The sea berth
This is our sea berth. This is a photo taken while at anchor somewhere. Normally there will be cushions and pillows on both sides to make it just wide enough that you can wedge yourself in.
The best sleep in the world
07/05/2009, The farm in Denmark
If you have followed along with us through our sporadic blog postings then you may recall reading things like "sounds like somebody taking a baseball bat to a car door" and "Every time a wave smacked against the fibreglass hull, it made a sound like a collision".
It is true, at sea you will hear you boat make sounds that are unbelievable from the beating they take.
On noisy nights I sleep with ear plugs so I do not hear a thing. That said; a sea berth on a passage is where you will likely get the best sleep in the world.
That 18 inch wide bed against the hull-side lockers on one side and a lee-cloth (sheet of fabric) on the other is like a cocoon. When laying there wedged in between pillows and cushions, the motion of the boat stops. And that is a good thing. For a few hours at the time, you do not have to brace yourself, hold on to something, or adjust your balance.
But that is not the best thing about the sea berth.
There, you have a feeling of total assurance that nothing can happen to you while you are asleep. You are perfectly safe in your snug bed. I suppose it is like falling asleep in your room when you were 5-years old, listening to the faint sounds of your parent's voices, knowing that they will watch over you in the night.
In the sea berth you know the person on watch is looking over you, and keeping you safe. Radiance is looking after all of us. In the few seconds after putting my head on my pillow, before I fall asleep, I often marvel at the home we have. Radiance, with the help of the tireless windvane Wanda, keeps on going through the pitch black night, keeping steady on her course. When you get up in the morning and make breakfast then it is almost as if she says to you "I am glad you guys had a good night, go ahead and have some breakfast, don't worry about us we'll just keep on going".
It should be said that we always sail very conservatively at night, and therefore only have to wake up the off-watch on very rare occasions.
We have found it useful to have two types of upholstery on our settee cushions. The normal side (nice side) and a bottom side made of heavy vinyl. While in the tropics it can get very hot when you sleep and some of us sweat like crazy, so it is nice to have a cushion that is easy to clean and that does not stain. We have not yet perfected the sheets and covers we use, but I would say that some research into synthetics that do not absorb moisture and salt, and are easy to wash, would be worth looking into.
Let me finish this with a confession. The above statements are only 95% true. There are of course nights when the seas and wind are just such that it is almost impossible (except for Malou) to get any real sleep. That is OK though, as long you are out at sea, since you are not really doing anything the next day anyway.
P.S. Bad weather does not always mean a poor nights sleep. The worst weather we had on our passage from Mexico to Marquesas was just north of the equator. Late one afternoon a large squall caught up with us and stayed with us. The seas were so crappy and ridiculously steep that it made no sense to keep on sailing. So we hove Radiance to with a deeply reefed main and went to bed, all of us. Best sleep we had on that trip.
The Sears Tower is at risk of being renamed.
What does working with one's hands or Shell Oil Company in Nigeria have to do with sailing?
It is all connected, somehow.
Sailing, cruising, downsizing, reducing waste, conserving resources, taking a journey from having work as your life... to work as only a means to an end... and back again to seeing work as something you enjoy, believe in, and find productive and satisfying for your mind, body and soul. That's kind of an ideal, and can obviously only be achieved once one's basic needs are met. But the more basic one's needs, the more possible it is to meet them with the income from a job one enjoys.
..."good food, shelter, and something meaningful to do." - and friends and family.
[This posting references the previously-dated two postings with links to news articles and photos.]
What's happening in Nigeria? I don't know the conversation among Nigerians living near the oil leaks and gas burns and polluted fishing grounds. It's probably about the basics. The lack of basic necessities, in direct contradiction to the wealth being pumped out of the ground. Not only does it seem that none of the wealth is seen locally, but that the direct reverse is the case; they are paying the consequences for someone else's oil and monetary gains.
So, what will happen to Shell and companies like it? Probably not much. But, the market can make a difference. The market being a looming term for all the stuff we buy and the value of the resources it takes to make all that stuff. It comes back to conserving, downsizing, and thinking.
So many things we use are made from petroleum. We try to think about the packaging at the grocery stores where we shop. There is plastic everywhere. Non-recyclable plastic.
