A year afloat, some of the life lessons learned.
Last week marked the 1 year anniversary of us throwing off the lines and setting sail. We left New Zealand on the 1st of May in a tumble of emotions and crazy fast passage weather!
We have learnt a thing or two over the past year of sailing. Some obvious lessons and some more surprising ones.
While hanging out at a remote island last week I spent some time trying to get down on paper (so to speak) some of the ones that came to mind…
Cruising guides and other cruiser recommendations. We have found you should take them with a grain of salt, aside from the factual anchorage ones that have been printed properly. We have been told so often that somewhere is no good, to turn up and find we have an incredible time. Everyone goes to places for different reasons finds different things acceptable, so you just have to go and see.
Obviously, we research our spots before we go and take a lot of different information into consideration.
Flags. They don’t last long. Yet another one is a tattered, shredded mess hanging off our stern! Along with the Indonesian courtesy flag by the spreaders, a shadow of what is was when we gleefully hoisted it in December!
Weather forecasts. Ahhhh….These are right about 36 percent of the time. We stood on the beach with a friend the other day, looking at the phone with the forecasts on it. It was literally doing the EXACT OPPOSITE of all predictions.
Go figure… We have leant a lot by looking at clouds and local weather patterns once you are in an area for a while. Generally, the best prediction.
You cannot successfully bring down a giant asymmetrical sail with no dousing sock with only 2 adults. Tears, along with sore hands and fingers, will occur.
Kids learn to swim well very, very fast living on a boat!
Life is like playing a game of Tetris! Kitchen, cupboards, under beds, shelves, lockers. Things have to fit in smaller places in certain ways, often with smaller or more difficult to access openings or doors, which makes for a challenging time when you want something… but then you remember it is under a bed, in a plastic container, tucked right at the back of said container…and a kid is asleep on the bed. Guess its coffee with no milk on that night shift….
Fresh caught tuna is epic. Having a freezer filled with tuna is a delight. This delight has been hampered in Indonesia with the terrible fishing, but Fiji, what a fishing destination it was!
Being around your family 24/7 is not for the faint hearted. It can be overwhelming at times. If you are at sea for a few days it’s almost like being in a cage! There is no escape….!!!!
The highs are so much higher and the lows also much lower…. Thankfully there are far less lows than there are awesome bits!
Boat jobs, especially toilet repair and maintanience SUCK!
Don’t take English speaking countries for granted! All through the Pacific everyone spoke relatively good English, so it was pretty easy. You don’t really think about the challenges of living in a country where English is not a commonly spoken language. You learn the basics pretty quickly if you want to get around and eat!
There are so, so, so many more stars than I could have ever imagined. Nights are lit with the glow of the Milky Way and the sparkle of the reflection of the stars across the ocean. The universe is humongous, awe inspiring and mind bending!
Friendships are made in double time. I had one other mum liken it to microwave cooking. Super-fast and intense, as sometimes you have only a few days with people before you go your separate ways, or other times people pop in and out of your direction of travel, meaning the time spent is more special and concentrated in a way. We have met some incredible people over the past year that will stay friends for life. It can be hard on the kids (Emelia especially feels all the feels) when other boats with children come and go, as the saying goodbye is upsetting for them. Maybe they will see these kids again and maybe not. It makes you appreciate the people you meet and friendships that are grown.
The ocean rubbish problem is far worse than I ever thought when living at home. I saw all the documentaries and looked at all the photos and read all the reports of it. But seeing it first hand is shatteringly disappointing. The problem is much larger than I had imagined, and although we try to clean the beaches where we go, often burning the trash as there is no other means of disposal, it is overwhelming how much is out there. Trash frequently gets caught on the propellers of both Waterhorse and the dinghy and the similarity of a plastic bag and a jellyfish is uncanny.
Indonesian people LOVE selfies with you. Especially with the kids, they will take sneaky videos and photos, trying to have us not see their actions! It does make for a good laugh.
Catching BIG fish is way more exciting than I ever expected!!
Schooling kids is hard. Teachers totally need to be getting paid more! I have only 3 and they drive me to drink (actual 100% true statement) I can’t even imagine what having a whole class of kids not listening to you would be like! Hats off to all teachers out there, you people are AMAZING!
I envisaged sitting with my wee cherubs, imparting them with wisdom and the joys of mathematics and creative writing. I thought they would welcome this teaching, like sponges soaking up their mothers’ efforts and knowledge.
