The "other ocean" is the red desert! The boat won't be able to come, as we'll be at the "island" of Engawala, 180Km NE of Alice Springs, in the heart of the Australian continent. (Go to Google Maps, and type in Engawala).
We will be acting as helpers to the indigenous people, officially aiming to enhance their employability, actually learning as much from them as they from us.
More later ...
Yes, we hauled the boat out of the water, and began the effort (and it was an effort!) of cleaning, painting, re-zincing, the bottom, and ... ... ... dots imply much ...
All finished now, and back in the water. Photos soon ...
Sorry if you have been expecting a blog report, but apart from hauling the Bluebottle out of the water for 2 weeks painting the bottom, there has been nothing - wait on! yes there was! We sailed her this Easter to Bruny island, and hung out with kids and grandkids, kites were made and flown in howling winds and rain, with family meals around a big table - good times.
And the haulout at the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmamia slipway was an all-day, everyday affair, and hard work.
Since then Jack- the American who sailed with us from Touau to Papeete - turned up in Hobart and I took him and his girlfriend out to the boat for a cup of coffee and a catch-up chat. He has been hitchhiking on trains and boats for years, sleeping rough and dumpster diving, picking up work wherever he can. Cheers, Jack!!
The boat will be for sale very soon.
Domestic contentment, I call this.
If you look closely, to left of centre in his photograph, you'll see the flames through the open fire door of our little wood stove.
It's a comfortable boat to spend all day on, while the weather huffs and puffs.
... ... ...
I was cold. So I made myself a hot breakfast of chicken-burger plus toast with cumquat marmalade, and 2 cups of coffee made on our woodstove with the Italian coffee maker; and before that I lit the wood fired stove, and before that - dressed warmly. It is Summer, but the wind is mainly out of the west, and cold. The stove is has warmed the boat which rocks occasionally to 25 knot gusts, but now lies still. The kettle speaks wisps of steam, waiting for me to wash up.
I'm alone, at least as regards human company. We, the oceangoing ketch and I, are at anchor in Cygnet, Southern Tasmania, my wife in Hobart for 2 days; all is still, my mind and I at rest.
The country around is beautiful, farms riding pulsing hills, shining waters, clutter of moored boats, little boatsheds and a hauled out 1905-built Irish yacht of classic shape Granuaille, named for an 18th century pirate queen. Yesterday I had coffee on board her, guest of chutzpah heroes Steve and Zara, and looked out at the sunshine through a temporary window of missing planks and new ribs, the lovely old yacht gutted, in midst of radical surgery.
In the night, a rain so light it sounded of the falling of the finest gravel or the knocking of a thousand tiny angels trying not to wake me; now so quiet I can hear the clock stepping out the seconds, here on the chart table. The sun leans in, slapping down light, and sliding it around.
Don't envy me; instead try this ten-second exercise - Say to yourself:
"This Moment Is Perfect" - and then search for evidence of this incontrovertible fact. You will be pleasantly surprised.
It's raining harder now - shut the hatch.
Reading The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak, yesterday, rubbed my metaphor bottle and heated it to nearly one thousand degrees, releasing a writing genie! Selecting paper and pen, I allowed words to arrive, let them scratch visible traces, allowed them to be me, so to speak. I diffidently transcribe them here:
Jollied into doing things
a husband tracks in money's footsteps
his mind left behind - reading,
or writing, a book.
merely a refusal
to look in the right direction.)
is the one
who can hold his breath underwater for longest.
I stayed down for forty pages!
The older I get
The younger I get!
Joy is seeping
through all the cracks
of the back of my hand
is the best, ever.
The thought that passed
Who is there who would understand it?
Should I have simply
written it down?
A Japanese banjo-player
flanked by a young woman (violin)
and a young man (guitar, left-handed)
gurgled in the dim light.
We sat upright in our chairs.
It was not enough
the day proves itself
I was there!
Did I hear a cow?
There is, as usual around this time, a lot of talk about the real meaning of Christmas, and the ministers of religion take their roles seriously and give their official views. The Queen gives her Message (I must admit I only watched it once, and that was decades ago). My dad once commented that Christmas was "bad temper time", and most of us would admit there is a lot of Christmas-associated stress within the family, what with food prep, gift buying, holiday travel arrangements, etc, etc. We lose it, we drink more, or eat too much - and we try to have a good time, yet often it IS a blessed time too.
For me the best moment of all was seeing the Christ Child. It happened in Windmills toy shop in Hobart, where Adrienne and I were looking for a present for our granddaughter, Belle. We fell into discussion with a lovely young mother who had a two-year-old and a 9-month-old baby crawling at her feet. While she was telling us of the toy we had chosen and how her two-year-old had loved it I was watching her baby daughter as her mum picked her up; the baby was looking at me with unbroken attention, as curious about me as I was about her! We said nothing to each other as I touched her outstretched finger, but much was exchanged. Communication unhindered.
It was only afterwards, recalling her face, that I said to Adrienne I saw the Christ child! The little ones' face, her whole attitude, reflected a natural trust, utter openness, total fearlessness, and in that moment I saw it - how can I explain it otherwise - the Christ Child.
I can feel tears starting behind my eyes now.