The Final Countdown

My presence on these pages has dipped slightly over the last couple of weeks. Mr Jones and I are in the final stages of preparing ourselves and our vessel for our six month adventure. It seems that there is an endless parade of details that are demanding attention. Some days I feel like I need more time but the reality is that these details are the things that keep most from doing things like this. There comes a point when you have to just bite the bullet and LEAVE. The unattended details will look after themselves at that point.

LEAVING day has been set in concrete. We are steadily getting things organised. I feel like I am on top of it. I also know that there will be a day when I realise I left something behind that I think I really need. The reality is that we will improvise or go without. It is surprising what you can manage without. An acquaintance told me of a couple that she knew who had done a similar trip. Upon their return they found it a little difficult to adjust to a life full of material things. I know from a caravanning experience many years ago that this is definitely a thing.

As the last few days tick by we are making the rounds of friends and acquaintances ensuring we get to spend time with people who are important. It is an interesting thing. Most people are grateful of the effort but also focussed on their own lives and plans. More than once I have fought off a bout of FOMO as I hear of celebrations and gatherings planned that I will not be able to attend. I know that there will be others and we are having our own adventures but the disconnect is a little jarring. I sometimes wonder how hard it will be to slot back in to life when we return. Will everyone forget us? I hope not.

Things are set now. Changing the path we have chosen for ourselves can only happen if there is a major upheaval. Besides why would we want to change? We are truly some of the luckiest people in the world.

2021 Not Stating the Obvious

When my son was in high school, he was given an assignment to write an autobiographical excerpt about a time in his life that was formative. It so happened that we had travelled as a family in a caravan for three months when he was about 10 years old. This experience seemed to be custom made for his assignment.

Both he and his teacher were cautious about this approach for different reasons. His teacher because he felt that writing about visiting a whole bunch of places would not really scratch the surface of who my son was. My son because how do you choose a single experience from such a rich tapestry of stuff? Is canyoning in Karijini national park more life changing than petting a crocodile in Darwin? Or sitting next to rock art in Kakadu that pre-dates any cave painting in Europe? (OK that was probably a stretch. A ten-year-old boy doesn’t care about that kind of thing)

In the end he did write about his trip but not about a particular location that he visited. He wrote about a rather peculiar solution that he invented as a means of having to cope with being in very close proximity to his sister twenty – four hours a day. (Think back of a car, in a caravan or campsite.) His narrative focused on learning to find a way to maintain personal space when being crammed up against blood relatives. In a way it got to the crux of such situations. What we learn when we go on adventures is not just the geography or culture of the place we are visiting. We learn a whole lot of side stuff, how to relate as a family, how to meet foreigners, respect for customs different from ours, respect for the environment. The list is endless.

Fast forward to 2021. I find myself planning another adventure. This one does not involve an eight- and a ten-year-old. Rather it involves a forty-eight-year-old and a fifty-five-year-old that have been married for 22 years. I have posted about our new yacht. I am not entirely sure if I have explicitly stated it on these pages, but our plan is to spend six months of 2021 sailing the Queensland Coast. The details of how we got to this decision are a bit convoluted, but it does involve a compromise, postponing of a long-held pact between Mr Jones and myself, Covid-19 related border issues and ageing relatives.

And so, we will set off somewhere between 10 and 14 April 2021. When I looked at this week’s Wicked Wednesday prompt, “Looking Forward to 2021”, this voyage was an obvious choice to write about. Who doesn’t want to hear about freedom, sun kissed beaches, hidden tropical islands and coral reefs? But that is not what I wanted to write about.

At the inception Mr Jones was very worried about this voyage. He almost DIDN’T sign the bill of sale even though owning a boat like this and sailing to far away places has been his dream for many years. HIS dream, not mine. Herein lies the snag. In the beginning I was a reluctant sailor. I tolerated his fantasy and went along to keep the peace. Over time, as I documented in this post, I was worn down. I learned a little about the mechanics of sailing. I learned a little about navigation. I fell in love with the marine environment.

