January 27, 2013

Sharks on the Sidewalk-Oswald in Oz

Braving Oswald

Aside from the huge trees, the navigation buoy, and the clumps of debris floating down the river at high speed, and the wind that stops then starts howling with gusto, and the people scurrying around their boats securing things and checking lines, and the fact that ferry service is shut down, news helicopters are flying overhead and the walkways and lower parts of the city are under water you’d hardly know ex-cyclone Oswald passed through Brisbane recently.

For a long holiday weekend this one sort of sucked. We started with a mild downpour—and giving up on doing anything outside we celebrated Australia Day and Robbie Burns day inside in tandem (Waltzing Matilda chased by scotch). Then the wind picked up and the rain fell harder.

Yesterday, as the storm ramped up even more, Ev and Maia headed into the city so she could start back to circus school. Maia called walking the streets eerie; an empty city (even emptier pubs), broken discarded umbrellas, wailing wind, and rain: so much rain that her raincoat and rain pants simply gave up the effort and turned to sponges.

watch for sharks is not a normal comment to make when walking on the sidewalk
 Last night we kept up on the news—listening as the evacuations kicked in—wondering if we’d be next. The rain fell harder (truly at this point it was more like a solid mass of water). Luckly we never got the worst of the wind and gusts rarely topped 35 knots. But with the city beside us acting as an echo chamber it was monstrously loud. Charlie the cat didn’t like it at all. And our phones kept ringing--message after message offering refuge, assistance, meals and help.

If you’ve ever tried to sleep through bucking and heaving, moaning and screaming (hmm—that reads wrong) you’ll know it’s not an easy thing. And then there was the unknown: what would we wake to.
The beautiful jacaranda at the Botanical Garden was severely damaged
The walkway is underwater

We woke to more noise. And by this time I was really, really sick of Oswald (shut up already!) sick of the damp (it seems if you essentially immerse your entire boat it springs leaks faster than you can fix them).

But the worst has passed, and many, many people have flooded and destroyed homes. We just have lots of wet towels, the risk of sharing the sidewalks with sharks and a bit of uncertainty as we wait for the flood to crest-sometime tomorrow or Weds.

January 20, 2013

Summer Nights (and days)

Rainforest hike
 Do you recall when you were a kid how summer seemed to be imbued with a special sort of magic? The days were long, the light was bright and little adventures seemed like big ones?

You’d think for a kid who spent almost three years of her life travelling and exploring during what seemed like an endless summer break that a normal summer holiday, the kind school kids around the world sit at their desks and dream about on rainy days, would disappoint. We haven’t headed out on some fabulous family vacation and there haven’t been cool summer camps; all Maia has are long lazy days, swimming pools, nights with friends and sunshine.

Our search for a waterfall and swimming hole took us to Cedar Creek--though the waterfall has slowed to a trickle a dip in the pools was great
 And oh, that sunshine... Technically it’s rainy season. Statistically December in Brisbane should include enough cloud cover to produce somewhere in the region of  160 mm of rain (we had 50mm—making it the driest in decades and contrasting it dramatically with 2010 when they had 480 mm) and January we’ve had 3mm (compared to an average of 133 mm). And if you missed it, Australia is also in the midst of the hottest heat wave they’ve ever recorded. So it’s hot, it’s dry and the best swimming pool ever is a short dinghy ride away, the evenings are mosquito free and summer is unfolding as it should (minus nagging climate change concerns…)
board games for kids from around the world
 Summertime is working her magic for Maia and as we explore swimming holes, stay up late eating banana splits and start our days slowly I can’t help but feel a bit nostalgic for the years when our entire life felt like summer vacation. But then I realized the reason these days sparkle a little brighter is because they are fleeting.
Dancing in the cockpit and dinner with friends

This is the time for Maia to experience the delights of ‘normal’ life; the rhythms, the predictability; the long summer days followed by the rush through winter’s busy schedule. And interestingly when you are just visitors to regular life it’s kind of awesome.

January 6, 2013

Raft up--The Pink and the Blue

If you’ve been on a cruising boat you may have heard the phrase ‘pink job and blue jobs’ when it comes to stuff that needs done. Mostly the terms are used in jest to describe the 1950’s-style delineation when it comes to who’s found barefoot in the kitchen vs. who’s covered in grease and grime in the bilge.

The fact grime falls along gender lines is something my inner-feminist chafed at when we first started cruising. But when Evan asked me if I wanted to change the situation by rebuilding the head, or changing the engine oil I could have claimed I couldn’t because dinner would burn—but the truth is I don’t really like messy mechanical jobs though I'll certainly do them in a pinch.
Must be a blue job if guys are working...
 Okay—so here’s the point in the blog where I should tow the party line and say the whole pink vs blue job thing is myth, and that while each person on the boat should work to their strengths both genders should be competent in all things boat. And while the idea has a lot of merit (heck—I even took a diesel maintenance course), the truth is most of us only have so much time in the day that we want to devote to chores and having someone who can build a remote throttle kit (without directions) while someone else replaces a damaged zipper and makes lunch means there is more time for the stuff you actually went cruising to do (hint: not repairing the boat in exotic locations).

