August 29, 2014

Go Cruising - Lose Weight!

It's been a very steady pattern with me. Each time I've left a desk job to go cruising I've lost weight.

Happened in 1995 on our first boat, 2009 when we left Vancouver on the current boat, and again this past few months when we left Brisbane in early July. Now I had been diligently riding my bike, and really watching what I ate in Brisbane, and the kilos were being shed. 

What happens when I don't really watch what I eat, but re-start an active lifestyle? Pulling on halyards, grinding in sheets, lifting the dinghy in the davits almost every day. Walking everywhere, swimming, doing boat chores. It all adds up. Yay me.

 So if you want to lose weight, consider a sailing lifestyle.*

- Evan

* this may not apply to female sailors for some reason (seriously).  Many of them report weight gain when they go cruising.

August 24, 2014

Anchor down

This morning our anchor came up with the sun and we pointed the boat north and flew. The winds are perfect right now—it’s like being on a fast-moving conveyer belt carrying us to our next destination, and the next after that. Today we sailed to Cape Upstart (I think!) 50 fast miles. Yesterday it was Glouster Passage. Before that, Airlie Beach.

underway on a light wind day
Traveling this quickly—a new anchorage each night or two, connecting with friends for a few hours, getting to know a place for a day—has its own appeal. It’s like a kaleidoscope of impressions: here we ate fresh oysters off the rocks; here a homesteader gave me more oranges and passion fruit than I could carry and I made marmalade; here we barbequed on the beach with new friends; here I was shown a rock orchid and malecula forest…

not sure if marking a hiking trail with plastic beach debris is clever, or depressing
gorgeous rock orchids
The richness of each day is astounding. Even the simple things like finding a grocery store and the laundry is an adventure. Colours seem brighter and moments seem sharper. Travel does that—it pulls you out of your comfort zone and gives you endless amounts of newness. It makes you pay attention.

following a boat through Glouster Passage
Some of the best moments for me though are the quiet ones that come after the anchor goes down. It’s like shavasana in yoga; it’s a time to breathe deeply and let all those impressions, and the whirlwind of constant noise and movement (we’re on a boat at sea, remember) slow to a stop. It seems like if we didn’t anchor ourselves, all of it; the whales, turtles, blue water and kind friends would slip by without being savoured and tucked safely away in my memories.

We've not lacked for gorgeous sunsets
So our anchor is down. The boat is calm. And rugged hills rise up ahead of us. In many ways this is the start of our day. When we sail, not much except sailing gets done. If it’s calm enough Maia works through school projects, I write a bit and Evan does a few chores. Mostly though we read, eat when we’re hungry and look at the view.

beaching the boat to repair a thru hull
Being anchored lets us catch up on all the things that need doing, head to shore and explore or simply look at the view just a little bit more.

August 18, 2014

Gambling With the Suck to Fun Factor

Maia's dream beach

Ever have one of those days that starts out warm and sunny, moves into a perfect sail, and then brings you humpback whales? Not spouts in the distance. But a mama resting on the surface a few hundred meters away and a curious baby who decides to come and visit?

Baby heads over to see us with mama close behind
But then the day turns—your main motor doesn’t start, so you use your outboard. And when you sort out the main motor’s problem the outboard hops off the back of the boat and falls into the ocean (thank-goodness for that safety line). And then you tip the mocha flan that you made, to soothe your sad soul, into a dirty sink and the pickle jar explodes over the floor, where you notice a trickle of saltwater from a seeping thru hull (and you just hauled out…). And none of the good—not the sail, not the whale, can make up for the fact that some days just suck.

I think cruisers must be bad gamblers at heart.

abandoned rail track
Roo prints on the beach
Those perfect days, where you wake with the plan of sailing on but a quick morning hike shows you’ve stumbled upon an abandoned resort with a perfect beach and clear warm water, are the ones that keep you sailing from country to country, endlessly searching for the combination of magical elements that feel like a row of cherries in the slot machine.

our morning turtle
But mostly we plug coins into the slots, taking the little payoffs; the turtles, the sunsets, the clear water and empty beaches. They’re our reward for the endless repairs.
Endless repairs.

abandoned train
The good days though? They are so good. Yesterday we planned to travel. But I wanted to see shore before leaving Brampton Island. Evan needed to finish flushing the outboard so after communing with a huge, wise-looking turtle Maia and I headed to shore on our own. We set off down an overgrown rail track the lead us past shy kangaroos and outgoing butterflies and into an empty resort.

