Saturday, March 6, 2010

Boat, Life, Time

We're back in Hobart, after two and a half weeks of knocking around the third trimester-appropriate cruising grounds of the D'Entrecasteaux Channel.  Pelagic goes into the boatyard on Tuesday, and we move into a house sit.  After the time in the yard is finished, Pelagic goes to the yacht broker, and Alisa and Elias and Little Baby Brother and I will officially be Sailors Between Boats.

I am determined not to be nostalgic about the impending sale.  We've decided that we need a boat more appropriate for a family of four, and we assume that we'll be happy with what we get.  But still, as the end of the Pelagic years draws inexorably nigh, I am struck that boat ownership is like life in two ways.

First (not to be morbid!), it's over more quickly than you expect.

Second, it's never quite as perfect as it might be.  After all these years aboard we still don't maneuver the boat in close conditions under sail nearly as much as we might, opting instead for the ease of the engine.  The light that I'm writing by still has a dodgy switch that I haven't gotten around to changing.  A full-time liveaboard, traveling boat is inevitably a set of compromises and contingencies, a mish-mash of the good enough and (in the case of Pelagic) the great.  But perfection is forever beyond us, both in the physical state of the boat and in the skills we bring to bear on sailing her.


During the two and a half weeks we spent in the Channel, we weren't trying to get anywhere.  The furthest anchorage that we reached was an easy day from Hobart.  We were really just sailing around to enjoy ourselves.  I wrote, we took family walks on beaches and forest tracks, Elias and I fished, and we visited with friends.  We took a nice break after the three weeks we had spent beginning to get settled into Hobart.  We enjoyed life.

That two and a half week sail was the fulfillment of one of the promises of the cruising life that I most fervently hoped would come true when we set out from Kodiak: the promise of redefining our relationship with time.

In our old lives, we would have planned a two and a half week vacation months ahead of time.  Back then we worked a certain number of hours a week, enjoyed a two-day weekend, and had a certain number of weeks of vacation every year.  But in all that careful accounting of hours and days and weeks, life was passing us by.

On the boat, we've regained something of the fluid relationship with time that I enjoyed during my spectacularly dysfunctional twenties.  We use time as we see fit, deciding ourselves how much to allocate to work, and family responsibility, and Everything Else. 

It's almost like we have reverted to a pre-Industrial Revolution lifestyle.  Our seasons of hard work come and go.  But our routine is not so constant that our very connection with life is dulled by the monotony of the all-too-predictable.

And that's a situation that we like very much.


Some highlights of our time in the D'Entrecasteaux Channel:

Elias in Recherche Bay.

Going fishing.

Abalone for dinner.

Feeding the swans.

South Bruny Island.

A palliative at Cape Bruny Light.


It was also a social trip.  Our good buddies Catriona and Fraser came down from Iluka with their two daughters.  Here's Catriona and Erin...

...and Elias and Islay.

Our Maria Island friends, Mike and Ingfried, came out for dinner the first night of the trip.  Here's Elias and Emily on their motorboat.

We crashed the annual Southport Regatta.  The crowd has gotten older, and the regatta has devolved into a great get-together on the beach.  The only coordinated on-water activity took place the next morning, when the tsunami warning sent all six boats in the anchorage out to sea at once. 

The end.


  1. one thing I like about this blog, mike, is that I have to, on occasion, use the wiktionary
    to look up words ...

  2. I absolutely love your blog --great writing, very reflective, and descriptive of both your internal state of mind/heart and your external surroundings/sailing/cruising area.

    Very well done --I hope you continue your writing your blog even "without boat".

    And, I hope you get another boat soon, when you can manage it with two kids! ( Just remember, these people did it with three kids, and on a smaller boat: )