Once it’s in the water …

If I had a dollar for overtime I said to Orbit “be careful, once it’s in the water it’s gone” I would be financially rich.

Orbit likes any type of car, but racing ones are pretty cool

Orbit likes any type of car, but racing ones are pretty cool

Orbit usually has a toy car in his hand so, the ‘it’ is usually a car. Orbit loves playing with cars, its doesn’t matter what type or where it is, in his bed, the Skipper’s and my bed, the v-berth, at the table, in the cockpit or on deck.

I have learnt never to leave Medina without at least one in my bag. I’ve even popped a few in our tinny bag (just in case). If ever we are caught out and have to wait for something (e.g. the doctor is running late at the medical centre), we can always make a game out of cars. Any line can be a road and it’s amazing what we can make bridges and tunnels out of (e.g. serviettes at a coffee shop).

Back on Medina, there are many places for Orbit to lose his cars into the water. A car being thrown overboard or rolling through the scuppers is obvious and he is pretty careful about this. But less obvious and easier to forget is loosing a car in the water from within the cockpit.

Starboard cockpit drain hole with stubby cooler

Starboard cockpit drain hole with stubby cooler

Medina has a centre cockpit and this means she has drain holes to allow any water that may come in, to drain out. Drain holes for water is a good thing, but for other things, not so good. Once something falls in a drain hole, it’s gone for good – to the bottom of the marina or the ocean. I usually loose pegs and Orbit has lost a car or two. So how do we stop things going down the drain holes?

Simple, stubby coolers.

We place an upside down stubby cooler on each drain hole and just like magic they prevent things falling into them. The best bit about using stubby coolers is that if water does get into the cockpit, they float, allowing the water to escape. I discovered this one day when I was giving the cockpit a good scrub and forgot to remove the stubby coolers before hosing out the cockpit.

Port side cockpit drain

Port side cockpit drain

Orbit was playing in the cockpit the other day and he wanted me to get something for him. For the life of me I could not work out what he wanted. After about 5 minutes of both of us struggling, Orbit trying to explain what he wanted and me trying to understand, I worked out he wanted some stubby coolers.

Once he’d put the stubby holders over the drain holes, Orbit proceeded to make a cubby house. After he was finished I asked what each of the pieces of the cubby house were for, he said the steps we use to hop on and off Medina were to hold the umbrella, his umbrella and gum boots were because it was raining, his sand toys were to play with on the the beach after it stopped raining and his cars, were to play with “of course”.

I then asked Orbit if he could fit in his cubby house. He just looked at me, said “no” and continued to play. I guess the fact that he couldn’t fit in his cubby house was ok. He had made his cubby house, he could play with his cars next to the cubby house and he was happy with that. Geez I love this kid.

Me and my shadow

Checking the Beacon to Beacon

Checking the Beacon to Beacon

Orbit is at the wonderful age of wanting to help out and to have responsibility. I am really enjoying this stage of his life, but sometimes it can be a bit challenging to find ways that he can safely be involved in what we are doing. We used to be able to say, no and distract him or put him in bed out of harms way. But as Orbit is getting older and more interested in things, we can do this less and less. Here’s a few ways of how we’ve included Orbit in everyday activities on Medina.

When we are sailing Orbit enjoys helping the Skipper navigate. We navigate using electronic charts on an iPad and cross check to paper charts. Because we use our iPad for navigation Orbit isn’t allowed to play with it. The last thing we want is for Orbit to start playing on the iPad while we are underway. So instead Orbit helps me cross check our position on the paper charts or in the Beacon to Beacon. The Beacon to Beacon is a easier for Orbit to use because it’s smaller and is a bit more interesting with pages of charts of different areas. Orbit likes it when I point out where we are on the chart and where we are going, particularly if there is a beach where he can go swimming.

