Month: September 2019

Back on track. Goodbye Coffs Harbour.

Small DB and I were driven to the airport by T and the Mothership at four in the morning, and we remain most grateful – our trip home was a breeze (if you skip over the part where security took my Swiss Army Knife that I stupidly left in my carry-on bag and put it in the bin: cue me with a quivering lip and Small DB patting me, suggesting a cup of tea…).

Back on the dinghy dock at Coffs Harbour before 9.30am!

256/365 • got up at 4am in Melbourne, back on the dinghy dock in Coffs Harbour just after 9am. DB is an excellent travelling companion ❤️ ... •

Our bag was the maximum weight limit. Courtesy of Small DB’s late birthday presents.

After all the agonising about the logistics of our travels, they were over… And the forecast swung our way. I borrowed a car and went and did a big shop for provisions – Small Z and M appeared to have eaten their way through most of our stores, with the addition of regular bread. They had a glorious time.

Small DB was able to spend a last day with her Sylvie, and we said a sad goodbye to Miles, who was readying Pandion for a trip to Newcastle to be sold.

258/365 • the single entity known as Silsey - squeezed in an unexpected visit (home from school with sore ear) - this is a goodbye hug 😕 because tomorrow the combination of wind and happenstance allow us to finally head south... I really hate goo

In the morning, at about 3am, M got us underway and Coffs Harbour – where we’ve been stuck for a month or so, faded away.

Dawn out at sea. It’s been a while.

The forecast was completely arse-about. The northerly? It did not come. So the sail was not as we had hoped, and ended up feeling something like marathon that was never going to end. It took us 43 hours to get to Manly – and we arrived again in the dark, scouting for moorings with a torch.

The moorings were taken at the Quarantine Station, but there were two free in our favourite spot near the ferry terminal. Yeah!! We were so exhausted, but had to have a wind-down chai, eventually going to sleep sometime after midnight.

260/365 • so bloody glad to be here in Manly - after 43hrs at sea, we got in last night around 11pm and found an empty mooring right near the ferry terminal 👏 It felt like we’d finished a kind of marathon... M and I had a celebratory chai and passed

The next day we let M sleep in and went ashore – had a lovely time until someone stole DB’s scooter from outside Humphery’s Newsagency.EXTREMELY NOT COOL.

The Mothership. The big city.

The rest of the time Small DB and I spent in Melbourne was staying at the home of the Mothership and T. It felt crazy that we hadn’t been in their house for THREE YEARS! What the? Small DB was very happy to be there – remembered all the things she liked to do – dress up in Nana’s scarves, play hide and seek, bake cakes and have afternoon tea like a fancy lady…

Afternoon tea. Pinky up!
Pinky up!

The Mothership and T were thrilled to spend time with her. And took the opportunity to turn her into a Croquet Queen.

Mothership and DB. Croquet skillz.
The Mothership in motion.

I took off to see L in her new house, which is such a relief, because now I can imagine her surroundings (which are somewhat more elevated because her new house is, well… a new house). It was so lovely to have cups of tea, make sandwiches, walk down and ponder shades of hair dye on Centre Road. D even offered to let me tool around in his Defender (!?!) – something that I had to ruefully forgo.

It’s such an odd thing – when you don’t see your friends on their home ground for a zillion years, they’re kind of stuck in amber from the last time you saw them. In my head, their kids don’t grow, their cars don’t change – things don’t evolve BECAUSE I’M NOT THERE.

Ugh. But of course they do. New houses, different jobs, kids going into secondary schools… It’s not that I want a more NORMAL life, but the fact is I WANT THE CAKE. And I want to EAT THE CAKE. And while I was on my short undercover visit to Melbourne, I felt like I had achieved a mini-version of that — the cupcake version – I got to live in a floating cubby, but also zip into the lives of friends who know me well enough to welcome me with Melbourne Breakfast Tea and Nature’s Cuppa English Breakfast. I was able to visit the Mothership and T and catch up with SWWNBB and Small A.