People seem afraid to talk to the stores about their supplier's packaging. If there is only one kind of eggplant available and it's wrapped in plastic on top of a foam carton, (which we have seen), then should we choose something else for dinner? Denmark seems to have as much plastic packaging on regular non-organic produce as anywhere else we've been. There is the option of buying organic produce, which often has better packaging, (also more expensive), or of buying from a 'green grocer', meaning a small veggie-only market. They are more likely to sell produce individually, possibly more locally-grown, without the packaging that is common for produce that's been shipped to Denmark from Spain, or even South America.
It's tough when you are on a budget, to change policy through your shopping habits.
Life is a lot tougher for people who live in a place that's been exploited of it's resources so we can have twenty kinds of fresh produce year-round, fish that once sustained a small poor nation, and a cup of daily coffee, and the disposable cup it comes in.
It's not popular to talk about people's coffee. Enough for now. But, have a "bring your own cup to work day"...soon. It's not unsanitary if it doesn't touch the machine. Certainly no more unsanitary than the germs on the money being changed hands.
We will keep thinking and keep trying.
The next posting topic might be about immigration... which is pretty hot whether you're in Denmark or Missouri, U.S., and is also connected to the issues in the posting above. ...the Nigerian woman in the grocery store in Denmark; poverty-stricken Somalia with it's depleted fishing stock; the children's book at the local library that is in Somali and English; the Arabic children's book that begins on the back page instead of the front; the check-out girl at the super-market who wears a head scarf; the political poster on the advertisement board at the train station that says "Give us Denmark back".
It's all a learning process for me.
Link to photos of Shell Oil Company in Nigeria
Royal Dutch Shell Nigeria
Topic for the day.
The Case for Working With Your Hands
By MATTHEW B. CRAWFORD
Published: May 24, 2009
Changes in the economy have had the surprising effect of making the manual trades more attractive as careers.
Matthew B. Crawford lives in Richmond, Va. His book, "Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work," from which the linked essay is adapted, will be published this week by Penguin Press
Denmark photo gallery has been added...
a shop in Holte, Denmark
Det Lille Bondehus (The Little Farm House)
03/25/2009, Farum, Denmark
A new place to live for the crew; 9,500 miles from Radiance. (15,400 km)
Our part of the house is the furnished 'right wing' in the photo; a little apartment formerly rented out as a Bed and Breakfast. Furnished is good since we showed up in Denmark with only our suitcases.
We actually chose the smallest rental place of all those we looked at. Must be the 'cosy quotient' that we're used to after all these years on the boat.
03/25/2009, Farum. Denmark
Living room in the winter light.
-as it looks before we move in. It kind of has a peaceful Shaker feel to it with simple furniture and no clutter. That probably won't last.
But we are pretty sure the TV is 'gonna go'.
Radiance at 56 degrees north. Well, only the crew
Steen and Angela
03/22/2009, Denmark via Thailand
We are in Denmark.
About boats: some say that if three smaller incidents/breakdowns happen at the same time, then you might be in a critical situation.
We have been lucky over the last two years, (yes, some luck is involved), not to have experienced any critical situations with the boat. We have had a pretty good record regarding the sailing, anchoring, dinghying, mechanical... boat stuff. We have also always kept Radiance in good mechanical condition. So far, knock on wood, Radiance has given us no reason to doubt her ability to continue for many more miles, which we plan to do again in the future.
But, we have not kept ourselves in as good condition. We have left small issues unattended. So three little incidents that separately would have been manageable to fix, all happened at the same time; nothing critical, but issues that needed to be addressed. Our initial plan was to address them while in Australia, but with the current global financial situation, getting work permits in Australia proved to be nearly impossible. We decided to head to the US to work and rejuvenate, but alas, it was not to be...
The US Department of Homeland Security informed us there would be a nine to twelve month processing time for Steen to get his work visa back, not to mention how long it might take to get his official green card back. (We had written in an earlier posting that Steen had lost his green card because we had been out of the US for more than twelve months). For some reason, as cruisers on an American boat with an American address, we hadn't thought his green card would have been in jeapardy.
Anyway, we have chosen to travel to Denmark to work, (hopefully), and live and to have access to all those little important things like healthcare, dental care and child care, along with a close proximity to friends and family. So, here we are.
Concerning the boat, we were lucky that Radiance was in Australia, which was not only a good and safe place to leave Radiance, but also that Australian Customs actually allowed us to leave the boat there for three years without any import fees. So it turned out to be a perfect place to leave Radiance while we took care of ourselves.
