A brave new era opened up before us today.
We had a picnic dinner and fire on the beach tonight. Alisa and Eric and I went ashore in Smooches, our inflatable. And Elias rowed ashore by himself in the Little Dipper, our hard dinghy.
It was no short distance - I'd make it a third of a mile each way. It was his first time ever operating a boat without an adult on board, and he was well on his own. He set out before us, and after we had zoomed by with the outboard he finished after us - for most of the time he was hundreds of meters away from the rest of the fam. He handled the moment with complete aplomb, and had no need to be coached or reassured.
The day when he's routinely operating a dinghy on his own is suddenly not so far away.
Meanwhile, the two other boats that anchored up here at Ngau Island during the day had the poor sense, or good manners, to bugger off to somewhere else before nightfall. So we got the treat of sunset at the beach all to ourselves.
This might not be the finest beach in the world. But then again, it might be. Either way, it'll do for us.
The beach is a causeway of white sand between two palm-infested islands, 200 meters long and a dozen or so wide. The turquoise water on either side had gone mirror-smooth with the coming of dusk, and all around us were open vistas of islets and reefs and towering clouds. And just us four and our family game of footy running up and down the causeway and then dinner sitting in the sand before the crackling driftwood. And then the sun dropped below the layer of cloud and the whole world illuminated around us, glowing purple and magenta of the dying day, with a double rainbow hoisted above us all and dropping down right over our anchored boat. Alisa ran up and down the causeway, swooping her arms over her head, with the pure joy of the moment...