Category Archives: Slow travel

Working from Medina

Most people are surprised when they find out I work from Medina. Maybe it’s because they don’t see me ‘going to work’ or as one previous colleague put it “you don’t look like you live on a boat”. I wasn’t sure whether this was a insult or a compliment!

Orbit supervising my work - making sure I meet my deadline

Orbit supervising my work – making sure I meet my deadline

Since living on Medina, I have been very fortunate to be employed by companies that not only talk about having policies of flexible working environments, but actually put them into practice. In my current job, I work a set number of hours per week, when I work these hours is flexible, as long as I meet my deadlines. It doesn’t matter if I am in an office or on Medina.

When Medina is in the marina, working is pretty easy from a logistics perspective. 240 volt electricity is on tap, we have a strong internet connection and are close the airport for when I have to travel. We are also close to grandparents and family daycare, which provides Orbit with an opportunity to enjoy time with family and friends (without me cramping his style), and playing in houses with backyards two days a week.

Working at anchor is similar to working in the marina, the only things I need to be conscious of is the battery life on my laptop and connection to the internet. I try to manage the battery life to match the engine running schedule, charging it using the inverter (with the other 240 volt appliances that have batteries). So far so good with internet connection in anchorages, we haven’t had to hoist the wifi modem up the mast … yet! The Skipper looks after Orbit if I have to work outside his sleeping routine, which usually involves a fishing lesson of some description.

Orbit reviewing raw data sheets

Orbit reviewing raw data sheets

I have had to learn to read from a screen because we just don’t have the space to have loads of printing laying around the boat. We do have a printer, but I deliberately have it tucked away in an awkward space, so I only get it out when I have too. My work does rely on using reference books, which have presented a storage problem that I am yet to solve. At the moment I store them in bags and stash the bags around the boat, with the most used books in the bag that is most accessible. I did contemplate scanning them into my computer, but that has just seemed to daunting, given the number of books and number of pages in the books.

From a parenting perspective, working from Medina has been an evolving experience based on Orbit’s routine. When Orbit was a baby, I worked while he slept. But if I had an urgent deadline, he was happy to sit and supervise me (for short periods of time). Once he started being more interested in what I was doing, he wanted to ‘work’ too, which meant he wanted to type on the computer or read the report for me. I got nothing done, so I could only work while he was sleeping.

Working together in the saloon - yep, that's a printer on the floor

Working together in the saloon – yep, that’s a printer on the floor

Now he’s a bit older, Orbit is happy to ‘work’ along side with me, either playing with his cars, doing puzzles, drawing or working on ‘his computer’. Things can get a bit cramped with us both sharing the same space, but we usually come to a compromise, i.e. I slowly get moved off the table, relocating to a chair and/or the floor. I do enjoy working together though, it means I often get more hugs!

But it’s not all about work, it’s all about Orbit. We spend mornings together, going on adventures (when we are anchored) or scheduled activities like swimming lessons or playgroup (when we are in the marina). In the afternoon I focus on work while Orbit is asleep, but how much I get done is dependant on how long Orbit sleeps for and his mood when he wakes up. So depending Orbit, on the type and how much work I need to do, there can be some early mornings, late nights and very busy afternoons.

Working when Medina is anchored

Working when Medina is anchored

At the moment deadlines, meetings and travel commitments are a consideration when and where we go sailing and this will be the same when we are cruising. When we are cruising, we won’t have as easy access grandparents (unless they come to visit or we visit them), there will be no family day care, access to the internet won’t be as reliable (I’ll be relying on local knowledge about anchorages that are a bit remote) and getting to an airport won’t be as easy. But all this can be managed with a good planning and adjusting our schedule to suit. It means we’ll be travelling slowly, but this will also have its advantages. But most importantly, Orbit and I will have the Skipper full time. It is going to be hard staying behind on Medina to work while the boys are out having adventures without me!

So raising a toddler and working from a sailing boat can be done, it just requires organisation and coordination.  A big thank you to my employer and my support network for allowing it to happen for me!

Dragging anchor or coming over to say hello?

We're out of the marina!

We’re out of the marina!

After 8 long months, Medina is out of the marina and for the past week and a bit we have been cruising around Moreton Bay. During the 8 months of Medina’s hibernation (but not ours), the Skipper has rebuilt the engine, ‘refurbished’ the anchor well and we have ticked off a few other minor but just as important tasks that make living and cruising on a sailing boat possible.

