Tag Archives: toddlers on sailing boats

When it’s hot, we make water cakes

It’s definitely summer in Moreton Bay. Some days, it’s hot, just too hot to leave Medina. If we have something scheduled we grin, remind ourselves how lucky we to live on a sailing boat and get on the with the day (lucky our car has air conditioning!). But if we don’t have to be anywhere, it’s nice just to sit, enjoy and be as still as possible … while trying to keep cool.

Orbit's two favourite things - water and cars

Orbit’s two favourite things – water and cars

Living in a marina has its advantages and frustrations. One of the frustrating things, is being surrounded by water but not being able to jump in to keep cool. We could jump in, if we really really wanted too, but the thought of bull sharks, jelly fish, things from boats – mentionable like antifoul paint, diesel, oil etc and unmentionables (which shall remain unmentionable) don’t really encourage us to jump in – no matter how hot it is. A part of me envies the divers who are working on boats in marinas on hot days – but they have wet suits and devices to scare the sharks away …

The Skipper and I choose Medina’s berth because it’s more likely to get the prevailing winds, keeping things cooler in summer. We also have a shade cover over the foredeck and a bimini covering the cockpit (with a waterproof cover over that) to create shade on the decks which in turn helps to keep below decks cooler. We also have fans throughout but, somedays even with the breeze, the shade and the fans, it’s hot.

So how do we keep Orbit cool? It’s simple, we just add water. A bucket full of fresh potable water and toys is all he needs, the the games and entertainment flow from there. 

Making water cakes

Making water cakes

Orbit and I made up the game of making ‘water cakes’ a few weeks ago. We made it up from the things we had at hand on Medina, no purchases required (it was too hot to leave to go to the shops anyway!). I am sure many others have variations to this game as it keeps toddlers entertained for quite a while.

So to make water cakes, we get a bucket full of water, a container to full with water and different size and colour measuring cups. Orbit then says how many cups of water are going in the cake (good for learning how to count) and starts to fill the container. As he fills he container with water, he uses different coloured cups (good for learning colours).  So a recipe might be, 3 blue cups, 4 red cups, 2 yellow cups etc. I have found this to be a great game to also talk about when something is full, empty, etc. Once the container is full, either Orbit or I tip it on his head.

A warning with this game – you may get a few containers of water on your own head too – the temptation to do to me as I do to Orbit is irresistible. But hey, on a hot day – who cares, it keeps us both cool!

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!

The box that keeps on giving

The other week Orbit went shopping with the Skipper. It was the usual “boy’s shopping trip” to the chandlery. A chandlery is to a boat what a hardware store is to a house. They are a treasure trove of boat goodies with everything from anchors, navigational equipment, toilets and clothes through to safety equipment, and door handles!


While the Skipper and Orbit were out shopping, I managed get my head down for a nanna nap. I was woken by a not so little voice yelling, “mummy, mummy, pump, pump” then “up down, up down, up down” … You can imagine what my first thought was in my half asleep nanna nap haze.

Luckily my nanna nap haze lifted quickly, because the next thing Orbit was on the bed, brandishing a new pump for our toilet. I say luckily because in his excitement of trying to get the pump to me as quickly as possible, Orbit got caught in the bedding, tripped and swung the pump into the pillow where my head had just been peacefully resting!

How fortunate are we to have a child that gets excited about a new pump for the toilet! (Am having flash backs to last week’s post …). Why was Orbit so excited? Who knows?! But he is learning to use the toilet on Medina and the old pump was rather hard for him to use, the new one would make his life a lot easier.

What kept the excitement going (even before the Skipper had installed the pump) was converting the box the pump came in, from something pretty bland into into a car garage. I thought it was a great example of reusing before we recycled. The garage is a great addition to Orbit’s toy car paraphernalia, not much of which was originally designed for cars, but he doesn’t know that and I am not about to tell him.


“There has to be a car in here somewhere”

Another unexpected gift from the box that keeps on giving, is because its a lighter colour and a matt finish, its great for Orbit to draw on. Its slowly getting more an more colourful as the days go by.

Am not sure how long this box will last. I am quite conscious of having cardboard on Medina. You see, cardboard and boats aren’t really meant to go together. Insects can come onboard in cardboard or if an insect onboard finds cardboard, it is likely to convert it into its home and begin to breed. This is why we check any cardboard before we bring it on to Medina and keep an eye on it when its on board. Once we have finished with it (i.e. some form of craft activity), the cardboard is usually off to the recycling bin. So it maybe an interesting challenge to get the car garage to the recycling bin when it’s time to go!

Who would have thought?

Last week we needed to replace our trusty little washing machine. Our little twin tub had served us well, doing at least 2 loads a day, 7 days a week. It survived for two and half years. Not a bad investment for just over $200!

Orbit at 7 months - inlet pipe for the washing machine (which was never used)

Orbit at 7 months – inlet pipe for the washing machine (which was never used)

Unfortunately it got to the stage where I could not fix it with my limited repairing skills, i.e. using a hammer, WD40, duct tape type and/or blu tack to repair.  And given the Skipper’s ever growing to do list, it was easier, faster and less stressful to just buy a new one.

As with most washing machines, there is a pipe to bring the water into the machine (inlet pipe) and a pipe for taking the water to go out (outlet pipe). Rather than using the inlet pipe, we use a hose directly from the water supply on the marina dock or a bucket filled from the galley sink when we are out and about. This left the inlet pipe destined for the rubbish bin, or so we thought …

When we got our first washing machine, Orbit was straight onto the inlet pipe. He would quite happily sit for half an hour chewing on the pipe, which was great because it allowed me to get one load of washing done. But alas, one day it must have been packed away ‘somewhere safe’ because I haven’t seen it in a very long time.

I am learning that it is very easy to lose things in boats. Which might sound strange because we have such a relatively small amount of space to put things. But on the flip side, we have lots of hidy holes to put things and hence lose them!

Orbit's new 'old toy'

Orbit’s new ‘old toy’

This time when we were unpacking the new machine, Orbit’s eye’s lit up when he saw the inlet pipe. I had forgotten that the original inlet pipe was one of his favourite toys when he was a baby. I am not sure if he remembered the pipe from when he was younger, if he just wanted to play with it because the Skipper and were (I am sure our ‘work’ equals his ‘playing’), or if he saw its potential.

Regardless of which it was, it the inlet pipe in back on the ‘favourite toys’ list. Orbit uses the inlet pipe in many different ways, a trumpet, a car bridge, a necklace (for him or me) or anything else his imagination allows it to be.

I am always amazed at how you can give toddlers or kids all the fancy toys in the world, but it’s the simple things, the things we adults don’t necessarily see as toys that are usually the favourites. So my lesson from this experience is, I am not going to worry to much about toys when we’re cruising. Between our three imaginations (the Skipper, Orbit and I) I’m sure we can turn most things into a ‘toy’ and a game out of nearly everything we do. I shall let you know how we go!

How time flies

It has been over a year since I did a little post on Orbit’s perspective of Medina. It was an interesting exercise to update this diagram. It has made me realise how much he has grown, not only in size but also his ability to move around Medina and to make the most of the space that we do have!

Medina (above decks) 1 Medina (below decks) 1