Thursday, June 22, 2017

Newly Salted Interview

Back when we were first starting to look at seriously buying boats, we were doing alot of research about what it was like to actually cruise. We read a lot of blogs and Newly Salted and it’s sister site, Interview with a Cruiser, were two sites that we literally devoured information from! It’s so great to get other people’s perspectives on this lifestyle. We are thrilled to be joining the ranks of other new cruisers on the Newly Salted site. 

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We are Bryce, Alissa and our 1 year old daughter, I. We started cruising in April 2013 in Mooloolaba, QLD and have cruised up and down the Queensland coast getting as far north as Cairns. We have spent significant portions of that time at Magnetic Island and the Whitsunday Islands. Despite having had the boat for 4 years, we’ve taken breaks to travel, work and have a baby, which brings our active cruising time down to 20 months. We live and sail on a 40 ft aluminium monohull named Aquabat, that was built in 1985 by the man we bought her from. We love meeting other cruisers so please feel free to contact us if our paths may cross or you have any questions!

1. What (if anything) do you wish someone had told you before you started cruising?
Bryce: Don’t buy anything at all until you have lived on the boat for 6 months.
Alissa: There will be days when equipment breaks and the weather is crap that you will want to be done with the boat but then you have the most amazing days ever that make it all worth while. Actually, I was told that cruising combines really low lows with really high highs which is basically the same thing… I just didn’t truly understand what it meant at the time!

2. As you started cruising, what transitions did you find the most difficult?
Bryce: Lack of a regular income.
Alissa: Things we take for granted being relatively unlimited on land like electricity, water and internet, are no longer unlimited!

3. What mistakes did you make as you started cruising?
Bryce: Bought too much “stuff” for the boat that we didn’t really need. - Didn’t have the surveyor go on test sail! - Ran aground a couple of times, don’t just blindly trust the charts or the coastguard over the radio, (“there’s deep water if you hug the marker” There wasn’t!). - One time when we hauled out, our hydraulic steering pump needed replacing, because we were hauled out we paid way more ($1000s more) then we would have if we’d had time to shop around. We were just going back to our mooring so we could’ve used our emergency tiller and taken our time to find a replacement. - I am a competent sailor so I had thought that we had cruising figured out… but it turns out sailing is only a small part of cruising. You also need to be a diesel mechanic, plumber, electrician, rigger, sailmaker, carpenter, among other things! - Should have bought a smaller boat as our first, learner boat… bigger boat = bigger, more expensive mistakes.
Alissa: What mistakes didn’t we make!? See Bryce’s answer! :)

4. What do you find the most exciting about your cruising life?
Bryce: I really like meeting new people and cruisers generally seem to be really friendly, good people. 
Alissa: We can have a new amazing backyard whenever we want! And the people! We’ve made some great boat friends in the past few years.

5. What do you dislike about cruising that surprised you?
Bryce: Not having space to just stretch without bumping into something. I struggle to fit into any of our beds, even having modified one of them. 
Alissa: I am definitely a fair-weathered sailor. Whereas Bryce is quite happy trimming the sails and actively sailing, I would prefer just to set the sails and go for a ride on nice calm seas! I also dislike have to disassemble the boat to do anything or find something. I don’t like mess though so that’s not surprising!

6. What is something that you read or heard about cruising, that you didn't find to be true?
Bryce: I read it’s a cheaper way of life but that hasn’t eventuated. We’ve needed to upgrade a number of systems to suit our style of cruising and it’s been very expensive. For example, a compete rewire, new solar panels, new batteries, replaced head and the list keeps growing. 
Alissa: When we were preparing, we were reading about the pioneering cruisers, like the Pardeys, who were doing it hardcore. Cruising without refrigeration, freezers, washing machines and watermakers, using oil lanterns instead of electric lights and oars and sails instead of engines. Boat life would definitely be a lot simpler without the extras “complicating” things. I didn’t know that you could have an inverter and still run AC appliances so we bought manual (hand-powered) versions of appliances. I didn’t know that you didn’t have to live without creature comforts. You can have anything you want on a boat (basically) but there is the tradeoff that it makes your boat more complicated with more things to break and more things to repair. You just have to decide if it’s worth it to you or not!