We left the piles in downtown Brisbane 3 days before flying out of Australia for Denmark. The trip took us back down the river and 15 miles north, through Moreton Bay, up to the small town of Scarborough. We had the opportunity to re-learn an old lesson. 'Do not sail out of a river mouth into open water at max ebb tide; especially if there is a good onshore breeze.' It gets really choppy and steep.
We anchored in Deception Bay for a few days before hauing the boat out. The bay was okay but very shallow. We anchored in 8ft of water which was quite uncomfortable when the sea breeze picked up in the afternoon. And don't go swimming in that bay; a good-size shark cruised by Radiance the day after we got there. I am glad I saw it before deciding whether or not to jump in. There's nothing like murky water and shark dorsal fins to curtail any thoughts of leisure swimming; not that we really had time for such activities anyway.
Scarborough Marina is a nice place to haul out. They are quick and professional. The place is clean and well kept. We hauled out the day before we flew out of Brisbane. It turned out that we had under-estimated the time it would take to pack down everything on Radiance. Steen had to go back the next day for the last few things, but that wasn't really a big deal since our plane for Denmark left at midnight. The hotel was kind enough to store our bags for the afternoon, and let Angela and Malou hang out by the pool, without charging us an extra day. So, we all got through the day and were in a good mood when we got into the taxi heading for the airport.
The trip from Australia to Thailand and then to Denmark went great. The service and food on Thai air was good. The tiny beautifully dressed Asian attendants took good care of you with good food and drink.
Malou did a great job. She slept most of the way to Bangkok. In Bangkok, where we had an eighteen- hour layover, we decided to venture out of the airport to see something. Luckily, we could leave our bags at the airport at a storage place - for only five dollars a bag. That wouldn't have been possible at LAX; there is no onsite bag storage at LAX, and if there were, it would have been a lot more than five dollars a bag.
At the Bangkok airport, we were approached by a taxi driver who spoke very little English but wanted to take us to a crocodile wrestling and elephant show, about 30 minutes from the airport. We weren't sure what our plans were. There wasn't a train from the airport, only buses and taxis. Downtown was so far away, he told us we would be stuck in traffic too long to see much. So, we went with him, and the crocodile place turned out to be a kind of zoo. It was one of those old fashioned zoos where all the animals are in small concrete enclosures. The zoo claimed to have the best crocodile conservation and breeding program in Thailand, but by modern zoo standards, their treatment of the other wild animals, (many held on short chains for photo purposes), was pretty horrid.
The surrounding neighborhood was really poor and dustier than we had expected. We thought it looked more like Mexico than a Southeast Asian county. We were expecting green and humid, but it was more of a light brown with a temperate climate.
The taxi driver arranged to pick us up at the zoo after two hours, which he did. Then he drove us to a place called The Ancient City, a 300-acre area where they have reconstructed ancient Hindu temples and built some newer ones to look authentic. It's landscaped and is supposed to be an overview of what you might see if you traveled throughout Thailand. We took a golf cart around the grounds on our own tour, (Steen driving), and it was really nice. Again, the cab driver waited for us and then took us back to the airport. We spent about 4 hours on his time and he charged us the equivalent of 30 US$ total. They must not make very much normally. It sounded quite cheap to us. I read somewhere that the average daily income for Thai people is about the equiv. of 5 US dollars.
It is cold here in Denmark, and it was quite a shock to walk out of the airport into the March weather after 2-1/2 years in the tropics, (says Steen; Angela, however thought it was refreshing, and she generally loves the cold weather). We stayed the first few days with Jorgen, Steen's friend, (as it has become our custom when we arrive in Denmark). After a few days we went to see Bedstemor and Bedstefar (Malou's grandparents). That is where we are now. We actually have the place to ourselves since Steen's parents left for Africa 2 days after we got here.
So, now we are looking for a job and a place to live...(update: we've just found a great place to live). Neither is as easy as we could have hoped for, but we will get it done.
That's the news for now. Upcoming: photos of our awaiting rental place attached to a beautiful traditional thatched-roof farm house in Farum, Denmark.
01/04/2009, Brisbane, Australia
The Story Bridge seen from our deck through our suncover.
01/04/2009, Brisbane, Australia
LED lights on Radiance