Saturday, 26 December 2015

In the comfort zone

"This moving ashore stuff is just another adventure in disguise, que no?"

That's from our friends on Galactic. Their Christmas tree was a pair of reindeer antlers and their Christmas dinner, as I understand it from their email, started with minnows and devilled gull eggs, and then moved onto joints of reindeer and mutton, all locally sourced of course. They're anchored somewhere in the western Falklands. I don't think they have a firm grip on the reality of city living yet.

The white board  - memories and lists

Art Gallery of NSW (and below)

We are almost rehabilitated. We've integrated emptying the dishwasher into our morning routine. We know how to order an Uber. We've almost stopped being nervous about credit card readers which extract your money with an airy wave. Cash is an oddity now. Digital rules, and we need to get comfortable with that. 

We have eaten relatively simply on the boat for several years but we are back in the food game with a vengeance. My friend Helen the food writer is amused when I ask her when it became so important to drink single origin coffee, or to know that your tomatoes were grown in such and such a country town? We live so well in Australia - at a price though. Especially in Sydney where real estate has long been over-priced but to that I'd now add bread and meat. 

It may not last long, but for the moment we are straddling two worlds. We're intensely interested in the whereabouts and plans of our cruising friends. They still use email, most of them. Thankfully. We haven't yet surrendered to the inevitability of Facebook. Given the chance, we'd always prefer face to face conversation - and we had the best of times with Cathy and Ian who sequestered us for an overnighter on Scotland Island. Ian wasn't going to let Alex go before he'd done an information transfusion of all relevant material relating to the safe crossing of oceans on an HR48. Soon it will be us following Sea Cloud's voyaging as avidly as they have followed ours.

Cathy is a water baby

Scotland Island wildlife (and below)

Sea Cloud's skipper leaves nothing to chance

But we're also manoeuvring ourselves back into the lives of our adult children and our non-boating city friends.  We don't talk about the weather so much anymore  - though a good passage-making moon caught my eye in the week before Christmas. And we always look at the cruising boats anchored beneath the Anzac Bridge. Last week I spotted an aluminium cruising boat anchored near the Drummoyne bridge. "The one with the big canvas cover?" Alex said. He already knew it was there. 

Refreshing the old Christmas wreath

Cucumber salad king

The boy likes water

Mostly though we are caught up in conversations about jobs and holidays, books and art, politics and child-care, music, golf, gardening, clothes....around us is the abundance of first-world living. Friends ask us if we're glad to be back, and we say yes of course. But we're not sure yet what being back means for our future. Beyond the family, beyond repossessing our home - what next? 

Christmas in a denuded garden

The tribe gathers (and below)

 Tomorrow we fly back to New Zealand for the summer. We'll start out sharing a holiday with our family, and then later move back onto the boat. It'll be good to be cruising again. We're obviously not making things easy for ourselves with all this chopping and changing. But this from Jhumpa Lahiri, writing in the New Yorker recently: "The moments of transition, in which something changes, constitute the backbone of all of us. Whether they are a salvation or a loss, they are moments that we tend to remember. They give structure to our existence. Almost all the rest is oblivion."

Thursday, 3 December 2015

She who hovers

The assumption that Past the Lighthouse has reached the end of its useful life is reasonable. Our voyaging on Enki II is over, perhaps forever, and certainly for the immediate future. What further need for a sailing blog?

But when did reason ever have the last word?

The day we moved back into our house, the temperature in Sydney was 40 degrees C
Enki hovers even as we massage the rooms of our well-lived Victorian house back into their remembered form and spirit, and feel our way back into the groove of family and city rhythms. We know she's there, waiting for our return, but we're trying to focus on the task at hand, and Lord knows, our minds are often confused.  Patience, girl.

We've missed most of Louis' short life....

...and he's almost talking. 

Back on the ironing board

Cruisers don't call the repairman until they've exhausted all other options

Today though Enki broke through the resistance I've put up to picking up the thread of her blog. I was browsing the best sailing blog we know of and there, at the end of a recent post about Galactic's leave-taking of Patagonia, was a photo of a Swiss pennant inked with the boat name SY Enki and a date, 22 February 2009.

I recognised the hand-writing as Christophe's, her original owner  (we re-named her Enki II to comply with the demands of Australian officialdom which allows only one boat of any name to be on the registry). The date and place made complete sense. It was thrilling to be reminded of the epic voyage Enki made on Christophe's watch.

The flag was tacked to the wall of the Micalvi which Mike Litzow calls  "the uttermost yacht club in the world". The "club" is situated at Puerto Williams, 65 nautical miles north of Cape Horn,  on a museum ship of that name.  The Micalvi was built in Germany in the 1920s, and eventually found her way to Chile. In 1961 she was scuttled in a small inlet of the Beagle Channel, and now provides boats visiting Puerto Williams with a dock to raft to and a clubhouse in which to socialise.  The Micalvi is famous among the hardiest of sailors, those with a tolerance for high latitude sailing and a bent for ice.

You've got to be keen to get to Puerto Williams.  Galactic is keen. Mike and Alisa, and their cabin boys, spent a fair chunk of the past (southern hemisphere) winter tied up to the Micalvi. They are now now in the Falkland islands. And back in 2009,  Enki was keen too.

Christophe and his crew left Opua in January 2009 after a very short stopover in New Zealand, and headed east along the Roaring Forties, with following westerlies, until they reached the tip of Patagonia.  Having rounded the Horn, the boat then proceeded up the east coast of South America, ducking up various large brown Brazilian rivers, before re-crossing the Atlantic and making landfall in the Azores. She re-entered the Mediterranean in mid-2010.

This is not the usual way that a European skipper comes home after having made his Atlantic and Pacific crossings, but then again, Christophe wasn't the most usual of skippers.

He found a place to leave Enki in the Balearics, put her on the market, and went quickly back to Zurich to resume life as a husband and an architect. Enki took a year to sell, or should we say, Christophe took a year to let her go. Enki is a hard boat to say goodbye to. We understood that at the time, and we know it now. But we, like Christophe, structured our cruising on Enki as a project with a particular lifespan and committed ourselves to returning to the people we call family.

Not everyone frames their cruising this way - we've met many people whose plans are much more open-ended than ours, and from time to time we've envied them. Our re-entry to city life has not been easy. We knew it wouldn't be. But we're becoming more comfortable in our house by the day, and it's early days still -  plus we have a season of summer cruising in the northern parts of New Zealand to look forward to.

At anchor in Vava'u

But seeing that photo of Christophe's flag reminds us of how many sea miles she's done, and of how important it is that she gets back to sea as soon as possible. Ocean-going boats need to be used, and she's a boat with a lot of sea stories still to tell.

This link takes you to the broker who is selling Enki II - but you can also contact us via the blog if you want more information