Amy Schaefer

Slowly Waking Up

4 Feb
What is this delicious piece of gorgeousness? A blocked toilet hose? I don't know about you, but this puts me in mind of arterial plaques and makes me want to treat my circulatory system with gentle kindness.More importantly, does this mean that things... Read More


5 Sep
"Oh, ho!" you say, sipping your morning coffee. "Amy has finally written something new. That slacker. Took long enough."And you're right. My record has been more than a little spotty this past year. And I owe you, my loyal readers, a short explanation.... Read More

Moving the boat, part 2: First attempt

7 Jul
Ahh, peaceful Baie Maa. A lovely little bay just north of Noumea, and a perfect place to stop when everything is going to hell around you. Soak in this lovely photo of the girls, because it took some major excitement to get to that point.It was a misty... Read More

Moving the boat, part 1: Noumea

28 Jun
It was tough to choose the first photo for this post. On the one hand, most of our time in Noumea looked like this:Not a holiday.But on the other, returning to Noumea felt strangely like going home. Exciting, but bittersweet. The girls and I lived... Read More

The Papillon Question

25 May
I spent the day confirming plane tickets and stuffing underwear into a bag. Why? Because it is time, people. Time to return to Papillon. Our good old Papioni-pepperoni.

Not permanently. No, that would be too much to ask. Erik is still firmly in the grip of his work addiction, so we'll have to ride out the land life for a few months longer. However, the good people of Nouvelle-Calédonie are ready to be rid of our fine vessel, so it is time to jump aboard and sail the boat to Brisbane.

But what kind of a boat are we returning to? As every sailor can tell you, boats don't like to be left alone. They get sad. They fall apart even faster than normal.

Cleverly, we sent Erik ahead to suss out the situation. Of course, that meant he sent me a series of photos that I didn't especially want to see. His super close-ups remind me of reading Owl magazine when I was a kid and playing those Can You Identify This? games where they would show you a dark, greenish smudge and expect you to pipe up and say: "Oh! That's the inside of a tree frog's nostril!"

We also played my other not-favourite game: Can You Tell What Is Missing?

Missing: stern tube

Missing: pillow block and prop shaft

Missing: aft centreboard assembly

Removed: rotten aft centreboard sheave
So I'm going to stick with what I'm good at and pretend this isn't happening. I'll grab the kids, get on the plane, pick up our electronic charts, get to Noumea and... I don't know. Pretend my way out of a heart attack, hopefully. And things will happen. Step by step, we'll get ready to go. And we'll sail. And it will be fun. And we'll get to Brisbane eventually.

And I won't have to look at any more pictures. Read More

Teeny Tiny Sailing

2 Mar
Hello, everyone! Sorry for the prolonged absence. My lungs and I had a serious disagreement. They decided they would be happier outside my body, and attempted to cough their way to freedom. I was of the firm opinion that we would both be better off if ... Read More

Finding and Fixing Dinghies

25 Jan
"Do you feel like checking out some sailing dinghies this weekend?" asked Erik."Sure," I said. "Sounds fun.""Great. They're in an old container down at the dock; someone abandoned them years ago."I looked up. "Abandoned" is usually a deadly adjective f... Read More

At the Fishing Competition

23 Nov
When I was eleven years old, a friend invited me up to her cottage one summer weekend. We had a great time - swimming in the lake, riding around in her dad´s motorboat, running around in the sunshine. And fishing. I´d never been fishing before, but I understood the basics: add worm to hook, drop in water, wait for bite then reel in. Pretty easy.

So my friend and I took our bait and our rods and plonked ourselves down at the end of the dock. The wooden boards were pleasantly warm beneath us. We dangled our feet over the edge, wormed up and threw in our lines.

It didn´t take long to get a nibble. Proud of my great accomplishment, I reeled in my line. There was a sunfish on the end of my hook. I grabbed the fishing glove - a studded green plastic thing that let me hold the fish without getting sliced on its spines. Out came the hook, and I threw my sunfish back in the water.

My friend and I kept fishing. She caught one, and back it went. I got another nibble. I reeled in another sunfish. I peered at it closely.
"I think this is the same fish," I said. "Yes, look, you can see where the hook went through last time." I threw my fish back in. Stupid fish. You would think getting a hook through the face twice in a row would take some of the fun away from eating a delicious worm.

