Brewing up delicious chutneys..

It's 2 weeks since my sister and Tam left and I've been feeling a bit homesick. I miss all of my friends and family from down south. I really wish I could just go over to one of their places for a dinner, some wines and soul chats or games or music or whatever! I guess this is one of the downsides to travelling long-term. Only a few more weeks until I can visit!

I'm really enjoying cooking up chutneys for Christmas gifts this year. The most recent batch is soooo hot that just cutting up the chillies had my eyes watering like crazy. The boat smells amazing and I hope everyone enjoys them as much as I have loved making them.  

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Boat Jobs, Cyclone Preparation and Mango Madness

The list of boat jobs to do for November is slowly being whittled down. 
We finished double hose clamping all of the pipes that lie beneath the waterline inside the boat. I'm enjoying adding to my skills and am actually able to tell the difference between a nut, bolt and washer now (embarrassing for me, but I always used to confuse them!). 
Rene changed the oil in the engine - he managed to keep both the bilges and himself a little cleaner than last time (this job has to be done every 150 engine hours so Rene is getting practice!). I finally completed the application for Australian ship's registration - a lengthy and painstaking process involving about 10 different forms, certified documents and a hefty fee. Now we wait to see if I need to provide any further information before we get to carve our special Australian Rego number into the hull and fly the Aussie flag. This is a big hurdle as it means that we will legally be allowed to sail out of Australian waters now :) I also got the extension lead for our power tested and tagged - a hoop that the marina requires we jump through. And of course, all of the ongoing jobs continue (constant cleaning, rearranging, storing, packing and re-packing, buying and sorting). 

We attended the local cyclone information day at the Strand park. We spoke to as many officials as possible to try and absorb as much information as possible. We have discovered that preparation is key to survival. As we were walking home, we tossed around all manner of different ideas to try and stay safe. We even considered sailing all the way back to Brisbane (an 8 day sail if we don't stop and can average 4 knots) but we like it so much here in Townsville that once again, we have decided to stay. If a severe tropical cyclone does form in the ocean off the North East coast and it coincides with a very high tide, we plan to set off to Hinchinbrook Island to tie up securely in a mangrove creek. If a cyclone is forecast that isn't severe or that coincides with low tides, we will stay here in the marina - very securely tied on! Next year we might move up to Cairns where the mangrove creek is much closer to the marina. As always with cruising, nothing is certain - our plans could change once again and we could end up anywhere! I do like it here though. A gelati cafe has just opened across the park from the marina. The park itself is beautiful - full of massive old tropical trees and a pagoda to shelter from the rain. 

Mangoes here are either ridiculously cheap or free! This week at the markets, I bought a bucket full for $8 - including the bucket! I've been busy brewing up delicious chutneys to give to people for Christmas - all made from locally sourced, scrumptious ingredients!

Again I'm heartened by the sense of community amongst the yachties here in the marina. I've been struck by so many acts of kindness. Most recently, Les and Kath let us borrow their car to go and buy the oil filters we thought we had but didn't, Anna and Oli lent us their charts of Hinchinbrook and shared their years of local knowledge of the area. I've never had such generous, kind and friendly neighbours in all the 10 or so different places I have lived in since leaving home. Thank you!

This weekend we plan to motor/sail up to Hinchinbrook Island to suss out the area for potential cyclone anchorages. We figure it's a sensible idea to check it all out before things get scary (if they do, in fact get scary!). Today I'm gathering together a cyclone survival pack with essentials to take with us if we do have to evacuate the marina, I'm also cleaning out the engine room which hasn't had my organisation/cleaning ever as it is kind of a man's domain. So far I've discovered so many strange bits of machinery, weird oily stuff that stings my hands and storage space I never knew existed! As I write this, the smell of ripening mangoes wafts over me - ahhhh! yum!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”
A few years ago, at Peats Ridge festival, I attended a meditation workshop during which the instructor spoke about how important gratitude is. He suggested that we practice being grateful of all of the positive, wonderful things in our lives rather than focusing on the negative, stressful or difficult things. I have really taken this approach on board (pun unintentional!) and find it so beneficial to live in the moment, grateful of all this life offers me. 

