Last fall, when I was home in Canada, I had the opportunity to help my oldest nephew out with a school project.
As a grade nine student Cameron was looking for someone to job shadow for a day. Usually this means going to work with a parent, but as he had already spent time with his Dad at the office I suggested that if he wanted to experience something new I would be happy to share my typical work day with him. To my surprise he jumped at the opportunity to get a glimpse inside the life of a writer.
To give him a real feel for what it’s like be self-directed and self-motivated I suggested that he could write a blog post for this site, as long as it related to boating. Cameron, an outside-the-box thinker, quickly came up with the idea to compare his family’s summer experience living in the camper, which they sometimes loving refer to as their “Land Yacht”, with our life on board. I asked him to read through a couple of blogs posts to get a feel for what he would be writing and told him we would start work at 9am the next morning.
We set up shop at the kitchen table and each started writing; Cam his blog post and me an upcoming article. For two hours, except for the clicking of laptop keys and the odd question or comment, the room was quiet. We broke for a quick snack (I raided Cam’s Hallowe’en treat bag) and then it was another couple hours of work before we stopped for a picnic lunch outside on the deck.
Exciting news! This arrived in the mail this week!!
It seems appropriate that my submission was an article about Vanuatu, a place I have described as my “unicorn of the South Pacific”, as I had to wait 8 long years before we finally sailed into Port Villa Harbour. The wait, however, was certainly worth it. Vanuatu and it’s people captured our hearts.
Published in Cruising Helmsman, Black Sands, Black Magic; Vanuatu by Sail was described by judge Gary Beckett as, “A compelling, detailed and at times riveting first-hand account of the writer’s adventures cruising waters of the Vanuatu Islands chain.”
You can find the complete listing of winners for all 17 categories in the Boat Writers International Writing competition HERE. (You’ll also find me under Seamanship, Rescue & Safety, Merit Award.)
We are two months into a hefty list of very necessary projects and I can feel my sea legs atrophying. It’s not the time spent on land that is causing the problem, it is living on the hard.
I have always liked that turn of phrase, “living on the hard.” It sums things up nicely. Nothing about living on a boat out of water is easy. It is completely and utterly unnatural.
Firstly, there is the whole fish out of water feeling with the boat being propped up, whether it is in a hole, on stands or in a cradle. No matter how secure it is, it still moves. And in the high winds that have been the standard here in the Philippines this season it down right shimmies and shakes…but mostly only at 0300, of course. Continue reading →
There is an old sailors mantra that says you should always step up into the liferaft, or in other words abandoning the vessel should be the very last resort. We had a chance to inspect our Viking life raft when we had it serviced in Fiji. Sitting inside the small, orange inflatable compartment was sobering; we would be expecting a bouncy castle to save our lives. However, your life raft deserves some consideration, so take a few minutes to read about the Small Boat for Big Emergencies.
A ditch bag is boat speak for the last thing you grab before abandoning said ship and the first you should review before leaving port on a passage. So, What’s in you ditch bag? Find out what’s in mine by reading that one.
A few solar gadgets will never go astray during an emergency, and can make everyday life on board a little more emjoyable too. I tested a few and wrote about them for Blue Water Sailing.
Hot days beg for cold beer, but many sailors struggle with the refrigeration unit on board. Want to know how to keep your cool and learn how the fridge works? Check out my September column in BWS, includes a delicious recipe for Leftover Rice Salad!
Or, maybe you are curious about the difference between an alcohol stove and an LPG stove on a boat, and want some tips about using them safely, whether at anchor or at sea. Cruising Helmsman in Australia published an article about that in October. You can read it here.
As part of my “Less is More” ethos for this year I recently did a major clean out on board. Our wee closet and drawers were thinned out yet again, the cupboard in the head was decluttered and all the holds in the galley were sorted through. What I ended up with was pretty impressive rag pile, several tubes expired of sunscreen, some make-up that is embarrassingly old and enough to canned goods to survive the apocalypse, (zombie or otherwise).
I usually keep a healthy stock of canned goods on board (I write on the tops for easy indentification in my vertical storage compartment). Food in cans come in very handy when you’re sailing in more remote destinations like the Solomon’s and Papua New Guinea, where refrigeration is non-existent outside urban centres and the general population are subsistence farmers and fisherman. And to be honest there is nothing wrong with beans, lentils, tomatoes, corn, soup, mussels, pate, dolmas and tuna out of tin, just to name a few of my regularly stocked items.
It seems appropriate that we are starting off 2018 in the boatyard. The New Year is, after all, traditionally viewed as a time of renewal, a chance to make all those improvements that you’ve been meaning to get around to for the past 12 months. An opportunity to take stock, address problem areas and make positive changes. And that is exactly what yard periods are all about, fixing, modifying and hopefully improving.
So here we are, slowly, slowly getting work done.
The engine has been removed and over a week ago the engineering firm who is doing the rebuild came and took it away. We have yet to get a quote for the work…which means it is mid January and nothing has been done to the engine. This is holding up a pile of other smaller projects involved in improving the engine bay. Until we have the engine back we cannot fit and size the new shaft, strut, engine mounts etc.… Continue reading →
Not a lot of people talk about it, in fact I think most sailors who suffer from it are a bit embarrassed. But, I think talking about issues like this is important, and I hope that by sharing my story I can help other sailors out there who is suffering in silence.
What I am talking about is landsickness.
Landsickness affects different sailors in different ways; some people have difficulty believing that their coffee cup will stay on counter top without non-skid, some people crave salt and others feel nauseous when simply sitting still. The trick is to recognize how your body reacts to living on land and learning how you can cope with it. Continue reading →
Looking for a way to keep fit and have fun onboard?
In my June BWS column, Heather Francis Onboard, I talk about how to stay fit afloat. If you missed it on the news stands you can check it out here, or get a digital subscription via Zinio and never miss an issue.
It seemed like it took forever to finalized the haul out plan with the yard. Spaces were limited, the travel lift broke, communication was via email was difficult. Then we had to actually get there; hoping for wind that never seemed to blow while we were underway and babying our extremely tired engine while we asked it to run for many more hours than we liked or even thought possible. By the time the stars aligned and the morning of our haul out arrived we were both exhausted. Yet there was still a whole lot of work to do. Continue reading →