Category Archives: Preparing Medina and us

Mummy, mummy, look at me!

Step 1 to getting into bed

Step 1 to getting into bed

After what feels like a very long time, we are home. We were only away from Medina for 7 weeks but it feels like a lot has happened in that time.

Leading up to the end of our house sitting, particularly when he was tired, Orbit would say he wanted to go back to Medina, he wanted to go home. Which was reassuring after his initial excitement of house sitting! The day finally came and Orbit was back on Medina. Back with his toys and ‘non-toys‘, back to the space where he can’t lose us, back to being in the middle of everything and back to his bed, which he symbolised by taking of his ‘travel’ pillow case to reveal his ‘Medina’ pillow case.

Since being back on Medina, Orbit has been discovering the physical differences of the growth spurt that happened while he was away. Areas that weren’t accessible before we left, now are and on the flip side, there are some areas that much smaller than they once were.

Step 2 to getting into bed

Step 2 to getting into bed

The second full day were were on Medina, I was glued to the Olympics when I heard Orbit say “mummy, mummy, look at me”. I turned to see Orbit sitting in his bed, proud as punch that he had completed the climb all by himself. I asked him to climb in and out again for me so I could see how he did it and get some photos – he kindly obliged.

Orbit has been able to slide out of bed for a while, but getting himself into bed seems to be a bigger achievement for him. Going to bed always involved the Skipper and I putting Orbit into bed, his bed was just too high for him to climb into – but no longer! With the lee cloth (the piece of netting that stops him from rolling out of bed) ‘half up’ Orbit now has another area accessible to play or spend time on his own.

Step 3 to getting into bed

Step 3 to getting into bed

Although Orbit can now get in and out of bed on his own, the Skipper or I still need to put the lee-cloth fully up or down. Because Orbit can’t yet undo the clips that hold the lee-cloth up, we are able to relax knowing that he is safe in his bed.

Because the lee-cloth is made of netting material, we can still see and talk to each other, but Orbit is out of harms way. It’s his ‘safe space’ on Medina. It is where he goes when either the Skipper or I can’t properly supervise him. This means he isn’t going to walking around on deck, isn’t going to hop off Medina and go visiting, isn’t going to be getting into things he shouldn’t while we’re asleep. We will continue to pop Orbit into bed when we are anchoring, leaving/entering a marina, tacking or gybing till he gets a little bit older and we can trust him to stay out of harms way.

It will be interesting going sailing again to see how much he has changed since we last unfurled the sails. It won’t be long now and we will be out there!

The flow of imagination

Orbit's slot car set

Orbit’s slot car set

At the start of our house sitting adventure, I took Orbit shopping for a new toy. Once in the toy aisles he looked, walked, paused, looked some more, pondered, sat, thought, re-traced his steps, and thought some more. Choosing a new toy was obviously a very serious decision for him.

I wasn’t sure if he would ask for more than one toy (even though I explained he could only have one) or if he would choose an expensive toy (he doesn’t have the concept of how much things can cost yet). As we walked the aisles together I started to have second thoughts on the decision I had given him – was it too risky to give a three year old open choice for a new toy? Was there a tantrum of my own making waiting to happen in the next aisle?

After about half an hour he decided to get a slot car set. It was a large slot car set, set up it was over 2m long and a bit on the expensive side. So we sat down and I explained that he could have a slot car set but the smaller one would be better because we could take it back to Medina with us, as well as play with it in the house. Plus, he would be able to carry the box around the shop, if we got the larger one, mummy would have to carry it. I was relieved when he agreed to get the smaller set and he was proud as punch carrying it around.

Using the 'cards' to make up stories

Using the ‘cards’ to make up stories with Orbit’s ‘road’ and cars

Once we got home and the slot car set was set up, it gave Orbit’s hand-eye coordination a good work out. It was fascinating to watch his facial features change as he worked out how the make the cars go faster and slower by the amount of pressure he put on the button of the remote control. But after a few days of setting the full set up each morning and taking it down again every evening (which needed the Skipper’s or my assistance), Orbit started to make his own ‘road’.

