Monday, February 7, 2011

No Place Like Home

The 24 days that Mike spent in CA boat buying were a whirlwind for me and the boys. There were so many things to do in order to close up the year we'd spent living in Hobart, Tasmania.   In 10 months of living ashore, we stayed in 8 different homes. Only one place was a rental, the majority were housesits, and what we didn't pay in outright cash we paid in the stress and effort of moving so many times.  Moving with very young children.  It worked for us in a lot of ways – kept us very light in possessions and allowed us to see Hobart from all sides of town.  But there was a time not too long ago when a very tired Elias asked me 'where is home, mommy?'.  And I began to ask myself the same question.  Lo and behold, we have finally arrived at the answer to that question. And it's an answer that I like very much!

How to describe the palace that is now keeping us afloat? She is every bit as good as she looked in the photos online. She is beautiful and has so much storage! The galley is about twice as big yet still narrow enough to be functional while sailing. The deck lines are lovely. I am chuffed, as they say in Australian. In fact I am so starstruck with this boat that I have almost forgotten how awful the flight over was.  Almost, but not completely.

Please imagine me with Eric (9 months) and Elias (4.5 years), 4 bags weighing a total of 67 kg (almost 150 pounds), 2 car seats, a stroller, 4 carry-on bags that were heavy and really unmanageable once the strap on the laptop case broke.  Thanks to wonderful friends, we were off to a smooth start leaving Hobart. But rechecking bags in Sydney was horrible. I will skip the boggy details and instead ask you to picture me dripping in sweat from neck to ankle after lugging each piece of baggage from the taxi curb to the United desk (all the while wearing 11 kg Eric in my Ergo carrier), I am swooning from the physical effort and I wonder if I might collapse. No exaggeration. Then while Elias is on the floor having a very loud, very epic meltdown, the unhelpful woman representing United Airlines asked me in an accusatory tone 'why are you doing this alone?'.  As if I had said to my husband, "no dear, you take the earlier flight and I'll go alone with the kids".  Instead of answering her, I hugged Eric and thanked him for not crying during the ugly episode.  Once the bags were checked, we regrouped and had a pep-talk and then tackled the lines for security and customs. Elias' pony jumped up and hit a man in the face. This man was not happy about it and my four-year-old said loudly 'but mom, she is soft, it didn't hurt' and I just kept going – not insisting that he apologize.  I viewed it all from outside myself, amazed at how exhaustion could wear down my values. Once through all the checkpoints, I looked for our gate and found it flashing 'FINAL CALL' so we got to sprint to gate 61, which was terrifyingly hard to find amidst all the perfume an booze shops.  Poor Elias was crying that he couldn't run and his legs were going to fall off.  You never see those carts ferrying people to their gates when you really need one.  The 13 hour flight was no big deal after all that.  I arrived with bloodshot eyes hoping for some due pampering, only to see Mike waiting out side the customs gate looking like he did after I gave birth to our sons…he looked happy but thoroughly trashed and exhausted.  I am sorry to say that I didn't give him a proper hug until I downloaded all the gory details that I spared you about the flight over. It was a long rant in the car parking lot of the airport, but then I finally found myself and we were off to see the new yacht!

Where Pelagic was 37 feet long and had only 25 feet of waterline, Taiko is 45 feet long with 40 feet of waterline.  She is vast! But she doesn't have a very high freeboard and she looks like fun to sail – oh, I can't wait to sail her!! We are waiting until next week when Mike's parents visit and we can take her sailing without the kids aboard. I need to learn everything about handling her and handling such a big rig, and I want to focus without worrying about the kids. It was fitting that the day we departed Hobart on our way to see our new home, the potential new owner of Pelagic was taking her for a test sail and survey. A very big page was being turned.

And so now I am back in America after being gone for nearly 2 years. I enjoy the cultural diversity down every street, but I notice that people seem beaten down in spirit. I am also amazed at how disgusting orange cheddar cheese is, and I am reminded how strange I initially found the yellow (non-colored) cheddar cheese in Australia but I quickly came to prefer it.  More on cheese and other observations on America another time. For now, on this third night aboard, I will say with a tired and satisfied smile, "There's no place like home, there's no place like home". 


  1. hi alisa!
    here on the east coast, orange cheese is an option - gross! I agree. I grew up w/ white cheese. you can take comfort in the fact that the orange is from annato, a natural dye from some plant.. why, though? it confuses me still.

    you plane/luggage story sounds HORRIFIC.. I can see every detail in my mind,,, oh, sister. really.

    enjoy the boat. post picks of daily life. ciao, bella!

  2. Alisa, it's so good to hear your voice, all you say and all you don't say. Epic barely begins to cover it. True grit does better. Spread yourself out in Taiko and know you've deserved every extra foot of her lovely length...can't wait to hear how she sails and how you feel about the bigger rig (for selfish reasons too).

    Diana x

  3. Also being a traveling mom... I have a very similar story that includes too much sweat!! and my child not being able to keep up and not so nice airline employees, etc. etc. The good thing always is that you have those children and you do finally get there and look back later with a big laugh! It'll never happen quite like that again.. but, it'll happen in some other way... it's a given!! Welcome to family life!! ENJOY! It's too short! Love you all!

  4. PS! Can't wait to see the new boat!!!

  5. and P.S. from me: eight time in one year? holy cow! I can't wait to see you and your new home, either.

  6. Mike and Alisa,

    Hey! It's Scott, (not so recently) from Kodiak (aka Celestial Sea). Been lurking and following you guys for years (literally), living vicariously as it were. Can't tell you how many times reading your blog has made my days tolerable! Good luck on the new boat! Got one myself. After 4 year hiatus, back in the game. Bought 30ft Cape Dory. She is in Tampa, FL at the moment. Heading down there next week to start living aboard and get her in shape to cruise to...??
    stay in touch!!

  7. Congratulations on Taiko, she sure looks beautiful! Sorry for the travel ordeal...sounds horrific!

    I have a practical question for you about sailing with kids in diapers. We corresponded about life jackets and harnesses for kids when I was still pregnant with my twins. The boys are here now and we are heading north from Seattle to Alaska this summer when they will be 1 year old. We currently cloth diaper (we use fuzzi bunz pocket diapers) and we were wondering what you did for diapers for Elias when you headed south from Kodiak. Our concerns are: washing by hand, sanitizing, and drying. Do you have any practical advice for diapers, particularly when we won't be able to rely on tradewinds and sun?

    Thank you so much and congratulations again on the next chapter in your cruising lives!

    Jessica s/v Yare

  8. Hey Scott - Great to hear from you, glad you've got a new ride! There's still time to make it through the Panama Canal this year!

    And, Jessica, I'll have the diaper technician (the Queen of Nappie) get in touch about the technical details...


  9. Thank you! I look forward to hearing from the Queen herself!
    s/v Yare