7. What is something that you read or heard about cruising, that you found particularly accurate?
Bryce: It’s a constant series of jobs to keep the boat shipshape.
Alissa: Boat Maintenance in exotic locations. 100% true! 

8. Is there something you wish you had bought or installed before starting out?
Bryce: We probably should have ripped out the fridge and reinstalled it as the insulation is shot! The fridge is out biggest battery drain by far.
Alissa: The wishlist is long! I would love a freezer and a watermaker but they are staying on the wishlist for awhile! I will settle for a functioning fridge!

9. What piece(s) of gear would you leave on the dock next time? Why?
Bryce: A lot of our books probably. They are heavy and take up a lot of space. We may yet get rid of them. 
Alissa: Bryce will hate me saying this but his fishing gear. I don’t eat fish and Bryce doesn’t go fishing, so it’s just taking up valuable space. 

10. What are your plans now? If they do not include cruising, tell us why.
Alissa: We have a 1 year old on board now so we are just taking it slow and easy as we all acclimate to life on board.
Bryce: We will probably stick around the North Queensland coast for a couple more years and maybe head out to New Caledonia or Vanuatu once our crew is less dependent. Longer-term aspiration is to circumnavigate the globe.
11. What question do you wish I would have asked you besides the ones I've asked you and how would you answer it?
Bryce:  How do you decide your cruising plans?  Initially, I went about planning like I had in business.  i.e. make a plan and then do it!  This lifestyle is not suited to that approach and just provides endless frustration! Instead of plans, we now talk about options until we quite close to being able to actually do something. 

Alissa: How would you recommend that someone prepares to cruise?  We both joined Hoofers Sailing Club in Madison, WI (Me as a complete rookie, Bryce as an already excellent sailor just looking for more experience) which was a great place to learn. We were able to make mistakes on a boat that wasn’t our own! We also went to a couple of boatshows and attended some really informative lectures there and we read alot of books and blogs. In preparing for cruising again, given that we were coming from a place where (apart from sailing) our knowledge base was zero, I would’ve liked to take more hands-on intensive courses on a couple of the trickier topics, like engines repair, plumbing and electrical systems. We’ve learnt alot but some of it was probably the hard way! 

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Thanks for reading our interview! Be sure to check interviews with other cruisers on Newly Salted and Interview with a Cruiser!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Baby Proofing 101

Being that we live on a boat, everything is mostly contained and secure but we have had to make a few modifications to the space in order for us all to be safe with a baby on board. 

Here’s a few of the changes we made!

A safe sleeping space was a given but we forwent purchasing a cribs or portacot and made our own lee cloth to create a boat crib. This is also a place which we can stick her if we need all hands on deck quickly and know that she is safe, no matter how much she protests.
We don’t have a car so hadn’t planned to get a carseat but in the end, we ended up being in a car enough that we needed one. We had it set up on the boat for our longer passage south just in case we came into some rough weather and needed a really safe and secure place to pop her but thankfully we didn’t need it! Now that we are in protected waters we will put it away and reclaim our settee. We made sure to get a convertible carseat so that it would last for as long as possible!
Our cushion protectors (see above) aren’t fancy but they do the job. I whipped up covers for our cushions out of some old sheets and they are the first line of defense for spills and flying food. They are also much easier to take off and wash then the spot-clean only seat cushions that the boat came with. 

We only have had to install one cupboard lock yet but reserve the right to install more! Everything is mostly securely away but there are a few cupboards whose latches are the convenient height for playing. We put one right away on the one that contains some nasties and that one happens to be the one that is played with most often. 
We had some electrical stuff that we needed to protect. That problem was solved by running toy box interference! It’s also a great out of the way location for her to play. The toy box is also acts as limiter on our toy volume. 

