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Tag: bellaluna (Page 1 of 3)

Movements in Catatonia

That thing that ticks along in the background? The one our existence revolves around, but at the same time, barely features? The reason we don’t have normal weekends? Oh yeah! That thing!! THE CATAMARAN. Right. And where’s that at then?

Well, there’s a tingle in the air. Filling a tingle-shaped hole that has been empty for Quite Some Time. Somehow we’ve got a little buzz on. Money is a factor, but it’s more than that. M is now able to write lists of what needs to be done before we move aboard – something that was previously impossible, as it would have read like War and Peace and taken too much time to bother with. We’re actually discussing basins, countertops, shelves beside the bed…

The word ‘Webasto’ has haunted our nights for over a month. Obviously everyone knows what a Webasto is…right? Yeah. Right. It’s a diesel fuelled water heater. But it’s better described as the Creator of Hot Showers and General Warmth. And therefore it is my new friend – or it will be. Our goal is to move aboard with the least possible expense – and thus our Webasto is coming from Germany. Fingers crossed tight.

The prospect of living aboard has been part of our lives for so long – part of the Smalls lives always – that in some ways it’s just par for the course. The logistics involved in storing our caravan, sailing dinghies, dining table, many chairs, piano, guitars, bookshelves, bikes, kid crud, lawnmower, unnecessary clothes… are too difficult to gain any clarity on quite yet (don’t want to jump the gun…again). On the other hand – selling off the dryer, washing machine, dishwasher, fridge, trampoline, incidental furniture – BRING. IT. ON. Can’t wait to get rid of it all. (I’ll be sad about the piano and the chickens. They will have to go into the arms/homes of weary dependable friends…)

We will be going minimalist on a crazy scale. It will be unavoidably (yes M, it will) stressful. But the end result? A pared back existence, living in a tiny space, upon the sea. (Yes – this could have nightmareish/idyllic overtones depending upon your preferred scenario.) Free of rent, electricity and gas bills. Decluttered by necessity. We are all ready for it, and keen to be in a position where we will be able to hang together as a family more often. And not paying rent will allow us a bit more elasticity…

It kind of feels like we’re on the home stretch. But don’t quote me.

Counting Down

Must keep going, must continue. M is leaving so early and coming home so late that the only place we see each other is when I take a trailer-load to the shipping container and he helps me with the heavy lifting. The house is pure chaos. We have five days to go before we are out of here.

If I stop and start to think of all the things we have experienced in this house – the crazy intensity of a new baby, our neighbours, our chickens, sitting on the porch, sleeping in the caravan, trampolining and lots of lawn mowing. And the amazing/heart-breaking thing is – the Smalls will remember almost nothing of it. Small DB will not remember a bit of it. Small Z will have chunks…

Which, again, makes me grateful for this space – for my documenting, however sporadic. And this is why I am typing here, instead of dealing with the vortex of horror that is our house. Because this is an Important Time. Here’s what’s been happening:

[dropshadowbox align=”none” effect=”lifted-both” width=”521px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]How I move stuff. 300D plus ancient trailer.[/dropshadowbox]

I have been loading up the trailer with the stuff I have packed, tying it down and driving it to the shipping container – which is about 20 minutes away. The shipping container is on the same property that the boat is. We bought the container outright and now pay a very reasonable amount to keep it there – our very lovely friends had said we could leave our container on their land for free, but the difficulty of driving for a couple of hours whenever we needed to get anything made us decide against it. The money is worth it for the convenience.

[dropshadowbox align=”none” effect=”lifted-both” width=”521px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]Shipping Container. It's like a living box of tetris.[/dropshadowbox]

The container – it is 20 foot long, eight foot wide and eight foot high – is cute. At first it looked cavernous. M was all of a flutter, “We’ll be able to put the two wooden boats in it, no worries!” However, reality has kicked in. I have got rid of a lot of stuff, but somehow, stuff remains. If we fit it all in – PLUS all of M’s tools, that will migrate from his boatbuilding shed – we’ll be doing well.

I am, as always, enjoying the physicality of the work I have been doing. My main difficulty has been in giving adequate attention to the Smalls. I am so distracted by needing to deal with Every Single Thing that surrounds me, that they have been coming second best for a few weeks 🙁 – honestly, I am so distracted that yesterday morning I got lost driving home from my mother’s house. Had to look on Google Maps to figure out where I was. And when I did? I had NO idea how I’d got there. Still don’t.

[dropshadowbox align=”none” effect=”lifted-both” width=”521px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]Where the Very Large Catamaran will be. Tomorrow.[/dropshadowbox]

And that is where the Very Large Catamaran will be, by this time tomorrow night. I pleaded for a spot near the water – and got the best one 🙂 We will be the only ones living in the boatyard (aside from the people who own the property). I am feeling positive about our move – it is progress out of my static suburban existence. Yes, we will be gypsies, flying by the seat of our pants, but it will be an out-of-the-ordinary adventure – and that’s what makes me happy…

[dropshadowbox align=”none” effect=”lifted-both” width=”521px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]Holy shit! The front of the shed is OFF! Ready for relocation.[/dropshadowbox]

M pulled the front of the shed off this afternoon. For the first time in seven years, there is no wall – tomorrow Bella Luna (notice that? how I just used the name for the first time?) will be pulled out by a tractor and manoeuvred into the waterside position. AMAZING!

