Thursday, August 30, 2012

And the Book, Again

Well, it's coming - the spring school holidays are nearly upon us, and we can untie from the dock and go sailing for a couple weeks.  Man, can I not wait.  I just need to figure out a way to talk Alisa into being the one to dive down and clean the crud off the prop before we go...

Meanwhile, though, it's time for the third (and nearly last!) monthly give-away for a copy of South From Alaska.

You might remember that I've got a few promotional copies on hand and, since the book is only published in OZ, I figured it would give folks a chance to get a copy.  Anyone, from inside Oz or out, is free to have a go - all you need to do is send an email to with the word "book" in the subject line.  I'll choose the winner with a random draw one week from today - that's Wednesday the 5th of September, Hobart time.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

The World Changes

How fast is the world changing?  Here's one answer - it's from a site called The Cryosphere Today.  (Everyone needs a vice - mine is climate blogs.)

The left-hand image is ice cover on August 20, 1979 - the first year that satellites measured ice extent.  The right hand image is from August 20 of this year.

I guess we didn't need to get a steel boat after all.

From a navigation standpoint, it's pretty hard to wrap your head around the magnitude of change that has happened over the last three decades.  Look at the Northeast Passage, over the top of Russia - completely impossible in the 70s, and wide open right now.  And the fabled Northwest Passage, through the Canadian Archipelago - also, as far as I can tell from this picture, completely open.  What used to be impossible for a yacht is now commonplace.  I might live long enough to sail my own boat to the North Pole.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Boys

Elias is still super-cuddly with his mom, but in recent months the physical way that he interacts with me has been changing.  He's not as interested in cuddling with me anymore - he'd rather wrestle, play rough, spar, test himself (and test me).  He put his head on my lap after dinner tonight, and I had Alisa take a picture, thinking this sort of thing won't happen forever.  The sweet little boy days are numbered.

Eric is such a bruiser that it would be easy to pigeonhole him as the jock of the family, the bulldog to Elias' aesthete.  But Eric is also the two-year old who happily sits and looks at books for half an hour at a time.

An obvious misstep, deciding ourselves what they'll be.  So while we try to keep them on a reasonably short leash, and teach them, we also observe what they are.

(But when I'm tired, I just try to keep them on a short leash.)

The end.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Penguin Update

So, quick update - when Alisa was at the council offices, picking up the community centre keys for Elias' party, she got some fresh news about the dog-penguin debacle at Boronia Beach.  Turns out that they reckon (if I remember correctly) that more than twenty penguins were killed, and the council has decided to press charges against the owner of the dogs involved...

Monday, August 13, 2012


We're just hunkering down and waiting for the summer, and on medical advice, too.  The last pediatrician to see Elias when he was in the hospital answered, "summer" when I asked him what was going to finally get rid of Elias' never-ending viral infection.

I appreciated the honesty.

Alisa has also been pretty sick.  And so has Eric.  Here's the whole team the day after Elias came home, just watching The Lion King in the back cabin and letting the day pass them by.

Meanwhile, though, other things have been going on in the Galactic universe.

Most notably, my mom came to visit.  Being away from the fam rates as my least favorite part of long-term travel, and it's always great to get an emissary from the Tottering Empire that we left behind.

I think she had a great time.  Even counting the two days she was.... you guessed it, sick in bed.

Her visit coincided with some family events - notably, Elias' 6th birthday.

We rented out the Blackmans Bay community centre and made a party of it.

Not to be outdone, I celebrated my 44th birthday a few days later.  Here's Eric, putting the moves on one of my gifts - a sun hat, ordered specially from the North Island, against the day when we will eventually return to the tropics.

Oh, what a bright, shining day that will be.  For the record, we are not the kind of Alaskans who say the tropics are too "hot" for them.  Not us.

The end.

Saturday, August 11, 2012


Well, so as not to draw out the suspense, I'll report that we were very glad to have Elias sprung from the hospital after spending one night.

And, as far as anyone knows, he's still suffering from... a cold.  Just a cold bad enough to put him in the hospital twice now.  The pediatricians at the emergency department tell us they're filling their beds with similar cases.

He got out in time to make me a book for my birthday.
More soon.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Pear Shaped

My mom is here in Tasmania for a long-anticipated visit.

