Sunday morning writing time. FIRST readers in Malta can look forward to the September issue which will include an insight into my personal journal of crossing the Australian Outback. (Blog readers will find a copy on my Media page a few months down the track). Finishing the article, I tumble across a quote which stayed with me from a visit to one of the remote Aboriginal communities out there in the vast, red land . An obvious fact which unfortunately has become less obvious in the obscure and crazy materialistic world we live in:
We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love and then, we return home.
How to make the most of our little time on Earth;
Envisioning your passion, practising yoga and connecting with your dreams;
Bringing more clarity to your path and life;
Getting inspired by someone who’s stepped away from security in exchange for a life closer to her dreams than ever thought possible;
All of the above and more, you can experience at my upcoming Bali Retreat. Feeling inspired? Learn more and join the other amazing yogis from around the world who have already signed up to transform the power of your dreams into your reality.
These past few days, amid 5-year-old’s birthday celebrations, I’ve been busy putting together some pictures and videos for our presentation at the Sydney Boatshow next week. It’s Australia’s biggest fair on everything on and around the water, in its 49th year running, and we are very excited to be part of it. More so, I’m grateful to give back what I gave us: Six years ago Pablo and I listened to the La Barca family talking about their then recent family sailing adventure. This was the final trigger to set real milestones and make our sailing dream come true. It was real, it was life, it was raw and true – it was possible, all that’s what they stood for and if we can only inspire one other person, couple and/or family to also follow their dream, then the chaos will be worth it, of dragging a baby and two toddlers five days in a row to Glebe Island, past boat equipment stands and try and keep them quiet on stage. If you are in or around Sydney – please come and say hi, each day 12h30 at the Hot Seat stage. Here‘s the full program.
Also in the pipeline is an interview about our family adventure which Boat Radio from Mallorca, Spain, conducted with us last night. Despite my sleep deprived, soupy brain, I think there’ll be many interesting, and a few amusing, stories and anecdotes in there and I’ll let you know as soon as it’s out. That’s it for today. Leaving you with a quote I posted years ago but which still resonates more than ever in these days of sleep-deprivation, confusion and trying to figure out what the next dream is – or if one needs dreams at all…?!
This is not quite the announcement for my Bali Yoga retreat this November yet – nor next year’s in Sydney, South Africa and the Pacific (Stay tuned!!!), but simply a summary of what it generally feels like to be back home. It’s exactly three months ago we came back to Sydney – a couple more that we left the boat (time flies!!!). Since being back, despite the obvious nostalgic moments, it’s just been such a treat. Honestly, it is hard to grasp the easiness of land-life I believe if you have never lived in a boat, camper-van or something similar.
Just then the weekly rubbish truck came to pick up our bins. After three years of searching marinas and town quays for appropriate rubbish disposals every time we docked in, it is simply mind-blowing to me that every week someone from council comes all the way to our house to collect our rubbish. Amazing!
Then the lack of anchor-anxiety: When I’m tired at night, I can just fall into bed (ok, it doesn’t rock me gently to sleep – but you just can’t have it all) – without having to double check that the anchor is in and triple check that the weather forecast hasn’t changed in the past few hours. It’s so simple and easy!
That gentle rocking notion that we might sometimes miss when falling asleep – on the good side means that the kids can leave their arts & crafts lying and drying on the saloon table without anything rolling off by itself. And talking about table – it stays on that table or their artsy table in their room and we can have lunch or dinner on the OTHER (read ‘dining’) table without having to clear everything away before. Tremendous!
More? Baking, cooking, BBQ-ing – all of that is, yes, admittedly less adventures but SOOO much more convenient on a non-heeling, stable ground with plenty of space. Most people would consider our kitchen (which the kids sometimes still call galley…) rather small – to me it seems massive! And all the mixers, blenders, juicers and more with their very own storage space and unlimited amounts of electricity to power it all whenever the pallet pleases… Mind-blowing!