Of course, then will be the dusting, the cleaning, the bedding, moving in our food supplies – not to mention all the work there will then be to do on the cushions, electrics, plumbing etc. etc. It will remain quite epic – but at least we will be ABOARD. And if it drags on too long (living in a boatyard in sniffing distance of the water) I have a few options up my sleeve.

Headline: Boat born from shed!

Boat exits shed after eight years.

The Very Large Catamaran comes out of the shed and into the World. from beth on Vimeo.

Welcome to the Outside!

With ten minutes warning I threw the Smalls into mum’s car and they followed me as I drove down to the boatyard to see the Very Large Catamaran emerge from it’s home in the shed. All went very smoothly. My excitement has been somewhat tempered by M’s mood when he got home tonight.

This has led to my first real crisis of confidence in what we are doing. In three days we don’t have our house anymore. Tomorrow we give away our chickens and our bed. Everything remains mayhem – M has been working 14 hour days at the boat and I have been doing the house on my own.

Quite honestly, my resolve has not wavered until now. And I had nearly assumed I would get through this blithely. But it is hard to jump into space. And it is harder when things pan out differently to what you expect. The main thing? I have to keep a strong stout heart for the Smalls. If I fall to bits, they will follow. They trust that this is a big adventure.

Obviously the easiest course in the world would be to stay put in our safe little house in the place where we know our librarians, greengrocers, cafe-owners, health food shop ladies – but up until tonight I’ve been invigorated by the fact that we are Making A Change. But now I can’t sleep. My bounce has left the building.

The boat is not really ready to move aboard – M needs to put ropes around it to make it Smalll-safe – he would be able to do that and a few other things if we didn’t have all this stuff to do at the house. Therefore I have told the Smalls I am taking them camping – holidaying for a few days – after we move out, and that will give M the opportunity to get a few things organised in our absence.

Send me positivity. I’m wobbly.

It just got warmer on the home stretch…

Sunrise in icy frost.

It is warm in here. It is not as cold as it was last night (which was superfragilistic freezing) – it would have been good to try the Webasto out last night, however, it is on now and it is far better than the normal heater. It is keeping the lounge at a steady 20 degrees. Small DB is abed – having called me “stupid dumber mama” at least nine times today. I told her that if it happened tomorrow I would take twenty cents from her money box each time she said it. “Stupid dumber mama,” was her learned response. We are all so tired.

The past few days have been the stuff of ratracing, and thus the stuff of our nightmares. Dragging the Smalls out of bed at 7am, stuffing some kind of breakfast into them and then dragging them out of the ice-covered boat to the ice-covered car – having to pour water over the windscreen to melt the ice in order to be able to see through it. This morning the water tap we rely on was frozen solid and we had to find a container of water lying around to do the job.

A bloody cold morning. Ice on the boat.

There is fatigue here. And children that are still not 100% recovered from their descent into coughing and fevers a week or so ago. They are so rarely sick – Small Z has been sick the once this year, and Small DB twice. But it is usually when we hang out with other families with school or day-care kids that we pick up the bugs – it’s just the odds. We don’t come into contact with lots of kids five days a week like most families do, so we don’t get the sicknesses. Another plus to our no-school life. Quite a few people I know spend MOST of their time sick with bugs that their kids pick up at childcare and/or school. They recover, and then cop another one a few weeks later. It sounds diabolical. And very wearing.

I am reading ‘Bumfuzzle‘ at the moment – a book written by a couple who sailed around the world between 2003 and 2006 or so. At that time we followed their travels via their blog, that they went on to turn into a book. It’s interesting reading. They didn’t know how to sail when they started – they had literally had one lesson before they set out. Their mantra was ‘how hard can it be?’ I find this very comforting. Obviously I am going to be relying on M a huge amount at the beginning – he is the sailor. He has built two boats and has been sailing from a young age. He helped take a catamaran to Sydney this time last year (and I was very glad he did this! It really gave him the kick we needed to move us aboard).

I want to do a navigation course. I need to get my boat license. But other than that, I plan to learn by osmosis. There is no way I want to become one of those ‘boat-wives’ that, when their husband is winched from their boat with a suspected heart attack or punctured lung, has no idea how to sail the boat, dock the boat, anchor the boat, navigate the boat – I want to have my shit together and be confident enough to handle all those things – both for my own peace of mind, and to also model to the Smalls that such things are not only possible, but normal.

Dauntless 11x14

So this is the first night we have had our diesel heater running and M is having his second shower in 24 hours – it makes instantaneous hot water. His first shower, last night, was punctuated by his cries of delighted glee. He is in there right now, still making comments in tones of respectful wonder about the heat exchanger and the tempering valve – bot cruicial ingredients contributing to his hot water experience.