Things started off well enough.

But then my poor mom spent a few days visiting with us on the boat, with Elias and Eric and me and Alisa all fighting the bug that we've been sharing around all winter long.

So my mom got sick.  After fighting it valiantly for a couple days, she spent today in bed in her B&B.

And then, things really went downhill.  I don't think it's purely an Australian usage, but I think that most Antipodeans would be comfortable referring to this afternoon as pear shaped.  As in, "then everything went pear shaped."

Elias' school called us at 11 to pick him up.  His four-month bug was flaring up again.  By one he was coughing a barking cough.  Things quickly went downhill from there, with labored breathing and cough-induced vomiting.

By 3:15 we were back at the Royal Hobart Hospital emergency department.  I said, "six year old, touble breathing", and we were magically whisked to the front of the line.

They got him past the crisis with adrenaline and prednisone.  And now we're settling in for 24 hours of observation.

It still seems to be just a virus, and nothing more serious than that.

But I'll be glad when the poor little fellow is finally better.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Mona Tapas

There's this new institution in Hobart - Mona, the Museum of Old and New Art. 

Totally remarkable place, in a very Tasmanian way.  To begin with, it is, as far as I can figure, completely self-financed by a professional gambler from the daggy end of Hobart, and the permanent collection is, again, as far as I can figure, entirely his personal collection.

Just went by this week (a Tasmanian driver's license gets you in for free), and got a wonderful surprise, a jaw-dropping surprise.

The current special exhibit features the tapas collection from the Tasmania Museum of Natural History and Art.  This is a very old institution in Hobart, and it turns out that it possesses an incredible collection of tapas from various corners of the South Pacific.  The collection has apparently never before been put on display all at once like this because of the shortage of space in the older museum.

Tapa is cloth made from bark, typically from the mulberry tree, that has served a variety of utilitarian and ritual uses in various Polynesian and Melanesian cultures.  Some of the pieces in this collection are contemporary, but a number were collected in the 19th century.  And they're stunning - they're huge, and beautiful.

I reckon that's one of the joys of travel, the connection that you develop with random art forms.  I'm still enchanted by the sound of the oud, 16 years after I travelled in Yemen.  And, if you've sailed around in the South Pacific, you can't help but spend an hour in a roomful of tapas every time you run across one...

Futuna tapa - known for its intricate design, and particularly close to our hearts.

The exhibit runs through April 2013.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Happy Face

OK, free parenting tip.

To try this on your own boat, begin with a 2-year old who is distraught that his mom ran out to the store without him:

Say, "Let's both make a sad face for the camera."  Take a picture.  Show it to him.

Say, "Oops, I didn't do a good sad face.  Let me try it again."  Take a picture.  Show it to him.

Say, "Now let's make happy faces."  Take a picture.  Show it to him.

Say, "Let's try again!"  Take a picture, etc.

Say, "You almost did it, let's try again!"

Say, "I know, let's do a happy face with bunny ears!"

Problem solved.

Next week: World Peace in Eight Easy Steps.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Things, As They Shouldn't Be

I have very few complaints about life here in the Workers' Paradise of the Antipodes.  But there is one complaint that I can't shake - beer prices.

Sierra Nevada pale ale on special at 23 bucks a six pack?  I recoil in horror.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Sisters, Far Apart

One of the highlights from our stop in Tahiti last year was the chance to meet our sister ship, Silver Lining.

That's Galactic on the left, and Silver Lining on the right.  One is a cutter and the other a staysail schooner, but they're two versions of the same hull - the only two Noble 451s that were ever built.

One of the things that helped us to feel better about taking the leap into the unknown of a non-production sailboat was finding the blog that Margo and Frank and their two boys kept - they were sailing Silver Lining all over the South Pacific, and apparently having a great time doing it, so we figured the design must be pretty good.

And now, nearly a year on the dot since we met them in Tahiti, Silver Lining has just left Kodiak, on their way to Homer, where they plan on settling in for a stay.  And we, of course, are down here in Tassie - the two boats are about as far from each other as they could possibly be while still being in the same ocean.

You get so used to sailboats being slow; I thought this was a great example of just how much travelling you can do under sail.