One of the things I like most about living on a boat is that it gives you the ability to change your point of view…literally. Sometimes it is just the wind swinging the boat around a little while resting on anchor, offering you a slightly different angle on things. Sometimes you to move to a whole new neighbourhood and all the problems and tensions of the previous week suddenly come into perspective.
Although we enjoyed our time in Rabaul I didn’t realize how much being “in town” was stressing me out until we left. While we were there I was enjoying trolling the second-hand clothing/book shops, the interesting rides on the cheapo buses, the hum of the crowd at the local market, the faster-than-we’ve-had-it-for-a-long-while internet. Despite all the stories we’d heard about PNG we felt safe in Rabaul. In fact we felt safe enough that when Steve had to go away on business for 10 days I had no hesitation whatsoever staying on board by myself.
OK, I had a little hesitation but an audible motion detector in the cockpit (that scared the bejebus out of me when I got up to check the boat in the middle of the night and totally forgot it was on) and a baseball bat in bed seemed to soothe me.
But when Steve came home he knew something wasn’t right. He made it back for Hallowe’en but I hadn’t even mustered enough enthusiasm for my self-professed “favourite holiday” to even search the market for pumpkins. In fact I hadn’t even mustered all that much enthusiasm for his home coming.
I figured I was just completely drained. I had spent my time alone on board writing and completed two long articles and a solid proposal while he was away. Intense bouts of creativity like that often leave me feeling empty and I thought I just a needed a couple days to recharge. But almost a week came and went and I couldn’t find the reset button. I seemed to be falling further down the “difficult mood” rabbit hole, causing all sorts of troubles between us as I plummeted.
With the boat fully stocked and all the online work done we dropped our mooring and pointed the bow towards the Duke of York Islands, fully expecting to motor the 18 or so miles as there had been no wind for a week. But a light breeze filled in and we put up all the sails and suddenly were trucking along at 7 kts. Which felt ridiculously fast because we haven’t had enough wind to make more than 4kts in a very, very long time.
Photography, like most other artistic activities, was once only practiced by the elite. To do something solely for the purpose of creating, one needed to invest not only time but money; two things that the working class had precious little of to spare. This changed slightly with the invention of roll film and handheld cameras but not drastically. It wasn’t until the medium became mechanized, and the average Joe could take their exposed film to someone to get it developed and printed by a machine in one hour, that photography became a hobby of the masses. Then digital cameras were invented and photography became even easier for people to play with. As the years and technology advanced cameras got smaller, cheaper and eventually have been incorporated into every phone, device and electronic gadget out there. Photography has evolved from a purely artistic endeavour, to a profession, to a hobby, to an everyday/everybody activity.
I mention this because yesterday, as we motored down the Diamond Narrows inside the Vona Vona Lagoon we passed by a well-kept house with a sprawling front yard that fronted the water. In the garden was the large Solomon Island family that lived there; the adults sitting in the shade of a big tree and the kids playing on a rope swing that swung out over the water. As the name implies the waterway we were navigating wasn’t particularly wide so we were virtually in their front yard. As usual when we pass other boats or people onshore we smiled and waved and said “Halo!” We were greeted by wide smiles and enthusiastic waves . I wanted to take a photo as their property was well kept and their house brightly painted, in fact I had my camera in my hand, but now that they were all looking in our direction it felt intrusive. Continue reading →
It is that time of a year again, the seasons are changing and many of us sailors are planning how and where spend the storm season. We spent four cyclone seasons holed up in Vuda Point Marina, Fiji, which meant we got the process of packing up and shipping off down to a fine art.
You can read about it in the September issue of Cruising World, in stores and online now! Check out their “How To” section for my best tips and tricks for storing your boat in the tropics.
I have always been attracted to the beat of a drum.
In the sixth grade when we all had to pick an instrument to study at school I choose the drums. For the next seven years I played in the school band. I was never particularly interested in the drum set, no teenage dreams of being the spunky drummer chick in the next hot indie rock band (it was the early 90’s). No, I preferred the boom of the kettle drums during a classical concerto or the complex driving rhythm of the solitary snare drum that anchored a traditional marching tune. I went on to explore the variety the percussion section had to offer; equally enjoying the musical complexity of the marimba and the staccato simplicity of the claves.
Throughout the South Pacific we’ve encountered music, most of it played on a beat up guitar, often strung with fishing line, or tapped out on a local drum. The designs of drums have varied; tall stand up drums with still furry goat skin stretched across them, plastic buckets inverted and sat upon, whole logs hollowed out through a long, narrow slit.
My ear has been tuned to the sounds percussion section.I have even been known to follow the beat of a distant drum across the anchorage and into a village in search of the instrument and it’s player. So imagine my surprise and excitement when I stumbled across a band visiting from the Banks Islands in town a few weeks ago. Continue reading →
In the South Pacific radio is still used as one of the main means of communicating with the local population. There is often death announcements, notices about power and water interruptions, flight information and, of course, weather bulletins. Local businesses use radio to advertise specials and promote services and if there is a local paper it usually provides the news that is read almost hourly. Although there is information that tourist might find useful, the audience for radio in the South Pacific is definitely the locals.
That’s why I make a point to listen in.
Last week I heard about the new cargo dock that is being constructed in Port Vila. It is a multimillion dollar project that is going to take almost two years to complete and will result in one of the most sophisticated, full computerized docks in the Southern Hemisphere. It took six years of negotiations between the Vanuatu government, Japanese and Australian investors and the Chief whose people own the land, amongst others, to reach an agreement. In celebration of the start of construction of the this much needed facility a ground breaking ceremony was planned and the local radio was covering the event. Continue reading →
I started traveling in the pre-digital era. There was no Facebook or Instagram, almost no one carried a phone and internet cafes, when you could find them, worked on dial-up. It was also pre-digital photography, so documenting the places I had journeyed far and wide to see meant lugging some heavy equipment, insisting rolls of film hand inspected at airports and searching for places to develop negatives and print photos.
Everywhere I have traveled I have had one, or two, film cameras with me. By bus, train, plane, boat and motorbike my cameras were with me. Throughout Asia, across Australia, around the Caribbean, into the sands of the Middle East my cameras were with me. And now, on this grand adventure on board Kate, despite owning a pocket digital, a digital SLR and having a smartphone to take happy snaps with, I still carry around a couple old school manual film cameras.
I am not sure why I am drawn to these places wherever we go. Maybe it’s because fresh vegetables are scarce when we are at sea. Or because I love trying new foods. Maybe it’s because I like supporting local people. Maybe it’s because I can live without meat but not without crunchy fruit and vegetables. Or, maybe it’s because in the chaos of traveling, disconnected from family, friends and country a trip to the market always feels familiar.
Whatever the reason markets are a favourite spot of mine. They are a great place to people watch, to get a real glimpse of the place that I am visiting and, of course, the only place to get fresh fruit and vegetables. Continue reading →