May 3rd - 11th, 2012 New Zealand
What have we been doing? (pictures to be added soon)
We woke up this morning freezing cold. Owen slept in a t-shirt, a fleece jacket, and shorts. That's a lot of clothes for Owen. I slept in a fleece jacket over my nighty, wool socks, and the fleece hood over my head. This we wore under two fleece blankets and one wool blanket (and sheets). I worried a little about the kids freezing, but they were fine when we awoke as Griffyn rang the ships' bell around 8:00AM. That's the loud brass bell mounted near the ceiling of the cabin - away from the reach of little fingers. Owen was wondering what the temperature was last night, so he asked the fleet (on VHF) if anyone had a low temperature reading. Someone called back and said that when their wife (a nurse) finished her shift - in the wee hours of the morning - she had to scrape the ice off of her windshield. Apparently there is an arctic 'high' pausing over the Bay of Islands. (The 'high' we are talking about obviously has nothing to do with temperature - rather with the sunny days we have been experiencing along with the freezing cold temperatures.) All morning the nono's were biting us. What the hell kills them if not a freeze? After a non-existent summer (according to the locals) we have an early winter. Well so much for the weather - at least it's sunny today.
Much of the fleet here is leaving this week for Fiji, Tonga and Vanauatu - around 48 boats. We would love to leave the cold behind, but Owen has a contract job and is busy working. We plan to leave in couple weeks. And there are still have a couple things to fix and we may get our bottom painted. Much of what we had planned on fixing here in NZ will not get fixed until after we leave (with parts in hand) simply because the weather has been so uncooperative (rainy and cold). Most things that need fixing on deck require if not sun to dry at least some warmth or less humidity than 100%. So much on our list of things to get fixed in NZ still remains to be fixed. As is the same with all other cruisers in the Bay of Islands this year.
So what have we been doing?
Well before Owen got the contract that he is now working on, I decided I would try to make some money. So I entered a fabric design contest called Fabric 8 hosted on the Spoonflower website. The winner would get $1000 and a contract with Kauffman (a well known textile design company). Hey I have two art degrees, I used to be interested in textile design and Sylvie (my pal out here) just entered the contest too. There were 851 contestants - unfortunately I didn't make the first cut. On the plus side, I spent 4 days on the mac learning how to use Photoshop and creating stuff. That is a great program to know and Owen is the pro. I now have a number of interesting designs and have thoroughly enjoyed myself. Here are a few of the designs for fabric that were inspired from my recent watercolors. These designs can be printed onto fabric and the fabric can be purchased if you wish. All I have to do is upload the designs and make them available for sale. So let me know if you are interested in a fat quarter or a couple yards.
I also have been working on a design for a knitted scarf, commissioned by Sue (S/V Fugue). Sue is an avid knitter and has been teaching Tamsyn and myself to knit. She can make a pair of socks in a couple days. The plan is that when I have the design finished - she will take it home (back to Monroe, Washington) with her and knit it up and send me a photo of the finished product. She and Bob are flying home for the summer. If it all turns out well, I could conceivably put the design up for sale on ravalry.com (a site full of knitting patterns).
And I have been working up an idea for an article which I hope to submit to a sailing rag. I've typed up the idea, but much of the enthusiasm is still missing - writing for a specific audience turns out to be much less "fun" for me than writing a blog. But I think it's worth a couple tries at least. Many long term cruisers earn pocket change writing articles about cruising. What I could do with a little pocket change - well at least I could do something in Fiji perhaps.
Throughout these projects Owen and I have been eating through the power and found that we need to run the engine (to keep the charge in the battery bank healthy) twice a day (in the morning and the afternoon). And so it is loud in here much more than we are used to. I have started wearing ear plugs while the engine runs - if for no other reason than to extend the time I am able to deal with the noise of a family in a tiny space. There is definitely a sense of overload when the engine is running, the pans on the stove are rattling, the spoons on the counter are jingling, the china cups near the sink are marching. I think keeping the frig cold is out of the question for a while - maybe on passages. (We've been letting the frigid air in our cockpit cool our fresh produce and dairy.)
Tamysn and Griffyn and their teacher (me) have been busy with home schooling. I counted the number of days that the elementary aged New Zealanders spend in the classroom over a year - about 190. Then I counted the number of school days Tamsyn and Griffyn would have had to attend at Lynndale Elementary for comparison - about 180 days. And I have decided that when they have "attended" boat school 180 days - we can take the rest of the year off. We "go" to school as often as we can all stand it. Griffyn isn't learning any quicker because he has a tutor, than I believe he would in a classroom setting. I have watched him learn how to write the letter "e" over the last year and it finally looks like an "e". His patience for learning comes and goes as does mine for teaching.