To make the ‘road’ a bit more interesting, I made some features, like on a real road. Using old paper (the clean sides of printing I no longer needed), I tore the paper into 2 or 4 pieces to make ‘cards’ and drew some traffic lights, trees, flowers etc. Orbit took this idea and ran with with it. He asked me to draw some shops, the doctors, his Aunty Miranda and his cousin Tilly, Hairy Maclary (a dog from one of his favourite stories), Medina, stop signs and many other things. We then used the ‘cards’, the road and his cars to make up different stories.

The idea of the slot car set and the cards gave me an idea for a game we can play when we are back on Medina. We could make a boat out of a box, pop some blue material on the saloon table as water and make ‘marine’ cards. We could include all sorts of marine animals but also navigational markers, islands and other boats. I’ll let you know how it goes …

Orbit and his 'shop'

Orbit and his ‘shop’

We were playing shops the other day when Orbit stopped, said “Mummy, idea!”. He disappeared into another room and bought back the two cards that had “shops” written on them. So we taped them to the chair that was his shop and continued to play. Orbit continued to add more cards to his shop as he thought about them. Hairy Maclary ended up sitting out the front of his shop and his Aunty Miranda and his cousin Tilly were customers.

Seeing the transformation of how one ‘game’ (the slot car set) can lead to another (card inspired road stories) and to another (cards and the shops) has taught me to keep my imagination open, to ‘go with the flow’. With Orbit’s imagination starting to flourish and enjoying role playing, who knows what the next adventure will be!

Migraines on a sailing boat

I am lucky to be blessed with a body that likes migraines. Yes, it is a strange blessing, but hey I do get to lie about all day when I have one! Seriously though, as any sufferer of migraines knows, they are not fun. My post this week is late because I had a migraine, so I thought I would write about my experience of having migraines on a sailing boat.

Given how much migraines influence my life, it was appropriate that they influence what layout Skipper and I were looking for in a sailing boat. Each person who suffers from migraines has different triggers and symptoms. The list of what can trigger one of my migraines is long and but so complicated (poor diet, lack of sleep, stress etc). I try to avoid the things that trigger them but I still get them now and again. I know I am going to get a migraine when I have a really strong craving for chocolate. Once I have a migraine in full force, I struggle to cope with bright lights and loud noises and they can last from one to three days.

Medina's hatches aft (or back from) the cockpit)

Medina’s hatches aft (or back from) the cockpit), the hatches in the back of Medina (the transom) are just above our bed

So when we were looking for a boat to live on, the need to have some separation from noise and light was essential, and part of the reason why we preferred a centre cockpit. A centre cockpit design allows for a aft/back cabin. From there it was finding a boat with a centre cockpit and one with a bed that was inline with the boat (not across it). This means the Skipper and I can get in and out of bed without creating too much disturbance on one another.

So aft cabin – check. Inline bed – check, next was the ventilation. I like to have as much natural ventilation as possible, it helps to prevent my migraines. Medina has hatches on all four sides of the aft cabin. I put my foot down on having hatches in the transom (i.e. hatches to the back of the boat). The Skipper would have preferred a lazaret (a storage area at the back of the boat, which prevents hatches), but I guess, “happy wife, happy life” won the argument. We also have a hatch to the deck which allows for any hot air to leave the cabin – particularly important in Queensland summers.

As much as hatches equate to ventilation, they also mean light and light is not my friend when I have a migraine. We were blessed that the previous owners had specially made blackout cards and ‘cushions’ that fit in all the hatches (most of the hatches are recessed) and covers for the deck hatches, so if I have a migraine I can lie in pretty much darkness if I have too. I have also been blessed with a Skipper who can install pretty much anything on a boat, and I nearly broke into tears when he bought home and installed fans in our cabin. I tend to cry a lot when I have a migraine – my mum says it eases the tension and I believe her.