Our latches to pull up our floor boards are a huge draw for I. and she loves playing with them and leaving them up! We ran into them a few times before we taped them down. It’s not pretty but it works! She pulled the tape off one but now no longer seems interested in them. 


Installing lifeline netting is probably this biggest, most important, non-negotiable baby proofing that we did on board. With it in place, I. can freely crawl around the boat and we know that she won’t slip through the lifelines.
At the top of the stairs, we always have one, if not two, boards in to keep I. from falling down the stairs from the cockpit. This also acts as an additional line of defense between her and the water if she manages to evade all of our other methods and climb up the stairs! At least she can’t get out! At the bottom of the stairs, we have a temporary rail (a toddler sleeping rail) that we can quickly put across but we also have a more permanent cloth which we can secure across. But for the most part, I. is free to climb and explore!
As I look around the boat, those are the only changes that I can see! There may well be more to come but only time will tell! 


Saturday, June 3, 2017

Southbound

Our plan had always been to spend this season in the Whitsundays. We missed the Northerly winds to get down there so we had been toying with the idea of heading north but our hearts still really wanted to go south! Last Saturday morning, we woke up in Horseshoe Bay to calm winds and a favourable forecast for the coming days and, quick-as-a-flash, made the decision to head south. The winds were still from the southeast, which was the direction we were headed but they were light so we were hoping for a nice-ish ride! 

We had left Nelly Bay for the quick sail around to Horseshoe Bay just a couple of days earlier. It was I.’s first sail so we didn’t really know what to expect. She was a champ and stayed in her carrier the entire trip, napping, chatting and just looking at the waves going by. She didn’t get seasick either which is a huge plus. One seasick person on this boat is enough! Some friends came for the sail with us which took our kid count up to two babies and one toddler but the extra hands also meant that I didn’t have to do anything boat related! A huge thanks for them!
We passed mighty close to this guy at anchor!
To get to the Whitsunday’s, we knew we were in for several really long day sails. We had contemplated doing it all in one go but decided that that would be too exhausting. We also considered sailing at night while the baby was sleeping but we couldn’t figure out how we would balance watches and then survive during the day! Ultimately, sailing during the day and getting a good nights sleep was the best decision for us. Baby I. was so good on our big sails. She explored, played, ate, bird and wave watched and read books in the cockpit well. I will say though that I have never appreciated naptime as much as I have when seasick and want to do nothing but stare at the back of my eyelids!
Sails down as the sun goes down!
Our first day was a sail from Magnetic Island to Cape Bowling Green. It was long and rough. We got in after dark, with no moon and were exhausted! We were off again first thing the next morning in the same miserable seas, destination Cape Upstart. We had our engine running the whole time to charge our batteries (solar problems AGAIN!) and give us some extra speed: loud, smelly, extra unpleasant! But then magically that afternoon, the wind shifted and pick up and we were able to point straight at our destination, turn off the engine and arrive at Cape Upstart with enough sunlight left to head ashore! Winning!
Those blues!
And then our good wind ran out so we have just been hanging out at Cape Upstart waiting for favourable conditions to return! Cape Upstart has always been a stop on the way somewhere else so we’ve only ever overnighted here. The forecast has us here for at least a few days so it should give us a good chance to explore!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Biggest Letdown EVER

We were ready to go. Everything had been put away. Our route had been planned out. Delicious snacks had been prepared. A big pot of sweet potato chili was waiting on the stove so we didn’t have to cook while we were underway.

But this morning we woke up to the skies looking like this:
Grey, cloudy, miserable skies
And the forecast looking like this:
Forecast courtesy of the BoM
We contemplated just going around to Horseshoe Bay on the other side of the island anyway… just so we could finally get out of the Marina. But then we gave ourselves a reality check and bunkering down at anchor during a strong wind warning and days of rain is not how we want to introduce almost one year old I. to life at sea! Nor, for that matter, is it the introduction that we want for ourselves to life at sea with her!

So, reluctantly, we called it off.

