Saturday, December 29, 2012

The End of an Era

Every great streak comes to an end.

Elias has sailed something like 25,000 miles in his life - we don't really keep track of the total distance we've covered. In all our time sailing he has never once complained of feeling seasick, no matter the state of wind and sea. He eats no matter how rough it is, he reads books in his bunk up forward even when the waves have him experiencing zero gravity every twenty seconds, and through it all he has never admitted to feeling the slightest bit green.

I have often bragged about his iron stomach. I have accepted it as one of the few constants in our peripatetic family life.

But - and of course you saw this coming - it's all finished now. He is no longer perfect, in this one little sense. He is just another flawed human being, like all the rest of us.

On the trip from Recherche Bay to Port Davey, Elias admitted to feeling a bit queasy down in the cabin, and had to come up into the cockpit to feel better.

Of course, his brother was much worse off - poor Eric vomited three times in the 12 hour trip. So though Elias broke his streak, he was still doing quite well in comparison.


Meanwhile, we're happily ensconced in Port Davey. Eric is completely better. We have explained the reasoning behind the ban on fishing in the National Park to Elias about 20 times. And tomorrow our friend M-A flies in to join the crew.

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Friday, December 21, 2012

Long Gone

Well, we're outta here.  Tomorrow morning we're heading south, even though the boat has never been so disorganized prior to a trip.  I'll be putting away tools as we motor down the D'Entrecasteaux Channel!  With any luck we'll remember how to make the computer and ham radio talk to each other, and will be able to update the blog that way.  Either way, we plan to be back in Hobart in three weeks or so.

Merry Christmas to all.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Santa - See You In Port Davey!

The school year is over for Elias.  We're so pleased with how he did - he started the year unable to read, and now he's something of a phenom, tearing through paragraphs and chapters at will, reading aloud to us in that stilted cadence of the new reader.  And, socially, he was just another kid in the class, which is a very nice place to be if you've spent much of your life away from peers and stable friendships.

Now that school is out, we're free to sail out to Port Davey, on the roadless southwest coast of Tasmania.  Tomorrow is Friday, so the traditions of the sea (and the state of Galactic) mean that we'll have to wait until Saturday to leave.  It's easy to wait a week for good weather to get out to Port Davey, but the forecast (touch wood!) is looking very good for getting around the corner on Saturday and Sunday.  That's a snap from the Sunday forecast above - looks like a motor fest, but at least they're not calling for gale-force westerlies!  With any luck at all (touch wood again!) we should be out there and well settled by Christmas Eve morning, so that Santa can find us.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Last Australian Frontier

As our time in Australia nears its end, there remains one frontier of cultural understanding that we haven't explored.  As much as we may feel at home in this country, we are completely in the dark when it comes to Australian sports.

So Elias and I pushed back the veil of our ignorance, just a little bit, by attending the third day of the current cricket test match this weekend - Australia vs. Sri Lanka.

It was a great father-son outing.  I found that I could even explain a few things about the game to Elias. At this point, I'm appreciating every moment when I still know more than him about something.

And - I enjoyed the game.  Two Sri Lankans were batting the entire time we were there - the Aussies couldn't get them out - and I appreciated the stately pace of the match as the day went on.

All that - plus there was face painting.

Elias wore his new Australian Cricket singlet to bed that night.


Meanwhile, it hasn't escaped our notice that the children killed in Connecticut were Elias' age.

Looking across the Australian/American divide, I can say that things don't have to be that way in America.  Gun control works.  My kid's school in Tasmania doesn't have to practice for mass-shooting incidents the way that American schools do.

The politics of saturating American civil life with guns, like so many of the dark/angry aspects of right-wing politics in America, is a relatively recent phenomenon, dating to the civil rights movement.  Fifty years ago, the NRA was focused on gun safety, and the idea that anyone should be able to own a semi-automatic assault rifle with a large-capacity magazine was completely foreign to American political discourse.