Orbit getting some tummy time in the back cabin when he was 6 months old, you can see the back hatches

Orbit getting some tummy time in the aft cabin when he was 6 months old, you can see the back hatches

I also preferred to have a head (or toilet) in the aft cabin and preferably two heads (or toilets) on the boat. This is so I don’t have to walk too far to throw up (sorry for the detail). But having two heads means there isn’t the traffic of people coming into the aft cabin to use the head – they have an alternative. Luckily Medina has two heads and one of these is in the aft cabin.

When planning for an adventure, we always take into consideration fatigue and diet, making sure we are organised, so reducing the level of stress on the Skipper and I. With only two adults on board we can’t afford for one of us to be down for too long. I also make sure I have my pain medication (even if it’s for an over night trip). I have a variety of strength pain killers, because there are times, where I can’t ‘knock myself out’, I need to have my wits about me. Any medication has been prescribed by a doctor and I have discussed with them what impact it will/could have on me.

Orbit doing some planning in the aft cabin

Orbit doing some planning in the aft cabin

One of the best things I have found for a migraine, especially when I get that strong craving for chocolate is to go for a swim in salt water (lucky we live on a boat!). Off the beach with the Skipper and Orbit is okay but it can mean a few hours on the beach in the sun. What is better is to jump in when we are at anchor (and it is safe to do so). The Skipper and I don’t ‘jump off’ Medina at the moment when Orbit is on deck. We don’t want him getting the idea that he can do the same thing as he is only 3. So I have to wait for him to be asleep before I can jump in.

When I have a migraine, the Skipper and Orbit are fantastic, they try to do things as quietly as possible, bring me drinks of water and give me lots of hugs. So although migraines on a boat are not fun, they are manageable. The best bit about a migraine isn’t the opportunity to lie around all day, its how good you feel when it is finally gone!

Please note – I am not offering any type of medical advice in this post, it is just sharing my experience. 

A change is as good as a holiday

Orbit spreading out with his slot car set

Orbit spreading out with his slot car set

We are fortunate enough to be housesitting again, and I have to admit it, I love living in a house. Things just seem to be so much easier and take a lot less time.

Don’t get me wrong, I love living on Medina, but as they say, a change is as good as a holiday.

Benefits of living in a house (according to little ‘ole me):

  • being able to walk around the bed and to make it with hospital corners
  • to stand and look into a fridge/freezer, rather than down into it (we are having to teach Orbit to not stand in front of an open fridge)
  • having hot showers with good great water pressure (I’ll have to put this on the Skippers to do list)
  • cooking on more than two burners
  • watching a wide screen tv
  • sitting/lying on a comfy couch to watch tv, read a book or take a nap (this will change on Medina once the Skipper builds in a new sea berth to replace our two black chairs)
  • doing a relatively large load of laundry, i.e. more than 2 towels at a time
  • having the space to spread out and not use one area for multiple purposes
  • waking up to the sound of birds, particularly the warble of a magpies
We distract Orbit from standing in front of an open fridge by putting his artwork on the door

We distract Orbit from standing in front of an open fridge by putting his artwork on the door

We are fortunate enough to be staying in a house that has a secure front and backyard, so Orbit can ride his bike and scooter to his hearts content without having to go somewhere to do so. Each time we pull up to the house, Orbit says “yeah, house, good job mummy”, so I think he is enjoying his time here.

Something really special to the Skipper and I is being able to look after the two dogs that also live here. We both love dogs. The biggest thing we miss about living in a house is having a dog. I know people have dogs on boats, but it just doesn’t suit us to have one at the moment. So we are getting our dog ‘fix’ while we are here.

Similar to the last time we housesat, our time off Medina is an opportunity for the Skipper to get stuck in an do the ‘big jobs’, this time he is upgrading our fridge and replacing the black chairs with a new sea berth/couch. We are also tackling our growing list of things to do to get Medina ready to go cruising, most of which are easier when Orbit isn’t on Medina.

By the time we move back on to Medina, she will feel brand new, and it will feel like a holiday from being in a house; and one day, we will have a dog again.