This is a huge letdown and the disappointment is real. We have been trying to leave, what seems like, forever and for one reason or another (Haul-out plans being a big reason!), have always put it off. All of the stars had finally aligned and we were ready. As disappointing as it is, we know better then to fight the wind and weather.

However, ever the optimist, there are silver linings to this delay. Firstly, we have friends arriving on the island today and Friday who we were going to just miss! Now we get to spend time with them and their babies! Yay! Secondly, after the berth next to us being empty for a year (yikes - that is how long we’ve had the boat here!), we woke up this morning to very silent neighbours. They seemed to be in a hurry to catch a plane and promptly unloaded the contents of their fridge on us! Ah-mazing!

So… we will try again soon! Watch this space!

Friday, May 12, 2017

One Job a Day

Life on a boat is generally a bit harder then life on land, or at least it seems that way sometimes. Our life revolves around an endless list of boat jobs waiting to be done plus the constant maintenance that a boat requires. Then the everyday boring jobs just take longer. No dishwasher, no washing machine, no car. So errands can take a whole day. But that’s ok because time is what we have alot of and it’s a small trade off to be able to live the life we do.

Then you get, Life with a baby, on a boat. That definitely gets interesting. Between mealtime, naptime, playtime, swimming and then all of the other life-jobs, it doesn’t leave much time in the day. We generally budget an hour for meals. We still put our baby to sleep (Don’t judge us!) and that can sometimes take a half hour though more often then not, it’s much much quicker.

I would never get any of the extras on my list done if I didn’t set small goals each day. My motto is “one job a day.” That’s all I have to do, on top of everything else. I can certainly do more if I’m feeling like superwoman but all I aspire to is one. Some days I’m super ambitious in my goal setting, other days I give myself a break and set a super easy goal that I can definitely attain so that I can still feel like I’ve accomplished something.

Batty's 63 metres of anchor chain

Yesterday, I was superambitious. The day before we had taken the chain and the anchor off the boat and it was sitting on the dock (danger!) needing to be flipped and marked at 5 metre increments. It took me one nap time plus another hour and a bit to get it done but then we were able to put it all back on the boat and cross it off the list!

Vanilla Beans and Vodka

Today was an easy goal. I needed to make more vanilla. Even that seemingly simple task had it’s complications. To get to the vodka, which is appropriately stored under the baby’s bed, I had to clear off the bed, disassemble the bed, get the vodka, reassemble the bed and then make the vanilla. But it’s done now! Such feelings of accomplishment! It’ll be a huge bonus if I manage to plant a couple of seedlings that are waiting for some love!

So that’s how I get through life… with one job a day!

Saturday, April 29, 2017

It didn’t happen

I spoke too soon.

Just after I put up the last post, we received an email that set in motion the possibility that the plans would change again.

UGHGHGHGHG!!! Ok… frustration released. Be zen. Deep Breathes. Go with the flow. Om and all that jazz.

The email we got was from Rosshaven Marine, the boatyard where we were due to haul out on Tuesday and it contained the work contract that we had to sign prior to them lifting all 12 tonnes of Batty out of the water. We have hauled out many times and each time had signed a contract so this was not abnormal. But this contract was different.

Haulout: Hervey Bay - September 2013

One perk of having a husband who used to do contracts in the real world, is that he reads them and reads them again and again before putting his name on it. Upon reading this one he saw that the contract said that the boatyard was not liable for any damages, including those caused by the boatyard’s own negligence.

I think this is INSANE and it’s kind of infuriating to think that they can do something like that. That’s basically like saying there was a fuel leak that we hadn’t gotten around to fixing yet and it accidentally leaked onto your boat and then someone was doing some welding nearby and a spark flew over and blew it up but it’s not our fault! Not cool! (The preceding was a hypothetical situation. It did not actually happen to us or anyone we know.)

According to our insurance company, there are only a few boatyards in Australia that have this clause. Normally (if the boat owner bothers to read the contract), the insurance company contacts the yard, asks them to remove the clause, they oblige and the work carries on. However in this instance, Rosshaven refused (for whatever reason) to remove the clause. Our options were either that we didn’t sign the contract and didn’t haul-out or we did sign the contract and waived our insurance and were unable to haul-out anyway (as a requirement of the yard is that all boats are insured). Lose-lose situation for us but at least we found out before we got there i guess.