Half Moon Bay, Black Rock.
Half Moon Bay, Black Rock.

I spent a day on my own, tooling around the city. Heavenly. I organised membership at the City Library and at the Victorian State Library with the intention of giving the Smalls more scope to borrow books online. Tick. I wandered around the Flinders Lane/Degraves St area – where I used to love to hang when I was 16 or so (I have lost considerable time trying to remember the name of the awesome secondhand bookshop that used to be there)…

Missing Persons. Nicholas Building.

I fondled stationery, patted scarves in the Block Arcade, walked to Carlton and spent a large chunk of time in Readings (where I should have bought a 2020 diary but didn’t – they are one of the few places that sell Cavelli diaries… like this.
Castelli Matra Ivory Medium Weekly Diary 2020 (turquoise) – Paper Parrot

255/365 • ...a happy place... • 📚

Heading back to Flinders St Station from Carlton, I caught a tram and jumped off at Collins St. I had made a promise to myself that if the scarf shop in the Block Arcade was still open by the time I got there, I would buy myself a present from their 50% off sale. It was closed. But just as I reached it, a woman came from the opposite direction and unlocked the door. They were closed, but she took pity on me, and I swanned back to Sandringham wrapped in my divine charcoal cashmere extravagance. Yay me. Although the bus to Black Rock was a whole other story…

The Escapees

Small DB and I were blessed with some largesse from Small Brother, who bestowed a couple of return tickets direct from Coffs to Melbourne – we left on 13 September, the day before the 50th birthday we were there to attend.

Heading out of Coffs Harbour in an unexpected way 🙂
Aeroplane games
Aeroplane games…

My wonderful freckly love, Ellise, greeted us at Belgrave Station and handed me a travel cup of Nature’s Cuppa English Breakfast tea. Could there be a better person ever? Doubtful.

Elijah, Olivia and DB. Backseat.
❤️Elijah, Olivia Rose and Daisy Belle ❤️

Small DB was very happy to see her curly counterpart and thrilled to be IN A HOUSE. With a DOG, and a CAT X and Sunset and Golden Glow – the guinea-pigs who look remarkably like animatronic toupees.

Samba. Former wild kitten from Loch.
Samba, who slept on DB most nights.

(I was particularly happy to see Samba, the beautiful tabby, because I brought her to the house in mid 2006. She was one of four wild kittens from my dad’s place and I love that I still have that connection.)

A visitor.

Being able to hang out and help with the preparation of festivities was awesome. From early Saturday morning we made salad after salad – and they were all gluten free!

Pulling it all together…

The Smalls ran about, DBJ (the birthday person) fetched crate loads of beer, wine and bubbly, in addition to the spit, which was placed over the sandpit.

Lucinda, Olivia and DB.
Lucinda, Olivia and DB

Karen, mother of DBJ, was Queen of Detailing, and wiped the house clean on the inside from the front to the back. OH MY GOD it was a GREAT PARTY!! The speeches made me cry, I caught up with my super-awesome old friends from school, and we danced until 2am.

Sam, Ellise, Rik. Legends.

Small DB was overwhelmed at the amount of people everywhere and, after adhering herself to me, limpet like, for an hour or so, popped herself into bed before 8pm after making this helpful sign…

Early to bed. Party too big.

We had a wonderful breakfast the next day in Emerald, the adults being slightly seedy. All Smalls were put in front of a few movies that afternoon so we could nana-nap.

The next two days, I was principal kid-minder while E and DBJ went to work. My most classic moment during this time was after taking a very long shower in fresh-water (always a thrill) I was wafting around with a cup of tea doing little, when Olivia asked; “When are you going to start looking after us Beth?” I had to assure her that unless someone was bleeding, my duties extended to making sure she was fed and that I had enough tea in my cup… We agreed that this was OK.

Olivia the Pirate.
Olivia the Pirate.

Small DB had a well-matched game of chess with Elijah…

Elijah Vs. DB - it ended in a draw.
Despite the death-stare, it was a draw.

