We are sailing across the Bass Strait as I write this, bound from King Island northwest of Tasmania towards Western Port in Victoria, Australia. We’ve had to fight the weather since we left Kettering in southwest Tasmania. It has taken almost a month to get this far. But we definitely are on time to share the Christmas Holidays with some of David’s family who live only 15 minutes away from the marina where we have secured a berth. He’ll get to play granddad; I’ll get to play in a real kitchen and make rich dark fruit cakes and enjoy the camaraderie that comes only when friends and family work together to create a feast. I also have cruising friends who live near here. When Peter and Jan Metherall were sailing home through the Pacific with their three children on board back in 1985, we all became friends. In fact, their children crewed for Larry and I when we raced in Tonga. So, we’ll have a full holiday time, one I am sure will build more special memories.
. Sailing in the Bass Strait gave us a mixed bag of weather – but two days were almost perfect.
Those of you who have been following my adventures on FaceBook or Instagram already know, my year has been a full and healthy one. Starting with a bang, or lots of bangs I should say, from the amazing fireworks we saw as we lay anchored amidst about 30,000 other boats in Sydney Harbour for New Years Eve. We sailed down to Tasmania for the Hobart Wooden Boat Festival, then around to the wild west coast to explore the magnificent isolation of Port Davey. With Sahula safely tucked away in Kettering, 30 miles from Hobart, we next spent two months in New Zealand – enjoying sailing on my little Felicity while I finished the re-edit and expansion for the 3rd edition of SelfSufficient Sailor. Then came an amazing 5 months of traveling to weddings, family affairs from Hong Kong to Italy to France and the UK, 3 months exploring National Parks and hidden canyons of the Colorado Plateau – a place unlike anything David (an Australian) had seen before. I loved Mesa Verde best of all. He will never forget walking rim to rim in the Grand Canyon. Then there was the book launching at the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival and later the Annapolis Sailboat Show. It was almost a relief to be back on board Sahula in late October, even though we had to spend a month getting her ready to go again. All new rigging, new bimini, new cockpit floor grating. And now we have been under way a month with our goal just one more day of sailing away.
David loved sailing up the rivers of Europe, so he especially enjoyed the meander along Tasmanias Tamar river up to the sweet town of Launceston
My favorite Bass Strait port, Stanley – just a dozen fish boats and us and amazing sunsets.
As I contemplate the fullness of this holiday season, I think back to other times when, due to our cruising life, we didn’t have family nor old friends nearby. Though I can recall a few times when, in the lead up to the holidays I felt a twinge of loneliness and wondered if we’d have to celebrate on our own, I can’t remember one time when we missed being part of a proper holiday gathering on Christmas Day. It seemed someone we met ashore or afloat, insisted we join their family for a traditional dinner. In Poole at the south of England, the parents of the sailmaker I was working for insisted we come to their home. Though they had only met Larry and I briefly, when we arrived there was a pair of hand knit socks waiting under the tree for each of us. In Brachuy, Brazil, friends met only two weeks previously insisted we pack a bag and join them for five days at their family home on a ranch 100 miles away in the mountains near Petropolis. We were told each person had to bring one gift for one designated person. Our person was an aunt we were told was a bit of a clothes horse. By good fortune I had a handsome silk sarong I’d bought in Polynesia as a potential gift. She loved it. Larry and I were introduced to festive foods we’d never had before and to work off the heavy mid-day Christmas meal had a wonderful horseback ride through the tropical forest below the rancho. Then we spent a big portion of the next days in the swimming pool to ward off the heat. Not bad since cool drinks and lots of nice food seemed to appear on the edge of the pool just when someone got a bit peckish.
I hope all of you are sharing your holidays with family or friends or new found friends. And may the coming year bring you fair winds, following seas and fine friendships.
P.S. Just a note about Larry. He has suffered another large stroke. Due to this he has now been moved to a full hospital level care facility. Each time I go to New Zealand to visit with him, he seems to be content. I must say his caretakers are doing an amazing job. And I thank them profusely.
Note - For those of you who would like to follow along on my current sailing adventures, I update my facebook page at least once a week. (click here) If you like the page, it will appear on your newsfeed. I also can be found on Instagram