13 May 2009 | where else?
08 May 2009 | Whangarei, New Zealand
24 April 2009 | Whangarei, New Zealand
27 March 2009 | Whangarei, New Zealand
15 March 2009 | Whangarei, New Zealand
22 February 2009 | Whangarei, New Zealand
08 February 2009 | Whangarei, New Zealand
06 February 2009 | Whangarei, New Zealand
06 January 2009 | Whangarei, New Zealand
05 January 2009 | Whangarei, New Zealand
18 December 2008 | Whangarei, New Zealand
14 December 2008 | Whangarei, New Zealand
03 December 2008 | Admiral's Bay, Whangaruru, New Zealand
25 November 2008 | Opua, New Zealand
19 November 2008 | En Route to New Zealand
31 October 2008 | Nuku'alofa, Tongatapu, Tonga
30 October 2008 | Nuku'alofa, Tongatapu, Tonga
18 October 2008 | Vava'u, Tonga
30 September 2008 | Neiafu, Tonga
Closing the Loop
20 January 2010 | Brisbane, Australia
Of the possible titles that rattled around in my head ("End of the Line", "Death of a Dream", "What a Long, Strange Trip its Been"), I thought "Closing the Loop" was the least dramatic, and most accurate.
By now, you're probably getting the impression that our little South Pacific cruise is winding down. It is. Of the 3 primary elements needed for a trip like this - money, time and desire - only time remains. The other 2 are tapped out. So, we've been taking steps, both small and large, to bring the trip to an end. To close the loop.
Of all the adages one could apply to a big sailing trip, "easier said than done" probably sums it up best. It is certainly an apt description for the process of leaving this lifestyle behind, and preparing ourselves for the new, old lifestyle. Emptying cabinets, sweeping dusty floors, and removing baggage are not just real descriptions of some of the physical tasks facing us, they are also apt metaphors for the psychological adjustments we need to make.
Alright, enough psycho-babble. Poor us, right? Anyway, some concrete actions have been taken in our effort to move on. A biggie is deciding what to do with Meridian. We had originally thought that selling her here in Australia would represent our best outcome, but we didn't fully appreciate the difficulties in that. Not only is Oz not immune from the whole Global Economic Downturn thingie, they also have some fairly-Draconian customs laws and fees associated with importing a foreign-flagged vessel into their fair country. The bottom line is we would have to write them a very large check (which would bounce) before even beginning the long sales process. Unacceptable, yes. Unavoidable? No.
So, our avoidance-tactic du jour is as follows. We have agreed with another cruiser-family to hire them to deliver Meridian back to the States. We will prep the boat for the 4-month, 5,000 mile upwind slog back to North America, but will then take the easy way out and fly home. As they say, nothing goes to weather like a 747.
Nancy and the girls are already booked on a flight next week. They land in San Francisco on January 27th, and will be staying with family and friends for awhile. I'll stay in Brisbane getting Meridian and the delivery crew familiar with each other, and will then fly home around mid-February. Active job-searching will then commence. Wish me luck!
So, though we have lots of mixed feelings about the whole thing, we're feeling pretty good that there is a workable exit-strategy. We'll of course miss the cruising thing, but we are also excited (well, 3 of us are anyway) to get back home and pick up the pieces. A cold beer awaits the first one of you that correctly guesses who will miss this lifestyle the most.
Its been a wonderful, educational, growing experience. Filled with nice memories and great friends, we'll not soon forget our time aboard Meridian. But, alas, the time has come to close the loop.
Thanks for listening, and for being a good, supportive audience. It helped us, knowing that we had good people back home who were following along with us. See you soon.
14 January 2010 | Brisbane, Australia
...that's a really good question. Two and a half years of this vagabond lifestyle, unfortunately overlayed by a global economic kick in the groin, have conspired to dramatically lessen our collection of "fun tickets" (ie money). Combining that with a waning interest in living like gypsies, it was relatively easy for us to decide to end our cruise here in Australia. A bit easier said than done, but we're working on a few different plans, and will pick the most practical one soon. Stay tuned...
In the meantime, life in Brisbane has attained a certain normalcy. School is back in session aboard Meridian, after much time lost to passages and holidays. We are mastering the mass-transit system here, and think nothing of hopping a ferry to cross the river so we can catch a train to visit someplace that may or may not warrant visiting. All good fun. We even took the train to visit Sydney...14 hours each way! The return leg was an actual red-eye. Note to self: Self, don't do that again.