Mud crabs and tinny shoes

The Skipper, Orbit and I were heading to our tinny after a lovely afternoon on the beach. All three of us were barefoot, walking through sand and sea grass exposed by the falling tide.  We weaved a wriggly path, trying to avoiding the ‘swams’ of soldier crabs, so we wouldn’t be nipped or step on them. We were almost at the tinny when we heard a child scream followed by a ‘controlled yell’, ” [insert name of child’s father] do you have a pair of pliers on you?, quick hurry, please hurry!”.

Orbit in his new tinny shoes

Orbit in his new tinny shoes

The three of us spun around to see a family trying to do the best for their toddler. A mud crab (luckily it was only a small one) had latched onto the toddler’s big toe, causing a great deal of pain.

We were focused on solider crabs, we never expected a mud crab on the exposed beach. So, the Skipper and I promptly picked Orbit up and put him in the tinny (hoping the mud crab didn’t have a brother or sister interested in taking one of his toes). We rummaged around to see if we had anything in the tinny to help – had the Skipper left his fishing bag there? There was a pair of pliers in the fishing bag. Nope.

The only thing we had to offer the family, was a box of sultanas (which I had bought with us in case Orbit wanted a snack). As I carefully walked over to the family, the mud crab had let go of little boy’s toe and he was ok. The grandmother was grateful for our small gesture of the sultanas and used them to distract the little boy from his predicament. I offered to go back to Medina and get some ice, first aid kit or anything else she needed, but she explained they were going to head to the local medical centre to get the little boy check out there. Luckily it was only a short drive away.

It was a very good wake up call for the Skipper and I. If this sort of thing could happen on the beach of one of favourite anchorages (where there is a medical centre close by), what would it be like if we were more remote? Even within Moreton Bay, medical help can be a few hours away.

So I took a three-fold approach:

  1. How to prevent the incident – Tinny shoes
  2. If something did happen, what would we do – Create a ‘just in case’ bag
  3. Review our first aid kit on Medina.
Orbit loves wearing our new Musto backpack - it also doubles as our grocery bag when it rains

Orbit loves wearing our new Musto backpack – it also doubles as our grocery bag when it rains

I headed off to the shops to buy tinny shoes. We had briefly discussed getting tinny shoes, but had not thought it was too urgent as we had previously carried our thongs (also known as flip flops and jandles) in the tinny. Thongs are great but aren’t good for walking through water, so we did this barefoot. I was after shoes that could be worn in water and out, would protect our toes but could also breathe, essentially so we could walk from the water into a coffee shop, do the shopping or go on a hike.

It was easy finding shoes for the Skipper and I, but I had trouble finding shoes for Orbit. As luck would have it, the son of a friend had recently grown out of his, and my wonderful friend offered them to us, without even knowing I was in the process of looking for the shoes. How lucky were we!

I have also started the process of putting together a ‘just in case’ bag with a basic first aid kit etc to take with us when were go on our adventures. Nothing too over the top, but a realistic collection of items that may come in handy if something does go wrong. My plan is to update the ‘just in case bag’ depending on where we are, e.g. focusing on stingers as we head up north.

IMG_6994I have to admit, I did lash out and by a rather flash Musto waterproof backpack for the purpose. My logic being that we can use the bag for shopping (especially on a rainy days in the marina), it’s big enough to fit Orbit’s life jacket in and it will be great for transporting our laptops etc in ‘relative safety’ (when in the tinny). We preferred the backpack (as opposed to a carry bag) because it would be easier to hop in and out of the tinny, easier to carry if we decide to go on longer walks and leaves it two hands free. So we’ll see how it goes, I’ll let you know. 

Medina’s first aid kit seems to be a constant work in progress. We tend to add and update things on a regular basis. It reflects our learnings and our experiences such as the one described and advice from other families (sailing and land based). I am sure it shall continue to do so.

Hope you have an amazing adventure this week – no matter how big or small it may be 🙂