I was the one that pushed for the purchase of this yacht. My friend and I discussed my change of heart and she said that sometimes wives go into “make it work” mode. We recognise that something is necessary for the happiness of our husbands and families and we make it happen. I think that has happened here. I wasn’t terribly excited about the caravan odyssey that we took our children on when my husband proposed it. In fact, I flat out stated “I am not driving to Western Australia with two kids in the car.”

And then we went. The whole time we wished we could stay longer, see more, do more. It was a life changing experience for everyone. There are times in your life when you are faced with a choice to take a road that most people don’t follow. This is one of the times I am choosing to take the least trodden path. Experience has told me that this choice is not easy but it is the most rewarding.

A forty-foot catamaran seems big, but after a while of not being able to get off and anything can become very small. Land based travel is different. You can go for a walk, get away from the caravan / car and breathe. On a boat it is harder. Mr Jones worries that we will struggle as a couple. It is not an unreasonable thing to worry about. I would be lying if I said that I don’t have some concerns. But I am in “make it work” mode and so I am not letting the concerns stop me. I know that we will work out a way to relate to each other. Both of us are going to do some growing in ways we don’t expect.

So, what am I looking forward to in 2021? I am looking forward to following the path less travelled and seeing what is over the horizon.

And not stabbing my husband to death and dumping him overboard.

Dead Calm - Nicole Kidman as Rae Ingram holding a spear gun by Jim Sheldon  - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
Source: Australian Broadcasting CorporationT

This post is part of Wicked Wednesday prompt #449 Looking forward to 2021. To see who else is being wicked click here, or on the image below


TMI Tuesday – Time to be Happy

  1. What is your best excuse to get out of an invitation?

I really hate it when people cancel on you because they get a better offer. So I always try to honor any commitment I make even if something better does come along. If I get invited to something I don’t want to go to I tend to be non-committal until crunch time happens. Not the most up front way of dealing with it but it has been working for me so far.

2. When was the last time you ended a relationship of any kind? What was the nature of the relationship?

I posted recently about my relationship with Johnny coming to an end. I am not sure if this counts as an answer to this question as I didn’t end the relationship myself.

Currently I am in a weird situation with a couple who Mr Jones and I had been friends with for quite a few years. Of late things have not been as easy between us and we have grown apart. This wouldn’t be much of an issue except it turns out that we have a lot of friends in common. I really don’t like confrontation and I guess I am not entirely happy with how things have turned out between us but the next time we run into each other at a social event things could be interesting.

3. Tell us about a phone call or email that you needed to make but were apprehensive to do? Did you ever make the call or send the email?

I often feel that way before I call my mother. Mostly it doesn’t turn out that badly but sometimes it doesn’t go well. She has Post Doctoral qualifications in being negative, putting you on a guilt trip for no reason and generally alienating people so you can imagine how conversations with her can go some days.

4. Tell us one or two things you do daily as self care.

Most days my morning routine involves tea and a scroll through my WordPress Reader followed by tinkering on a blog post. I have started this routine recently, I used to try and get up and do some form of exercise, on the days I couldn’t get motivated I would make myself feel guilty. This new routine is much better for my mental health, I just have to figure out my exercise routine but it will happen.

5. What are you looking forward to in the holiday season of the coming New Year?

Spending as much time as possible aboard this baby.

So that I can see more things like this

Bonus: In what situations do you wish you could throw down a smoke bomb and disappear?

Any time there is conflict. I really can’t handle it. If there is any kind of tension between people I am around or between myself and another person I just want to disappear.

This post is part of TMI Tuesday for 22 December. To see who else is sharing this week click here or on the image below.

Getting Back to My Roots

Today is a great day. I posted recently about a significant purchase that has happened in our lives. In the post I may have mentioned that I have missed being out in Moreton Bay. On a subliminal level I have known that this feeling is significant but my consciousness hadn’t quite picked up on it. Or perhaps it was being stubborn and didn’t want to admit it openly.

