Obelix takes a deep breath

Oblivious to the world’s turmoil, Obelix is soaking in the peace and quiet of the marina. Silence, and stillness, with the reduced traffic on the motorway, and the absence of wind and ferry wash.

Yoga on the deck

Every now and then, some boatie walks up and down the pier, smartphone in hand, discussing the current lock-down situation and its alarming implications on their business or lives, illustrating what seems to be our modern rallying cry “I communicate therefore I am”.

And it is hard indeed to resist the urge to reach out to relatives and friends, or keep up with the influx of information pushed from all directions, make sense of it all, and prevent the brain’s cogs to get out of control. Yet, I try hard not to get distracted by the outside virtual noise, and draw inspiration from one of the ‘growth mindset mantras’ pinned to our bathroom bulkhead: “I am safe. I am calm. I can handle this.” as a counterpart to the government’s message “Be kind. Stay home. Save lives.”

But I admit that I never thought a trip to the supermarket would be a high risk activity for which you’d need to queue to wait for your turn as if you were about to bungy jump, and, when, going for the daily walk or bike ride, we meet other people in the street, people we might know, I have this surreal feeling of being like a dog, held on an invisible leash, unable to get too close to them, or stop for too long to exchange greetings and make small or philosophical talk.

9 a.m. at the supermarket

So, to relax after a day split between working, home-schooling, and tempering dark thoughts, I do some reading. The Testaments, by Margaret Atwood. Not sure it is wise to escape a dystopian reality by reading a dystopian novel, but it put things in perspective. And I can’t help thinking: at least we can still wear what we want, read, write, play and listen to music, dance, prepare food we like, talk to each other freely and relish our creativity.

Exercising with kids

And actually, life in lock-down is very different, yes, but we also take notice of all the positive changes it forced, or decided, us to make:

  • Waking up with the sun (or upon kids stompy footsteps) – no alarm clock
  • Yoga on the deck (almost) every morning with Thomas (and sometimes Azur)
  • Less time working + less time escaping to the fragmented bubbles of my life = More focus and mindful parenting
  • Zephyr mentors Azur and teaches him maths, origami and spelling
  • More frequent video calls with our family and friends in France
  • More french spoken by the kids!!!
  • New yummy cooking & baking experiments
  • More family discussions around the table, as we eat all meals together
  • Kids taking turn to do the dishes
  • More DIY tasks getting ticked off, and providing knowledge sharing opportunities (I taught Zephyr how to divide big numbers, while working on a pattern for a bbq cover)
  • New activities on or around the boat: swimming at the local tiny beach (high tide only), climbing or swinging around the mast, laps walking around the boat on the rub rail while holding onto the life lines, dinghy fishing trips at sunset, and even putting on a talent show to compete with our friends on Calypso…

And nearly a week on, we even have some good news: our pier neighbours have kindly agreed for us to use their boat Mahanui’s cockpit as our home-office, we’ve received the Wifi repeater and (most of the time) can connect from within our lovely submarine, and the marina ablution blocks have re-opened which means we could treat ourselves to a real shower!

What if we enjoyed our time confined as a family?

Obelix in Terra Incognita

Covid-19 lockdown – Day 0

After navigating in troubled waters for the last few weeks, witnessing from afar one country after the other placed under lockdown, it is our turn to set foot in Terra Incognita, a foreign world where we can’t hug or kiss or dance with our friends to celebrate life, with no idea of the impact it will have on our physical and psychological wellbeing, nor how to mitigate this yet unknown impact.

I reassure myself that as foreigners we have an advantage, having been through the challenge already, of having to adapt quickly to a new environment, learn new social rules, and find a way to blend in, or even thrive.

However, we’re both curious and fearful about what we’ll discover in this brave new world and questions abound:

What lesson will governments draw from this global-scale human experience? Is it time to hypocritically buy Air New Zealand shares or should we bet and invest on a company committed to a more positive redesign of our society? Will we be able to wander on the dinghy to go fishing off the break water? Do we have enough supply to last for the self-isolation period? Or will we need to replenish stock and venture to the supermarket? And if we have to go, will there still be what we need which was depleted when we stocked up? Will they increase their prices to take advantage of the situation? Should we sail away and wait for it to pass (looks like a no as we would not be able to work and Thomas is way too loyal and committed to Gurit)? Will the marina Wifi allow us to work from the boat (not as it is so I’ve just ordered a repeater to hopefully alleviate the painful intermittence of the weak wifi signal, and Thomas used his mobile phone as a hotspot for part of the day)? How many hours of work can we honestly achieve with two wild animals boys on board (I have brought my hours down to a more reasonable 16 per week at the end of today)? How changed will we be on the other side? Who will blow a fuse first (I would have bet on me initially, but with my now reduced-hours, might reconsider and say Zephyr)? Will liveaboards be allowed in the common facilities like toilets, shower, and laundry (answer came earlier today – No, the bathroom blocks will be locked)? Great, how will we do the laundry then, let alone shower??? How many liveaboards will be around anyway*? But above all, HOW LONG will it truly last for?

On a positive note, Azur woke up this morning announcing happily “first day of school on the boat!” and the home-schooling quickly turned into “self-schooling” following a schedule we had prepared together the evening before, and which, although not respected to the letter, provided a good beacon to see us through the day. The kids particularly enjoyed climbing up the mast between two showers, doing ‘hard’ (as opposed to boring) maths, with Zephyr explaining powers and square roots to Azur, building huts in the V-berth, playing soccer with a volleyball in the saloon corridor, and, with a bit of persuasion, dressing up for a photoshoot at sunset (cf. top pictures). We’re betting hard on our creativity to endurejoy this weird, forced, ‘recentering’ retreat, and take it as a good practice exercise for an ocean crossing…

And speaking of sailing, I’m so glad we took Obelix for a wander in the gulf last week-end and intently savoured the dizzying freedom bliss before this whole madness. Although the lunch in Calypso Bay, our swim in crystal clear water, our walk in the bush with Tuis carelessly serenading us, our swinging under a big Pohutukawa tree on the white sandy beach of Snapper Bay, our 3-star dinner with fellow sailors in Blackpool, our morning yoga session on the deck, followed by our diving off the boat and sailing back to Bayswater all seem a long way away, they are memories we will hold onto tight until we’re on the other side.

*I overheard a discussion between Zephyr and Azur this evening speaking about our pier neighbour Carmen: Azur sadly commented “she’s living in a house now, so that’s the end of the world” to which Zephyr placidly replied “at least the end of the world as we know it”, and I silently thought “If only!”…

So fear not for us, but feel free to leave a comment, would love to know how everyone is doing 😊