Being in one country for this long has made us complacent about the calendar-watching that’s normal when traveling by boat. Cyclone seasons and other weather patterns impose a strict framework on when and where a sailboat can safely go, and our decision to wait out two cyclone seasons in Oz shoved that whole awareness out of conscious thought for the past year. Now, as we approach the end of the second cycle we’ve become painfully aware that not only have we failed to explore, as we meant to do, the far reaches of this country we’ve grown to love, but we note with sadness that our time with precious friends is also growing short.
We’re spending much less time in Sydney than we did last year and our friends Diana and Alex have travel plans too, so we’ve tried in the last couple of weeks to cram in some quality time before we scatter to other parts. That quality time has meant hours of good conversation and bread-breaking both in their gemütlich kitchen and in EV’s cockpit. We’ve done our best to encourage them to buy another boat and continue the cruising life with us. In fact we’ve begged. But as we’ve all learned, this life brings us together and tears us apart. The memorable, even life-changing experiences we share cement our friendships but they don’t make it any easier to know our time together is coming to an end.
I know I’ve been sentimental lately and it’s because we’re also saying goodbye to some of the first people we met when we started cruising. Meryl and Walter of Flying Cloud are moving back to land after their journey from the States to Australia. We first crossed paths in Oriental, North Carolina, during our first year aboard and spent our year in the Caribbean crisscrossing tracks.
That same year we met Snow White, What If, Anything Goes, Macushla, Field Trip, Two Much Fun, True Colors, Moana Roa and Shamara III. There are surely others, but of the ones we spent the most time with, many came to the end of their cruising ambitions and moved on to other adventures, one lost his boat, one is pausing to address health issues. Only two are still actively cruising but not in areas we’re likely to intersect any time soon. I’ve been marking the end of that chapter of our cruising life, the year many of us were still new on our boats, still figuring out the lifestyle and the boat systems, meeting at strategic places to share our frustrations and celebrate our successes, all the while singing variations on the theme of How Lucky Are We?
While I’m wallowing in pity at the prospect of saying goodbye to friends, we’re starting to feel our touring time running short. With the glorious Australian summer in full heat we know it’s too hot to travel to the desert regions so we’re planning to head south again. But first we have to find a safe place to leave EV for a couple of weeks. Last year we had no trouble securing a mooring near our friends on Toucan but this year it seems every available affordable mooring or slip has been spoken for. Our anchorage in Rozelle Bay has been cozy and good holding but we can’t leave our boat at anchor while we travel, nice as it is.
I’ve been afraid to start booking flights and hotels without knowing the boat has a place to live, but we have a bucket list item to knock off — a day at the Australian Open in Melbourne — and that only happens in a short window. Eventually I had to have faith that a mooring would become available and start booking the trip.
While that was happening, we developed a leak in our kitchen faucet. Alex took us on a day-long shopping spree and we picked up a new tap but when Jack installed it the leak got worse. What??? We called Mark from Erie Spirit, anchored nearby, and he came over to lend an extra pair of eyes and a few more neurons to help solve the problem.
As with any boat problem, fixing one thing leads to another problem and fixing that just leads you further down the rabbit hole. Thank goodness the whole thing got mostly sorted, leaving us with a very small seep from the drinking water filter canister, which will have to be addressed later. At least for now, there’s no more flooding under the sink and the kitchen is back together again.
I finally found us a mooring up the Parramatta River, sturdy and safe, but when we moved the boat four days before leaving on vacation, stormy weather moved in and we were stuck on board in 35-40 kts of wind with no place to land a dinghy.
Let me tell you how happy we were to get off the boat and head for the airport! The next couple of weeks will be a completely different adventure. And we deserve it!