Category Archives: Marina adventures

The fun of ad-lib (i.e. making it up as we go along)

Hope everyone has had a wonderful Christmas and New Year break. The Skipper, Orbit and I had a great time catching up with family and friends. I was reflecting on our time over Christmas and New Years (as you do when downloading photos), and I noticed a similarity between some of out adventures … there was a fair bit of ad-lib or making it up as we went along. Nothing major, just the little things we did to fill in time waiting for significant events to occur, e.g. waiting for our coffee to arrive, waiting for dinner to cook – filling in the space Dr Seuss calls “The Waiting Place”.

Waiting for breakfast to arrive

One of the things we like to do as a family is go out for breakfast. The time between ordering breakfast and waiting for it to arrive can be a bit time consuming for a small child. So to keep Orbit occupied we made up a game to keep him sitting in his seat. This technique involves a few pre-requisites, disposable serviettes, a pen and a toy car. Once or breakfast is ordered, we draw a map on a serviette. Myself or the Skipper draw the roads and Orbit quite happily fills in the details. Orbit then has a map on which he can play with his cars. This is a bit of a variation to the roads-scape I described last year (I still have to finish the nautical version). We can usually drag this game out to about 15 minutes which is usually enough time for our breakfast to arrive and if we’re really lucky it can be dragged out after breakfast too.

Waiting for the Skipper and I to stop talking

One of the joys of being on Medina and cruising is being able to stop in picturesque anchorages. Where there is a good beach, we take the tinny into the beach to have a swim and  explore. One of Orbit’s “waiting places” in this situation is when the Skipper and I are having a chat with other people on the beach. Orbit usually wants us to play with him and doesn’t necessarily appreciate the joy of meeting new people. So what we do? It’s usually a case of looking around and finding something for him to do, luckily one of Orbit’s favourite things isn’t too far away – sticks! Once he’s found a stick to his liking, its just a case of  giving him a list of things to draw, it can be anything shapes, pictures or letters. Even finding the ‘right’ stick can occupy a significant  portion in time!

Waiting for me to cook dinner

We have been very spoilt this summer, the Skipper installed air conditioning on Medina! It has been absolute heaven to be able to have a good sleep at night and be able to get things done during the day without sweating. What to do while waiting for the Skipper to install the air conditioning? Simple, make a game out of the left over core flute the Skipper was using to make a temporary cover (similar to what we do when out for breakfast). And being back on Medina, Orbit had some extra toys to incorporate into the game. Over the last few days, while waiting for me to cook dinner, Orbit has been adding extra bits of core flute to his original piece, making extra roads, bridges, tunnels and turning the whole thing into a cubby house! However, unfortunately it all came to a very abrupt end when the cubby house was used as a very slippery slide.

I am learning that the “waiting place” is not a bad place to be, in fact, it’s the place where our imaginations can really thrive!

We’re going on a stick hunt

On our stick hunt

As you may know, we have started a little tradition of making Christmas decorations for family and friends. But this year due to everything that has been going on (travel, work etc) Orbit and I haven’t had the lead up time we’ve had in previous years. It was already December and I had no idea what to Christmas decorations make and we had very little time left to make them.

I was searching the internet for ideas when an answer arrived in my inbox. I was saved by Picklebums, a fantastic parenting/activities website for kids of all ages. That week’s newsletter had a list of Christmas decorations to make at home – woo hoo! Scrolling through the list, the stick reindeer stood out as the perfect decoration for this year.

For the last six months or so (maybe longer), Orbit has been obsessed with sticks. You can imagine my disgust when he would walk around with a stick in his mouth like a dog. I have lost count of the number of sticks I have found on Medina or in the car. But on the positive side, Orbit does draw some pretty cool sand pictures with the sticks when we are at the beach.

One of Orbit’s sand drawings

Orbit’s grandparents made the connection with the sticks – he was copying the character Spot from the movie, The Good Dinosaur! With the connection made, I have been able to manage Orbit’s behaviour beyond just saying (also read yelling) “take the stick out of your mouth!”. Thank goodness for grand parents!

So embracing Orbit’s obsession with sticks (he no longer puts them in his mouth), the decision to make stick reindeer was pretty easy.

The next day was gorgeous and wan’t meant to be too hot, so I decided to turn collecting the sticks for the reindeer into an adventure. We packed our bag (including a picnic) and went on an a stick hunt.

