m i a o w

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Sailing Holiday – Day 01 – by M

(The following is written by my secret guest writer, only to be known as ‘M’.)

I slept on the boat. B stomps and yells along beach and pier untill I get up and take boat around to the dock. Load some tasty things then sailoff. No motor. Very 1890’s.

15 knots gusting to 20. Rough and lumpy. This is the first big sail for the little guy. Try sailing with jib an then mainsail only. Put up the full kit and power on to queenscliff. Boat gets a 5 hour bash. I sit and wait for something to break. I study mast then rudder then back to mast etc. B sleeps like a possum in the cabin. Nice. Nothing breaks! Arrive Port Phillip Heads. Sails down and motor through the cut into Queenscliff. Very Jason and the Argonauts. Awesome. Try to grab mooring but we swing around and glance a yacht. Full tilt revese saves us. Apologise. Surf ski over to spy bridge and sus a wonderful possie. Motor in. tie up. Wahoo. Chips and beer over a game of pool at the pub. The circus is in town. A crazy canivale conoodling sleep.

Summer Holiday – Day 01

For two days we have run around like chickens. I have had the interesting experience of driving from Hampton to Williamstown with three cats in their individual travel carriers with me in the front seat of the van.

I have blogged before about how Sonic was one of my favourite cats, other than Saf and Mow. She holds this title no longer. In fact, she’s lucky that I didn’t use up one of the few lives she has left and piff her off the Westgate Bridge. She yowled the entire 50 minute journey. I sang steadfastly over the top of her.

I’ve been up past midnight the last two nights helping M organise our boating holiday. We managed to have our first sail during this time and Boat sailed like a dream.

I was elected provisioner, and had great fun coming up with about eight different meals I could cook. As I’ve read heaps of sailing books, I knew all about provisioning. Buy the tins, write contents of tin on tin in permanent ink, rip off labels. The labels were destined to fall off during the voyage anyway.

The supermarket had stuff in tins that I never knew existed. Diced capsicum, nut-o-lene, mushrooms…. Then I stumbled on ‘Surprise Peas’ and ‘Surprise Beans’. They were indeed. I bought two packets of each. I bought condiments, dried herbs, pasta, rice, tinned corn, tuna, tomatos, beans…. I met my mother by accident as I was shoving my trolley amongst the vegtables.
“How long are you going away for?” she asked, eyeing my haul.
“Um, about 12 days.”
“Just the two of you?”
“Mum, I really wouldn’t want my trolley to end up on your foot.”

She made a big show of using a different check out than me because I had SO much stuff.

I went down to see how M was going at the boat. He was just walking through the carpark as I pulled up.
“Look!” I bounced, opening the back of the van. “I provisioned! I provisioned!”

“Holy shit.” M looked at the nine bags of shopping. “Multihulls are supposed to be light that’s how they go fast.”

“Right. But tins are what you use for food on boat journeys. That’s what all your books say.”

“All the people in the books have lead keeled monohulls. Tins don’t make much difference to them.”

“So when I’ve been telling you about how I’m going to write on tins, rip off the labels and stick them through the hatch covers on the outside hulls, have you just heard ‘let’s get more red wine’?

“Hulls! Hulls? No. I never knew what you were talking about. And don’t call them ‘hulls’ call them ‘outriggers’ – and you’re not putting any tins in them.”

“Fine.”

“Fine.”

We wade out to Boat with the shopping. My shoulder is still dodgy, so unfortunately M has to be mule-boy. He lectures me all the way out on how the boat should sit in the water. How we should treat the expedition as a backpacking trip and that we should only take what we can carry on our backs.

Whatever. I pack everything away in hidey holes and M can’t believe my skill at making things disappear.

The next day we go to Bunnings for supplies. The VHF marine radio (that we have no license to use) FINALLY arrives in the mail. We get an EPIRB and a rocket flare. Safe, safe, safe. This is all in case we decide to venture out into Bass Strait with the aim of sailing from Port Phillip to Westernport Bay.

Everything is packed. I have organised marine weather forecasts to be texted to M’s mobile phone three times a day. M has sewed sleeping sheets for D and E, who are hoping to hook up with us on our second day away. They call and ask where and when. We explain we are at the mercy of the weather, we have never sailed Boat anywhere before and that deadlines can’t safely exist on a sailing holiday.

M goes down to sleep on Boat. I stay home for one last sleep in the wonder bed. We agree to get up at 5am. M will come home and we will do last minute stuff before departing at about 6.30am.

I wake at 5am. I shower. I make a thermos of tea. It’s 5.40am. No M. I send quick emails to my dad and my sister. No M. He doesn’t answer his mobile. I drive the van down to the beach. Boat is floating happily at anchor, about 50 metres out. I imagine M unconsious below deck, bleeding from a head wound, unble to move with a comminuted fracture of the left femur and a fluttering pulse.

I walk to the edge of the water, whistling loudly. It’s about 6.10am. I hope that there isn’t anyone else sleeping their boats. I stand whistling for about ten minutes. Then I move to the pier which is my last option before wading out my undies. I stand on the pier, whistling as loud as I can between my fingers. I wonder if any of M’s blood has got into a drainhole in the boat and leaked out into the sea, where it will be smelt by a shark. Now I’m scared to wade.

