Up and down and down and up…

Like almost every online glimpse of other people’s lives, I’m sure ours looks better than yours. You don’t tend to keep bad photographs in your album, and likewise, you don’t tend to exhibit the mundane bits of your life online. Where’s the interest in that?

I’ve had several people comment; ‘Your life is amazing.” and “You guys are living the dream!” And yes, the way we are living right now is outside the norm and thus automatically more interesting to others – much more so than our life during the nine years that it took M to build the boat.

Obviously most people realise that our life is not all sunsets and adventure. Logically, living with your family in a large floating cubby while endeavouring to spend a minimal amount of dosh, creates its own kind of tensions. Being in a different country has been another shift – another layer or logistics, different currency, different language…

The focus for the first half of the year has been on GETTING here. Now that we’ve made it, we have to change gears – become explorers again. It’s taking a little time to adjust. Going south, away from Noumea for five or six days was quite revelatory. It seems that while we are in the vicinity of the city, we are bound by the things we need to get done, things we need to buy.

A few days ago we were all literally driving each other crazy. The Smalls were bickering – infuriating M and I – because HELLO? What have they got to bicker about? They are taken care of, fed, loved – THEY DON’T EVEN HAVE TO DO ANY SCHOOLWORK. Small DB is a little under the weather and has become more intractable than normal.

All in all we were in our own ‘living the dream’ version of a despairing slump. I felt very down. One shiny aspect was that our friends on GonYonda had arrived, and so had our friends from Iluka on Pandion. We decided to damn the expense and have a day and night in the marina with them – it would allow all the kids (eight in total) to hang out together, which in turn would give us some breathing space.

Still in a funk, I went up on deck to help pull up the anchor. The anchor that we had had to reset SIX times when we arrived. I was happy to leave – the ferries, tugboats and motor cruises going by had made it a very rolly anchorage.

We motored the short distance to the marina, and M manouvered the boat in order to reverse into the berth.

The starboard motor cut out and we drifted a little too close to GonYonda, who had tied up before us. “Go forward,” I told M, somewhat forcefully.
Thankfully we have two motors – one in each hull – and he gunned the other one while still attempting to restart the other. There was not a lot of room for error. It quickly became obvious that the starboard motor would start, but not reverse.

I lent over the back over the starboard hull trying to see what might be the problem. Heart sank. I had not pulled up the bit of rope I leave over the step for Honey the Boatcat to climb up on, should she take an unintentional swim. I pulled it in. Easily. Immediate relief. There was no way it was long enough to have got entangled in the prop.

Then I looked down the side of the boat.

“Zoe! Get me a knife!”

She materialised next to me, wielding the bread knife. I hacked through the rope that had been hanging from the bottom of the rear fender and had wrapped itself around the propellor. The fender was too taut for me to be able to undo the knot or release the shackle.

The tightness of the rope made it easy to saw through – the torn ends pinged away from each other in opposite directions, and the fender floated gently away. The starboard motor agreed to go into reverse and M somehow angled us properly, enabling us to tie on to the dock. Hot, stressed and demoralised, I could barely summon any excitement to greet our lovely friends on Pandion, who had come over in the Go East Rally (you can read about their passage here).

One of their kids rescued our fender, another gave me the code for the shower. After washing my mood down the drain, I was able to let marinaland work its magic on me. It was interesting to see that the other kidboat adults were similar – the kids were running together as a pack, and this gave us all the opportunity – in calm water, with shore power and water, to clean up the chaos of boatlife. This in itself, was heavenly… and everything improved.


  1. Ratways

    This post spoke to me like no other (to the point where I comment for the first time after lurking for a very long time …. way, way back to your QLD days). No matter where or how we spend our lives, there is daily life: the mundane, the ordinary, the exhilarating and the downright frustrating – it’s just that some of us head off out into the unknown to discover that daily life goes on wherever we are. That you write about the downs as well as the ups (and the not much happening in between) is what makes your journey through life, and your prose, a joy to follow.

  2. Post

    Since QUEENSLAND? I salute you 😉 And also thank you for your comment – because it’s so true. Even this morning I was on a staggeringly divine tropical island with a hangry 7yo yelling me that I was a “rancid old git”. It’s all about the balance…

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