But, no. The sunfish bit my hook again. And again. By now, the hook had emerged out the eye socket, and my poor sunfish was looking pretty grim. I threw him back, put down my rod, and retired from fishing forevermore. Unless I was going to eat the darn thing, I didn´t want to have anything to do with catching fish.

Twenty-five years later, fishing re-entered my life. The sport became fun again, because we on Papillon are strictly trollers - we throw out a line when we are a) sailing, and b) hungry. If we catch something, great. If not, it took no effort on our part.

But this weekend took me back to my first attempts on Rice Lake. It was Fishing Competition time on the island.

Normally, we would say a polite ´no, thank you´ to this sort of activity. Catching animals for fun just doesn´t fill me with the competitive spirit. But events intervened. A friend of ours has a new boat, and asked Erik to go along with him on Saturday. Fine. That makes for a fun day. And the competition organizers made the strategic decision to display all of the prizes behind the sign-up table on Friday night.

Indy beetled over to the racks of fishing rods and bait boxes. "Woooooooow," she breathed, and I knew I was in trouble. "Oh, Mom, look!" She was caressing a tackle box that boasted 250 fishing-related widgets within. She gave me a determined look. "I want to win that tackle box. Let´s sign up for the kids´competiton. Please?"
I´m sure I made a face, because one of my friends leaned over and whispered, "It´s two hours on Saturday morning. The bus picks us up, they serve pancakes and ice cream, and you´ll be home by 10:30."


Stylish, however, was not so keen. "I do not want to get up early on a Saturday to go fishing," she said. Her image flickered briefly as I saw the teenager she was to become. "No. I´m not going."
"Yep. You´re going," I said. I tried out the pancakes-and-ice-cream line that had worked so well on me. Stylish was unmoved. Lucky for me, she is still only ten and I can boss her around. She went.

We arrived at the pier at 8am. The sun was already punishing. We haven´t had a breath of wind this week, and the temperature regularly feels like it is in the low 40s C / 105-110 F. Indy was undeterred - she wanted that tackle box. Stylish remained annoyed with me, but was willing to give it a go, provided I stayed at least fifty feet away at all times. The price you pay.

Erik and the other grown-up competitors decided to stick around to watch/help/take over for the kids, which was fun. Indy immediately designated Dad as her underling.
"Come on, Dad, get that chicken on there and let´s get going!"
And she fished.
And she fished.
 And she fished.

The trouble was, Indy couldn´t stay still for a moment. She moved her line, she bobbed the rod, she walked back and forth on the pier. Any fish trying to eat her bait would have gotten too tired trying to catch her and given up. So poor Indy struck out.

Stylish was much more patient - not that it helped. I documented her efforts from my mandatory distance.

Late in the competition, Stylish was feeling friendlier towards me again, and I was invited to approach. She had abandoned fishing as a bad job, and was now using her hook to feed her bait to the shy crabs that lined the pier.
The crabs loved the chicken, and Stylish was far more entertained by them than by the elusive fish.
A few kids got lucky over the course of the morning. One four-year-old reeled in a stonefish. Thankfully she didn´t get stung - stonefish are nasty creatures. We always wear watershoes to avoid them.
Don´t step on me or you will be very sorry.
A pancake, an ice cream and many bottles of water later, we sent the adult competitors off to do their thing. The girls were a little glum that they hadn´t caught anything, but I was just as happy I hadn´t had to removed hooks from any fishy eyeballs.
Erik came home at dusk, covered in fish blood. There is a fillet at our friends´ house with our name on it. They didn´t win the competition, but it was a good day on the water. Indy gave her tackle box a last, loving pat at the awards dinner in the park yesterday, and now we have a piece of fish to enjoy one night this week. Sounds good enough to me. Read More

Follow Me, SAILfeed Readers

8 Oct
As you know, the fine crew of Papillon is currently living ashore. Yes, we're still firmly tropical on a tiny island in Papua New Guinea, but still. We are temporarily parted from our beloved yawl - and this on our fourth anniversary aboard. Sniffles a... Read More

I’m Tired of Finding Plastic on the Beach

5 Oct
 Imagine a desert island. Ocean breezes blowing, palm trees swaying, perhaps some decorative coconuts strewn about the place. Just you, your beach chair, the waves lapping your toes, and the gentle clink of plastic bottles washing up on shore.Not ... Read More

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