Sweeping and mopping the floor might initially seem like more work as there’s definitely more surface area around (3 bed-room wooden-floored house compared to a 42′ boat…), but once you are done, that’s it. There’s not another layer of dirt, dust and sticky unidentified stuff waiting underneath the floor-boards.
One of the most amazing inventions ever which most land-lubbers take for granted and all sailors will tart nodding their head and probably grannies who remember the old days too: Dish-washers and washing machines. I can just sit here in type this post while something is doing all the work in the kitchen and laundry for me – and all that without any ‘drain-on-the-battery’ type of worries. Why stress about anything? This is simply marvelous!
Whilst the kids still miss their boat and sometimes ask when we go home (ia Happy Dancer), they also love many things about land-life, especially gardening. We had a few herbs on the boat, but it is nothing compared to our garden where we have started growing tomatoes, radishes, a big array of herbs, strawberries, lettuce varieties and maybe soon even a little avocado and lychee tree. It’s endless fun and learning for the whole family and definitely one of the big pluses which helps us sooth our nostalgic wounds from no longer cruising the world.
Bubble baths almost every night – not only a fantastic babysitter while kids have fun and I cook dinner, but also a fabulous soother for any pregnancy back-pains. It really does feel like a Spa retreat, just living in a house!
Most things my fellow Sydney mums seem to worry and get stressed about appear a complete no-stresser for me. All of these daily amazements mentioned above (and I could go on and on!) had to be put here on screen to balance my sometimes nostalgic posts of the recent past as we are going through the last steps of selling Happy Dancer. This is not to say that a sailor’s heart can ever be cured. For no sensible reasons whatsoever, we all know – from the baby in my womb over our boys who grew up on a boat to hubby and I that one day we’ll be out there on the ocean again. Why? Only the heart, never the mind can understand…
“At sea, I learned how little a person needs, not how much.” R. L. Graham
I hope today’s post title didn’t mislead you into thinking that the Mediterranean is rubbish. On the contrary. There’d be barely any other area in the world able to compete in terms of variety, diversity, culture, geography and cruising ease. What, however, makes my heart sad, my mind wonder and my soul cry is the amounts of rubbish we’ve observed, whether that’s in France, Spain, Italy, Malta, Turkey or Greece. The latter is by far the worst and it is almost unheard of to anchor off or swim to a beach where plastic is not a dominant factor. But even here in Turkey, where folks seem a bit more proactive and at least on paper there’s environmental protection efforts made, a thin layer of tiny plastic is most often than not visible, even if there’s only a handful of bags, old plastic bottles and cigarette butts on the beaches.
Probably not surprisingly, sea-life across the Med has been more than meager. I sometimes nostalgically remember diving in Thailand, Cuba, Vanuato, Fiji and back home in Australia. The quantity and diversity of fish, corals and other sea creatures is simply unimaginable for the average Mediterranean guy. Today we are anchored off in a secluded island, a mile across a massive tourist resort. Every morning at 8h30am a group comes over for a dive tour – in the graveyard we call it. While bunnies and mountain goats adorn the picturesque little island, below water there’s nothing by grey dead seabed, broken tree trunks and mostly rubbish. What a scam! In that regard, I can’t wait to get to the Caribbean late this year. Yet still, that won’t make me forget how we are treating the planet – and at sea there’s so many obvious signs for it. One day the ocean is going to talk back to us big times. And it’s loud, I can tell you, and if you are part of the species who thinks humans are bigger than big and we can dominate nature, trust me when I say you are wrong. It’s gonna bite back and it’s gonna hurt. Don’t throw away any more rubbish. In fact, we’ve stopped fighting the urge to collect rubbish on the beaches we go to. I don’t care that locals look at us bewilderedly thinking – ‘Since when’s the local council ordered foreign tourists (that’s me blondy, as Pablo always passes as a local with his Mediterranean looks, no matter where we are!) to collect our sh…?’. At least I’ll be able to look into my grand-children’s eyes and say that we’ve tried a bit.
