Tag Archives: How great are kids

The magic of sailing …

Orbit checking out the headsail

Orbit checking out the headsail

Each time Orbit is on deck he discovers something new.  On a recent sail from Moreton Island back to the ‘mainland’ or Manly, we had the perfect conditions for Orbit to be on deck and this time he discovered the sails. It was the first time he has really taken notice of the them, stopping, watching and contemplating for a significant period of time.

As he was doing so, I did my best to explain the magic of sailing.

How, in the seconds just after the engine is turned off, there is the apparent silence and then as our ears adjust, the lack of engine noise transforms into the noises of sailing and the boat being pulled through the water.

Orbit checking out the main sail

Orbit checking out the main sail

I went on to describe how I have a feeling of my immediate world altering and not just by heeling over to varying degrees! It’s a like a weight has been lifted or a sense of peace descends. Maybe it’s being one with nature, like an unconscious connection back to the environment, as we are driven by the wind and not the engine. I asked Orbit if it could be described as a feeling of freedom?

Or maybe its just as simple as the lack of engine noise, the relaxation that comes with the beer after the sails are up and the wind in our hair …

Orbit patiently listened as I rambled off my attempts to explain the magic of sailing. I am sure he will come up with his own explanation in time (which will be more articulate than my own), but now just the look of joy on his face is articulate enough.

Orbit telling the Skipper how to trim the sails

Orbit telling the Skipper how to trim the sails

The Skipper and I are really looking forward to the day that we can have Orbit on deck so he can see the magic happen. At the moment Orbit is just hearing the magic as he is tucked up in his bed out of harms way. He is usually asleep by the time the sails are up and trimmed. But when he does wake during a passage, he is keen to be in the cockpit and to be on deck (if the conditions are appropriate) and have the wind though his hair.

One of the wonderful things about sailing with a toddler is the opportunity to see things through their eyes. It makes me look at things differently, to re-evaluate what I think I already know. Although I still ‘get’ the magic each time we are sailing, watching Orbit looking at the sails was an opportunity to try to articulate the magic and a reminder to appreciate our adventures, no matter how big or small and for this I am truly grateful.

Medina, between Moreton Island and St Helena Island

Medina, between Moreton Island and St Helena Island (Orbit was asleep when this photo was taken)

Thanks to Cam and Kim from Trio for the photo of Medina

Follow up on the Jackstay post

Kinetic Energy

Kinetic Energy

A big thanks to Andy for his feedback on my post on installing jackstays. Andy is the skipper of Adelaide based Kinetic Energy.  Andy and Les (Andy’s partner in life, co-owner of Kinetic Energy and foredeck guru) gave me the opportunity to race on Kinetic Energy when I lived in Adelaide. They are two of the most adventurous and generous people I know.  To have crewed for them was a wonderful learning experience in sailing and in life.

Below is some of Andy’s e-mail which I wanted to share.

“The currently teaching in SSSC is “intelligent tethering”. A tether is meant to keep you on the boat, not just attached to the boat. I suppose this is especially true for toddlers when you may not be able to get to them if you need to handle the boat in a crisis. Using a 3 clip tether so you always have a short tether available. Moving the jackstays further inboard. Terminating the jackstays to the centre line on the bow so they are further from the edge are all good considerations. This approach came from the “Lion” incident where the skipper went overboard from the foredeck on his tether and was dragged along with his lifejacket inflated. The helmsman did not tack the boat and he drowned. You only need 1 knot of boat speed to drag someone under when on a tether.”

When I first read this part of Andy’s e-mail, I thought you are right (Andy is rarely wrong).

But …

Either the Skipper or I will be with Orbit when he is on deck, plus, we would never let Orbit on deck if the conditions weren’t appropriate …

And then …

I thought about it some more, and things do go wrong. Even when you are on guard, even when the conditions are perfect, even when you are doing everything to prevent them, accidents do happen.