I'm so grateful for having such a loving, supportive, fun, crazy and harmonious family. I love everyone to bits and pieces! We are so grateful that Jez and Tam were able to spend another week with us and that my parents were able to fly up here to visit for a long weekend holiday. 
The party hats came out for our mini-reunion/b'day party!

We took the opportunity of extra crew to take a day sail around Magnetic Island - feeling the wind on our faces and the water moving beneath our hull was a reminder of how great it feels to sail. Not everyone felt as good as us though! Poor Mum and Jez felt pretty crook for much of the trip! We stopped over in Five Beaches Bay (I'm pretty sure we were anchored off Maude's Beach) for lunch. Jez and Tam dove off Anhinga and swam to shore. Everyone else took the sensible option of riding in our little (now blue) dinghy. Jez tried to catch us a fish but nothing was interested again.
We have found many fish swimming about here in the marina. There is a mammoth Barramundi that was attracted to the hundreds of tiny fish which were in turn attracted to a power boat with blue underwater lighting. Rene put his hand in the water to tickle it (apparently it's a tried and tested method) but chickened out when the fish saw him and licked its lips menacingly whilst flicking its large fins and tail.

Anhinga sailing towards Magnetic Island
We all had a beautiful time relaxing, exploring, swimming, eating, chatting, laughing and playing games. Tam had her birthday too so there was much chocolate and merriment all around! It was sad to send Mum and Dad home on the plane but we're so thrilled that they were able to take time off to visit and share in some of our experiences. 

Sewing replacement plastic into our spray dodger.
Jez and Tam stayed with us for a week and were a great help towards getting some of the jobs on the never-ending 'to do' list crossed off. The biggest help was that they sewed a new piece of plastic into our spray dodger (for those non-boaty people, it's similar in purpose to the windscreen of a car). The old plastic had been damaged when we'd had some welding done (another lesson learned there!) and for the past year we've had to peer over the top of the spray dodger rather than look through it. Tamsin became chief deck scrubber - she scrubbed away for days with rust buster to eradicate all of the rust dust which accumulated while we were at the slipway back in May. About half of the deck is now shining and clean :D Jez tried to help too but unfortunately after 5 minutes, had accidentally flicked rust buster into her eye! There was much cursing, crying and freaking out as the acid burnt into her retina. After a trip to the Emergency room, she had a pirate patch over one eye - and the next day, her eye was healed (phew!). She was hesitant to bust rust again and so became a great ship's cook, preparing loads of delicacies for us to munch on! 

While all this was going on, I had a blissful reunion with Boxy Lady, my old car, which I'd given to Jez in June (not realising at that time that we wouldn't be leaving Australia until mid 2011). Oh! How I love driving! All of the places that have taken me hours of sweaty walking and bussing were just a short 10 minute drive away! I raced about to all manner of places, buying supplies for the various jobs that need doing in the next couple of months. 

Cloudy Creek

Before the girls headed further south again, we took a day trip out to the Paluma - a beautiful tropical rainforest just an hour north of Townsville. We took the walk to Cloudy Creek which is crystal clear and very cold! I was struck by how many more critters there are in the rainforest in north QLD - I actually had to wear RID and flick leeches off my ankles regularly. It was at least 5 degrees cooler up in the rainforest - a welcome change to the oppressive heat of Townsville. The end to a perfect day was fish and chips on the beach - a great Australian tradition.  