To be back sailing again has been like jumping into Moreton Bay on a hot day – refreshing. We’ve had a mix bag of weather conditions, from still warm humid nights to gusty 25 knot winds and a full day and night of rain. Through it all Orbit has been taking our adventure in his stride relishing have both the Skipper and I full time. He has grown so much in the past 8 months and is able to participate even more in the adventures that we’ve been having.

New life jacket

New life jacket

One afternoon, we were comfortably anchored, reading books when the Skipper broke our companionable silence with “Is that boat dragging its anchor?” Always an interesting question and always a question to get us of our bottoms and looking around to see where the potential action is.

In this case a boat was dragging its anchor and floating towards Medina (the comfortable feeling quickly disappeared). I went up on to the bow to get a better look to see if there was anyone onboard and to find out what the boat’s name was, in case we needed to get their attention and let know that their anchor was no longer holding them fast. With all the sudden movement, Orbit was aware that something was going on and came up on the bow with me – he’s at the age where he isn’t going to miss out on anything!

Grey skies didn't stop us from mini adventures on the beach

Grey skies didn’t stop us from mini adventures on the beach

When the boat was within about 50m of Medina, a lady appeared the cockpit and the Skipper yelled a warning of “[insert name of boat] you’re dragging!”. The startled lady quickly let others on board know. No sooner had the Skipper yelled the warning then Orbit (who was on the bow with me) started to yelling “you’re dragging” over and over. Presuming this was something the lady and the crew on the other boat did not want to hear, no matter how cute Orbit is, I quickly tried to distract him by letting him know that the crew were ok and that they had everything under control.

Despite the flurry of activity by the other crew, they were getting pretty close to Medina and I was about to grab Orbit and take to a safe spot in case the two boats hit. As I turned to pick him up, Orbit started to yell “hello, hi!” and began waving. He thought the people on the other boat were coming over to say hello and stay for visit. He had his arms out, waiting for me to lift him over the lines and on to their boat. After I had picked Orbit up and started to walk away from the boat, he started to cry and said, “nooooo”. He really wanted to hop on the other boat – the sociable little fella! By this stage the other boat pulling had started their engine and were motoring away.

Medina at our current anchorage (not the one were we had the close call)

Medina at our current anchorage (not the one were we had the close call)

Instead of taking Orbit down below, we waved the other boat goodbye and through Orbit’s tears of disappointment, he waved them goodbye. The lady who we originally let know that their boat was dragging waved back with a relieved smile.

We’ve had no other close calls on the trip so far, I say touching wood because we still out here. We’ve had some fantastic adventures in the tinny, explored beaches, tested our theoretical systems for water, power and rubbish management, the Skipper caught fish, squid and even a mackerel on a transit across Moreton Bay. We’ve revised our list of tasks to do before we go on our extended cruise and we even remembered how to put the sails up and down!

But most importantly we have had fun, enjoying the company of people from other boats and on land and our own. It has the best way to start the New Year and I hope you have started the New Year with as much joy as we have!

Duck, duck, goose

I seem to have a thing for bird stories at the moment. This next one is an interesting tale. A tale of how I ended up being the goose!

Can you see the rainbow lorikeet?

Can you see the rainbow lorikeet?

But first a bit of context. Orbit and I regularly walk along the Wynnum/Manly/Lota Esplanade. One of the most interesting sections is the mangroves. I have lived in the area for over ten years now and never noticed how much life was in the mangroves, until I started walking past them with Orbit.

During any adventure, I try to keep a look out for things that Orbit may find interesting, fish, birds, the moon, the travel lift moving a boat, kite surfers or a funny shaped stick. And now, he does the same for me. With probably the same strike rate for interest!

A few weeks ago, we were walking past the mangroves when Orbit said, ‘bird, bird, mummy bird’ while pointing at the mangroves. The further we walked, the more insistent he was. I hadn’t seen any bird, but to keep the peace I turned around.

There is a duck in this photo, somewhere ...

There is a duck in this photo, somewhere …

I knew we reached the right spot on the path, when he started to point more vigorously while saying, “mummy, bird, bird”. I still could not see the bird. I walked up and down the path, looking at the same area and still could not see the bird – until it moved. Once I saw it, it was so obvious! It was a rainbow lorikeet, a native Australian bird. I am used to seeing them in eucalyptus or wattle trees, not mangroves!