There was a Christmas tree in a window, a pool table with cues and balls, an ancient banyan tree and sailboats for guests. There were linens on the beds and furniture in the dining room. And it was empty except for two other cruisers. We learned the resort was abandoned after a 2010 cyclone. Eerie and perfect we thought Evan should see it.

So we spent the day on abandoned lawn chairs, drinking from coconuts, cooling in the blue water and exploring the resort. In the evening we joined newly arrived sailors on the broken jetty to watch the sun drop into the sea.

the only guest
what the resort lacked in bar service it made up for in ambiance.
 And today we’re sailing on, gambling that someday soon we’ll have another day as good as yesterday.

August 5, 2014

It Blows

Last night the boat shuddered and shook in the gusts and leapt in the swell. Instead of the blow blowing through, the wind has stayed strong each day. In the bay, the water is no longer calm-the swell bounds and rebounds off the cliffs and we bounce.

On Monday we got confirmation that we could haul the boat out in Mackay and that the wind that day would be the lightest for the week at 20-25 knots. By the time we set out it was past noon-but with only 25 miles we thought it would be fine. Four days of strong wind and current has led to big boisterous seas and the sail to Mackay turned out to be more upwind than the weather report promised. Ten minutes in, we realized we wouldn't make it by dark.

We headed back to our anchorage and requested another weather report. More wind for more days. So now we're pondering options for plan 'B'. This morning we watched another boat leave for Mackay. For the first hour we watched him make no progress against the wind and current-slipping further and further downwind and closer to the shallow banks before disappearing in the swell. So that's out for now.

Heading downwind would be uncomfortable and quick-but we still need to haul out the boat to replace our cutless bearing, paint the bottom and get our insurance survey and after checking the alternatives Mackay is the best option (other than the bit about not being able to get there easily...).

Waiting does make the best sense. We're well provisioned. Our anchorage is beautiful and as protected and we're guessing everywhere in this region would be just as bouncy, breezy and uncomfortable. And while moving might get us internet we'd lose the turtles that visit us each day and would get further from Mackay--which is where we need to go if the wind ever drops…
At 30/07/2014 11:49 PM (utc) our position was 21°39.21'S 150°14.61'E

radio email processed by SailMail
for information see:

August 1, 2014

Waiting with Wind and Whales but not Wifi

According to our most recent schedule we should be pulling into Airlie Beach about now. This would be revised schedule #3. Sort of impressive for a boat that's only been out of Brisbane for a few weeks... As I worried over not meeting yet another self-imposed sailing deadline, I thought back to all the other times I stressed over not meeting a sailing deadline and realized that not one of them mattered. Not one. Somehow whether were were in a specific place for two weeks longer than we intended, or two weeks less, it all just folded together into our journey.

Instead of being in Airlie, where they have wifi and I could be underway on my next project and catching up with friends, we're hunkered down in Scawfell Island waiting for a 30 knot blow to blow by.

As far as places to be hunkered down--this is a good one. The bay is wide and deep and held in by steep green hills. Despite a frothing ocean in the distance, in here the bright blue water is calm. This morning, before the wind rose, the bay was still enough that I could hear whales breathing off the point. I watched them spy hopping and diving for a while on my own. A turtle swam around the boat and butterflies migrated past. Then a cloud boiled up on the top of the island and spilled over in gusts. The butterflies blew away, the whales swam on and Evan and Maia woke up.
We got a weather report that concurred with the gusts that are shaking our boat, so we've settled in for at least two days.

We've learned that if you stress over travel deadlines and treat enforced stops as waiting, rather than as part of the journey, you miss out. Some of our unintended delays have include our best cruising moments. If you let them, they feel a bit like a lazy Sunday afternoon--an unexpected moment between chores and obligations. We've used the days to catch up on chores, or cook with friends, to explore a bit more of a town, or a hiking trail... But some of our best found moments are spent in quiet creativity. Maia is busy working on her second animated short; with her camera on a tripod she's making a claymation version of Dr Who. I'm simmering marmalade from my Percy Island oranges (a story in itself). Charlie is napping, Evan is working on little chores. None of us is thinking too hard about where else we might have been.

The wind is blowing and blowing.
At 30/07/2014 11:49 PM (utc) our position was 21°39.21'S 150°14.61'E

radio email processed by SailMail
for information see: