Monthly Archives: September 2014

Our mini adventure to the Sandhills

A few weekends ago we set off for a mini adventure to the Sandhills, Moreton Island. Our mini adventure started with the usual early morning flurry of getting Medina ready to go sailing.     After breakfast, we topped up the water tanks, checked all the relevant components (e.g. navigation equipment, radio checks, fuel levels etc), packed up the shade sail, 240 volt appliances (such as the kettle, toaster and washing machine) and put away anything that could be turn into a missile. Then there was the last trip to the rubbish bin and the Skipper was ready to start the engine.

We follow the same routine each time we leave the marina, the Skipper starts the engine, Orbit goes into bed to look after ‘his friends’ – Yamba and Pirate, I ‘throw the lines’ and the Skipper reverses Medina out of her berth and into the channel, out into Moreton Bay. Once we’re in safe water and Medina has been sorted (e.g. fenders and lines stowed, sails up and checking were on the correct course), Orbit comes up into the cockpit. When Orbit was little he would relax in the baby carrier with me, now he is bigger he sits with either the Skipper or myself. He has always been fascinated by the helm (steering wheel), particularly when the auto pilot is on and it ‘moves by itself’.

Orbit learning to helm (17 months)

Orbit learning to helm (17 months)

It was a gorgeous day but very little wind, so fantastic conditions for having Orbit in the cockpit. Orbit was determined to helm (or steer the boat), so the Skipper gave him a lesson that was appropriate for a 17 month old. The lesson consisted of sitting on the Skipper’s lap and and turning the wheel (which wasn’t very much because the auto pilot was on) and trying to stop him from playing with the auto pilot (which makes a beeping noise each time one of the buttons are pressed).  Apart from trying to stop him from playing with the autopilot, we had a lovely time pointing out the local wildlife, reading books, singing silly songs and having a wonderful time all round.



The Skipper and Orbit at the Sandhills

The Skipper and Orbit at the Sandhills

After floating around Moreton Bay for a few hours (and not getting very far) we decided to motor over to the Sandhills so we could catch the high tide, allowing us to take the tinny all the way to the beach. One of Orbit’s favourite things to do is go for a ride in the tinny. He knows when ever we pop him into his life jacket it’s time for a ride in the tinny and he gets really excited.  However, this time, by the time we got to the Sandhills, Orbit was sound asleep so we decided to postpone the trip to the beach till the next day and the Skipper went fishing in the tinny instead. Orbit got his trip on the beach the next day at high tide and spent most of the time playing in the sand, building and knocking down sandcastles with the Skipper.


Our mini adventure was also memorable because it was the first time we were able to go to a friend’s boat for sundowners (drinks at sunset). Quite early on we discovered that sundowners are not well timed with a baby – its usually dinner or bath time and don’t forget to throw in the ‘witching hour’. But now Orbit is older, we have more flexibility with the timing of dinner (cheese and biscuits are much nicer than vegetables) and baths (he still gets a bath at anchor) and the tinny cures any potential witching hour. We have the process of getting Orbit on and off Medina to and from tinny sorted, but going through this process with another boat (of completely different shape) was an initially worrying but successful process.

Another new experience for me was on the cooking side of things. It was my first time cooking pikelets on Medina (I am starting with recipes that don’t need electric appliances). Each time we have a mini adventure I try to cook something new to see what it is like either at anchor or while we are motoring or sailing – so learning to cook with the world moving around you. I am very lucky because the Skipper and Orbit are happy taste testers. Its all part of getting ready to go cruising – feeding the crew is one of the most important things, it helps prevent fatigue and boosts morale (particularly when the weather isn’t so good).

It was a fantastic mini adventure, we each learnt new things and had a lot of fun in the process, we’re one step closer to going on our ‘big adventure’!


Where does Orbit sleep?

“Where does Orbit sleep?” is one of the most common questions we get asked.

Medina's layout (from Orbit's perspective)

Medina’s layout (from Orbit’s perspective)

Beds on boats or berths are pretty much fixed once they are built, so Orbit’s choice of sleeping locations were limited (unless we wanted to get the boat ‘renovated’). At the moment there are three berths on Medina – the V-berth (at the front of the boat), the sea berth (port-midships or left side-middle of the boat) and one in the aft cabin. I say at the three berths at the moment because we are planning to replace the ‘chairs’ with a ‘couch’ which can be another sea berth when sailing.