We need to get a shower curtain to try and limit the amount of post-shower clean-up required. The bathroom is wet-room. The toilet is able to get wet, as are the counters and walls – the toilet paper roll has a waterproof door that you close over the top of it. But if there was a shower curtain, it would restrict the amount of wall-drying required. I can hear the snip of scissors. He is murdering his beard – the one that he swore to keep until he could have a proper hot shower that did not involve using a bucket. The beard is trying to resist, but slowly succumbing. Soon M will no longer look like a Winter criminal, and more like…um…Small Z! Smooth of chin and chocolate of eye.

Slowly, slowly, things are coming together. It has been about six weeks of tenuous progress – tenuous because M has been working on the wiring and plumbing – both absolute necessities, but not (dare I say) exactly TANGIBLE to the rest of us. One of the hulls now has so many wires and circuits and god knows what else that is is:
a) quite impressive, and
b) rather daunting.

He does all this stuff, and then eventually one day we had LIGHT IN THE KITCHEN and LIGHT IN THE BATHROOM and LIGHT IN THE COCKPIT. And the nights spent cleaning the Smalls teeth by torchlight using a glass of water fade with eel-like alacrity and it’s as if they never happened.

I can see the heat-the-kettle put the pump-in-the-bucket showers will be a thing of the past from tonight. Quite honestly, I have showered about eight times on this boat since we moved aboard in February. I bathe at my mother’s once a week, and sometime get to the pool in between times. M’s mother, many moons ago, gave me details on how she used to ‘top-and-tail’ with a face washer in tougher times, and I have been doing that every morning (the unsung power of the baby-wipe).

It will be good to have everything working and together by the time this thing is actually afloat. I would much rather be getting this all solved and sorted now – even though it means wintering in a boatyard. This morning we had to go down the stairs from the boat very gingerly, because they were covered in ice. Not so nice, with a ten foot drop below. I have my heart set on the end of July – for floating this thing. M is sceptical, and of course, so am I.

The only thing slower than boat time is… well, probably glaciers. But even they are giving us a run for our money. With one person doing all the work required, it is hard. We are still cooking on our one burner camping stove (with the welcome addition of the Thermomix) – but this need to be solved. I continue to wrestle between settling for a (cheap) gas dual burner cooktop and a fancy (expensive) diesel cooktop. The main issue being (besides price) that gas is more flammable, and the less flammable things there are aboard, the happier I am. Diesel is not as flammable. And we already have a diesel heater…

If we knew we were going to be living aboard for a couple of years, the decision would be easier – but we don’t know. It will be a process of trial and error. In my head, we’ll give it six months to a year and then we will know whether we love it, hate it or are willing to tolerate it for the lifestyle that it gives us. In the secrecy of my own head, and the Interweb at large, I am keen to take a leave of absence from work and go sailing for at least six months. We have the money to do it, if we are frugal, and I think it would be the kind of adventure that would stay with the Smalls forever.

They are a great age to do it. My decision in this regard is also informed by the grand adventure my parents took me on when I was five (turning six in Kuala Lumpur) – big chunks of it remain very vivid for me. Far more so than the many years of schooling that came after it. We went to so many different countries, backpacked, travelled on two ships, explored India, Europe, Malaysia… It showed me that the world was bigger than Black Rock.

This is not to say that I am keen to sail Bellaluna around the world. I’m not. Not right now. If I get my choice, we will sail up the east coast and take our time exploring the waterways near Sydney and, depending on how long we noodle around, keep going north to southern Queensland, or head over to Lord Howe Island (one of my two top Australian cruising destinations) or turn around and head down to Tasmania as the weather warms up. M, I am sure, is only too aware that if I am happy (which generally means I am WARM) the sailing will last LONGER.

But who knows. It’s all a roll of the dice. One of the Smalls might be incurably seasick and render the whole idea null and void. If that happens, my plan B is to sell the catamaran and head to Europe, use the money to buy a narrowboat, and explore that way. Now THAT would be dreamy (although I haven’t figured out the Winter bit of that plan…yet). Whatever happens, I know that right now… this is the home run. The culmination of years of building, dreams, resentment, hope, and doing it pretty tough a lot of the time. The weird thing is, the people that we will meet as we sail won’t know any of the back story. They will just see us aboard this amazing looking boat, decked out with the leather upholstery (stolen from our eBay couches), the diesel heater (bought via German eBay) our mainsail (bought on eBay many years ago), our kitchen sink (bought for $10 at a garage sale nine years ago) and our other bits and pieces and probably assume we just both left our full time jobs and bought this thing brand new.

They won’t know that the build, from idea to afloat, took nine years. That we loaned money to fund it. That my dad, who believed in it, and helped me access the loan, is not around to see us launch it. This boat could float right now on the tide of emotion that surrounds it, that has brought it from an idea to a reality. It took too long. She is overly perfect. But we are living in something beautiful, extraordinary and we are all together. And that… is awesome.

163/365 • the three of them • #163_2015 #7yo #4yo #M #campfire #solstice #wintersolstice #Winter2015 #boatyard #family #love
– s o l s t i c e –

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