Griffyn is eating us out of cabin and dinghy lately - must be growing again. He is also loosing his big baby teeth. Unfortunately his current smile looks like some one shook his teeth up and threw them in his mouth, they are such a mess. As with all things Griffyn - it goes with his character perfectly. Tamsyn and Griffyn both have enjoyed perusing the "Calvin & Hobbs" books Owen brought from Washington. Griffyn's favorite strip is the one where Calvin is taking a bath and Hobbs decides to jump into the tub. There is a huge splash, and a water fall down the stairs as Calvin's mom comes up and says, "Calvin! what did you do with all the water?" After reading, Griffyn will spend the next hour or so on deck playing in a tub of water - repeatedly dropping all of his boats from as high as possible to make the biggest splashes he can. Of-course he makes all the explosive sounds to go with and as he has large wholes in his smile, there are fountains of spit with each explosion. Needless to say he comes back in a bit wet. Tamsyn and Griffyn love them the comic strip so much - that lately Griffyn plays Calvin and Tamsyn plays the Mom. For those of you who haven't met Griffyn, Griffyn IS Calvin.
I used to write best sitting down with my journal and writing with a favorite ink pen onto clean white sheets of paper. But now a days I write best sitting at my little white mac computer, typing my thoughts. I have always written quickly, as quickly as I think, but lately I don't want to rush at my ideas - rather I want to savour them, to see if there is anything there to write about. I know that there is always something to write about but wonder lately if you really want to hear about it. I have written at length about doing laundry always trying to find the perfect way of doing it by hand, the way that saves the most water, gets the clothes clean, doesn't destroy my hands with wringing, doesn't take me entire day and feels to me most like just putting the dirty clothes into a washing machine and taking them out later when they are clean. But I know you don't really want to know more on that subject - even though lately I have found the answer to my year long quandary. I won't go into it though - haven't I exhausted that subject?
And then I ask myself who is really reading this blog anyway? I can say what I want. So here it is, the long awaited, thoroughly researched, and redundantly boring answer you've all been waiting for about how to do laundry on a boat. And for those landed people - incase you ever find yourself with out access to electricity. First you put the dirty clothes into a bucket of fresh water, add some detergent and then sit down to have a glass of wine. You let the laundry soak over night. Next morning pour the mess into your tiny Miracle Wash washing machine, screw the lid on tight, rotate the washer 50 times (or tell a child to rotate the washer while you make porridge). Then wring out the load and deposit it into the first rinse bucket. Always use the stainless steel posts in your cockpit to twist your clothing around especially anything large (to wring out the water easier). Dump out the dirty wash water (have some deck hand or small child wash the deck with all that soapy fresh water), wring clothes out again into the second rinse bucket (again utilizing the posts in the cockpit). And finally wring out one more time and hang the clothes on the life lines. Dump the 1st rinse water (on deck again if that imp still needs more to scrub) and reserve the second rinse water for the washing water of your next load. Just leave it in the bucket and add dirty clothes and detergent (and have another glass of wine) - for tomorrow's washing. And voila - you will reuse the cleanest water with each load and since the Miracle Wash is such a small washer, doing a load takes less than 1/2 an hour (including hanging time). That is the best it gets folks. You can thank the Bay of Islands' weather patterns for the inspiration for this undertaking - more specifically - hanging only small loads so that if you have to bring them inside the cabin to complete the drying process because of rain, they won't completely crowd the crew. Of-course we must thank my family members in particular Tamsyn and Griffyn who like to get dirty for providing the mountain of research opportunities. And the underlying drive for the project is to keep the costs of cruising within manageable means while anchored in an expensive country (like French Polynesia or New Zealand.)
Oh you mean what else is happening with us?
Recently Tamsyn, Griffyn and I took a ferry to Russell, the oldest town in New Zealand. The ferry leaves from Opua and arrives across the short stretch of water at the mouth of the bay at a ferry terminal. The walk from the ferry terminal to downtown Russell is around 3 hours, so we generally beg a ride from one of the cars on the ferry (and hitch hike back). Because Russell has a museum, it was a school field trip day for us (since we learned all about New Zealand there). It's a very pretty little bay village now which thrives on tourism. Way back when (around 1770) Captain Cook sailed the H.M.S. Endeavor to the Mauri settlement known as Kororeaka (now Russell). A replica of the Endeavor lives in the Russell museum. Darwin also visited this northern site in the southern latitudes. And at the museum we discovered that the strange looking bird we saw the night before our trip to Russell was in fact a penguin. The blue penguin swims in the Bay of Islands. And we saw two of 'em swimmin' just feet from our dinghy - boy they are cute! I took lots of pictures of Russell so here are a few.