I whistle furiously. Finally, there is a reply. M’s head emerges from below the hatch. It’s as much as I can do not to take my shoe off and throw it at it. He dances. I shake my head. Then I realise he is not dancing, but weeing vigorously into a container. Again.

We finally sail away at about 9.15am, heading across the bay to Queenscliff. I learn that it IS possible to be in the cabin whilst sailing and not vomit. You have to lie down! I sleep for two and a half hours, only woken a couple of times by the winch being used directly above my head. It’s bliss. M is delighting in Boat, she performs beautifully.

A few nautical miles out from Queenscliff we’re doing 8.4 knots- our top speed of the day, which we find wholly thrilling. M pulls down the sails and we motor into the harbour. Things go awry. The current is strong, there’s only one public buoy to secure the boat to. We try, fail, and end up hitting another boat. ARGH! We reassure the other boat that there is no damage [phew] and after a cup of milo at a dragging anchor, M goes investigating on his surf ski and finds an excellent, if somewhat kooky, spot.

Tied up at Queenscliff
 

It’s lovely. We have to get a guy who is fishing to pull in his line for a moment so we can get past.
“So you’ve finally finished the boat?” he says to M, as he casts back out.
“Sorry?”
“You’ve been working on the boat in Altona for a few years, haven’t you? I had a place just down the road. Used to go past the boat all the time mate.”

He and M get involved in conversation, while I collapse in the cabin, totally relieved that guy whose boat we hit was so nice about the whole thing.

M then discovers that his new friend is a fishing mate of the guy whose boat we have just tickled the paintwork of. So we’ve come full circle.

We walk wistfully past my boss’s sexy holiday house and go to the pub, where I beat M at pool in front of the public bar. We saunter back to Boat, all snugged near a wall. I make dinner and we have our first cooked meal aboard. Vegetarian spaghetti bolognaise. I apologise to M for only using one tin and half a jar of pasta sauce. We need to eat the contents of several tins per night to MAKE THE BOAT LIGHTER.

I’m sitting here now, typing all this on my old Palm IIIx with it’s portable keyboard. Thank you, Palm, you bloated capitalist opportunists. I actually have a Palm Tungsten T3 which has been thoughtfully made incompatible with all of the add-ons that I bought for my old Palm IIIx. I now have infared this to my T3 and wait until I get home to post it. Sleep now.

My palm pilot, keyboard & book
 

Sailing Holiday – Day 02 – by M

(The following is written by my secret guest writer, only to be known as ‘M’.)

Leave our cosy nest and motor out through the cut again. SE wind very light. We anchor in front of town and burn some snags for my breaky. 30 feet of crystal water. Wind comes in and we have to get going. Cold snags for later. Tack up toward Popes Eye then stumble on the seal house. Hung out with the stinky sea dogs for a while.

The Seal Palace
 
The seals in Port Phillip Bay
 

Across up to Point Nepean. Remote and old. Clean clear water. Fanged it back along the beaches toward portsea. Hit 11.8 kts next to the beach. Grins. Got snug in the corner at Police point.

M dropping the anchor
 

We draw 400mm. Had a few beers and some chips at portsea pub. Went for a walk and mingled with the beautiful people until they got nervous and we thought it best to leave. Moved the boat. Deeper sandy. Dave and Ellise turned up. Had few swims. B cooked tuna mornay. Yum. Nice sleep.

E checking the view
 

Summer Holiday – Day 02

We awoke in Queenscliff, me with a stiff neck due to my freakish and regrettable decision not to bring a pillow. Sleeping on my left side instead of my right (shoulder sore) is bad enough, but then sleeping on a rolled up jumper? Horror.

M got up first, and when I rolled over on to his pillow (which he never travels without) it was so blissful that I almost wailed in frustration at my pathetic effort to tough it.

We had a cup of tea and then hit the supermarket – no, my provisions were not in question, but we needed a dustpan and brush. Then weventured to the gourmet delicatessen place in search of kangaroo sausages. I have decided, after much pondering, to extend my vegeaquarian diet to include jumpmeat. However, they had none. M bought some red wine and garlic ones that were so lean, they barely spat in the pan.

Just as he’d finished cooking them, M took a look at the tide and became Action Man.

“We have to leave. Leave now! Or we’ll get stuck here! Help me…”

With a small degree of panic and one singed beach towel, we extracted Boat from her mooring and motored away down the channel, ducking our heads as we passed the boat we’d hit yesterday.

The anchor went down right near Queenslcliff Pier. The water was clear aquamarine. I sat on net with my book, two bits of sour dough bread and some plums. Bliss. M gnawed on his sausages.

Just before the wind really kicked in, we put the sails up and headed across to Portsea/Sorrento via an albatross colony and a seal colony. M fanged Boat up to over 11 knots. We did eight knots to windward. The sailing was exciting, the weather was sunny, but the wind was f-r-e-e-z-i-n-g. I need to learn to wear more layers, even if it ‘looks’ warm.

We reached Portsea, and again took down the sails too near other boats. Muted panic as we extricated ourselves and ended up moored just before Police Point. M swam from the boat. I used the surfski. We then wandered toward the pier, looking somewhat dissolute with our plastic bag of dry undies and a towel. I realised, as I walked through all the dentally enhanced bathing box owners, that we had pulled up on the rich end of the beach. Down near the pier, the difference was obvious. Everyone was a bit fatter, a bit paler, their clothing was less painfully co-ordinated and everyone was a lot louder. We fitted in quite well.

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