For the past few weeks, at a different part of the mangroves, Orbit has been saying ‘duck, duck’ and pointing to a particular tree.  Based on the ‘lorikeet experience’, I have been trying to see this duck. I thought I had seen a duck, but it looked like it was nesting in a mangrove tree. I mean when do you see a duck in mangroves and I am pretty sure ducks don’t nest in mangroves … do they?

The duck!

The duck!

I must confess, I was starting to doubt that there was a duck. Given the Orbit had been saying it for a few weeks and I had still not seen the duck, I had stated saying “duck, duck, goose”, whenever he said ‘duck’. I even started to question my hearing, was Orbit trying to say truck, stuck or other multiple words that rhyme with duck?

But then this week, I saw the duck! There was a duck!

I think its a pacific black duck. I have put in a photo of what the mangroves actually look like, plus a photo that I have zoomed in and has had the light enhanced.

So I guess I am the goose after all!

 

The fish whisperer

Orbit looking for fish

Orbit looking for fish at the local park

At the moment, each time we step off Medina, Orbit begins to yell “fish-eze, fish-eze, where are you”? 

Orbit is fascinated with fish and looks for them where ever there is water. Once he spots a fish (any fish will do, he’s not picky), he yells, “fishe-eze, me, me, fish-eze” (I am called, “me” at the moment), followed by much pointing and jumping before he settles in to watch the fish. Orbit will sit and watch the fish as long as they are there to watch.

As its winter at our end of the world, there are lots of fish around. The bream hang out under the boats; the mullet hang out in the shadows of the floating pontoons; plenty of schools of bait fish and the usual ‘puffer’ fish that hang around the underwater growth on the floating pontoons.

Orbit watching the 'puffer fish

Orbit watching the ‘puffer’ fish

This morning we were playing ‘ball’ at one of the local parks and Orbit decided to walk out on one of the jetties to see if he could find some fish. As he was walking out, I am sure everyone in the park heard his yells of “fish-eze, fish-eze, where are you?”

After carefully putting his ball down so it didn’t roll into the water, Orbit sat down at the end of the jetty and started to look for the fish. He was so excited when he found some ‘puffer’ fish that he accidentally knocked his ball into the water. Unfortunately the wind blew it into a storm water drain and I wasn’t about to retrieve it.

Luckily Orbit wasn’t too disappointed about losing his ball, nothing that the promise of a cup cake didn’t fix.

With Orbit’s current fascination with fish, its going to be interesting the next time he goes fishing with the Skipper!

An inheritance of wanderlust

sourced fromhttp://www.thefreedictionary.com/wanderlust

Source: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/wanderlust

Last weekend was dedicated to family history. With ANZAC day on the Saturday, we focused on my great grandfather, William, who fought at Gallipoli. We spoke about his wife, Otilga and their children, one of which was my grandfather. It was interesting sitting and listening the various generations talk about our relatives from their own perspectives.

One of the many things I learnt over the weekend was that although we have chosen very different lives, we have similarities in our personalities. One similarity would be wanderlust (another would be stubbornness, but thats another post!). And I thought it quite serendipitous that wanderlust is a german word, given our german heritage, thanks to Otilga.

Cimba (source:

Cimba (source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cimba

William must have had some form of wanderlust as he became a seaman and joined the merchant service, arriving in Australia, as a crew member aboard the clipper Cimba in 1898. He then became a commercial traveller prior to settling in Wynnum.

After settling, he was active in sailing (an Honorary Secretary of the Wynnum and Manly Sailing Club) and his children learnt how to sail on Moreton Bay.  It was only a few years ago that I learnt (or had the headspace to appreciate) my grandfather and his sisters grew up sailing on Moreton Bay. We are continuing a family tradition and I think of them often when the sails are full and the sun is shining down on my own little family.

William and Otilga

William and Otilga

Unfortunately William died at Gallipoli, but his wanderlust lives on through his children, grand children, great grandchildren and his great great grand children.

We all have a desire to travel, to not sit still for too long. The only difference between us is the geographic scale of the travel and method of travel. For me, the geographical scale is what is around the next corner rather than a destination and the method of travel is sailing boat.

I think going cruising as a true example of wanderlust. Although we only have short term goals (from one anchorage to the next) and our timeframe is set by the weather, we are able to enjoy pottering around places and discovering their history, their beauty and the opportunities they provide.

So, this is my way of thanking William for his ultimate sacrifice and letting him know that he has given us a very special gift. One that is being passed on to the next generation. We won’t take for it for granted and we will make the most of it.