Actually, Sydney was great, and we had a terrific time. The city itself is beautiful, as it drapes around Sydney Harbor. New hi-rises blend with 19th century stone manors to create an image of modern permanence. The harbor rates as one of the best natural harbors in the world. Huge, well-protected (even though I'm soon to be a self-proclaimed land-lubber, I still have a soft spot for all those suckers that still elect to live on boats) and with a beautiful shoreline, its a tremendous resource, and there's no wonder why the country's largest city sprang up on its shores.
Nancy worked her renowned internet magic to secure a great hotel suite, at a terrific price. Our room was actually 2 stories...living space above, and sleeping rooms below. After living on the boat for so long, it was like moving into a mansion. The hotel itself close to everything we wanted to do, especially the National Maritime Museum.
We spent an entire day at the Maritime Museum, and part of another. Accompanied by Glen, Marilyn, and Jaryd, our very good friends from Tin Soldier (they just can't shake us), we toured a post-WWII era submarine, a naval destroyer, and an authentic replica of Captain Cook's "Endeavor". Cook is credited with "discovering" Australia, and is both a popular, and reviled, figure here. The replica ship is exact in every detail- it was fascinating, and a bit humbling, to see how these people lived. Remind us to tell you about the "seats of ease" sometime. You'll never take your toilet for granted again.
But alas, our time in Sydney came and went quickly, and soon we found ourselves back here in Brissy. Not a bad place, but not as bright and shiny as its big sister to the South. That's OK, though, because we can't afford any more distractions as we decide upon, and act on, our future plans. Anybody interested in a fully-outfitted cruising boat, lying in Australia? Going once, going twice...
Merry Chrissy from Brissy
24 December 2009 | Brisbane, Australia
In the Land Down Under, everything gets abbreviated. Or suffixed with a "Y". Or both. Hence the title of my little composition. Translation: Merry Christmas from Brisbane, Australia.
We arrived in Brisbane about 2 weeks ago, after a calm, mellow, smooth, drama-free passage from New Caledonia, 800 miles to the Northeast. I emphasize the ease of the trip because we had tied ourselves into knots worrying about the conditions. Would the seas be rough? Would the wind be on the nose, or the gusts too strong? Would Sophie throw up on the leeward side of the boat (preferable), or would she vomit to windward, only to have those chunks of Top Ramen arc gracefully back into the cockpit. Valid questions, all.
But as it turned out, our "last run of the day" as Nancy called it was a good one. No trauma, no breakage, no airborne noodles. Just nice, downwind trades pushing us slowly but surely to the land of abbreviations.
Brisbane is on the Eastern seaboard of Australia, roughly halfway up the coast. Sydney and Melbourne are (a long way) to our South, and Darwin is (a long way) to our North. Oz is a very big place. Our first bit of business, once we visited with our friends on Tin Soldier and Bob, was to explore the city. Or at least the parts that interested us. Brissy is a thriving, modern city of well over 1 million people. Originally settled on the banks of the Brisbane river, it has spread far and wide, but at its heart it is still a river city. The downtown core, the prime shopping and dining venues, the main entertainment hubs, are all centrally located around the river. With the exception of Jack London Square in Alameda/ Oakland, and our time in San Diego, we haven't had Meridian in this type of urban environment for quite some time. I'm sure the excitement will soon dull, but right now its still very intoxicating being so integral to the flurry of activity here.
And that activity includes all the hullabaloo surrounding Christmas. Don't get me wrong, I love Christmas and everything it stands for, both old and new. From its importance in people's faith and lives, to the gross commercialization that culminates with me getting presents, I love it all. But Christmas is a WINTER thing. Snowmen, Christmas trees, steaming mugs of eggnog...let's face it, Christmas is a cold-weather sport.
So when I tell you that its 8:00 on Christmas morning, and its already 90 degrees, with an intense sun reflecting off the highrises and sandy beaches, something just isn't right. Seasonal attire here isn't comprised of wool hats and mittens, its primarily tank-tops and shorts. Yesterday I saw Santa water-skiing. Bing Crosby would be disappointed...if you discount the perfect sand beaches, nobody here is dreaming of a white Christmas. Summer is in full force in the land down under, and its just plain weird to be celebrating Christmas with sunglasses on.
In the next few weeks, we'll take stock of our situation and decide what our future plans hold. In the meantime, perhaps a little land-travel is in order. Both Nancy and I would like to get to Sydney, perhaps by train. Yes, we'll take the girls, but only because we're legally obligated to.
So, as we slather on the sunscreen, know that we are thinking about all our friends and family back home, and wishing you all a Merry Chrissy.