The Skipper and I sleep in the aft cabin and as we decided not to co-sleep, there were two options left for Orbit – the V-berth or the sea berth. We decided to try the sea berth.

Orbit in bed

Orbit in bed

The logic behind this decision included being able see and hear him from our bed (which has its own pros and cons), the sea berth had a lee-cloth (a piece of material that stops someone from rolling out of bed) and allows the berth to be similar to a cot.

Other reasons included that the sea berth was out of the general living area, was a ‘dark area’ which we thought would help with sleeping, caught the breezes as they flowed through the boat (keeping it a cool area in summer), and we didn’t use the space for other things. Once Orbit could roll over, we popped in a temporary ‘head board’ which divides the area into two spaces, one for sleeping and one for Orbit’s things.

Yamba, Orbit and Pirate getting ready to go on an adventure

Yamba, Orbit and Pirate getting ready to go on an adventure

We also pop Orbit into his bed when neither of us can supervise him, e.g. when we are entering or leaving the marina or anchoring. It is a safe area. The lee-cloth acts like a flexible safety barrier and because of the material it is made of, he can see what is going on but can’t get out. The little trooper loves it when the Skipper starts the engine and we pop him into bed to look after “Pirate” and “Yamba”, it means we’re off on an adventure!


The To Do List

There is a lot to do in getting ourselves and Medina ready to go cruising. I have to admit I got overwhelmed by all the information out there and trying to work how it applies to our situation.

So, rather than focusing on the detail, I have tried to keep things high level, pop the detail as I work through each component then work out what is a priority or nice to have, taking into consideration time and financial constraints. I am sure that as I work through each of the dot points the To Do List will grow even more and will never be completed.

Our To Do List is split into three main areas – Medina, the Crew (the three of us for the majority of the time) and the individual journeys that we’ll undertake. Please note, this is a list I have developed for our particular situation and may not apply for other boats and/or crews.


  • Understand her design and what this means for safety and performance
  • Audit Medina against the YA Category 1 regulations
  • Understanding her systems and develop redundancy plans, from the LPG system, the engine and the plumbing (yep the toilets (looking forward to that one!)
  • Understanding our insurance policy
  • Maintenance List (inc cleaning) – what we are going to regularly inspect and maintain when
  • Pre-passage check list – what are we going to check before each passage

[Medina is already Australian Registered, with big thanks to the previous owners.]


The Crew

  • Our knowledge and experience (strengths and weaknesses)
  • Individual responsibilities
  • Our comfort (e.g. meals, appropriate clothing, sleeping, entertainment, washing, showers/baths etc)
  • First aid
  • Health and general wellbeing (private health insurance)
  • Communication and delegation

The Journey

  • Where are we going
  • How are we going to get there, and how long will it take i.e. navigation, having a Plan B, Plan C and Plan D (if required)
  • Understanding the weather and our ‘weather window’
  • Watch keeping and fatigue management
  • Anchoring, marina or mooring options
  • Provisioning and cooking
  • Communications (e.g. HF, VHF, sat phone, internet, AM/FM radio and TV)
  • What are we going to do when we get there
  • Emergency Planning (including man over board drills)
  • Keeping a log

World Maps

So why should we do all this planning? Essentially, it’s to provide peace of mind when we are sailing. Particularly because for the majority of the time we are going to be sailing short handed, i.e. planning for one of us to be on watch at any one time. Following the advice from Jill Schinas

“Mummy and Daddy + Baby = Only Daddy or Mummy to sail the boat”.

We are hoping to have family and friends to share our adventures with us, but we can’t plan to have someone else on Medina all the time. Another piece of fantastic advice from Jill which has already come into play in our day sailing is

“The skipper of a yacht with a baby in the crew should regard any assistance as a bonus”.

It is going to be a balancing act of sailing the boat and looking after Orbit, the majority of the time we’ll be able to do both, some of the time it will be one or the other.

We are taking our planning very seriously, we have our most precious gift on board with us. Because of this we want to be in the position to make the best decisions when required. We don’t want to be worried about the rigging in a storm, wondering if the engine is going to cut out as we pass through a reef. We would rather keep the ‘things to worry about’ to a minimum, so we all can enjoy the sail and the destination when we arrive.