Floor is lava in 3, 2, 1, 0!

Family impressions (part 1/2)

One month in. Time to reflect: How is the family rating their new life aboard?
To get a qualitative answer to this, I asked each one of us to come up with our top likes and dislikes.

The first answer I got from Azur, was “But there is nothing that I don’t like”! Digging a bit more he could find things he didn’t quite appreciate though:

  • Our home is smaller – I tried to have him elaborate but to no avail
  • Stuff can fall off when we’re sailing – He’s quite true, and despite our careful tidy up before each navigation, we’ve had instances of a drawer that wasn’t locked properly opening in a loud “BANG” when we tacked, and a spice rack falling off the bulkheads in the galley because the double sided tape that held the hooks hadn’t been tested properly in sailing conditions.
  • We’re not allowed to climb the mast when we are sailing. So intense is our new feeling of freedom, that being forbidden to climb up the mast seems like a big restriction in this little fellow’s life. Think of all the children who don’t even have the opportunity to climb up any mast at all, you ungrateful child!!!
Zephyr up the mast (when it’s allowed and supervised)

He definitely displayed more enthusiasm sharing his new favourites:

  • We can be monkeys and we have a bigger play room, no a smaller one but we have a playroom – By being monkeys he means swinging around and going from one place in the boat to the other without touching the ground which they certainly do on a daily basis (see pictures below).
  • To go to school bike riding – Indeed, we do and it’s a shared pleasure, even when it’s pouring rain and we arrive at school completely soaked, like yesterday.
  • I get to play with Carmen – Carmen is the little girl that lives with her parents and teenage sister on a launch on our pier, just a few (seven says Zephyr) boats away. A real blessing to have another family nearby, which means children can play together and parents can relax a bit. And it makes for precious moments too when you hear Azur say to Carmen “I love staring at you” to which she casually replies “I know, you’ve got a crush on me”. With Carmen, the adventures have just begun but already include playing Lego on Obelix or Mytyme, countless bike rides on the parking lot or to the school and back, fireworks on Guy Fawkes’ night, and a shared dinner on Obelix last Friday followed by yet another bike ride (walk for the adults) at dusk.
  • I can get to sleep whenever I want to, because I don’t get scared because in the marina there is always light on. And so it is. We still read a bedtime story most nights, but there is no more cheeky little boy showing up in the middle of the evening saying “I’m scared” with a half-frown, half-smile on his face.
Kids playing with fireworks on Guy Fawkes Day

As for Zephyr, his concerns were more sobering:

  • Our house can sink – Yup, and we got a taster of that when we realised the bilges were full of water after our last navigation the week-end before last. It turned out the propeller shaft wasn’t sealed or greased properly and the bilge pump, which had worked reliably until then, had come unplugged due to a faulty wiring. No more sailing until we’ve got that under control!
  • We would be moving to lots of cities and countries and continent so we’ll need to make lots of new friends which is harder – Although from an outside eye, making new friends shouldn’t be much of a concern, given the speed at which he’s made friends at his new school and know all the school’s pupils by name already.
  • And I don’t like that we’re not close to as many people, so if we call for help it would take much longer – When we’re sailing in the middle of the ocean that is. We still have time to prepare for that, and don’t you worry my boy, or maybe do, cause mum is as scared as you!

Nevertheless, Zephyr’s appreciation of his new life is unequivocal:

  • We can sail anywhere – And yes, in a month aboard, we’ve sailed 3 week-ends out of four and already ventured in places not visited before.
  • We get to discover new things at a different school – Indeed their new school bears many differences with their previous one, they don’t wear uniforms, get to call teachers by their first name, school assembly is on Friday mornings and not afternoons, and much more I’m sure…
  • It’s much easier to play “floor is lava” – In this game, any player can announce at any time “Floor is lava in 3, 2, 1” and from then on, all the other players should avoid touching the floor or they die.

Floor is lava in 3, 2, 1, 0 !
… I win! Tucked in the central cockpit, the sun caressing my neck, with an enviable view on a clear blue sky, striped vertically by the marina masts, feet resting on a hatch frame, I am not touching the ground…

My view from the cockpit this morning

Happy Bday Obelix!