Now everyone has gone and it's just Rene and I again. Rene is busy busy working at his laptop and I'm managing about 5 different boat projects simultaneously. Anhinga feels so quiet now that everyone has gone. We loved having everyone here with us and can't wait to see them all again for Christmas. It's raining every day now and there's talk everywhere about the cyclone season. I'm trying to stay positive about it all and not get lost in the fear of losing everything. I'm grateful to be living here in such a beautiful place with lovely neighbours in the marina. I'm grateful for having started Ashtanga yoga with a local class - it is like pilates but better! I'm grateful for my family and look forward to my brother and his girlfriend visiting us next month!

Sailbirds soaking up the rainforest energy.

Stinger Season Has Begun!

On the first of November, I was lucky enough to be hanging out with Mum, Dad, Jez, Tam and Ren on the Strand. We played Boules at the beach and watched the stinger nets go out - from now on, it's dangerous to go into the water! Mum and I were imagining all of the jellyfish congregating on the outer reefs, having meetings and planning who would attack where. So far though, the closest I've had to seeing a stinger is a plastic cup that was floating in the marina!!
Stinger nets being rolled out


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Broken Watch and Our Decision To Stay

After my rampant enthusiasm last week, I hit a few hurdles with the projects I was working on... and... well... I... procrastinated! (yes, the dreaded 'p' word). 

Instead of working on the boat or learning Adobe Flash, I wasted hours online looking at watches in online stores. My trusty flik flak that I've had since I was in grade 4 died the day we left Brisbane (symbolic huh!). Instead of paying to get it fixed I decided that it was time to get a "grown-up" watch. Well. It turns out there are billions of cool watch designs out there! I narrowed my search to about 15 Swatch watches and 10 flik flaks. I knew I was being really bad - wasting so much time - Rene reminded I was being silly - but I just kept going back to those websites and looking at watches! Wasting time on time devices designed to make you keep better time!

They call me the Rusta Busta! yo
I eventually settled on a very simple watch and will hopefully receive it in the mail soon. As soon as I had purchased it online, I felt renewed energy to tackle the jobs I'd been putting off because they'd become "too hard". The watch had really become a symbol for me being stuck. I finished working on the rusty spots, painted them multiple times and insulated them, I finished insulating more storage holds and have just vacuum-packed all of our warm gear for storage. Rene has moved our engine battery to a new spot under the floorboards but is yet to wire it all back together. The fridge stopped working last week because it had leaked out all of its gas :( A local retired fridgee (who is a real character!) has come around the last two nights to re-gas it, and things are getting a little cooler but there's no ice yet!

As for learning Flash, well, I worked through more video tutorials but the tutor is focusing more and more on Action Script (using code to get the website to work) rather than using the timeline to animate it with a little bit of simple code. I've decided to try out making a basic website in a way I'm comfortable with before moving on to the really geeky stuff! 

Marathon Lady setting off on their cruise.
This week one of the boats we've got to know while living here at the marina left on their shakedown cruise. Marathon Lady and her crew have been in Townsville for many years and seeing them off really gave me a case of the itchy feet syndrome!! The weather is so clear and warm at the moment and the water looks gorgeous! aaaaagh! Hopefully we'll get to sail over to Maggie Island again very soon so it feels like we're free again. We hope to meet with Marathon Lady again in the Sail Indonesia Rally next July. 

There's been a fair bit of hype in the media about this year being forecast to have a particularly severe cyclone season. It's a La Niña year so the QLD coast is potentially going to be hit by up to around 6 cyclones (much more than usual!). We have decided to stay here in northern QLD - despite these predictions. The locals here say not to worry because every year the media tries to drum up fear about cyclones being bad this year. The main reason we don't want to turn around and sail all the way back to Brisbane is that it took us nearly 5 months to get this far! It feels like we've achieved a step towards our dream of further travel. To simply turn around would go against our feeling (possibly delusional!) that even though we're not currently travelling, we are still in the cruising mentality as we are on our slow journey. Cruising is about waiting for good weather - we have to wait for the La Niña summer to finish so we can head north next winter. I really hope we don't come to regret our decision to stay here - please weather Gods - be gentle!!! If there is a cyclone in Townsville, the marina should be safe enough if it's a category 3 or below. The only danger here is that the storm surge will go higher than the pontoons allow - and so all the boats would end up in the park I guess (:s). If there is a cyclone forecast to hit that is category 4 or 5, we will try to get up to Hinchinbrook Island to tie up in one of the many mangrove creeks. This is a tried and tested method of cyclone survival for boats. We will be monitoring the weather closely in any case - we don't want to take any risks.