I didn’t expect the whinging and resistance. Or the sheer time it all takes. Or the mental fatigue!
On that note about being driven to drink, alcohol has been expensive over the last 5 months… wine has been nonexistent!! (Vodka has been life!)
Walking to and from markets with kilos of produce makes for sore arms and shoulders!
Sharks are not scary and are actually very beautiful to swim near. Something I never thought I would say!
Dinghies are fun to drive instead of cars!
Wakeboarding is awesome, especially when you buy a much more powerful engine!
Beach fires are epic. Friends and drinks and happy kids at the beach along with the fire is even better!
Keep the escape hatch closed, unless you are actually escaping….!!! You don’t want to have a stupid accident and miss the world’s best dive spots….
Sunrises are my favorite.
There are so many more types of reef fish than I ever expected. And so many colors and types of coral. It is literally like some kids cartoon some days.
Night watches on passage are much better with the moon.
New Zealand has the best chocolate and it’s hard to come by. Indonesia chocolate is rubbish and the price and quality in the Pacific is also questionable! Anyone coming to visit is required to bring Whittaker’s blocks! Many blocks…
Salt and vinegar chips, why do more countries not make them??? I would almost commit murder to get a few packs these days!
We miss our family (and friends) terribly and are so glad when they come and visit!
I didn’t realise how easy it all was at home. Want a sandwich but no bread? Go down to the shop. Milk run out? A quick car ride and the problem is sorted. Need wine for that quick afternoon drink at your girlfriends, no drama just stop at any bottle store. Out here is all about planning and being super prepared, especially when you are DAYS away from any shops!
Everything takes so many more steps to complete a task.
Want to do the laundry? Ok, start the generator, wait for it to warm up, turn on watermaker to make sure you have water for laundry (hope it doesn’t blow a hose today which will involve several hours of repairs by Chae), finally put wash on. Then hang on the front of the boat on the line, (that you need to put up and take down each time you need it as you have to wrap it around the headsail). Then untangle said dying laundry 27 times after the wind blows it into sausages around the line and then make sure it doesn’t rain all of a sudden or the laundry pop its pegs and blow off into the sea…. Lucky I only do laundry once a week now!
Eggs are always fresh at the shops at home, you don’t need to crack them into a cup and wonder what is going to come out each time….
We met a lady in Vanuatu who had bought eggs from a village, popped them in her egg carton and the next morning she woke to find 2 had hatched and she now had 2 chicks on board…. honest story, no word of a lie, we saw the chickens!
Anchoring off isolated white sand spits and beaches, coconut palm swaying with no one in sight. Nothing is better!
I have the best family, funniest kids and a very patient husband.
Learning to cook rice on a moving boat. Well, that’s certainly a challenge. I have decided there is a new formula to our anchorages. If I can’t cook rice without the water sloshing around in the pot, therefore making it randomly cooked and uncooked at the same time, then we need to move. I dont even bother trying on a moving boat anymore. I have failed on the rice front many a time since being on the boat! I mean its rice, right…. how hard should it be??!! I should maybe buy a rice cooker.
The joys, the absolute wonders and epic experiences we have had with this lifestyle change.
Snorkeling and seeing things under the water I have only ever dreamed of, or seen on telly. Whale sharks, Manta Rays, pods of dolphins thousands of animals wide leaping across the water, the coral and the fish, turtles for days, all the marine life that soon may not be there for us to see anymore. It has been tremendously wonderful.
New cultures and foods that have become part of our day to day life. Bandanese tuna ball soup is one of our new family favs, along with seeing our kids start to like the change in food and spice levels! Speaking and learning greetings in several languages and learning to converse with all kinds of people in whatever way we can has been amazing for our children and the whole family in general.
Watching our kids adapt to an ever-changing lifestyle and seeing how flexible they have become with all kinds of circumstances and experiences has been delightful. They have matured and grown with all the different traditions and ways of life they have been exposed to this last year.
It has been, overall, an astonishing year, filled with many more experiences, challenges and emotions than I would have ever imagined.
Life is far different from the ‘sitting at anchor enjoying a cocktail in the sunset’ (don’t get me wrong, there is still a lot of that!) but it has been more than that too, in all ways I can think of.
I wouldn’t change it for the world!
Oh, and last lesson learnt….the captain is always right…!!!