Getting ready to winch

Getting ready to winch

Orbit has alway enjoyed winching. I am not sure why he has an attraction to winching. It could be the noise the winch makes or it could simply be because he sees the Skipper and I using the winches. Given his attraction, we had to come up with a way that he could learn to use the winch safely. When Orbit was smaller we’d just let him wind the winch handle in an unloaded winch. Once he worked out that there needed to be a rope around the winch, we loosely wrapped the lazy sheet around the unloaded winch but not through the self tailor. This seems to keep Orbit happy at the moment, but it is only a matter of time before he works out that the winch isn’t actually doing anything … then we’ll have our next challenge. But just putting the winch handle in the winch can keep Orbit occupied. Our winches have a locking mechanism on them, so coordinating the lock while lining up the winch handle with the winch can be a bit tricky, particularly if Medina is rolling around a bit (even for an adult!).

Taking the covers off the water tanks

Taking the covers off the water tanks

When we’re in a marina, one of Orbit’s regular responsibilities is to help me check the water level and fill the water tanks if required. This job isn’t something I have to ask Orbit to do twice as it involves one of his favourite things – water! Orbit removes the covers to the water tanks and I take the lids off the tanks. We both have a look and decide if the tanks need filling or not. If the tanks need to be filled, Orbit helps me organise the hose and fittings on deck. While the tanks are filling, Orbit checks the water level and lets me know when they are getting full. Once the tanks are full, I put the lids back on and Orbit then replaces the covers. He then helps me put the hose and deck fittings back in place. Once the job is done and everything is back in its place, I often get a high five with “good job mummy” at the end.

Pre start engine checks

Pre start engine checks

Orbit used to regularly get in the way when the Skipper was trying to do his pre-start engine checks, so the Skipper taught Orbit how to do his own. Orbit gets out his tool box as the Skipper moves the stairs from in front of the engine. First Orbit turns on the engine light, then checks the bolts are all tight with his spanner, then hits various things with his hammer and checks all the screws are tight with his screw driver. Once this is complete he turns the light out and asks the Skipper to put the stairs back in place. Orbit then announces that the engine is ready to start and tells us that Medina is ready to go. The Skipper then does his checks as Orbit packs up his tools and put his toolbox away.

There are many things on Medina that Orbit is interested in and given his personality he is going to investigate them regardless of whether we want him to or not. So the Skipper and I have to come up with ways to teach Orbit how to use the different things on Medina safely. We’ve learnt to take things slowly, to break things down into small steps and to give Orbit as much knowledge and experience as he is interested in. We have also learnt to give him space, space to work things out by himself and space to make mistakes, after all, this is how we learn.

On the road again

Orbit at the beach in Hervey Bay (part of his usual routine)

Orbit at the beach in Hervey Bay (part of his usual routine)

The last few weeks have been quite hectic as we’ve spent a fair amount of time in and travelling to and from Brisbane for work and other commitments.

We’ve had a number of different people ask us ‘why didn’t you just stay in Brisbane?’. We could have, and it would have been a lot easier on everyone involved, but we would still be in Brisbane, waiting to leave. Being in Hervey Bay means we have left, we have started the next stage of our adventure.

We also want to slow travel. It’s not just about hopping from one destination to another on our way to somewhere else. Its about spending time in a place, getting to know it and the people who live there.

The ‘messiness’ is not going to be like this forever. We have parameters around how long we plan to be here, how much money we would like to have in the bank and jobs that need to be done prior to starting the next leg on our adventure. It’s easier to keep the ‘messiness’ in perspective and just take each day and week as it comes, making the most of each location we find ourselves in.

We are extremely fortunate to be able to alternate between staying with our respective parents. They are happy to look after Orbit when both the Skipper and I are at work. What we are doing would not be possible without them. Being able to spend this amount of time them is priceless, particularly as we won’t have the opportunity to do so once we start to head further north.

The car trips do get a bit boring at times

Because of the amount of driving we are doing and the distances we are covering, the Skipper and I decided to upgrade my old car to something a bit newer and a bit safer. It has been a strange feeling upgrading cars. I had a certain pride in driving around in my early 90’s car. It was far from flash, daggy even. But that was ok, it was unpretentious and I didn’t have to worry about anyone dinting it in the shopping centre car park or stealing it. It wasn’t worth anything as a whole or in parts and I don’t think any self respecting car thief would be seen in my car!

