Sunday, April 17, 2016

Getting in the Water Again, Again

Last week, the marina Travelift parked around Papillon. The operators adjusted the straps, picked up the boat and drove her to the water's edge. We climbed aboard and were lowered into the murky Brisbane River. And once we splashed down, Erik and I inspected the boat.

We found four leaks.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Fashion Victim

On Saturday, Erik and I went out to dinner with friends. As we sat there, sipping wine and nibbling olives, I realized that this might be the last grown-up date we manage until 2017. The last Uber ride. The last excellent meal. The last time my good clothes escape from the vacuum-sealed prison of a Space Bag.

Cruisers aren't known for their fashion sense. As a group, our sartorial choices are less "haute couture" than "derelicte". But we're out there rocking the hobo chic with good reason. The sun and salt combo is hard on clothing. Lying on top on the engine to tinker with a cranky alternator is even harder. And if you want to wash your clothes? Find yourself a bucket, haul up some saltwater and have at 'er. If you're lucky, you can spare a little fresh water to rinse out your unmentionables. But usually it's bathing suit time until you hit the next laundromat. And that means that clothes suffer.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Back in the Saddle Again

Ahh, boat life. Protecting consumables from invading rats. Gently cooking from the 40 C heat at eight in the morning. Savouring the bouquet of freshly-cut sewage hoses  In short: an elegant plane of existence where one faces the eternal question: zen or madness?

I returned to the boat full of optimism. We would finish off a few critical jobs, get back in the water, finish more critical jobs, and set out for parts as-yet unexplored. Easy peasy.

Of course, I'd forgotten a few things. First, Erik had been aboard, unsupervised, for six weeks. To be clear: Erik is handy. Goodness knows the man can fix anything, and fix it well. But the dark side of this trait is that he wants to fix everything, and fix it to perfection. And so I walked into a construction site. No seat cushions, no floorboards. Just a disassembled cockpit, new runs of wiring, coils of replacement hoses, and shiny boxes of taps and chartplotters and who knows what else. And a 20-foot container full of all of our possessions.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Speake, Rattus Rattus - updated

As the sun set yesterday, I sat wedged between a wall and a cardboard box, watching peanut butter drip off a piece of ham. Why? Because we have a rat.

Some of you will remember our last experience with a rat. We were enjoying the quiet waters of Guatemala when an unwelcome guest swam out to the boat and stole up the anchor chain. Those were innocent days on Papillon; although I was careful to keep food sealed in tins and bags and tucked away in the cupboard, I hadn't yet developed our current draconian everything-stays-in-locked-Tupperware-no-matter-what system. Indeed, it was Samuel Whiskers the First that prompted such changes.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Where Are We Going?

In a few short days the girls and I will fly back to Australia to rejoin Erik and Papillon. In a perfect world, the plumbing would be plumbed, the electricals electrified and the chartplotter plotted. In reality, I expect I'll be back in my ratty t-shirt and shorts, grubbing around in the bilge by Hour 3 of our return. That's okay. I got to skip the fun of two tins of pineapple exploding in a locker on a hot day last month, so I suppose I owe Erik some help.

I hear you asking: "Where are you going?" Historically, I have always had an answer to this question. I should say: I've always had an answer to this question, even though I knew the plan I was earnestly explaining had a non-zero probability of being chucked out at any moment. So much can interfere with planning: weather, family, the prospect of interesting work. But this time, dear reader, this time I think I am almost certainly giving you the straight goods. It's an exciting day for optimism and not learning from the past. And since I currently have the option of either a) packing our bags or b) writing this post, well. I'd be delighted to walk you through it.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Slowly Waking Up

What is this delicious piece of gorgeousness? A blocked toilet hose? I don't know about you, but this puts me in mind of arterial plaques and makes me want to treat my circulatory system with gentle kindness.

More importantly, does this mean that things are afoot aboard the Good Ship Papillon? Indeed it does! Erik is tearing through our to-do list like a lion taking down a zebra. The girls and I are waiting out the worst of the destruction from afar. If all goes well, the four of us will move back into our floating home in another month, and this blog will emerge from hibernation.

Until then, dear readers.

Sunday, September 6, 2015


"Oh, ho!" you say, sipping your morning coffee. "Amy has finally written something new. That slacker. Took long enough."

And you're right. My record has been more than a little spotty this past year. And I owe you, my loyal readers, a short explanation.

Let's face it: this is, at heart, a family travel blog. And while the family part remains intact, the travel aspect has ground to a halt. Not forever, but for now.

The other issue I face is that we currently live in a teeny-tiny community. And while I could record many (many, many) funny stories about living here, I wouldn't feel very good about it. Family aside, I try to preserve the anonymity of the people in my anecdotes. That would be impossible here. If those people ever glanced at my blog, they would recognize themselves and each other all too quickly. It would be awfully arrogant and unkind of me to mine my friends and neighbours for blog material. So I won't do it.

That leaves me with precious little to write about in this space. I am still writing, but I am concentrating on other projects.

In short, dear reader, you will have to consider me to be in hibernation. I may post the odd picture or funny story when the opportunity arises, but, for the most part, I am going to let this ground lie fallow until we return to Papillon next March.

I hope to see you all when we finally - FINALLY - start sailing again.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Monday, August 3, 2015

Masks & Fire

Cruising has a lot of positives. You become more flexible. You learn to live simply. You slow down. But these mental shifts have their drawbacks. Primarily, you (read: I) lose all perspective about what "normal life" looks like. Cruisers live in a world where you wake up in the morning, discover the local conga festival is starting, and spend a happy day admiring costumes and eating meat-on-a-stick. There is no planning. There are no logistics. Wake, discover, enjoy. That's it.

The problem comes when you return to regular life with a regular schedule. Suddenly, your vacations have to be planned - ahead of time and everything. Book travel, book hotels, try not to cringe when you think of eating restaurant meals for a week. And not only do you have to plan, but your years on the boat have given you a warped notion of what a vacation should look like. There will be no beach holiday at an all-inclusive. There will be no Disneyland. No, what you are looking for is more along the lines of sitting in the grass under an umbrella and hanging out with the locals. Hopefully with a snappy dance number.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Moving the Boat, Part 3: Midnight Encounters

It has been said that women let the memory of childbirth fade very quickly; if they didn't they would never have another baby. So too with this passage. Although I know very well the whole thing was a pain in the neck, a short month later and the sharp edges are fading. I'm still not in a hurry to do another passage any time soon, but the months will go by and soon I will only remember the good parts. By then it will be time to hop aboard once more.

So let's review the highlights before they fade completely, shall we?

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Fire Dance

I'm building quite a backlog, aren't I? Add the Mask Festival to the list of things I need to write about this month.