14 January 2014 | Darwin
Now I know what it is like to be despondent.
We arrived back in Australia in October at Brisbane in Queensland and spent around 9 weeks at the East Coast Marina at the Manly Boat Harbour before the complete crew left her in berth J12 to head for Darwin, work and school commitments.
It was a period of cleaning, repairing, replacing and painting as we worked on Chaotic Harmony to put a bit of sparkle back into her topsides and to repair, replace all those little things that added up during the last leg of the Pacific Ocean. I think we have left her just as beautiful and as functional as when we first laid our own eyes on her in Cairns in February 2010 when Gavin LeSueur and Catherine first invited us aboard for a tour before we took her to Darwin and onto Asia and the Indian Ocean. She has done many more miles since then and had her fair share of adventures but I believe her to be one of the best boats I have ever had the pleasure to sail.
Although our â€śRound the World Voyageâ€ť was a completely unplanned event she managed to do it in style where other vessels sank, were badly damaged in heavy weather, could not sail due to a lack of wind and basically suffered major structural issues. CH always gave me some excitement during large seas with the sounds she would make as she flexed her muscles between swells. After large storms I would be picking up screws that had worked their way out on various screw holes, finding the home and reinserting. This was disconcerting at first until I realised that â€śsheâ€ť was built for these conditions and where the newer, more un-flexible vessels cracked and suffered damage CH just kept on keeping on.
We encountered winds over 72 knots and seas in the Indian Ocean that would best be described as horrendous and which laid over many a good vessel and crew but it was great to have complete faith in CH and in the seamanlike fashion in which her entire crew sailed her. We met every obstacle we encountered at first with expressions akin to terror but which soon softened with the dawning realisation that we had a fine seaworthy vessel and that she was crewed by a bunch of sailors that were also exceptionally capable and very able seamen.
CH gave us the opportunity to live as a family together and experience three yearâ€™s worth of joint memories including encounters with foreign places and peoples, establishing friendships that I am sure will last the test of time, meeting like minded sailors many times over in different countries, schooling in exotic locations, coping with the arrival of enough hormones to float home on and seeing the worldâ€™ continents, islands, beautiful anchorages and its oceans in all their glory and tempests.
During our voyage we had our fair share of dramas on the high seas as well as dramas in anchoring, mooring and entering ports which in reality became high quality learning experiences even if they were not caused by our own misadventures. We soon became very adept at handling most emerging issues and learned to expect (and enjoy) the unexpected. We learnt that we could live together and enjoy our own company during long passages as we coped with stressful situations together and with the four minds available soon were able to overcome most issues in time to enjoy our surroundings.
So why am I despondent after these wonderful experiences?
It is all over for a few years while we refill the rapidly depleting bank accounts and he kids complete high school to give them the best opportunities that they deserve. I donâ€™t want to stop this adventurous life and go back to work but the kids need the extra peer friendships and â€śthingsâ€ť that we cannot provide while my new employer needs to be able to fill the bank balance to healthier levels. I want to plan our next trip to the seas we have not yet visited and experienced and to look forward to meeting and experiencing the people that live there but it all seems so far away.
Meanwhile Chaotic Harmony awaits us in Brisbane. She is offered for sale but one part of me does not want this to happen as she has become our life and our home and the other says we need to move on to our next life. It will be a sad day if we sell her but perhaps I will go back to Brisbane and bring her to Darwin for the dry season and to allow us to explore the Kimberly Region.
There may be just one more adventure left in her for the Johnstone family.