Nine. On the ninth.

Dear Zoe,

Every birthday is a joyous celebration of your arrival. You made a couple into a family. You turned the Mothership into your nana. Every birthday is also a little bit heartbreaking, because… you’ll never be that age again. Never again will I sail around with my eight-year-old Zoe.

I have felt the same each year – I always try to make the most of your last day of two…three…four…five…six…seven…eight. Both you and your Bad Mouse sister have rocketed ahead since we have set sail. You both have a little bit more crazy, a little bit more stubborn, a little more self-awareness.

Smalls. Colouring. Together. Quick! Photo! Before someone loses an eye!

Embarking on the sailing life has not been easy for you. You miss your friends, your activities…and your birthday reflected that. All you wanted in the world was to fly back to Melbourne and go to Luna Park with your friends. While part of me empathises, I also know that as far as childhood experiences go – living aboard a boat for a while is something that will remain with you forever.

Zoe. Nine. Quoll love.

Your birthday morning was a hoot! Amongst your other presents (the stuffed quoll from T being a standout) was the hand-painted rainbow twirl dress you coveted at the Cygnet Folk Festival Arts Market… I had sneaked off to buy it for you after saying, “No, sorry – it’s waaay too expensive.” Then I stuffed it inside the ‘Boggle’ box to disguise it. Mwah ha ha ha ha ha….

As you unwrapped it your face dropped… “But we’ve already got Boggle…”

“Maybe you should open the box?” M suggested.

You lifted the lid…and the sun came out. “My RAINBOW DRESS!!”

Zoe's 9yo Birthday.

Small DB cooked pancakes and we ate them with cream and the raspberries we’d got at the Judbury Market the day before. Heavenly. We left Dadda aboard to look after the boat (thank goodness we did, but that’s another story) and drove to the Hastings Cave State Reserve. The caves were quite remarkable – we went soooo far underground. You were thrilled. You took photos of everything, “Because I need to show Dadda, because he couldn’t come.”

Hastings Caves, Tasmania

The thermal springs however, were disappointing. We were all ready for something languid…different pools, steaming water… But there was one blue outdoor swimming pool, with lots of people jumping around in it. We will gloss over your quite extravagant birthday despair ?

A few hours later your very sad spirits were revived by an icy-pole at the Commercial Hotel in Cygnet, the arrival of your Dadda – and then the most awesome birthday dinner EVER. I never thought we would find a pub with a gluten free kitchen OWNED BY A COELIAC – but magic happened. We had GF pizza cooked in a GF oven. They had made you a pavlova that was the best that any of us had EVER had. EVER.

The. Best. Ever. Pavlova.

You went back to the boat with T, Dadda and your sister, collected your iPad and went on to your friend Jarrah’s boat for an hour of minecraft.


“My birthday was good after all,” you said.

My darling Z. You are a layer cake of complexity, curiousity, compassion and cantankerous cuteness. We couldn’t love you more. Happy birthday.


Zoe is nine. Pavlova and quoll. All is well.

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