I’ve realised that I have made a rookie error by stopping off at a McDonalds about half way between Hervey Bay and Brisbane to have something to eat, go to the toilet and stretch our legs each time we pass through. I am not saying that taking your child to McDonalds is bad, it’s just Orbit now wants to go to McDonalds each time we pass one. I had never noticed how many McDonalds there were until Orbit points each one out to me and I have to tell him that we’re not going in.

Each trip I remind myself I need to be more organised and take a packed lunch for us to have a picnic one of the lovely parks with a fantastic playground. But it just doesn’t seem to happen – maybe next trip …

Passing the time in the laundry - waiting for our washing

Passing the time in the marina laundry

I have been a bit concerned about our travel, its randomness and what it would mean for Orbit settling in as there is no routine to our time in Brisbane. I try to be in Hervey Bay for Orbit’s swimming lessons and day care, but sometimes that is not possible. He seems to be taking it all in his stride and hasn’t complained yet. The hardest part is when Orbit and I are in Hervey Bay and the Skipper is away for more than a few days, but we keep ourselves busy exploring and finding new things to do, as well as the usual everyday things.

Each time we pack up to go back to Brisbane, Orbit says he is going on holidays, which I think is a fantastic way of looking at it. I can see where he is coming from, because it is a bit of a holiday for him, its a break from his ‘normal’ routine, he gets to hang out with family and friends and do things he would not normally get to do. What may seem mundane living in a house, is still new and exciting for Orbit. It’s the little things that he loves, like watering the garden, playing in a backyard and having a bath.

Some people assume that because we live on a boat that we are on a permanent holiday and I can see how they think that. But as a lovely friend who also lives on a sailing boat recently told me, we still have to do all the usual everyday things one would do in a house, the laundry still needs to be done, meals cooked and the boat cleaned, its just we get to do it in some pretty amazing locations.

The luxury of Mooloolaba

A few posts ago I referred to the luxury of Mooloolaba and said I would explain more later … so here is my catch up post 🙂

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A laundry with a view, you can just see Medina’s transom

After hearing about Mooloolaba from experienced cruisers, we were looking forward to our time there. We’ve been to Mooloolaba a number of times before but it’s a bit different being somewhere in a holiday apartment to being in the same place on a boat.

The Skipper and I had discussed our two options for staying in Mooloolaba. Option A was to anchor, which was free and access to land would be via the tinnie. Option B was to stay in a marina, which costs money but meant we would be connected to land, electricity and water. Because we wanted to do some laundry, top up the water tanks and restock our fresh food and vegetables, we opted for Option B.

The marina option would be easier, particularly with Orbit on board and wanting to help, or not. I have to admit Option A, was a consideration but lugging 20lt water containers from a tap to the tinnie, then hauling them up on to Medina’s deck and carefully pouring the water into her tanks (with a toddler in tow) did not seem that appealing, particularly when we had another option.

There are two public marinas at Mooloolaba and we choose to stay at the Mooloolaba Marina. The marina office e-mailed us our berth allocation and a map of the marina in advance. This meant we could plan our time of arrival so our berth was a ‘blow-on’. A ‘blow on berth’ is when the wind ‘pushes’ the boat on to the pontoon rather than away from it. This makes the process of ‘berthing’ (or parking a boat) a lot easier, particularly when there are only two adults to undertake the process.

Medina at Mooloolaba Marina

Medina at Mooloolaba Marina

The berth was a great distance from the facilities. We were close enough if Orbit ‘had to go’ but far enough away that we didn’t have a lot of people walking past Medina to get to their own boat. The facilities were very clean, modern and working. We even had our laundry washed, dried and back in the respective places within 3 hours (which is a record for us!).

There was a Coles in walking distance for the Skipper and I, and nearly in riding distance for Orbit. Thank goodness we had our trusty backpack. It made the task of shopping a lot easier, especially when Orbit decided he tired of riding and wanted to be carried, which meant we also had to carry his helmet and bike.