To finish off this disturbing topic, here’s a few stats which I just kindly was reminded off by one of the local Turkish boatyards as part of a completely overpriced haul-out quote from a completely rubbish-inundated yard… (random, I know – English corrected…):
Did you know?
Nearly half of the world’s population lives near coasts.
Approximately 250 million people a year catch respiratory infections and gastro-intestinal diseases caused by swimming in dirty waters .
Garbage being dumped into the sea kills more than 1 million sea birds every year.
70 % of the oxygen needed to live is provided by the world’s oceans.
65 % of anti-cancer drugs are developed from marine creatures and plants.
Each year, 450 billion cubic meters of untreated or partially treated garbage, industrial and agricultural waste are dumped or discarded into the sea.
675,000 kg garbage of which 50 % are plastics are thrown into the sea every hour.
It takes paper 2-4 weeks, tin cans 100 years, aluminium 200-500 years and glass bottles 1,000,000 years to decompose in the sea.
1 litre of oil can contaminate 1,000,000 litres of water.
If you suffer under the developed world issue of having no time but some money to spare, consider donating to this worthwhile OceanCleanUp project trying to eliminate the gigantesque rubbish collections floating in the Pacific Ocean.
Wrapping up a tough but rewarding week of boatyard work, with Happy Dancer back in the water we’ve started to turn out attention Westwards. It’ll be going that way for a looong time (How many miles to Australia?) and after Greece, we’ll stop over in Malta again for a few days to provision big times on all the good stuff from tons of nori and nato, over pools full of coconut juice, plus the other bits and odds like lucuma powder, chia seeds and, of course, veggie mite.
With another crossing soon ahead, what a better time to have a glance back at our five days leaving Malta for Greece and Turkey. Enjoy the video of five days aboard with kids and no wind.
I think this morning I slammed the door towards ever going back to what most in the Western world would consider a remotely normal life. I ‘just’ went for a snorkel swim to the beach and subsequent run (bless me foresight – having left my trainers on the beach the night before!). The ‘just’ another morning run once again took my breath away. Around the first corner came into view the most stunning tucked away bay with esmerald blue water, rock caves and pine tress down to the water’s edge. Around the next corner the remainders of a Byzantine village revealed themselves. We are talking thousands of years of history at hand-reach! I checked out their kitchen and chimney which were still clearly distinguishable. Around the next corner and a sweaty run up the hill (even at 7am the sun’s already starting to get rather powerful. Disclaimer: If you don’t like dripping heat, the Med is no place to be in July and August.) a little tree top Café pops out of nowhere with the phone number of the owner who lives down in the vast and otherwise uninhabited valley. A few steps on, majestic arches of an ancient Lycian town take the rest of my breath away. Sooo much natural beauty – countering all the horrible atrocities you hear on the news. This world is full of extremes and I guess we chose which impressions to take in. I trust that impressions on the soul are at least as powerful and influential for our health and happiness as is the food that we eat and the people we chose to surround ourselves with. Here’s a massive bow with tons of gratitude towards the beauty of this world, the courage and luck we’ve had to discover it, and the future of my children growing up surrounded by a beauty for which worlds simply fail me.
Beauty might bring happiness. But happiness always brings beauty.
Back on the boat, ‘real’ life is back as we discover our watermaker has given up on us just as the tanks are running low. The over five year old membranes need a clean but now the pump doesn’t seem to work so we can’t pump through the cleaning solution ourselves, it seems. Finding a qualified professional who knows what they are doing is a thing close to impossible in Mediterranean countries in the absence of trustworthy (key word!) local contacts. It also means we have to pay horrendous marina fees for at least a night every week to top up our tanks until we can get this issues sorted – worst case until we get new membranes, probably not before Malta two months down the line. Ah, the joys and challenges of cruising life. Ok, maybe that door that I slammed before is not quite that closed – maybe one day I’ll be ready again for the convenience and ease of life ashore;) Never say never to anything!