The time to leave Melbourne snuck up behind me, and stood watching over my shoulder as I packed up my life, and transported it by car, plane, train and finally rowing boat out to an anchorage in Greenwich, on the North shore of Sydney, where I poured it unceremoniously into a little 27ft Albin Vega. Paul, my skipper, nearly had a heart attack when he saw the mountain of clothes that emerged from my bag ;) he reckons I have an outfit for every day of the trip…hey, will save on washing :p
That first week saw alarm clocks blasting at 6am (previously more likely to have been my bedtime!), to get the boat out of the water in order to scrape off the blanket of barnacles engulfing the hull, to then sand and repaint the whole thing with antifouling… A slight contrast from sitting at a desk in an office researching quantum spin chains…
Life for me was beginning to change; we were up and down with the sun, and chugging at a much slower pace. Tasks on a boat consume more time than on land, caused by the diminished equipment, space, water and power (obtained purely from solar panels and wind generator). Sometimes it feels like you’ve barely just finished getting dressed in the morning when suddenly it’s time to start cooking dinner! Cooking is achieved purely on little alcohol-fuelled stoves rocking adorably on pivots. Cleaning… well cleaning is never ending and is achieved in confined spaces with minimum water usage. Want to shower? Run out of water, food, red wine or cigarettes? Time to row ashore...
|The boat yard|
|Dave & Cheeka, boat yard guru|
|Rod, boat yard barfly|
It was a striking contrast to have the highlight of my day revealing itself as the successful welding of the wind vane or having ones companion make joyful exclamations for the love of his clamping vice! The type of work involved in boat repair/preparation is not the sort that comes naturally to me (…work itself doesn’t come naturally to me :p ), as evidenced by the disbelief on Paul’s face when I asked what a chisel was when asked to pass him one… And there was the occasion (that I’ve been trying my hardest to forget), when I dropped the keys to EVERYTHING in the sea on day two (luckily Paul dived down and got them – hence why air is still allowed to circulate through my lungs). Or how about the time I tried to switch on the music just seconds after witnessing Paul take the battery out… And then of course there are the half empty red wine glasses that get left on the sparkling white deck overnight… Plugging up the vent through which these sorts of calamities spill out of me was one of the reasons I wanted to embark upon a trip like this in the first place. I was hoping become a more practical person… We’re all allowed to dream right?
That first weekend we escaped the city (and the noisy speedboats, jet skis and other motorised monstrosities whose wave production not only disrupts the balance of the boat, but also that of the chemicals inside Pauls head). We headed to Nowra (a couple of hours south of Sydney) to do some climbing with a bunch of friends. I won’t bore you with the details about my reincarnation as Spiderman, but I did get pretty “hooked” and reached some new highs… Topped off with red wine around a campfire… What more could you ask for from a weekend?