Category Archives: Preparing Medina and us

Me and my shadow

Checking the Beacon to Beacon

Checking the Beacon to Beacon

Orbit is at the wonderful age of wanting to help out and to have responsibility. I am really enjoying this stage of his life, but sometimes it can be a bit challenging to find ways that he can safely be involved in what we are doing. We used to be able to say, no and distract him or put him in bed out of harms way. But as Orbit is getting older and more interested in things, we can do this less and less. Here’s a few ways of how we’ve included Orbit in everyday activities on Medina.

When we are sailing Orbit enjoys helping the Skipper navigate. We navigate using electronic charts on an iPad and cross check to paper charts. Because we use our iPad for navigation Orbit isn’t allowed to play with it. The last thing we want is for Orbit to start playing on the iPad while we are underway. So instead Orbit helps me cross check our position on the paper charts or in the Beacon to Beacon. The Beacon to Beacon is a easier for Orbit to use because it’s smaller and is a bit more interesting with pages of charts of different areas. Orbit likes it when I point out where we are on the chart and where we are going, particularly if there is a beach where he can go swimming.

Getting ready to winch

Getting ready to winch

Orbit has alway enjoyed winching. I am not sure why he has an attraction to winching. It could be the noise the winch makes or it could simply be because he sees the Skipper and I using the winches. Given his attraction, we had to come up with a way that he could learn to use the winch safely. When Orbit was smaller we’d just let him wind the winch handle in an unloaded winch. Once he worked out that there needed to be a rope around the winch, we loosely wrapped the lazy sheet around the unloaded winch but not through the self tailor. This seems to keep Orbit happy at the moment, but it is only a matter of time before he works out that the winch isn’t actually doing anything … then we’ll have our next challenge. But just putting the winch handle in the winch can keep Orbit occupied. Our winches have a locking mechanism on them, so coordinating the lock while lining up the winch handle with the winch can be a bit tricky, particularly if Medina is rolling around a bit (even for an adult!).

Taking the covers off the water tanks

Taking the covers off the water tanks

When we’re in a marina, one of Orbit’s regular responsibilities is to help me check the water level and fill the water tanks if required. This job isn’t something I have to ask Orbit to do twice as it involves one of his favourite things – water! Orbit removes the covers to the water tanks and I take the lids off the tanks. We both have a look and decide if the tanks need filling or not. If the tanks need to be filled, Orbit helps me organise the hose and fittings on deck. While the tanks are filling, Orbit checks the water level and lets me know when they are getting full. Once the tanks are full, I put the lids back on and Orbit then replaces the covers. He then helps me put the hose and deck fittings back in place. Once the job is done and everything is back in its place, I often get a high five with “good job mummy” at the end.

Pre start engine checks

Pre start engine checks

Orbit used to regularly get in the way when the Skipper was trying to do his pre-start engine checks, so the Skipper taught Orbit how to do his own. Orbit gets out his tool box as the Skipper moves the stairs from in front of the engine. First Orbit turns on the engine light, then checks the bolts are all tight with his spanner, then hits various things with his hammer and checks all the screws are tight with his screw driver. Once this is complete he turns the light out and asks the Skipper to put the stairs back in place. Orbit then announces that the engine is ready to start and tells us that Medina is ready to go. The Skipper then does his checks as Orbit packs up his tools and put his toolbox away.

There are many things on Medina that Orbit is interested in and given his personality he is going to investigate them regardless of whether we want him to or not. So the Skipper and I have to come up with ways to teach Orbit how to use the different things on Medina safely. We’ve learnt to take things slowly, to break things down into small steps and to give Orbit as much knowledge and experience as he is interested in. We have also learnt to give him space, space to work things out by himself and space to make mistakes, after all, this is how we learn.

We did it!

Our little family

Our little family

In the infamous words of Dora the Explorer “we did it!” (sorry for the ear worm).

Yesterday was an exhausting day but extremely rewarding, one that I will never forget.

After Father’s Day breakfast with Orbit’s grandparents, we were back on Medina doing the final organising and spending time with the grandparents and our marina family. As soon as the wind had turned easterly, it was time to go (we are finally watching the weather instead of a clock).

We had planned to wave ‘see you soon’ to Orbit’s grandparents as we motored past the breakwater out of the marina. So with with the final preparations completed, we left our marina berth and I got Orbit up on deck so he could wave too.