So, this too, will change.  The pendulum will swing.  It will take a generation, and many many more six-year-old children will be shot and killed before change comes, but eventually we will make things better in America.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Annual

Galactic went back into the water this morning.  We're done with another round of annual boatyard maintenance, and the Mothership is looking ready for the upcoming season.

This was the "easy" bout of boatyard maintenance that I've been dreaming of for years now - beyond changing a seacock, I just did the routine tasks this time around.  Still and all, with a day or two of rain thrown in, it took me a week to do everything.  A 45' boat offers a lot of acreage when you're prepping and painting.

And now, the countdown is on for real - eleven days until the school holidays begin, and we're free to untie from the dock and point the bow at Port Davey.

Thursday, December 6, 2012


Galactic finds herself once more in the boatyard.

Since we draw the line at living aboard in the boatyard with the kids, we are in a housesit for ten days or so - it's a very nice house with great views of Mt. Wellington and the Hobart Tip, very very generously lent to us by friends of friends who happen to be away on holiday.

In this housesit, each boy has his own bedroom.  We thought that Elias would love that, since on the boat the brotherly jockeying and jousting that goes on for much of the day continues after the boys go to bed in their side-by-side bunks in the forward cabin.  A certain amount of name calling ("poopy head!") and yelling goes on before they fall asleep on the boat.  And we though Elias would be happy to take a break from that.

None of it.  Elias was adamant that he wanted to sleep in the same room as his brother.  So we set up a mattress on the floor in Eric's room - that's them, fast asleep above.

Right now we're pouring ridiculous amounts of money and effort into the boat to get ready for our upcoming season, and I've had moments, not exactly wondering if it's worth it, but wondering how much longer I'll think it's worth it.

And I found a certain amount of validation in Elias' desire to sleep near his brother, a bit of the answer to the question of whether there's any payoff to this nomadic lifestyle of ours.

The enforced intimacy of the boat can be a grind, especially with a two-year-old in the mix.  But while we just notice the crazy part of living on top of each other, it's also a much more "traditional" way for a family to live together - the idea of separate rooms for each kid is a pretty recent notion.  So there's a closeness to our current family life that we wouldn't get on shore.  And it's pretty nice to see how much Elias wants to continue with that closeness here in the housesit, and to reflect on how closely the boys are growing up...

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Happiest Kid In the Entire World Is Closely Related To Me

We bought Elias his first fishing rod this week.  

It was a reward for good behavior.

We have a system - when he's really good, he gets a "rainbow card".  When he's particularly bad, he loses a rainbow card.  When he accumulates ten rainbow cards, he gets a reward.  Like a fishing rod.

(We're stingy with the rainbow cards.  It took him months to accumulate ten.)

You've never seen a kid so happy to have his first fishing rod.

On his second day with the rod, it happened - his first fish.  He'll likely never be happier than he was right at this moment.

Not only was he happy, he was also out of our hair as we worked at getting the boat ready for the coming season.  Shoulda gotten him a rod long ago, I thought to myself.

But then I had to unhook three fish this morning before he went to school.  I was a good sport about it.  But I think the novelty might be fading for me.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Travel Gear

Big doings in the engineering department lately.  New batteries and cables. New wind generator, new bearings for the old wind generator.  New charge monitor, new charge regulators.  New radar.  New water heater.

Based on the effort and money that we're putting into Galactic, it would be reasonable to conclude that we're in it for the long haul.

But all that is just stuff - useful stuff, but just the means towards getting us to an end of freedom and bliss on the high seas.

Here's the travel gear that's really gotten me excited lately - a sport coat for the engineer to use when he is allowed on shore:

When you're traveling you occasionally find yourself as the guest of honor at a very special event for people you've just met - an event like a christening in rural Eritrea, or a school opening in Penrhyn.  The graciousness with which people welcome a stranger to events like this will astonish a traveler, especially since the warmest hospitality is (nearly always) shown by people who would seem to have the least to share.  So I reckon that the least a traveler can do in return is to kit himself out in a bit of formal gear in order to show his respect for the event, and for his hosts.