From Orbit’s perspective, his stay in Mooloolaba was heaven. I had forgotten about the footpaths, cycle paths and parks that run parallel to Main Beach and only a 5 minute walk from the marina. Each park has it’s own playground, with different mental and physical challenges which kept Orbit happily occupied. There were also coffee shops near the parks which kept the Skipper contented with what he called ‘decent’ coffee, the poor thing has to deal with instant coffee on Medina.

Orbit meeting the real Nemo and Dory

Orbit meeting the real Nemo and Dory

To top the whole Mooloolaba experience for Orbit, he was able to go to Underwater World with his cousin Tilly, who is a similar age. Orbit and Tilly hadn’t seen each other for about 3 weeks and were like to long lost lovers when they met, running towards each other, arms out stretched calling each other’s name. They both had a ball at Underwater World and seeing a real Nemo and Dory was the highlight, or maybe it was ice cream after lunch.

We decided to cut our stay in Mooloolaba short because of a weather window to cross the Wide Bay Bar. It was a hard decision because everything was so easy, we could have stayed a lot longer. But our destination wasn’t Mooloolaba and we were worried if we stayed a bit longer, wouldn’t keep going. So with the Great Sandy Straights calling us and the opportunity to cruise in company, we left Mooloolaba with fond memories and wondering if we would ever return again.

Whales on the starboard bow

As you may know, we are in Hervey Bay, Queensland. Hervey Bay is listed as one of Australian Geographic‘s top 10 places to see whales. So what to do when in Hervey Bay during the whale migration? Go whale watching of course!

Orbit looking to starboard for whales

Orbit looking to starboard for whales

We picked up a few last minute things from the shops, filled up the water tanks, did a quick tidy-up, and after the Skipper checked Medina’s vitals we were off on a whale watching adventure.

Orbit is going through a singing’ phase at the moment and he randomly breaks into a tune that he adapts to what he is doing. For example, when walking to the marina showers, he sings “We’re going on a shower hunt, I’m not afraid, I’m as brave as brave can be”, to the tune of “We’re going on a bear hunt”.

This is all very cute, but what it also means is I get “lovely” ear worms of children’s songs in my head. Ever since we have been on our whale watching adventure, I’ve had in my head, the very inappropriate “we’re going on whale hunt”! And, I still can’t get it out (please don’t tell Sea Shepherd).

As we sailed to our first overnight anchorage the Skipper and I were pretty happy with ourselves for seeing what we think were 3 or 4 whales, if only in the distance. Not close enough interrupt Orbit playing happily below, but at least we knew we were in the right area.

Orbit looking to port for whales

Orbit looking to port for whales

The next day we decided to start our whale search in earnest. Orbit started his search after breakfast while we were still at anchor.

He started on Medina’s bow (her ‘front end’), looking to port and to starboard, calling for the whales and looking very hard. He then moved down to the stern of Medina (her ‘back end’), looking to port and to starboard, calling the whales. But the whales did not come.

Once we started motoring he was up on deck again, looking to port and to starboard, working his way from the bow to the stern, calling for the whales and looking very hard but alas they still did not come. So, he went down below and started to watch a movie to pass the time. By this time I don’t think Orbit believed us when we said there would be whales.

Later on during the morning, when we were sailing, the Skipper did see a whale. He yelled, “whale on the starboard bow, and it’s breaching!”. I had to give Orbit a good nudge to get up on deck to see it. He was watching his favourite movie and as he hadn’t seen whales when he was looking earlier in the morning, was a bit reluctant to move. With a look of ‘you had better be right mum’ he hit the pause button and went up on deck, encouraged by the Skipper and with me close behind. I prayed the whale would breach again, or at least show itself so Orbit could see it. As we went on deck I made a mental note to better manage Orbit’s and my expectations, when a high degree of the unknown is involved.

Luckily, we didn’t have to wait long. The whale continued to breach, putting on a wonderful show as it traveled east, while we headed west. We managed to get a pretty good look at each other as we passed (even if I didn’t get the best photos).

"Look, a whale!"

“Look, a whale!”

Orbit was super excited to see the whale, but after that he was happy to continue playing below. This was fortunate as we didn’t see any more whales that day. And we haven’t seen another whale since, but who knows what tomorrow or the next adventure may bring!