We have had some progress in the ongoing renaming yacht saga - we've gone through dozens and dozens of names since I last mentioned it in the blog. The current favourites are:
Out to dinner thanks to Rene's boss :D

I really like Ani because it's simple, easy to remember/pronounce and it also is a type of bird!!
Any thoughts / suggestions will be gladly accepted.

And finally, a bit of glitz and glam in our lives as Rene's boss paid for us to go out to dinner somewhere nice. We're normally very frugal and don't go out to dinner so this was a real treat. He had a crazy week of work with many late late nights so it was a lovely for his boss to acknowledge all the hard work Rene's been putting in. 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Live Your Dreams

Panoramic views from atop Castle Hill
Sisters exploding out of the free pool at Riverway
BBQ picnic - Ibis birds circled us as we ate
Jez (my awesome little sister) and Tam (also awesome) visited us again for a few days holiday from their hectic WWOOFing schedule. Willing Workers On Organic Farms seems to these days be a pretty broad category - they have so far worked in a 4 star restaurant, a tropical fruit winery and now a rainforest resort! For those who have never heard of it, WWOOFing involves working about 6 hours a day in return for food and board - it's pretty popular with backpackers as an affordable way to travel. 
Tam with Boxy the car sporting her new sticker.
As always, it was super fun to hang with family and take time out to just be silly and have fun. Some highlights include BBQ's on the Strand, swimming at Riverway and at the Rockpool, climbing Castle Hill, driving Boxy (who is now sporting a blue stripe and a name sticker!!), dancing in the rain on the beach at night, eating too much ice-cream, drinking amazing wine from the winery they'd just been working at (, and playing heaps of board games on the boat. Jez and I jogged the Strand and she taught me some techniques like standing up straight and going slowly which helped me make it further before running out of air. My aim is to be able to job the whole Strand (about 4Km return I think).

The pain in my back which I've had for over a month now (brought on by sleeping at a very rolly anchorage on Maggie Island) decided to become more of a nuisance and so I caved in and went to to a physiotherapist. I think my body was telling me to get into Pilates again because, after doing the pilates-based exercises the physio recommended, I'm almost 100% better! I realised that I have been a little slack with my fitness training - probably as a result of not really having a set routine. Usually I include exercise as part of my daily work schedule and, since I'm not really working, I haven't really been doing it! Sure, I've been walking a lot and jogging a bit, but that's nothing like core strength exercise! 

Agreeable graffiti atop Castle Hill
I'm feeling re-invigorated to work towards achieving my dreams. For a while now, I've felt as though I'm in limbo - happy to take time off from being a teacher, but unsure about whether cruising on a boat is really for me. I realise now that a big reason for my wanting to leave was to get away from my job which I had allowed to take over my life. Teaching is a very intense profession and I didn't really manage to develop balance between work and life because the job was so demanding and I'm a bit of a perfectionist. I think I burned out and need a break before I'm ready to teach again. So, I've extended my leave again - this time until 2012. For now I'm happy doing boaty jobs and looking after Rene while he works between 40 and 50 hours a week. These are some of the jobs I've been working on: repainting the transom with topcoat 2pac, de-rusting and then painting the ceiling and supports for the cockpit cover, de-rusting and then re-painting a spot of rust found inside a storage locker and de-moulding and cleaning (as usual).