As we went past the breakwater, we realised Orbit’s grandparents were not there. After a few phone calls (thank goodness for mobile phones) we found out they had been delayed trying to find a carpark. So a U-turn it was, we were not missing out on waving to them!

Leaving the marina

Leaving the marina

Heading back into the marina, Orbit got quite upset and said ‘No mummy, no home, stay here’. Bless his little cotton socks. The second time out of the marina, his grandparents were there. We waved as if no one was watching and once they were out of site, some tears and some deep breaths it was time to focus on the adventure ahead.

Remember my plans of having everything sorted, organised, put away … well that did not happen! Everything until yesterday morning had been put away, but our final loads of washing, our permanent mooring lines and last minute bits and pieces just thrown down below, into a spot where they could to do the least amount of damage in the worst case scenario.

I was thankful that the Skipper had decided to motor to our first anchorage – to give the newly serviced engine a good run in. It meant that Medina was relatively ‘flat’ and I could put things away as we went along.

Orbit living his dream - he's finally at 'the beach'!

Orbit living his dream – he’s finally at ‘the beach’!

Orbit feel into a deep sleep after his lunch, he thought he was something pretty special sitting in the cockpit with his dad, munching away on his sandwich. He didn’t even wake up once we had anchored and turned the engine off. A few hours later he was up, the first thing he said was ‘beach’ so it was into the tinnie and off to the beach.

So for the next few days, we are just going to be taking it all in, doing some final provisioning and plan the detail of our next few weeks.

As I sit here with my coffee, watching the sun rise I feel so blessed and thankful. Thank you to everyone for your warm wishes and thank you for coming on the adventure with us.

The art of multi-tasking


The Skipper up the mast, checking everything is ok and replacing bulbs in the navigation and steaming lights

Preparing Medina to go cruising has given our multi-tasking skills a really good work out this week, physically, mentally and emotionally.

Even though we have crossed a lot of things of our to do list, there just didn’t seem to be enough daylight hours, hours without Orbit on Medina, hours when there is little or no wind this week. So it has been a case of making the most of each situation we found ourselves in. If the wind was calm we were doing things up the mast or taking the tinnie for a run with its new outboard. If it was too windy for tasks on deck, we were doing things below and making the most of wind by washing those things that take a while to dry. If Orbit wasn’t on Medina I was cleaning, sorting, ordering or provisioning and the Skipper was servicing the engine or installing new equipment.

There was also all the ‘administrative’ tasks to sort out, everything from organising our mail, insurances, cars, Orbit’s daycare and activities. And of course, the passage planning – watching the weather forecasts, planing where can we anchor/which marina to go into if we needed water, filling up with fuel (and having spare jerries – just in case), checking our safety equipment, planning menus and what is our plan B in case something goes wrong etc.

Medina's matching boom cover and UV strips on the head sail and stay sail

Medina’s matching boom cover and UV strips on the head sail and stay sail

Despite all the rushing around or because of it, our to do list is much shorter. Either by achieving the tasks (which is the majority), postponing them till we are on the way (mainly little tasks, like finishing the netting I planned to do ages ago) or putting them on a new list to be achieved at our next major stop (the big ‘nice to have done but run out of time’ tasks).

Thursday was a particularly challenging day, both physically and mentally. We only had the morning to get a number of on deck tasks done. Orbit was at daycare, which meant we didn’t have to worry about him but we only had the morning because strong winds were predicted from Thursday afternoon onwards for a few days. I had to take a some photos at one point because I was so proud of what the Skipper and I were achieving both together and individually.

The cleaning and washing never seems to end

The cleaning and washing never seems to end

Within a few hours, I had cleaned the shower including the shower bilge (the grate from the shower bilge and Orbit’s non-slip frog), completed a number of loads of washing (rugs, cushion covers and curtains from the shower (thank goodness we have a washing machine onboard), helped the Skipper put Medina’s sails back on (she looks very smart with her matching boom cover and UV strips) then winched the Skipper up the mast – twice! I then got to go up the mast, because the Skipper left one of the steps at the top open. It was easier for me to go up and close the step rather than winch him up for the third time.

Besides multi-tasking the physical tasks this week, we have also had to multi-task our emotions. There have been the concerns, the doubts, the ‘are we doing the right thing?’ question being played on repeat in our minds. There was also the excitement and joy of starting a new adventure and the sense of achievement when we get one step closer.