Orbit and I had lots of fun wondering around the bush looking for appropriate sticks, we even made up a song based on, “We’re going on a bear hunt” …

The stick reindeer production line

We’re going on a stick hunt , We’re going to find a forked one, What a beautiful day, We’re not scared!

Yeah, Bush! Brown scrubby bush, We can’t go over it, We can’t go under it, We’ll have to go through it

Look crunch, Look crunch, Look crunch

What’s that?

One small close fork, Two rough breakable ends, Two matching friends

It’s our stick!

Quick, put it in the bag

Orbit and a stick reindeer

With sticks collected and bellies full of morning tea, we headed off to the local haberdashery to cool down the air conditioning and buy some buttons, glue and eyes. Back on Medina, after some lunch and a nap (stick hunts are very exhausting), Orbit and I got the stick reindeer production into operation. I snapped the sticks to the right size and Orbit decided which buttons to go on each. They were really quick to make and all I had to do was use the hot glue gun. Once the glue was dry, Orbit then decided who was getting each reindeer and we packaged them up ready for their delivery.

The next day our reindeers stared to slowly make their way to loved ones houses and boats, just in time for Christmas.

Merry Christmas to you and your family from the Skipper, Orbit and myself. We hope you have lots of amazing adventures over the holidays, no matter how big or small they are. Oh, and apologies for the ear worm!

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.

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!

Draw mummy, draw please (but don’t sing … please!)

Three jelly fish

Three jelly fish

One of the activities Orbit and I discovered while having a break from the blog was drawing songs. I am quite keen to develop his love of music whether its listening to it, playing it or in this case, drawing it.

Whether on Medina, in the car or in a house, we usually have some type of music playing in the background, anything from classic through to modern, by Australian and international artists. It could be a CD, the radio or playlist on our ipods/iphones. We have given Orbit the Skipper’s old iPod. It has his own music, so he can listen to what he wants to by either plugging it into Medina’s stereo, listening on his headphones or straight out of the iPod.

I am slowly building a playlist of age appropriate songs that Orbit can listen to, sing along to and dance to; but don’t annoy the Skipper and I (not an easy balance). Let’s be honest, children songs are great but after an hour or so they can get a bit annoying (particularly if its the same song on repeat)!

Our recipe for Orbit’s playlist was to start with some modern children songs (there are some great songwriters, producers etc out there producing some fantastic children’s music), throw in some of the old classics (can’t go past Play School and Anne Murray) then round it out with some everyday songs (i.e. songs that don’t have naughty words in them). If only I could describe how proud I was when Orbit started to sing along to Sunsets by Powderfinger and Sweet Disposition by The Temper Trap.

Singing a Cowboy Song

Singing a Cowboy Song

We also try to use music in everyday learning. For toilet training we used to sing Shake Your Booty by KC and the Sunshine Band (more relevant for boys than girls). Doing the actions to Open, Shut Them has been a fantastic way to build the strength back in Orbit’s hand after the splint was taken off.

Back to the discovery. It was a rainy day and we were stuck inside Medina, busy doing our own thing with Orbit’s playlist in the background. Orbit was playing with his cars on a ‘roadscape’ drawn in his scrap book. After a while, he looked up and said “draw mummy, draw please”. After a few questions and failed attempts at drawing what I thought he wanted me to draw (i.e. more roads, trees, stop signs etc), I realised, Orbit wanted me to draw the song.

Lucky the next song was something easy, Three Jelly Fish, so as I drew I sang along to the song. Which Orbit promptly stated, “no mummy, no singing, please!.” Those of you who have heard me sing will know, if there is something I do really well, it’s sing very very badly! The next song was the Singing a Cowboy Song, a bit harder to draw, but then relief when the third was Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

Twinkle Twinkle Litte Star

Twinkle Twinkle Litte Star

The trick to the activity is being able to draw the song, before the song ends, which can be quite a challenge when a song is only about 60 seconds long and the playlist is on random, so have the crayons out of the pencil case and ready to go!

I was meaning to get photos of the drawing the songs on Medina, but got distracted by other events, and I forgotten that we have discovered the activity until during the week when Orbit was going through his scrap book and was singing the songs as he got to the pictures. This activity will be great for when we are cruising, as we’ll be able to do it on angle of sail. And am so looking forward to when Orbit does the drawing and not just the singing!