Painted cockpit cover ceiling
Scraping away rust
While we were cruising, I always felt as though I was half-living. Part of me was always questioning whether this was what I really wanted to do. Was I just doing this as an elaborate way to take a break from my career? Did I really enjoy sailing or was it all too scary? Did I just want to live in a little house/flat by the sea? Am I even built for sailing, being so white and unable to tan? Should we be having kids and/or paying off a mortgage like most people our age? Didn't I miss all of our friends and family back home? Was this whole cruising thing just Rene's dream built from nostalgic memories of his childhood? and so it went on....

For a while, I decided that I didn't wish to continue - I was listening to my fear. But I didn't want to just return to Brisbane and to my old job already did I?

I want to travel - I always have.  

We chose to buy a yacht instead of a house so that we could live and travel long-term. I know now that I really do want to continue to live on Anhinga.

Cheeky grins at the Rockpool

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

True Spirit

'Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.'  
Helen Keller

In my last post I mentioned that I'd enjoyed reading Jessica Watson's book True Spirit and that I'd learnt a lot from her. (For those who need reminding, Jessica Watson is the youngest person to ever sail solo, unassisted and non-stop around the world). My mother in law, Jan, asked me to specify what I'd liked about the book because she thought it would simply just be a rehash of Jessica's blog posts....
Well, it does include most of her blogs... but it also includes so much more! 
What I found most enjoyable was that Jessica often explains the 'real' story behind her blogs - what else was going on and what she didn't publish at the time for various reasons. The biggest message for me though was 'feel the fear, and do it anyway'. I have struggled with my own fears/worries about everything from imaginary jellyfish to waves and things that go bump in the night. And so, in seeking a way to overcome this, I have sought encouragement in reading about Jessica. When she was little, she was afraid of everything - she wouldn't even go swimming in the pool with her siblings. Gradually, she learnt to get over the fear (I think her stubbornness was a major factor) and went on to achieve something that most people would never attempt in their whole lives - at the age of 16!

Her big message throughout the book is that anything can be achieved if you believe in yourself, have a dream and aren't afraid of working hard towards that dream. She also emphasised that planning is everything when it comes to travelling by sea. 

Jessica has an amazingly strong character. She talked herself out of feeling scared, angry, upset, frustrated, homesick and overwhelmed. She did this by talking to herself and forcing herself to see the bigger picture. She realised (as we all do at some time) that the only person we can truly rely upon is ourselves. And, she was able to rely on herself to get rid of the negative emotions and replace them with positive ones. This is something that I still struggle with - I have a tendency to blame others for my own problems and then try and get others to solve my problems for me! I think Jessica's method of building her own bridge to get over with her own strength is inspirational. 

So essentially, Jessica Watson's book traces her life story from cruising up the QLD coast with her family as a tweenager (I spelt it like that on purpose btw)  to tackling the seas of the world alone. She has taught me a lot and I will continue to admire her for her courage and strength of character.

'Throw back the shoulders, let the heart sing, 
let the eyes flash, let the mind be lifted up,
look upward and say to yourself... 
Nothing is impossible!' 
Norman Vincent Peale

This week, we gave away one of the old sail's (that was sitting around taking up space) to our neighbour here in the marina - he thinks it will fit his boat, Tarnica. I glued more carpet onto the hull (but still have a lot more of this to do). Rene sorted out the cords of chaos that had developed into an insane tangled maze - we love technology but despise all of the cords that accompany it! He also built a special 15watt plug for the marina's outlet as that is one of their (many) requirements.

Rene's inverse portrait (from the back).
We had fun at the local regional gallery here - they held an event called The Big Draw and we got to make stand-up portraits of ourselves.

While at the local internet den to print some forms (they never seem to end do they?), Rene noticed that the painting above the counter illustrated an invention idea that he'd had a few years ago. The invention was for a horse bicycle - the horcycle - the theory being that if humans can go much faster on a bike, why not horses? He posted his idea on a website that caters for this kind of crazy idea (you can read his idea and check out this cool website here
We wonder if the artist read Rene's idea and was inspired to paint?