So we are back at square-one. We still need to haul out so are looking at our options again. We are intending to head south, and there are yards in Airlie Beach, but because of Cyclone Debbie and the huge losses sustained by boats down there, the yards in Airlie Beach are unable to take non-cyclone damaged boats for at least a year. Our other option is to head north to Cardwell to haul out there. Coincidentally, the yards in Airlie Beach and Cardwell do NOT have negligence waivers in their contracts. We have already checked.

Please note that in all of our interactions with Rosshaven, they were very professional and everything was on track for our haul out on Tuesday. While we had heard reviews from all over the spectrum about this yard, we hadn’t experienced anything negative ourselves. I am not naming and shaming here. Truthfully, their hands may have been tied with their underwriters calling the shots, just as our insurers were. I get that. But all I’m saying is please do your due diligence, get the contract early and read the contract before you get to the yard and sign it. If in doubt, get your insurers involved so that there are no surprises down the track!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Biding our time

We had been due to haulout the boat several weeks ago but at the last minute cancelled for a variety of reasons. It was fortuitous that we did cancel as our time out of the water would have coincided with the days that Tropical Cyclone Debbie was approaching our coast and due to make landfall. While we luckily survived Debbie unscathed, there was a time during her approach that we were in for a direct hit. Having Batty out of the water would have added an extra layer of stress and effort to our cyclone prep in addition to none of our planned work actually getting done while we, and everyone else, prepped for Debbie’s arrival.

Picnic Bay, Magnetic Island

Since then we have diligently been plodding through our endless to-do list as we waited for a new date for our haulout. Due to Easter, Anzac Day and May Day, it seemed like April did not have a single 5-day work week. With our prior luck with haulouts, we were gunning for at least a 4 day week that did not end in a long weekend, should we be stuck out of the water at the end of the week. Boatyards charge you for the crane lift in and out of the water and then a per/day fee for just being in the yard. This is on top of any work you have done (Coincidentally, they don’t work on the weekends either!). We finally received confirmation late last week that we are on the books to be hauled-out this coming Tuesday.

Babyproofing

Though certainly not as much fun as being at anchor, life is much easier in a marina so we elected to stay put while we waited it out. I will admit I am a bit nervous about being at anchor with the baby purely because I know our water won’t stretch as far. Bryce and I have been able to make our water stretch for more then a month when it was just the two of us in conservation mode. This is not going to be feasible anymore with an extra crew member on board. A watermaker is on our wishlist but it’s still likely a fair way off.

Marina Sunsets

We are still posting to facebook frequently and now have an instagram account where you can see lots more of our day to day life. We have some other projects in the works to share with you all soon so stay tuned!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The First Glimpse

I was sorting through some old photos awhile back and came across this video and thought I would share it. 

The backstory:

In June, 2012, we had left Australia boatless with the intention of finding and buying our boat in either the US or Europe. Bryce came back to Australia to meet a new nephew in December and happened to find Batty for sale just one hours drive from Brisbane. She ticked a lot of our boxes so he went to check her out. His interest piqued, a survey was commissioned and the ball was rolling in the direction of Aquabat becoming ours. If we bought this boat. I would not get to physically see her before the purchase. I was full of questions and requests. Some >>very<< detailed videos of the boat were high on my list. 

This video, narrated by Bryce, was one that I received and gave me a glimpse of what was to be  our new home. For the record, this is the cleanest and emptiest I have ever seen Batty. Something to strive for again! :)

You can watch the video here


Enjoy!