Les and I on the foredeck of Kinetic Energy

Les and I mid sail change on Kinetic Energy

So it is based on Andy’s feedback that I am reviewing our gear to see if we can make it and the way we do things safer. It is also another gentle reminder to be careful, not only looking out for Orbit and his safety, but the safety of the Skipper and myself.

Another learning from the “Lion incident” was the importance of practicing man overboard drills. This is particularly important in our situation, with only two adults on board and if one adult goes over the side.

Thank you Andy and thank you to others who have provided feedback – it is all welcomed and accepted with gratitude and appreciation.

Crab pot wrangling

Our latest mini adventure had a purpose – we were going to catch some sand crabs. The crab pots were checked, the bait was in the freezer, the sails were up and we were off to an anchorage that is a well known sand crab hangout. ‘Look out crabs, we’re coming’ was on repeat in my head during the sail.

Crab pots 101

Crab pots 101

Due to our late afternoon arrival, the sand crabs got a reprieve the first night. ‘Run, scurry, crawl away’ I kept thinking, trying to telepathically warn the sand crabs of their impending doom. But their time was up after breakfast the next day. Much to Orbit’s delight, the Skipper turned preparing the pots into a ‘father and son moment’. The Skipper explained the technicalities of where and how to put the bait in, the virtues of one type of bait over an other, where he was going to put the pots in, the legal bag and size limits, … I called it Crab Pots 101. I was surprised by how interested and focused Orbit was, not realising that a 21 month old had such an attention span, but I guess that is one of the superpowers that dad’s have.

Once the tinnie was in the water and crab pots on board, the Skipper was off, leaving me with a very disappointed little boy who really wanted to go with his dad. It would have unsafe to have Orbit and I and the crab pots in the tinnie at the same time. Orbit will have to wait until he is big enough to sit in the tinnie without me holding him before going on any adventures to put the crab pots in. I explained this to Orbit while he was devouring a banana, his favourite fruit and preferred tantrum distraction, but I wasn’t sure how much, if any, registered as the banana disappeared pretty quickly while he scanned the waterline for his dad.

That evening, the Skipper timed checking the pots with Orbit’s dinner. With Orbit already distracted, the Skipper quietly slipped away in the tinnie. Orbit did however hear the outboard on the Skipper’s return and there was nothing stopping him from getting into the the cockpit to watch his dad come back to Medina.

Sorting the crabs

Sorting the crabs

Orbit’s concentration span got another work out when the Skipper was back on deck. As the Skipper sorted the legal from the non-legal sand crabs (females or undersized) he explained to Orbit how we need to respect all living animals, particularly the ones we catch to eat. He went on to explain that we should only take as much as we need to feed ourselves, don’t be greedy, kill the animals as humanly possible, don’t cause them any unnecessary pain and eat as much of the animal as you can – don’t waste anything. All this while keeping little fingers out the way of snapping nippers!

The next time the Skipper went to check the crab pots, Orbit was on deck and to my surprise, gave him a big wave goodbye, rather than throwing a tantrum to express his disappointment, so maybe (just maybe) I have some superpowers too …

Sailing milestones for a 1 year old?

Being the end of 2014 and start of 2015, I thought I would reflect on what it has been like to raise Orbit on Medina this year. It has been an eventful year, he has met the development milestones as set out in the baby books, but what about his sailing milestones? I am not sure what the sailing milestones are for a one year old who also lives on a boat, but here are some of Orbit’s achievements for 2014.

Learning how to walk on the floating pontoons in the marina

Learning how to walk on the floating pontoons in the marina

Learning how to winch

Learning how to winch (unloaded side of course!)

Learning how to make a cubby house with the cockpit cushions

Learning how to make a cubby house with the cockpit cushions

Learning how to steer (when the auto pilot is on)

Learning how to steer (when the auto pilot is on)

Learning how to get up to the bow and find a comfy spot to watch the world go by

Learning how to get up to the bow and find a comfy spot to watch the world go by

Am not sure what this year is going to bring, but I am sure it will be filled with lots of adventures!

Happy New Year to everyone!