So all of that is why I've been meaning to add a sport coat to my travel kit ever since we left Kodiak on Pelagic.  And Alisa's citizenship ceremony finally gave me the excuse to do it.

Meanwhile, though, we've now got less than four weeks until we'd like to set sail for the season.  So I don't think the engineer will be wearing a sport coat again any time soon.

Saturday, November 24, 2012


At first we didn't celebrate Thanksgiving in Australia - at the very most, we just went down to the beach wherever we happened to be and threw a few snags on the barbie.

But during our last visit to Tasmania we invited some North American friends over and did the holiday up.  Doing that, we discovered a certain expat delight in Thanksgiving Down Under.  Because the holiday isn't on the radar screen at all for Australians, sharing the meal with other Yanks (and Canadians) turns into a little moment of shared cultural understanding.

We had Thanksgiving on Galactic yesterday.  That's Alisa with a 2.5 kg turkey that she special-ordered from the local butcher.  She also made up 3 kilos of her famous mashed potatoes - turned out to be way too much.

Our friends John and Jenny and their son Rowan shared the meal with us.  Like all of the Galactics, they're dual US-Australian citizens.  Jenny made pumpkin pie.

And, just for some historical reference, here's a shot that I always liked - this is our first-ever Thanksgiving afloat, on Pelagic, as we were sailing down the Big Sur coast.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

On Deadline

The chart table of Galactic yesterday.

It's November 20th here in the Antipodes.  We have one month until the last day of classes at Albuera Street Primary School, which will mark the end of this long season at the dock for Galactic.

Our plan is to set out to Port Davey, the jewel of Tasmania, the day after Elias finishes school.  And after Port Davey we'll be setting off across the Tasman Sea for New Zealand.  So that means that we're on deadline.  All of the improvements that we've planned for Galactic will either have to be done in the next month, or wait until another season.

I've been very gratified to meet sailors who have been at it much longer than we have who nonetheless find themselves in a complete scramble to get ready for each season.  That's certainly the situation that we're in; a very simple bit of extrapolation shows that the pace at which we have been crossing jobs off of our list will be inadequate for finishing them all before Port Davey.

I think this perennial scramble to get ready just speaks to the impossibility of boats.  Especially if you've got a few other demands on your time, like raising a family, and earning a living, and enjoying the places that you sail to, and finding a bit of time to write about it all - keeping up with the the boat in the remaining time becomes too big an ask.  And so one of the tricks of the sailing life is realizing that your boat will never be completely ready, and you'll have to learn to recognize when things are ready enough, and just go sailing.

I think, too, that preparing the boat for a long trip, and then making that trip, draws on two very different sets of characteristics.  Right now, in prep mode, I have to channel my Inner Meticulous Engineer.  Later on, when we're heading out for New Zealand, or Vanuatu after that, I'll have to channel my Inner Wild-Haired Poet, that Bernard Moitessier part of my personality that revels in the vastness, and freedom, of the open ocean.

To successfully sail across oceans, you've got to be mentally ambidextrous, able to draw on each of those sets of characteristics.  The marinas of the world are full of engineering types who never managed to cut the docklines and head out over blue water.  And the waterfront bars of the world are full of poet types who never learned to tie a bowline, or bleed the air out of a fuel line.


Saturday, November 17, 2012

As Australian as...

Very big day for the Galactics yesterday.

Alisa became an Australian citizen.

A little background: I was born in Queensland, and my Dad is Australian.  Those two facts are enough to make me, and the boys, Australian citizens.

During our two visits to Australia, first on Pelagic and now on Galactic, Alisa has been in the country on a spouse visa.  Now that visa is nearly expired, and Alisa had spent enough time in Oz to qualify for citizenship.  And so now, legally if not culturally, she is as Australian as Julia Gillard, or Banjo Patterson.  And all four of us now hold citizenship in both the U.S. and Oz.

We're planning on leaving Australia soon - off to New Zealand in February, and then to Vanuatu, and our plan is still to eventually wind our way back to Alaska.