Friday, March 31, 2017

Debbie

When we left the boat in November, we had left her ready to weather whatever was thrown at her. For the record, we were gone for 4 months… no cyclone! Yet we hadn’t even been back at the boat a week when we got word that a cyclone was brewing. It had only taken us a few days to dismantle all of that weatherproofing to make the boat livable again and get started on some jobs. As it so happens, one of those jobs was rebedding our hatches. In a nutshell, this job involved taking off all our windows, cleaning off the surrounding gunk and putting them back on again all nice, snug and weatherproof. With a couple of leaky hatches, this was an essential job but having giant holes in your boat is not something that you generally want with a cyclone on the way. So it was with a greater urgency that these jobs were finished and the boat put back into her cyclone ready state. Fortunately, Debbie was a real slow moving beast so there was lots of warning and lots of time to prepare. Ferries to and from the island stopped running two days before landfall. The airport in Townsville closed the day before. 

We were inundated with phone calls from caring friends and family to make sure we were ready.  My mum, uncle and grandma had been caught in Cyclone Yasi 6 years earlier and were sharing their experiences so we knew what we could expect and what essentials we should pack in our cyclone kit. We spent days prepping for Debbie’s arrival. We (re)readied Batty to ride out the storm as well as two other boats in the marina. We were staying with friends to ride out the cyclone and had helped with all the necessary prep at their house. We had stores of water, batteries and had been cooking up a storm. We were ready.

And then… nothing. 

Debbie slowly tracked her way south, completely missing us. We had approximately 3 light showers, some lovely, warm breezes and incredible sunsets. That was it. 

We were lucky.
Debbie could have just as easily come for us and we are incredibly grateful that we didn’t have to go through what sounded like a pretty horrifying experience and our hearts go out to those affected. We watched the landfall while communicating with friends who were experiencing a direct hit and we watched the footage of the aftermath trying to look for boats that we knew so we could let their owners know they were safe. 

As we return everything back to it’s normal home (re-de-weatherproof), we constantly remind ourselves just how lucky we are that this is the only cleanup we have to do. 

Friday, February 17, 2017

A Texan Roadtrip

Well we made it back to Australia and are currently deep in the throes of jet leg. I’m finally taking the sage-old advice of sleep when baby sleeps. We try to push out bedtime by 30 minutes to an hour each day but for the most part, I’m still getting to go to sleep when I’m tired. Bedtime is currently 2:30pm!   At least that’s an improvement on 1pm bedtime the day we got here!

Because our long-haul flight left from Dallas, we decided to break up our trip a bit and have ourselves a little Texan holiday. I relinquished total control of the planning to Bryce, which is a BIG deal for me but I had a lot on my plate trying to get us out the door in Madison. It was refreshing to just go with the flow and Bryce did a great job planning. 

We booked a hire car and were able to use hotel points to book our accommodation. This was our first holiday with a baby and so knew that we would be doing things differently. The biggest concession was to slow down our pace and work on her time, namely around naps. We broke down our drives so that we were mostly only driving during nap times. More often then not, this worked well but more on that in another post. 

Texas is big and we had narrowed our Itinerary down to three places: Dallas, Austin and San Antonio. Despite flying into and out of DFW an infinite number of times, all I knew about Dallas was that JFK died there. I knew absolutely nothing about San Antonio, though every one we spoke to mentioned how great the riverwalk was. Austin, I had lived in for 3 months many years ago, so basically had food on the mind! 
The Alamo, San Antonio
In Dallas, we drove past Dealey Plaza and the JFK memorial, had some amazing Lebanese and Mexican food and had a wonderfully unexpected catch up with an old friend. In Austin, we ticked off all the food boxes, caught the views from Mount Bonnell, explored the Capitol building and meandered around Lady Bird Lake. San Antonio was the biggest surprise. With it’s riverwalk and bridged walkways, Downtown San Antonio a bit like a modern, metropolitan Venice - both California and Italy. We also spent some time at the Alamo and some missions (old spanish ruins, some still active) just outside of town. 
Mount Bonnell, Austin

We were so lucky with the weather which was stunningly beautiful the whole week we were there… except for the last two days in Dallas were rainy and cold! A fitting adieu to the Northern Hemisphere winter! Now we are sweltering back in the Queensland heat, but surviving thanks to air conditioning! We just missed a wicked heatwave (record-breaking through much of Australia), but even the post heat-wave normal summer weather is a shock to the system after a Wisconsin winter.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Road to Nashville

We're changing it up today and Bryce is making an appearance on the blog to tell you all about his recent trip to Nashville, Tennessee. Enjoy!