I was able to observe Lucinda (my god-daughter) in her natural habitat, which was interesting. She is a mischievous sprite, but so happy to spend hours on on own creating things in the playroom and drawing fantastic pictures. She is the kid I’ve seen the least of the three of them and I was so happy to be able to have time hanging with her.

Lucinda Rae. Pink on pink.
❤️ Lucinda Rae ❤️
Lucinda Rae
❤️ Lucinda Rae ❤️
Curly Soup.
Curlies making soup for lunch.

E returned home after work at lunchtime each day and we managed to jam in some quality op-shopping time and good walks. Small DB and I were put on the train at Belgrave midday on Wednesday and it was sad to say goodbye. I again had the recognition (that I’d experienced at Small Brother’s) that I’d been away for too long – that I hadn’t been entwined in other people’s lives and that I MISSED it. A lot.


We’ve been in Coffs Harbour for over ten days, anchored out on the south side of the jetty because we’re too cheap to pay $380 a week at the marina. We literally can’t leave – despite having plane tickets to fly out of Sydney on September 14th. Why? The wind. It insists on blowing from the south – and we need to go south. If we were hardcore, no doubt we would tack down the coast and have a rotten four days or so, but it’s too tricky.

We have the added complification of Small DB’s birthday in three days and the fact that she is complaining volubly about NOT wanting a birthday at sea. Which is fair enough. This is always the kind of shit that happens when we have a deadline in front of us. Here are the three rules of Bella Luna:

1) Don’t fall off.
2) Don’t sail to deadline.
3) Avoid motoring whenever possible.

What happens when you have a deadline, is that your decision making skills come under pressure. You might begin to skew your interpretation of the forecast to fit where you need to be and when. Think of the 1998 Sydney to Hobart race. The conditions were appalling, but the race ALWAYS BEGINS ON THE SAME DAY – people have taken time off work, skipped Christmas stuff, planned for months – all these factors make it incredibly difficult to look at the forecast and elect not to go.

We could have left at 2am yesterday morning and got as far as South West Rocks – where we then would have had to stay in an ocean anchorage for a day until the right wind appeared. If it didn’t appear? Not a great place to be stuck. After much agonising over I decided that putting pressure on ourselves was just stupid. If we make the flights – that’s great, but we’re not going to sail in dodgy conditions to do it.

Four nights ago we were in one of our top three ever storms – it was epic. Sixty knot winds, sluicing rain and masses and masses of hail. M and I had the Smalls in the cabin that has the escape hatch, because the boat felt like she was hovercrafting – which can lead to a flip. It was impossible to get outside and put anything over the solar panels, and I was fairly sure they’d be toast. The hail was SO LOUD. I was reminded of what I’ve read several times in articles about heavy weather – you need ear protection, because the SOUND of the weather can just be overwhelming, leading to distraction and dodgy decision-making because things sound far worse than they are.

Video and photo by Joshua Cook

In this case, we ended up with about three inches of pea-sized hail all over the boat. The solar panels were unscathed. M went out and immediately made a snowman in the cockpit and brought it in to show us – belatedly realising that it was impossibly phallic when Small DB shrieked. “It’s an ICE PENIS!”

During the whole thing, which probably lasted no longer than 20 crazed minutes, I was very calm. As soon as everything settled I got an instant stress headache – which I medicated with cauliflower soup and a large glass of red wine. If we had been in Melbourne and seen on the weather radar that Bella Luna was alone at anchor in those conditions, I’m not sure what we could have done – but it would have been super stressful.

Living aboard is in some ways like having a tiny baby – you need to learn to surrender to the situation that you find yourself in. Whether that is waking every few hours to feed the baby and coming to terms with the fact that for this part of your life, merely cleaning your teeth is a victory; or staying at anchor in a rolly sea (as we are now) and steeling oneself to wait for the weather to come good, however long it takes, and try to remain reasonably sanguine.

239/365 • spent a few hours watching some awesome soccer like a legitimate land based family - @reminy__joy •
Bellingen Vs. Urunga. Soccer. Under 13s.