Boat chores are a fact of cruising. And while you can try to hire someone to do the nasty stuff (good luck with that in more remote locations) typically this means one person is going to need to become mechanically competent while the other person develops strong support skills and becomes responsible for keeping the kids alive.
Pink or blue job? Doesn't actually matter--it's something that needs done.
 So the trick, as I see it, isn’t to decide who’s pink and who’s blue, but to come up with the way you work best as a team. For us this means Ev’s the project guy—he’s the engineer and knows how stuff works and why it does what it does. And I’m the people person—if a project is too big for him (or simply big enough to be a social job) I either chip in and help, or hunt down helpers and then supply the food, find the missing tools, add a an idea here and there, hide the hammer if it looks like it’s all going to hell and then pour the cold drinks when it’s time to celebrate, or quit for the day.

It took me a while to feel good about that role. It just felt so icky to be so, umm, pink. See the other problem with that 1950’s stereotype is it comes with a 1950’s value judgements about the worth of different types of labour. According to a pink vs blue stereotype managing to eek a fabulous meal out of sketchy 3 week old veggies, two tins and a box, while keeping the kid busy, helping hunt down tools and strategizing a plan 'e' for getting part 'd' to fit into slot 'a' because we've run out of spare part 'a's' is somehow less valuable than managing to actually fix a water pump with a borrowed part 'g' and duct tape.

But the reality is stuff needs to get done and someone needs to do it. And when we’ve done it (whether we’ve ended up covered in paint and engine oil, or flour and olive oil) we all need to be thanked and appreciated by our partner: Because this living on a boat stuff is hard, whatever the job.
There's a reason to work so hard--the rewards vary, but are oh, so worth it...

More raft-up 
Jan 1st - Dana - svnorthfork.blogspot.com
Jan 4th - Stacey - sv-bellavita.blogspot.com
Jan 5th -Steph - http://www.sailblogs.com/member/nornabiron
 Jan 7th - Behan - sv-totem.blogspot.com
Jan 8th - Diane - http://maiaaboard.blogspot.com
Jan 9th - Jessica - mvfelicity.blogspot.com
Jan 10th - Lynn - www.sailcelebration.blogspot.com
Jan 11th - Verena - pacificsailors.com
Jan 12th - Toast - http://blog.toastfloats.com
Jan 14th - Ean - morejoyeverywhere.blogspot.com
Jan 15th - Dana - svnorthfork.blogspot.com

January 1, 2013

Damn It Freda Make Up Your Mind--Cyclone Season

Is it going to be this:

Or this:

Or something else entirely…

Weather watching is something we do more casually now that we are way up the Brisbane River and tied to pile moorings. We do get the occasional wild summer squall and after the devastating floods of 2011 we pay more than typical attention rain fall warnings. But big picture weather watching is something that occurs by happenstance—mainly when we’re checking weather for far flung friends.

We’ve been watching Cyclone Freda for several days though. Initially it looked like she'd hit New Caledonia then continue straight on to Auckland. Bummer for our friends there, but NZ typically has such crap weather they might not even notice a little cyclone. But then the models changed and showed Freda heading for us.

Brisbane does not have much of a history of cyclones, but I was curious what happens if they do get close. Through a quick search I learned about these storms:
1950 - Tracked to Sydney;
1954 - Crossed at Coolangatta
1963 - Cyclone Annie - Sunshine Coast
1964 - Cyclone Audrey - Travels from the Gulf To Coffs Harbour
1967 - Cyclone Dinah - Damage from Rockhampton to Grafton
1967 - Cyclone Barbara - Coolangatta to Lismore
1967 - Cyclone Elaine - Flooding at Logan/Brisbane
1967 - Cyclone Glenda - Off Brisbane 16 M waves recorded near the Gold Coast
1971 - Cyclone Dorra - Hit at Redcliffe
1972 - Cyclone Diasy - Hits Fraser - with Flooding to the Gold Coast
1974 - Cyclone Wanda - Huge flood in Brisbane
1974 - Cyclone Pam - Crosses 500 km east of Brisbane - was an intense system and caused severe flooding
1974 - Cyclone Zoe – Coolangatta (thinking Coolangatta is a bad place to live)
1984 - Cyclone Lance - Wind damage to the Gold Coast
1990 - Cyclone Nancy - crosses near Byron Bay
1993 - Cyclone Roger - Passed near Fraser - back out to sea before heading towards Southern NSW Brisbane Station records 13.2 waves
1994 - Cyclone Rewa - Passed 100 km out to sea and causes flash flooding
1998 - Cyclone Vale - Passes Brisbane and hits near Grafton

That’s just a sampling—for a bigger picture these are the storms which came within 200km of Brisbane in the past 100 years:

Then I started looking up the impact of each storm. Yes, just one of the many ways I like to terrify myself: looking up storm devastation in Australia over the past hundred years. This place is deadly. Back to Brisbane though--the take away seems to be this: Sometimes storms hit Brisbane, not super often though, but when they do it can be a big freaking deal or not.

The good news is even if Freda stays organized enough to hit us she shouldn't be very big. But just to be safe everyone chant with me: Freda, Freda go away...