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A ten-hour drive was all it took to have me arriving someplace warm, well at least warmer than it was in Wisconsin. 

I met Kobus and Teresa about 12 years ago when I was working in South Africa. They have since moved to Nashville (actually Lebanon - a satellite town of Nashville). We have visited them at their previous Tennessee house in the past and I wanted to be sure to see them again on this trip. It didn’t work out for them to make it up to Madison as Teresa had a family emergency that she had to attend to back in South Africa and Kobus was recovering from knee surgery, so flying and driving were out for him.  We weren’t keen on a ten-hour road trip with a baby, so off I went alone for a guys weekend in Tennessee!

Bryce & Kobus
Kobus cooked up a storm, and we had a classic South African braai (i.e. BBQ-meat) with some buddies the first night, and on another night a loaf of awesome home-cooked bread with a traditional South African potjie (a pot in the fire layered with meat, onions, vegetables, more meat, port/wine and spices). It was one of my special requests that I remembered from my year in South Africa, and it tasted as great as I remembered.  We might have drunk a bit too much wine that night, but it was great fun.
South African Potjie
Freshly baked bread!
When out and about at shops, the southern accent was everywhere and I found it quite hard to understand. I had several instances where I was just forced to "smile and nod"; the person on the other side of the conversation could have pretty much been saying anything for all I could understand!  I have a feeling that one old woman was giving me a hard time about something, because after a smiling but indecipherable spiel from her, I made out "Arm jurst kiddn"... wait, did she just insult me and I was smiling and nodding like an idiot?  Oh well!

While I did the drive down in one go, I broke up the drive back up to Wisconsin into two half-days. I got off the road on the way back just as a wicked snowstorm was starting.  As soon as I found out that the hotel had a hot-tub, I was sitting in it watching the snow blast and howl horizontally outside the window.  It was much nicer to be inside and off the road for that (and in a hot-tub to boot)!  The snow had been cleared by the morning and it was smooth sailing right up to just before Madison, when it started snowing again.  Good timing!


I had a great time and Kobus really looked after me well.  Thanks a bunch, mate.  Can't wait to catch up with you both next time!

Friday, January 27, 2017

Our Movements

Thank you all for your input in choosing our next steps. While we still don’t have a definite plan, we are moving closer to having some idea of what we will do. In short, we still don’t know but we’ve been given lots more to think about. 

A new option came up for us as we were offered an opportunity to housesit in Darwin for 5 weeks. We would LOVE to but we want/need to sail this season and a month plus in Darwin would get us back to the boat way too late in the season to make that happen. Raincheck Darwin Clearys!

We are sad to say that New Caledonia and Vanuatu are off the cards. Due to our land travels, we are quite possibly getting back to the area too late to catch any northerlies south. We may already be pushing our luck trying to get down to the Whitsundays but three days of beating into the wind is a much different story than trying to get all the way down the Queensland coast in a hurry. 

The guy tasked with cleaning Batty’s hull while we’ve been gone and keeping an eye on her just informed us that Batty probably needs a new bottom paint job. We knew she was coming due but were hoping to eek another season out of the current coat. We will have to see what we think when we are back with her but for now we are planning a haul-out when we get back. 

So in summary… we will see how we go when we get back! There are a lot of factors that we just can’t know until we are there. Wind, weather, the state of Batty’s bottom and inevitable haul-out surprises will all play a part. Oh yeah... and having a mobile baby on board! 

Bryce has been taking a break from the cold for the last few days and visiting some friends down in balmy Nashville. He comes back tomorrow and we start our last week in Wisconsin.


Next stop… Texas!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Choose Our Adventure

When I was little, I used to read the Choose-Your-Own-Adventure books.  

