Monthly Archives: January 2016

Things only said to a toddler on a sailing boat

There's a lizard in the halyards!

There’s a lizard in the halyards!

Raising a toddler on a sailing boat provides many opportunities for unique statements.

Over the past few months I have been compiling a list of statements that made me giggle or have raised questions when I have been telling a story to a family member or friend who has asked for clarification when using sailing boat terminology.

Below are some the statements on my list and a translation or explanation …

“Can you grab the painter please?”

A painter is the rope used to tie our tinny to Medina. We’re teaching Orbit his ‘tinny skills’ and he’s in charge of passing me the painter (which is next to him on the seat) when we’re close to Medina.

Playing with water in the cockpit

Playing with water in the cockpit

“Out of the galley, NOW!”

“Out of the kitchen, NOW!”, especially when I’m using the oven, as it doesn’t have a heat proof door, and the door is the perfect height for Orbit to lean or put his hand on.

“I think lizard is in the halyards”

This is my often my response when Orbit says “where’s lizard?” We coil our halyards (ropes) and hang them in the cockpit so they stay out of the way and I quite often find toys in the halyards, including cars and lizards!

“Water stays in the cockpit … please”

When its hot, Orbit cools down by playing with his toys in a bucket of water under the shade of the cockpit bimini (see “please don’t climb on the bimini”). Its amazing how much water can get from the cockpit to the galley when he’s having fun!

Caught in the act of trying to get on the dodger

Caught in the act of trying to climb on the bimini

“I’m in the head”

“I’m in the toilet” (nothing more needs to be said).

“In a minute, we’re about to tack”

“In a minute, were about to turn the boat”. It’s all hands on deck for the Skipper and I when we’re tacking and Orbit is in bed, safe from harm. Quite often he asks to come out, which he can, but after we have tacked.

“Please don’t climb on the bimini”

“Please don’t climb on the flimsy bit of canvas that keeps the sun and rain off us.”

“It’s not a good idea to sit on the windlass”

“It’s not a good idea to sit on the winch that drops and raises the anchor”, even if its not working at the time. I don’t want Orbit to get in the bad habit of sitting somewhere that is potentially dangerous.

Orbit's 'sticker art' around the engine instruments

Orbit’s ‘sticker art’ around the engine instruments

“Thank you for not putting stickers on the engine instruments”

Orbit is still in the ‘sticker phase’, so we have stickers every where on Medina, which is lovely and cute, until they cover the instruments that the Skipper needs to see! Orbit now decorates around the engine instruments rather than over them.

In reviewing this post (I hope I have fixed all the grammatical errors!), I have realised that some of the things that we ask Orbit to do or not to do, is related to his height – toys in the coiled halyards, the oven, the windlass, where stickers are placed for example, are things that are at his height, which make them attractive for him to sit on or touch. It will be interesting to see what we’re asking him or asking him not to do when he’s taller!

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!

Rainy days on Medina

Running off excess energy on the beach

Running off excess energy on the beach

Raining days are alway interesting on Medina. I love the thought of them, I have this vision of relaxing, listening to the rain fall on the deck while a good reading a book. However, throw in an active toddler and a dose of reality (i.e. places to be, things to do) and it’s not something that happens very much.

When we are in the marina, the rain doesn’t stop us, we pop on our raincoats and stick to our routine, hoping not to get caught in any great downpours as we walk from the Medina to the car or vice versa. But I have always wondered how we would go when cruising. Two weeks ago I found out.

Rainy day on Medina (at anchor)

Rainy day on Medina (at anchor)

We were safely anchored in one of our favourite spots when heavy showers over a 12 hour period were predicted.  Preparing a sailing boat for rain isn’t that hard as they are designed to be water tight, but we put up a water proof cover to give the cockpit extra protection. It also allows us to leave the companion way open, which lets fresh air in the boat, as all the other hatches are closed.

Once Medina was sorted, we turned our minds to preparing Orbit (or maybe it was preparing ourselves?). Preparing Orbit to be cooped up for up to 24 hours in a relatively small space meant getting him as tired as possible. So we were in the tinny and off to the beach for the morning. We’re pretty lucky, Orbit is an explorer by nature and needs no encouragement to start running around, looking for new things, jumping in puddles and playing in the sand.

Maintaining the engine with the Skipper

Maintaining the engine with the Skipper

With one very tired little boy, we headed back to Medina (he nearly fell asleep in the tinny on the way back), ready for the rain to begin. The rain started when Orbit was asleep for his afternoon nap, he was happy to remain contained to the boat after he woke up till it was time to go to sleep after dinner. The next day was a bit more interesting …

We all woke to the sound of rain falling on the deck and none of us were particularly keen to get out of bed – there was no rush, nothing urgent to check as the Skipper and I had been up checking on things through the night. After our bladders would no longer let us lay in bed, we were all up having a lazy breakfast. We checked the weather (again) and the forecast was for rain all day and had to accept that we would have a full day on the boat, contained below so we had better get ready to continue relaxing.

Puzzles are always a good way to fill in time

Puzzles are always a good way to fill in time

This is fine and dandy for the Skipper and I, but what about Orbit? How were we going to keep him contained, occupied and happy? I should not have worried, he usually mirrors moods of the Skipper and I, so as long as we were relaxed, he was relaxed too. He managed to fill his waking hours of the day, copying the Skipper and I. When we were reading books or on the computer, he was reading or playing on his ‘computer’, he was more than keen to ‘help’ the Skipper check the vitals in the engine, learning how to use a spanner and generally kept himself busy doing puzzles and playing with his toys. Orbit just seemed to potter through the day with us.

I am not sure if he would have survived another day of being confined below decks, and thank goodness we didn’t need to find out because we woke to a brilliant sunrise the following morning. But on the day, that fateful day of being confined to Medina for over 24 hours, I did get to make my vision a reality … I got to relax, listening to the rain on the deck while reading a good book. And it was even better because I got to do it with my two favourite people in the world, the Skipper and Orbit!

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!