About a year ago I went to a couple of therapy sessions and the Psychologist suggested that I should spend some time getting back to nature. His suggestion was related to the idea that I was burnt out and I needed to be forced to stop and smell the roses. Ironically at that time we had just opted out of the yacht syndicate and my visits to the wilds of Moreton Bay had ceased. I told myself that I would do some bushwalking and that would fill the gap. We did spent some time hiking but it was never something that was completely in our routine.

Today we took our new yacht out for the first time. We will be sleeping on her in an anchorage just off North Stradbroke Island. It has been a spot we have visited several times in the past and follows a visit to a bay that we have spent many nights at over the years, right from the times of owning the McGregor. For the first time in probably over two years my feet walked the sand of a tiny island which, in the not too distant past housed a leper colony. The site of the colony is closed to the public but everyone with a boat visits the bay to fish and swim in the quiet, protected waters.

At the end of the bay is a small patch of mangroves. I love these trees. They have adapted in unique ways to deal with an extremely hostile environment. Their adaptations have led to some interesting and truly beautiful root formations.

I am writing this feeling whole for the first time in a while.

It is a good feeling.

The Beginning of Something

Mr Jones has always been interested in boats. He follows sailing blogs, we have owned several boats throughout our time. We started with an old Young 26 (sailing people will know what I mean) which is a yacht that fits on a trailer. There were many things about that boat I didn’t like. It was old, it didn’t have plumbing and it leaned when we were sailing. Having said that we did have some great times aboard her.

She was however, as I said, old. Dry rot was an ongoing feature of her existence. And so we patched her up as best we could and then she became somebody else’s problem.

She was followed a couple of years later by a brand new McGregor. Also a yacht on a trailer. A little bigger, some rudimentary plumbing but still leaning when sailing. Again we had some good times but Mr Jones spent a lot more time on her than me. Both of our children have an appreciation for the freedom of being on the water and it is a great experience for them to spend time sailing like that.

While we were still owners of the Young Mr Jones had a friend who owned a Seawind catamaran. From my first experience of the Seawind I was convinced catamarans were the way to go. Mr Jones took several more years of convincing. His arguments related to speed and cost. Both a bit hard to refute. I informed him that I was not sailing anywhere out of Moreton Bay on a monohull.

By chance Mr Jones came across a company that manages large sailing vessels for syndicates. Here was a chance to own a part of a relatively luxurious boat without some of the risks and hassles of being a sole owner. And, the best part, there were shares in a catamaran available. We leaped from our McGregor into a Lagoon 39. Indoor plumbing, comfortable beds, a full kitchen, self furling sails. Dreams come true stuff.

The Lagoon was the backdrop for many adventures and some amazing family holidays. I found myself being drawn in to sailing. I got a boat license and I did basic sailing training. I won’t say I am a competent sailor but I understand how it works and in a pinch I could dock, anchor and get us places. My ‘blue water’ experience is limited but I have seen some strong winds and chop.

Being part of a syndicate has its pros and cons but eventually we felt the value for money was not there and we sadly said goodbye to the Lagoon. My children joked that “Dad definitely get another boat” but as time went by it seemed this was not to be. There were pie in the sky conversations about sailing to certain places but it seemed it was not to be.

The weird thing was that I missed it. I missed the weekends of being in the sun on the water. Of exploring little beaches where the general public didn’t go (and some that every person on a boat ever seemed to be at!!). Earlier in the year we spent a few days with some friends on their forty foot catamaran. It was a boat similar to the Lagoon. I resolved that the pie in the sky dreams needed to happen.

And so I nudged at the reluctant Mr Jones. I began to strongly encourage him to pursue this dream. Something that 2010 Gemma would never have done. The twists and turns are not important but what is important is that we are now the sole owners of a forty foot Lipari catamaran. Excited is one word to describe how we are feeling. Shit scared is another. Buyers remorse keeps getting chucked around but I am avoiding that label.

What are we going to do with our new beauty?

Watch this space….