But though we're leaving Australia soon, it doesn't feel like we're leaving forever.  Alisa and I have  found a lot to like about this place.  This country is imperfect, of course, and we don't see it as any sort of Antipodean utopia.  But, since we all have dual nationality, it's natural that we see Oz through the lens of the U.S. experience.

Comparing the two countries would give me enough material for my next book, and this post is about our very happy milestone of Alisa becoming Australian, and not a place for a comparison of the relative merit of the two countries.  So I'll just make one point in comparison, which is that Oz is a much more equitable place.  This isn't a country where one percent of the population hoards thirty-five percent of the national wealth.

We really like the feeling of a society that offers a more level playing field to its citizens.  We can imagine calling Australia home at some point in our lives, and, if I can be presumptuous enough to speak to Alisa's motivations, she, and I, felt that it would be a great thing if we all had a stake in this country, that it would be a great thing if the whole family had cast its lot with the Australian experiment.

Which, by birth or by choice, we now all have.


So of course we had a little celebration with our nearest and dearest in Hobart.  And this is how yachties throw down - Tasmanian bubbly on ice in the deck bucket.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Nitty Gritty

It's all about the nitty gritty on Galactic lately.

First, Alisa has been finishing up her annual round of winch maintenance.  And, since we've owned the boat a little less than two years, and are perennially behind schedule, it's the first annual round of winch maintenance for us on this boat.

This is the winch that she opened up yesterday, one of our big 'ole primaries, for the genoa sheets.  It probably hasn't been greased in ten years.  Very bad operating conditions, very bad nitty gritty.

Then for something pretty different, this is the space over Eric's bunk.  We've been giving him an animal sticker every time that he successfully takes a dump in the head.

As you can see, he's had a lot of success lately.

That's also pretty nitty gritty, but in a good way - sooner or later, the fecal-intensive period of child rearing will end for us.  Alisa has her heart set on a passage to New Zealand that doesn't involve diaper buckets.

I can't shake the idea that these two things are connected for us somehow, the ying and yang of our detail-rich lives...

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

An Accent

Yesterday our friend M.-A. confirmed what I've been noticing for a while now: Elias is developing a very noticeable Australian accent.  His year in an Australian school seems to have done the trick.

It's not at all the Paul Hogan caricature of an Aussie accent that we think of back in North America.  It's much more organic than that - he's lost his terminal "r"s completely, and "r"s in the middle of words are just hinted at.  Meanwhile his vowels have stretched into weird Antipodean dipthongs.

I imagine it will all fade when we leave Oz.  But meanwhile I've noticed how this little accent makes Elias seem like a slightly different person.  And I've also gotten an insight into how odd it must be to have a child with a completely different accent from your own...

Friday, November 2, 2012

Denied (by my Wife!)

I was in yachtie heaven.

This was the week that "replace batteries" made it to the top of the job list.

(I know, that doesn't sound like "yachtie heaven".  We'll get there.)

A little bit of reading online revealed that the selection of batteries, and figuring out the proper setup for charging them, is a topic that sits right in the double-negative zone for my personal Venn diagram of Unpalatable Boat Stuff.  Buying batteries is both expensive and complicated - two qualities I deal with poorly, especially in combination. 

There's a huge range of battery and charging technologies available for sailboats - so much so that this is one of the favorite realms for that (large) part of the Anglophone sailing world that mostly sees the life afloat as engineering school for rich people.

I'm not trying to pick on the wonderful people on Morgan's Cloud, and I readily admit to drawing on their excellent site now and again for some engineering help.  But really, if you hang around a certain type of full-time sailor long enough, you quickly find yourself wondering if all the technology on their boats serves them, or if they serve it.

I suspect the latter.

So, imagine my joy when I found the online price in the photo above.  (This is the "yachtie heaven" part.)

