Sunday, December 4, 2011

Coming Down

The new motor for the windlass came from New Zealand the other day.  So of course I opened it up and looked at the instructions for installing it.  At the head of the page, before step #1, was this notice: "Workshop facilities are necessary for this work".  I winced and read on.  Step  #1 read, "Remove winch from boat."  There were 18 more steps after that.  I stopped reading, and put the motor in the engine room, where I won't have to look at it.

I can't face another boat job just yet.  In the ten months we've been on this boat I've fit in about three lifetimes of boat jobs.  Luckily there have been other things to keep me busy over the last couple weeks, as I write proposals to get more science work going in Alaska.

When we had our friends from Akimbo on board to show them our new ride, I found myself explaining my current state of mind about the Life Aquatic.  "I really love sailing," I told them.  "But I actually kind of hate boats.  They're mostly too much trouble to be bothered with."

But a few days ago, as I was walking back from a bout of trying to teach myself to surf, I found myself thinking about how fun it will be to get the boat ready to sail to New Zealand.

And then, it's been nice to catch up with some of our peers here in Iluka, and back in the States, and to be reminded of just how, well, non-fun living in a house can be with very young kids.  Living on the boat is such a self-selected existence that it's easy to navel gaze a little bit and wonder what you're doing when things are tough.  Good to be reminded that things aren't necessarily any easier with a nine to five and a mortgage to feed!

All of which is to say that I think we're coming down from the crazy spell in our lives that consumed the last ten months or so.  We've gotten past thinking about how much work it was, and we're mostly just remembering the fun bits, and what a blast the whole trip really was.  As the crossing slides into the past, we're easing into the easier existence of being just another couple with a one year old and a five year old who happen to be living on a boat and sailing around on the east coast of Oz.

Meanwhile, we're four years into this adventure.  I realize how long it's been since we left Alaska when I realize that we're now living on a boat that's never been to Alaska, and have a child who's never been there as well.


OK, so I'm done writing about the hard parts of the trip - we're over it, after all!

But there is just one more thing...

The picture above was taken on our trip down the coast from Bundaberg to Iluka.  The weather was fine throughout, really too little wind if anything.  But, once again, I got miserably sick.  It clearly wasn't seasicknsess, as there was no motion at all.  But after a night of trading off the watch with Alisa, I found myself starting the day by vomiting up breakfast.  We're not sure what's going on, but more and more often being sleep deprived seems to set me off on a spiral that ends with me throwing up and then collapsing in a heap on the cockpit seat.  Whatever it is, we need to figure it out, as it really is an existential threat to our family life afloat.  I can only ask Alisa to mind the boat and the boys, alone and sleep-deprived herself, so many times...


  1. Sounds like a great trip. We heard your story from our family in Australia who heard you on the radio. A few years ago we sailed our 31ft boat from Fremantle, Western Australia to Kodiak, Alaska, via the western pacific. Then we went home to have our little boy. Returning to the boat in Kodiak when he was 11 months old. We are now on our way back to Australia (heading for Tasmania). At the moment we are in northern BC, stopped for the winter. We bought your book because we are just about to follow your route! Would love to hear from you. Matt, Gill & Jess

  2. G'day Wooshee!

    That's great - sailors with a kid in nappies, and you were in Kodiak. Give us a shout some time, I can be reached at mike_litzow at

    Hope you're having a good winter, Mike