Jim has been asking me to add my paragraph to our blog but I don’t think I could sum it up in a little paragraph, so decided to do my own post. I’ve been behind the scenes with regards to the blog throughout our adventure as Jim seems to have taken a liking for writing, which has been great for me.
Things I have enjoyed this year:
- It has been heavenly not working and not living to a schedule. I’ve not missed getting up before the sun rises to go to work and picking up Jacintha from after school care after the sun has set. I loved getting up with the sunrise, when my body was ready to wake up and sleeping when I wanted to. Our only schedule being when we needed to make a passage or whilst on watch on a long crossing.
- Visiting so many different countries. I loved exploring different places, shopping in tiny little stores & markets, and wondering around the streets or exploring villages. Not to mention the wonderful sea life we’ve experienced, like swimming with the whale sharks in La Paz, the sea lions in Isla Perdita, the birds at Isla Isabella, the many dolphins who’ve jumped through our bow wave, the tired sea birds who’ve hitched a ride on our boat, swimming with the sting rays and sharks in the Rangiroa and Bora Bora, and the Humpback whales in Tonga. Each place that we’ve visited holds a special place in my heart for why it’s special, whether it was the crocodile in Marina Vallarta, the wonderful villagers of Nasea in Fiji, the amazing caves of Niue or the friendly hamburger stall worker in Rarotonga who gave me a ride to the laundromat and let her daughter play with Jacintha. Even boring Ixtapa marina wasn’t so bad as we watched the Seahawks win to qualify for a place in the Superbowl!
- Spending time with Jim and Jacintha. There were times that were “challenging” between us and times that I’ve wanted to mutiny and jump ship, but overall I’m glad that I stuck it out and we got to do the things that we did. I’ve learnt a lot about Jim and about me and we’ve grown together as a couple. I’ve enjoyed watching Jacintha grow and blossom into a young lady. Apparently, we dragged her kicking and screaming across the Pacific, but when you see her paddling a kayak across the water with Ivan in Tonga, generously give away her art supplies and toys at the Tongan School and in Fiji before we left, screaming with excitement when swinging on the rigging with Ivan from Javalot when we had “circus time”, swinging on the rope with the other kids at Makogai Island or cuddling up with the baby pig at Nasea– I know she had a good time overall and will have many wonderful memories of our time away. She will be a better person for seeing how basic some of the villages are with no electricity, no running water, no toilets and no wifi, internet or computers.
- I’ve loved the simplicity of life at sea. We took our home to many different places and brought all that we needed with us. Our typical day on the boat consisted of breakfast, lunch and dinner, what needed to get fixed on the boat, deciding whether we were staying put or are we moving on, and if we’re going, where to, how long and what provisions we needed. No distractions of bad news on TV, no traffic snarls and no commuting.
- Meeting people. We have met a lot of fabulous people on other boats and also on the islands we visited. We have made some long-lasting friendships and hope that distance doesn’t weaken those bonds. Mabrouka now in Mexico, Pelagic in Ireland, Seahorse V in Panama, Maestro in Bora Bora, Daybreak on passage between Tonga and Australia, Korbut Rose in Tonga, Brahminy, Family Circus and Javalot in Fiji to name a few boats. We’ve enjoyed lunches and dinners with you, your company and your help at times.
- The warm weather. I loved the tropical heat and the fresh rain. It reminded me of my childhood in Malaysia. The smells and the trees were similar to that of my youth.
- The food in the markets and stores. The lunch stalls in Mexico, the food trucks in the Marquesas, the market in Papeete, the french baguattes in French Polynesia, the small restaurants in Tonga, and the marina restaurant in Fiji.
Now that we’re back in Seattle and starting to re-assimilate, here are some things that I missed whilst living on a boat.
- Washing machine and dryer. Coin operated laundromats were easy to find in Mexico and I had time to sit around and wait for the washing to be done. And if there wasn’t one, then paying to have your laundry done was cheap enough. Throughout French Polynesia, laundry prices were exorbitant. I hand-washed our laundry for those 2 months and it always seemed to rain after I hung it up to dry. I would have loved to have a wonder washer with me and envied Rachel on Javalot with her washing machine aboard her catamaran. At least laundry was cheaper to have done in Tonga and Fiji.
- Indoor hot water showers. As much as the novelty of showering on deck via our solar showers was a heap of fun in Mexico, the crossing, and French Polynesia. It started to get too much when we headed south for Rarotonga, Nuie, and Tonga where it was colder, windier and cloudier. Plus, I developed a body rash which I’m sure was from the mold growing in the solar bags as it got colder and we weren’t using them as often. It was lovely going home to Sydney and having long, hot showers!!! Such luxury as a shower a day is something I love. And Jacintha was having 2 baths a day in Sydney so she could warm up!!
- Flushing toilets. Potty maintenance is all part of traveling on a boat. When do you divert it to the holding tank, when do you empty the tank, etc. At anchorage sometimes you have to think, should I poop now or take the dinghy into shore and do it in the flushing shore toilet. Or are we going into town where it’ll mean I don’t have to have a holding tank with poop. Poor Jacintha was always asking if it was OK to poop or not!! Having a flushing toilet means she can flush it herself and Jim and I don’t find little presents of poop in our toilet that we have to pump out!!! It’s the little things that matter.
Things I’ve learnt along the way:
- I can cook, if I have time! I can actually put ingredients together and make a meal. It’s still very mea- based with less veggies due to the limited selection we’ve had but it’s doable. Not my favorite thing to do but I can do it. I managed it with 2 pots, 2 skillets, 1 cooks knife, and 1 meat cleaver (and no electrical implements, except occasionally I used a hand blender). I kneaded dough by hand, made cookies and cakes without a mixer, and chopped up veggies by hand. I made yoghurt from scratch and tried making some Polynesian dishes. We’ve learnt to crack a coconut quickly for drinking and to eat the meat, although I haven’t gone as far as scraping the meat of the coconut to cook (I still prefer to buy it in a can!).
- We don’t need much to survive. I used a handful of clothes over and over and over again. Flip flops were our choice of shoes and I didn’t need half of the clothes I had carted halfway around the world with me and brought back. I brought a lot of Jacintha’s clothes with us as my plan was to give them away as she outgrew them and it was nice to see the appreciation in the faces of the villagers. They were so happy to get anything at all and I’m sure they’ll be used a lot as these people are so poor yet so content with what they have. I am already planning to send a suitcase of clothes back with Jim to give to villagers he encounters when he goes back to sail Apropos home.
- If I plan to give up my day job I think I’ll move to the South Pacific and take up another vocation. My skills in canvas repair were much appreciated by a few people so I’m thinking that I could use that skill. There is also much need for skilled medical people in these places. The remuneration wouldn’t be as good as in Seattle but the smiles would more than make up for it!