Those are golf cart batteries, in case you're wondering.  And golf cart batteries are my kind of boat gear.  Let other people clog up sailing chat forums with stories of how their fancy-pants AGM batteries did or did not charge properly, did or did not keep their watermakers/toasters/microwaves/water heaters/cocktail blenders going.  I was just going to buy some old-fashioned flooded lead-acid golf cart batteries, series them together to get 12 volts, save myself eight hundred bucks or so, and move onto the rest of my life.

But this is where the denied by my wife part comes in.

I explained my find to Alisa, and told her how we'd just have to get a couple of new battery boxes fabricated, and build a shelf in the locker right behind the nav station to take the two batteries that wouldn't fit into our current battery locker.

Alisa says "no" to me so rarely.  Which is why, I suppose, we've been living on a boat for five and a half years.  

But this time she did say "no".  Said it gently, but said it.  Firmly.

She reminded me of the times she's had to keep the kids out of the cabin because I've been blowing off sulfuric acid fumes while equalizing our flooded batteries.  She reminded me of how long it took me to build a new battery box when we bought flooded batteries for Pelagic.  She let me know that super expensive, fancy-pants AGM batteries sounded just fine to her.

So that's what we're getting - four 6v AGMs, at a hundred and five pounds each.  And I must admit that the simplicity of installing them - no battery boxes, no shelves - is pretty attractive.  And I promise not to write anything on the blog about charging them, etc.

Unless, of course, "charging them, etc." ends up providing an insight into the endlessly fascinating topic of Marriage Afloat...

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Take the Tour

Our friend Heather - long-time blog reader / indefatigable blog commenter / first reader of unpublished sailing narratives - recently had a good idea for the blog.  I see a bit of art on the bulkheads, she said.  How about a tour?

So here it is, the Galactic visual arts tour.

First, the best - our two tapas from Futuna:

 Tapa is one of the core traditions of Polynesian and Melanesian culture.  As far as we can tell, Futuna is known for the standard of its tapa making.  We found a great collective of women making and selling the stuff there:

(Note to the yachties coming after us - tapa might seem like a much better souvenir a few years after the fact than will that Polynesian tattoo on your ankle.)

OK, next on the tour - this shell and grass fan, a gift to Alisa from Matasa, on Penrhyn, in the Cook Islands.

Our great mates on Pacific Bliss wrote about Penrhyn so well - check out all three of their posts about the place.  Reading them, just now, I'm seized by the desire to go back...

And finally, in the traditional Pacific arts department, there's this tiki from Fatu Hiva:

Hey, if you're reading this with the idea of sailing to the Marquesas next year, do yourself a favor - ignore the rules and go to Fatu Hiva first, even though it's not a port of entry.  A finer landfall in all the world cannot be imagined.

(And, as a perfect metaphor for cultural disassociation, I can't do better than the image of Jacques, the carver of this tiki, who I believe took the pattern from a volume on the ethnography of the Marquesas.)

And well, there's more, of course, but brevity is the saving grace of any tour.

But before I close, I'll note that we make room in our collection for the odd Impressionist:

 And of course lots and lots of prelapsarian works that seem to speak of a happy childhood:


Along those lines (sort of), I'll mention that Elias' reading ability has recently hit the stage of exponential increase.  Not to be too precious about it, but I think that if you're one of those people for whom books have been at the very center of things at some point or another, watching your child step into the world of the written word is a wholly uncomplicated joy.

Take a look at this scene from yesterday - doesn't this look like a happy fatherhood?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

In The Water

It's 11 PM as I write this (or 2300 hours for anyone out there who is standing night watch).

Alisa, at this very moment, is out in the cockpit, greasing and assembling a winch after its annual strip and clean: 

Sailing dudes of the world, continue to eat your hearts out.

Now, if only she could stop breaking the $70 plastic winch parts that just arrived in the mail (that jagged section in the back was smooth until a little too much torque was applied):

On another domestic front, we just got rid of all the carpet in the saloon.  The ultimate cause was spring, of course, but the proximate cause in this case was the pizza that Eric threw all over the saloon while Alisa and I were occupied with the four-handed job of replacing the windlass switch all the way forward.