Sally was being chased by a dragon, when she came to a cliff. If Sally jumped off the cliff, turn to page 95. If Sally stayed to fight, turn to page 3. 

I would cheat and turn to both pages to see which outcome I preferred before choosing my action and very often would have multiple scenarios running at the same time. As as we all know, real life doesn’t quite work like that. We have to commit to our decisions and take whatever comes when we turn the page. 

With that in mind, we have been trying to decide what direction we are going to take this year. It has been a few years but we will FINALLY have an entire cruising season with Batty. While we have a few boat jobs to get done once we are reunited, we hope to be underway in no time. With so many amazing options in our backyard, we are having a hard time choosing. We would love to hear any other options we should consider and any opinions, positive or negative. 
The criteria for choosing where we are going are short and easy sails, easy land access, fun and new & exciting. It’s important to note that Batty is bluewater ready and we will be starting the season with a 10 month old on board.

The options:

Stay Where We are - Batty is currently in Townsville and cruising around that area would include Magnetic Island, the Palm Islands, Orpheus Island and several more. We have spent lots of time at Maggie and stopped at the other islands on our way up to Cairns several years ago.

Head North - In our journeys with Batty, the farthest north we have been is Cairns. There are lots of places to stop along the way to Cairns and lots to see further north. 

Head South - We would need to get going just before the season starts to be sure we still have northerlies to get south. Destination would be the Whitsundays. We spent last summer in the Whitsundays and have been there on other occasions as well. 

New Caledonia and Vanuatu - This would involve a much longer initial sail to get there but once we were there… oh man! We would need to be back at the boat earlier then we are currently planning as we need to go much further south (Brisbane) we need to go before heading east. None of us have been here. 

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That’s it. All our options… well as least the ones we are considering. 

Thoughts? Questions? Other ideas? 


We would love to hear them!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Winter, Winter, Winter

So we traded our summer for another winter. One scorching hot Australian summer for one blistering cold Wisconsin winter. Cruising season in the Southern Hemisphere tropics runs over Winter from about May - October. Winter in Australia, at least in Northern Queensland, runs pretty mild, about 25 C/(77F) on average. 

So when we want to spend that time in Australia during cruising season AND visit friends and family in the US, this is the price we pay. Call me crazy but I am not a fan of the heat. I would rather be cold than hot any day. So I am quite happy to say “sayonara” to the Australian summer. 

The weather we have had in Wisconsin has been pretty random. Truth be told, we have had some absolutely beautiful days but they quickly become a distant memory when we have days with snow, rain and the worst, ice-rain (all day today) where we don’t leave the house. When we spoke to Bryce’s family in Brisbane the other and they told us that at 9am, it was 37C(99F). At 9am! I am very thankful to be in the cold! 


On the days when it’s not horrible outside, we have gone for walks. We have tried to go swimming at least once a week at an indoor pool near by. We are doing lots of yoga. The treadmill is getting a work out.  But we also spend ALOT of time in front of the fireplace, sipping tea and playing with baby I. and really when it is this cold and miserable outside, there is no place I’d rather be!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

2016 out!

As 2017 is already well in motion, we hope that everyone had a very happy and safe Christmas and New Years. The three of us spent the holiday season bundled up in front of the fireplace with my family in Wisconsin. We had a semi-white Christmas (snow in the process of melting), with blue skies and mild temperatures. We rang in the New Year with a bonfire and dinner at some friends farm. We cheated at tiny bit and celebrated Irish new year at 6 pm our time. Currently though it’s raining/sleeting. And freezing. So the roads and sidewalks are slick and dangerous. Give me snow anyday! 


2016 was not such a productive sailing year for us but we did accomplish a few other things. You know, like having a baby. As our almost 7 month old is ALREADY mobile, we are having to move up our plans for babyproofing the boat. Attaching lifeline netting is priority numero uno when we get back to the boat. 

We still aren’t sure exactly where 2017 will take us yet - we are open to suggestions! - but look forward to seeing our beautiful world anew through baby’s eyes!