The biggest difficulty of sailing with young kids? Boat maintenance, hands down. You just cannot find any complicated/messy/frustrating/expensive boat job that cannot be made more so by adding a 3-year-old to the mix.
As a result, we have one rule we strive to live by when it comes to the annual haulout - we move off the boat. We know that some other sailing families continue to live aboard while in the yard, and more power to 'em, we say. But for us, the only route to an outcome where Alisa and I are both more or less sane is to move off for the duration.
When we were first anchored at Whangarei Heads, before we'd even made it up to Whangarei town, we happened to meet a very remarkable couple who set sail from England on a 30-foot cutter the same year that I was born. They sailed as far as Whangarei, and have made their home here ever since.
The bloke was on board for a cuppa a few days later when Alisa let slip that we were looking for a house-sit during our haulout. An hour later he called to say that he had found one for us - he'd run the idea by his wife, and they were happy to lend us their home and car for the month of February, when they'd be off visiting family in the South Island.
I don't know if it's because we're traveling with kids, but people occasionally show us such naked kindness, such pure human goodwill, that it really humbles me. Whether it's the Marquesan with "nothing" who gives us 10 kilos of mangoes, or the Aussie ship captain who offers us house and car a half-hour after meeting us at a barbecue, people infrequently, but regularly, stun us with their hospitality and kindness.
Often it's ex-travelers, like the couple who we're house-sitting for now, who are most unguardedly kind. I'm at a loss for what we could possibly do for this couple to reciprocate. But I reassure myself that our chance will come when we've settled down in some interesting corner of Alaska, and people from the other side of the world happen upon us in our daily lives.
|One of the nice things about a house is all the room that is on offer for laying out boat jobs.|