I'm going to miss this phase where we greet every big kid mess by just chucking another section of carpet into the dumpster.

So, a lotta little domestic moments like this for us lately.  But, fear not, much bigger things are on the horizon for team Galactic.  The Royal Hobart Show is tomorrow, and Elias has a four-day weekend as a result.

(Before I continue, let me take a moment to wonder why oh why Australians use the adjective "royal" when they want to make the point that something is particularly wonderful.  All the monarchial carryings-on here really get tiring.  The only upside to this nation's anachronistic fetish for all things Queen is that it allows me to simultaneously be a liberal in America and a republican in Australia.)

But, anyway, back to the sailing blog.

We've got a four-day break from school.  Both kids have diarrhea.  The forecast is for bucketing rain and 20-30 knot southwesterlies as a couple of lows pass over the state.

Given that set of conditions, what else could you possibly want to do besides go sailing?  That's very much our plan, assuming that it isn't too breezy to get out of the marina.

But, alas, deus ex machina: the engine isn't doing its thing.  We've had the injection pump rebuilt and, after it was replaced, first off the engine wouldn't fire at all.  That one took the mechanic two hours to figure out.  Now we start, but get no revs.  No bets how long that one will take to set right.  No complaints at all about the mechanic in this case, just a note about how weird things happen when even a professional dabbles in the black art of boat repair.

So, we're here at least until someone figures out the donk, and until Alisa can get new winch parts to replace the other new parts that she just broke.  And that means we'll have plenty of time here at the dock to observe Eric's latest not-so-cute behavior.

The little guy has been saying the oddest things during the night-time lately.

Things like: mommy, don't throw me in the water!

He gets going on that theme and won't be talked out of it.  Over and over he insists either that we're throwing him in the water, or that we're letting him fall in.

Yes you are, he says.  You are throwing me water.

We think/hope it just has something to do with the sickness that he's been fighting.  But for someone like me, who has always been very open in my view that superstition is a profoundly important part of going to sea, hearing the little fellow say such perfectly unlucky things, again and again, is just a bit unsettling...

The Last Winner

OK, we've got the winner drawn for the last book giveaway - this copy is heading to Edwin, in Liverpool, New York.

And once again, it was great to hear from so many readers of the blog - but note that the galactic.seas email was just set up for these raffles, so if you want to get a hold of me it's probably best to comment on the blog....

And thanks again to New South for the giveaway copies!

Sunday, October 21, 2012


Only one thing to notice about this picture, really.  The hatch is open, letting in some wholesome fresh air.

Five months ago I put plastic insulation over all the hatches to keep winter condensation at bay.

Now it's warm enough that we've taken the insulation off the hatch in the saloon.  All the others are soon to follow, I'm sure.

In May we also laid pieces of carpet over the sole.  It kept the boat nice and warm when the water temperature dropped.

It takes the water longer to warm up in the spring time than it does the air, of course.  So we'll keep the carpet for another week or two.

So far we've only gotten rid of one piece from our cabin.  But that had to do with Elias coming back in the middle of the night to use our head.  He was still asleep enough that he just stood in the head and emptied his bladder into his pajamas, then walked out without realizing that anything was wrong.

The carpet wasn't worth saving after that.

The really welcome sign that spring has arrived is that the never-ending chest colds that kept Elias and Eric barking through the nights of winter have finally left us.

The not-so-welcome bit is that the chest colds have been replaced by fevers and diarrhea.  Childhood is not for wimps!

It's all just the normal run of things, of course.  But Eric, who has been particularly hard-hit by the fever, has responded by waking up screaming bloody murder three or six or eight times a night.  Which has been a little tough on the parents involved.

Remember when you were so young that the most comfortable position for sleeping was on your knees with your bum in the air?