View from the mast looking south, our home

View from the mast looking south, our home

We have been mindful of Orbit through this whole transition, how do we assist him through this time? He is seeing a lot happen and a lot change and he has heard us talking with family and friends. We have been trying not to send him on an emotional roller coaster by being on one ourselves.

We’ve have been trying to prepare Orbit by explaining what is happening and what is going to happen and matching this with his concept of time – today, tomorrow and in a few days. We kept his routine in place but talked about how it would be the last time we will be doing something (e.g. last day at playgroup, last day at day care), but he had new adventures ahead. I asked Orbit yesterday what he was most looking forward to and he said going to the beach.

View from the mast, looking north, to where our next adventure begins

View from the mast, looking north, to where our next adventure begins

I am not sure if Orbit completely understands what we are about to do, and even though he’ll be having fun, I am sure after a few days he will be asking to see family and friends and when he’ll being going to playgroup or swimming lessons. When this happens the plan is to explain to him what our new adventure involves and we can count the days till he sees his grandparents, family and friends but also look forward to the new friends he is going to make and the new cousins he will get to play with. I have a calendar on the Medina that we can mark of significant days and he can count the days (I am also hoping this will help him learn the days of the week and months).

Orbit and his cousin, Tilly having fun on Medina's foredeck

Orbit and his cousin, Tilly having fun on Medina’s foredeck

So with only a few hours to go, our time will be spent with our family and friends who have been so supportive of us and our dream. Without them, we would not have achieved what we have so far and we would not be sailing away in a few hours time. Not once have our family or friends questioned what we would like to do. They have asked questions so they can be informed, but have never told or asked us not to go. The main question they have asked is “when are you going”, well we are going very very soon. Too soon to leave them but not soon enough to begin our adventure.

Thank you to everyone who has supported us to get this far – we could not have done it without you and you are all coming with us.

What we’re not taking

At Playgroup this week and one of the mum’s asked “what are you going to pack”, she then laughed and said, “it’s probably a case of you’re already packed!”

“True” I said. Our conversation then turned to how easy it is to accumulate stuff. Our conversation inspired me to undertake another round of taking things off Medina that we don’t or no longer need.

Medin'a half full cockpit

Medin’a half full cockpit

Over the past few weeks I have been decluttering our material possessions, either donating it to local charities or making use of the industrial sized rubbish bins at the marina.

But this week, there just seems to be more and more stuff coming on to Medina than coming off. The stuff coming onto Medina is important and we do need it, but finding spots for some of it has been a bit of a challenge and usually involves taking more stuff off.

I took a photo of our cockpit this morning because, well – its half full! Amongst our washing is, Medina’s headsail and stay sail (the sails on the front of Medina, which we had the UV material replaced), a danbuoy and life sling (both used in a person over board situation) and a new EPIRB. All essential items that will be put in their respective places over the coming days.

Orbit getting to know his new play-doh machine

Orbit getting to know his new play-doh machine

What you can’t see is the extra ‘little things’ I have been stockpiling, the nice to haves, the books, activities and toys, secret treats to have while we’re away from the luxury of being able to ‘just pop to the shops’. I justified their place on Medina because I have already taken of what feels like a large amount of books, activities, toys and stuff we no longer need or use.

Most liveaboards (that we know) have the rule, for every one thing that goes on the boat, one thing must come off. This is a great rule and a great way to manage the limited space available.

Another great rule is everything has a place – there is nothing more annoying/dangerous than having an item fly across the cabin and break because the boat has heeled over. It may sound a bit strange, but over the next few weeks, we will be spending quite a significant portion of our time living on some kind of an angle and constantly moving, even when at anchor.

Below decks when Medina is heeled over

So part of preparing Medina to go cruising means, finding a place for something or it gets off loaded. It is rather a cathartic process to get stuff off the boat, to create space, but sometimes the decision isn’t that easy.

I keep having the thought in my head, ‘but what if we need it?’ On the flip side, we aren’t going to be sailing across oceans or to countries where things can not be easily replaced.

We are only heading up the coast. It may only be a few days sail (if we go directly) but we’re going to take our time and take a few weeks – there are too many interesting places to go, people to see and adventures to be had.

So from that perspective, we really don’t need much at all!