Our bed, the vee berth, is in the bow, and as the name implies is shaped like a “V”, or triangle. It is comfortably wide at one end but quickly gets uncomfortably narrow at the other. Measuring six foot at the widest by six foot down the middle it requires nothing less than a king-sized sheet, a near impossible find outside the western world.
A few years ago, I decided to convert a double duvet cover from our first winter on board in California (not as warm as the Beach Boys made it sound) into a sheet for the bunk. By cutting ¾ of one side of the duvet off I was left with pocket that fit snuggly around the wide end and enough length to tuck in the narrow forward end. For a while the vee berth looked rather spiffy, better yet the sheets stayed neatly tucked no matter how much we flopped around. However, the tropical sun is harsh and eventually our nice bed sheet developed several small tears.
Recently, I came across two very nice, and rather expensive, white cotton sheets that I inherited long, long ago and have barely used. Unfolding the king-sized flat sheets, I discovered that I had ample material in each to recreate my pocketed vee berth sheet. I had been “saving” these sheets for so many years but all they had been doing was taking up space. With my less is more mantra fresh in my mind I decided to finally put them to use.
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 your 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.
Sometimes you have a bad day and shake it off. Other times bad days string together into a bad week, leaving you to wonder just how you managed to pissed off absolutely all of the God’s, at the exact same time. At the beginning of March we had one of “those” weeks.
We had recently returned to town after a yet another fun filled tour of the Rock Islands. We were still waiting for a bit of mail, had a few jobs on the To Do List and both needed to spend a couple hours online to get caught up on things. The mooring field was busy but we squeezed in way down the back and settled into our ‘city’ routine.
The morning after our arrival we went ashore for a few hours of screen time. The usually kinda fast WIFI was playing up so after about 30minutes struggling with a crappy connection and getting nothing but frustrated we packed up and went home. As we rounded the corner I watched expectantly for the boat to come into view, heart in my throat a bit, as it always is. No matter how confident I am about our anchor or our mooring it is always in the back of my mind when I leave the boat; something could happen when we are away and we wouldn’t be there to save the boat, our home. And this time something did happen. Kate wasn’t where we left her. The mooring had failed. Strangely we were both rather calm about things:
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.