Even in the marina, the boat moves a little. Just a very gentle sway, back and forth, back and forth. But enough to lull even the most hard-core insomniac into dreamland. And, at anchor? Please. It is so comfy that I’m surprised we are awake more than three hours a day. Even my mother, a woman who considers it perfectly reasonable to wake up at 1 am and start the day, can sleep on Papillon. Really, I should ditch this whole writing gig and turn Papillon into a trendy, vastly-overpriced sleep clinic. Since I’m naturally cranky, we would have to be the mean kind of fancy spa – put the guests to work repairing lines and varnishing teak during the day, feed them a big, starchy meal and send them to bed by 7 pm. Twelve hours later, they would be clutching at my skirt, begging to do it all over again.…
One of the much-vaunted benefits of travel is that it makes you open to new things. It is supposed to be a growth experience. Spending time with new people, living life in different ways, seeing the beautiful places of the world as well as the desperately sad ones – all of these things are supposed to make me into a wise old crone. By the time I move home, I should be so full of the Wisdom of the Earth that people will run from my smug face at a hundred paces. But today, I have learned a different lesson. Hold on – let me adjust my flowing robes, put on a mysterious smile and gaze into the distance. …Read More
I received a package today that contained three mysterious items called “cassettes”. As I understand it, these are audio recording units from the paleolithic. I need a quick ride back to the mid-1980s to pick up a boom-box, Sony Walkman, or similar. Anyone with a time machine who can help me out, please leave a note in the comments. I can pay in hilarious tales of life aboard or in cupcakes – your choice.Read More
Q: My friend has a metal boat. I had him over for beers last night, and all he talked about was electrolytic corrosion. I love boat talk as much as the next sailor, but I nearly threw him overboard. What is it with you metal boat people and your corrosion issues?*
A: Electrolytic corrosion is the worst. The worst! It is a creeping horror ready to eat away our hulls and leave us sad and boatless. I’m sorry your imaginary friend bored you, but this is a real concern for us. Why? Because a penny and a little saltwater could send us to the bottom of the sea.…Read More
One of the questions I get with some regularity is: how has cruising affected your marriage? And I understand why people want to know. I do. People are awed by the prospect of spending 24/7/365 with another person, even someone they love. But this is a question I have avoided so far, because usually it comes from about-to-be-cruisers, and what they are really asking me is, “Is cruising going to be great for my marriage? Please reassure me.”Read More
Those of you enduring the endless North American winter this year won’t empathize, but we are sweltering out here in the South Pacific. One day I expect to wake up to find my bones have melted, and I’ll just have to flow around the boat like Barbarmama.
Indy has a simple solution: go to the beach. If she had her way, we would pitch a tent and live there, drifting between the water and the sand. Stylish, who is starting to show her age, is less keen for the simple reason that getting to the beach is a pain. We can either walk 45 minutes in the blazing heat to get there, or we can take the dinghy, which would be fine, except the motor needs a tune-up and I don’t entirely trust it right now. …Read More
I spent Wednesday evening packed into a small cafeteria with two hundred other parents. As we listened to Stylish’s principal talk about school rules and signing homework planners, I smiled to myself as I thought of how many similar “welcome to the new school year” talks I’d been to in years gone by. French or English, here or there, every primary school seems to follow the same script. Just the like the birthday party Indy attended the weekend before. Same kids, same moms, same presents, same activities. Except for the language, it was just like home.
A chill ran down my spine as the realization hit me. …Read More
March is almost upon us, and with it comes New Caledonia’s big cyclone month. We have been very, very lucky up until now; only Cyclones June and Ian have come anywhere near us. But the weather has gotten rainier and rainier, and I’m reminded that the country was rocked by Cyclone Erica in March a decade ago. As Mad Eye Moody would say: constant vigilance!
The old wisdom tells us that, in a storm, a boat is safer at sea than in a harbor. And I can see the point: there is less to hit out there. But, as the sad story of the Bounty shows, being out at sea isn’t always the greatest strategy. …Read More
When Erik went back to work, Papillon became My Boat. By which I mean, Papillon became My Problem. With my resident handyman thousands of miles away, anything that broke was going to be my responsibility. And it was just a matter of time before something bad happened. This is a boat, after all. So when the generator died this week, I wasn’t surprised.
I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m not very handy. As Erik kindly puts it, I’m not a natural tool user. No arguments here. But, being the big boss that I am now, I thought I could show some maturity and give this a whirl. …Read More
On Sunday evening, Indy buried her head in my leg and cried, “I don’t want to go back to school!”
I patted her head. I was surprised, I had to admit it. Indy was always keen on school; she had been so pleased that the new school year would begin the next day.
But before I could say anything comforting, she went on: “I can’t stand wearing shoes all day! My feet get so hot!”
“But your new shoes are so comfy,” I said, certain I was the only parent in Noumea trying to reassure her child that her feet wouldn’t catch fire from wearing shoes all day. …