Peace, Out - Galactic.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Last Raffle

I flew up to Queensland last weekend to speak at the annual literary lunch for the Ipswich Friends of the Library.  All in all it was a good time - there was a good turnout, I got to visit with some of the Queensland family, I was able to remind myself what it's like to wear the Australian uniform of board shorts and thongs, and I met a reader of the blog.

Going up to Ipswich to talk about South From Alaska was also a bit of a homecoming for me, as my Dad's family is from Ipswich - if he'll forgive me, I'll share a photo of him from a few years back as an Ipswich school boy.


So, going up to give this talk reminded me that it's time for the fourth, and last, giveaway of a copy of South From Alaska.  As before, all you have to do is email and put the word "book" in the subject line.  I'll choose the winner randomly one week from today - that's the 23rd of October, Hobart time.  Postage is on me, anywhere in the world!

(And, I'll close by mentioning that someone told me the price of the book on the US Amazon site has dropped from the ridiculous levels it was at, so if you don't win this last time, you might have to break down and buy a copy!)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

What We Always Do

When we were out sailing over the school holidays, Alisa and I got to talking about the things that we always do when we're on the boat.  Pretty simple stuff, really, but these things have become part of our routine afloat.  

We always: a light when we're at anchor...

...put a snubber on the anchor chain (regardless of how calm the anchorage is)...

...hang our dinghy from a halyard at night rather than leaving it tied up off the stern where it can get into mischief...

...lock up the outboard (had to learn that lesson twice!)...

...put life jackets on our kids when they're in the dinghy (though we got a bit slack about that in the tropics)...

...put harnesses and tethers on the kids when they're out of the cockpit...

...leave channel 16 on when we're sailing...

...stay on the windward side of a passage and well away from lee shores.

All those things are either required by the rules of the road, or just good seamanship, so they're not really remarkable in a sense.  But they can also all be optional in one situation or another,  but we've found that it's easier, and safer, to do them every time rather than wondering if they're required or not on a particular day.

And there are a few items that you might expect to be on the list, like always keeping a lookout, or always checking the weather forecast if one is available, that we cheerfully admit to skipping now and then.

Meanwhile, good news on the planning front for the upcoming season.  Australian Customs has given us permission to keep Galactic in the country until February, the best month for crossing the Tasman Sea to New Zealand.  So that allows us to plan to head out for Port Davey as soon as school ends on December 20th, then come back to town in late January to start waiting for good weather to make the crossing...

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Professional Help

OK, here's how you tell if you're a yachtie or an office drone.  

(Nothing against the office drones among you, of course.  Some of our very best friends work in offices.)

A yachtie, I reckon, will be able to tell what is missing from the engine in the shot below:

Give up?  It's the header tank and injection pump.

(Don't worry if you didn't get the answer - you might not be an office drone, just one of those poet-yachties that you hear about...)

So, anyway, said picture was taken just minutes ago, and it shows the state of our donk after those two really important bits were taken away to some place where they can be made well.

And that also gives you the answer that we've come up with to this winter's much mulled-over question - to replace the donk, or not?

We figure that, at this point at least, new donks are for office drones with steady paychecks.  So we're going to fix two out of the three outstanding problems with the current beast and just get on with things.

I certainly could have taken off the header tank myself, and the injection pump, too, for that matter.  But we decided that this was an instance when a little professional help would be in order, so we had an actual mechanic do the job.

We've had almost no professional work of any kind done on our various boats - I usually just muddle through myself, semi-demi poet-yachtie that I am.  But every now and then you just want to pay someone else to make a job go away.

We always get an incredibly satisfied feeling when we decide to pay someone to cross a cantankerous item off our list.  And then, in our experience, we get a really rotten feeling when the "professional" stuffs the job up for us.

I'm sure that won't happen this time!

South From Alaska - In Ipswich

If you're in the Brisbane area, mark this coming Saturday on your calendar - I'll be giving a talk about South from Alaska at the annual literary lunch for the Ipswich Friends of the Library and Information Service - 10:30, October 6, Ipswich Library, 40 South Street, Ipswich.

Would be great to meet some readers of the blog there!