Rene with a local artwork depicting his invention idea.
On a lighthearted note, we finished watching the Seinfeld series - I would often watch an episode or two while making dinner and have finally completed them all after about 6 months! We also finally finished listening to an amazing audio book series by Philip Pullman called His Dark Materials. The first book in this series was made into the film The Golden Compass (starring Nicole Kidman) but due to the anti-religious message of the remaining two books, they will probably never be made into feature length films. We think that Studio Ghibli (makers of: Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, Howl's Moving Castle and so many more) should animate the story - it has all of the characteristics of their kind of stories (strong female character, spirits, adventure, self-discovery etc). But until this happens, we thoroughly recommend reading or listening to the stories.

Some great out-doorsy times this week, including a picnic on The Strand, lying under the shade of palm trees with sea breezes caressing our skin. Then last night, we jogged for most of the way back from the Rockpool at night and I loved all of the endorphins! I want to practice jogging and become better at it - any tips? I seem to run out of air very quickly!
Peaceful picnic view.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Going Troppo

I've decided to update this weekly now that we are settled in the one spot for a few months. I realise that it may not be as exciting to read about our life while we're not busy exploring untouched islands - but I still want to keep a record as I'm addicted to blogging now :D I have no idea how many people actually read this anyway... ? ...

Rene has continued to be a busy bee working between 35-40 hours a week, programming. He stays happy by walking and swimming with me most afternoons, listening to / creating music and eating his weight in chocolate, nuts, lollies and other terrible snacks! I've been able to resist the chocolate temptation - mostly due to the amazing pawpaw's that I keep buying at the markets here. I love tropical fruit!!!
They say you are what you eat!
I'm (trying to) strike a balance between boaty jobs and learning how to create websites in Flash. I didn't receive any calls to do supply work so far - which I'm quite happy about really! Sure, the money would be helpful... but I'm loving my freedom from the stress of controlling teenagers. I've been enjoying reading Jessica Watson's book True Spirit and have found out a lot more about the whole process she went through. She is so amazing and is still an inspiration for me.

The boat this week has:
- had the plastic cupboard of doom sorted/culled
- installed a longer pole for our hanging clothes 
- obtained a 4x4metre square of carpet, washed it and have started cutting it to size to glue into the hull as insulation. This will hopefully prevent more mould from growing during the wet season. 
- a wind-chute / sun-shield was finally completed for our aft cabin - I used far more canvas than I thought though and now need to source more for all of the other covers!
- mould has been cleaned off more of our winter jackets, wet weather gear and shoes
- Rene installed the replacement tricolour lights on top of the main mast - while up there, he discovered that a weld that holds the spinnaker halyard is tearing off (probably as a result of us using the halyard to haul the dinghy off and onto the boat). This problem will require some pretty substantial fixing - ah boats!
A new-found problem on top of the main mast! :(

Last night we went out to the Lifesavers Club for some live music. It turned out to be a great venue with some quality local music. The headlining act, Pachooka, was especially good and we started the dance floor jumping. We danced to their entire set!
I'm glad that we heard about this venue and went along to check it out as I was starting to feel a little annoyed at this town. I'm used to living in a capital city where if you want something, you can get it - fast; where if you ask advice from a business, you get a knowledgeable answer; where if you leave a message, you get a reply.
One local put it succinctly with 'Townsville makes you talk, think and act slower but drink faster'. I guess I was pretty naive about what it would really be like to live in northern qld... I'm learning fast that it's a pretty slow life up here. Just getting something delivered in the post takes over 2 weeks to get here from Brisbane!!!
I'm feeling OK about it though - if all goes to plan, we'll be living in one of the busiest cities in the world (Hong Kong) by the end of next year, and I will probably be thinking longingly about how calm and peaceful it was here in Townsville!!! As always, I have to remember not to think about how the 'grass is always greener' and simply live and be happy in this moment.

Pachooka on stage at the Lifesavers Club