Blessing ceremony family picture

At 8 am on Sunday the 13th, at high tide, after a full-moon night, our dear friend Naomi rocked up all dressed up with orchids and hibiscus flowers around her neck and arms ready to lead Obelix’ blessing ceremony. We showed her and Dave around, had a quick chat, and finished to prepare ourselves. Our outfits were carefully chosen for the occasion, a T-shirt brought back from my trip to Argentina for Zephyr, an “I’m the captain of my own life” T-shirt offered by Mamidou for Azur, a black and red Fijian shirt bought just before a delivery trip for Thomas, and the colourful Desigual dress bought during our trip to Canada for me. The boys insisted on wearing their gems and surfboard necklaces which I had to untangled from the mess in my jewellery box, and I even found a couple of fake flower necklaces in our dress-up bag to brighten things up. We then each took our position on the jetty, next to Obelix anchor and Naomi started creating a sacred space with a nice prayer-song and distributed the four hibiscus flower bracelets she had weaved for us. We shared our boat stories and intentions, sang Nga Iwi E as a family (on Azur’s explicit request, and you should hear him on the “Tamatu, tamatu”!), all took part in Mahalo call and response song, and finally we interlaced our individual lays with Obelix big orchid necklace to obtain a colourful flower composition which we hang off the pulpit.

It was very special to hear Zephyr and Azur’s not only singing but also express their views and concerns, Azur really wasn’t happy with the prospect of flowers falling off Obelix, he also asked me to voice his intention for him “Be cool”, as for Zephyr, he exposed his intention very clearly but has requested on several occasions that it remained private so I’ll leave you ask him when you get a chance!

Elodie was there too to witness the ceremony (you try to bribe her too), and we finished things off with a big breakfast buffet on the open cockpit. There was croissants, bread and jam, as per the french tradition, but also cheese and crackers in a more kiwi style. I had even found a “Rond du Val Papillon”, all the way from Villefranche-de-Panat (the village I spent all my summers as a child), which stood tall and proud next to a Baby Kikorangi from New Zealand. That set us up for a very good day indeed.

And while our morning guests departed, the celebration continued in the afternoon with the visit of Julia and her children Noah and Keziah. With them, we got out in the harbour for Obelix to stretch his sails and to throw the flower lays in the water to make our intentions known to the Universe.

Happy Blessing Day Obelix!

PS: If you feel like sending your own blessings to Obelix or its crew, they now receive mail at:
S/Y Obelix, Bayswater Marina
21 Sir Peter Blake Parade
Bayswater, Auckland 0622
New Zealand

I wonder whom Obelix will have the honour to receive the first postcard from…

Sharing our intentions with the Universe

Bye-bye St Heliers!

Last week-end was one of transition, endings and new beginnings.
Marcia and Camille, neighbours and friends, took the kids for a sleepover on Friday so we could have the night off and release a bit of the pressure accumulated over the past few weeks. Watching The Dust Palace and the APO’s epic production ‘Dawn’, then dancing some salsa at Tomtom definitely helped. We could even indulge in sleeping in the next morning. Still the sound of Camille’s baritone voice through the fine walls of our unit reminded me I should check on our kids. Marcia assured me they were fine, playing with Theo and Arthur on their new board game Pandemic, trying to save the world against a fast-spreading disease, and she was making breakfast for them, so why not enjoy the peace and quiet a bit longer with Thomas. But frankly, a breakfast just the two of us, in an empty house (except from the mattress we slept on, temporarily borrowed from the aforementioned neighbours) with nothing left to make tea or coffee, let alone eat off, wasn’t so appealing. So, we invited ourselves at theirs and gratefully enjoyed their morning buffet 🙂

Then, some final loading of the truck, vacuuming and mopping of the floors later it was time to go. Leaving St Heliers wasn’t easy, we reluctantly said our goodbyes to the neighbours (both side), took a few last group photos on our (ex-)deck, promising to catch up with each other soon, and I dropped the keys at the Real Estate Agency. Vacating 2/31 Vale road, ticked.

Last picture before the big jump

Ensued a gloomy ride from the house to the marina, Thomas in his work’s ute, and me in the car with the boys at the back not uttering a sound. I wish I could have lifted their spirits up but I was heavy-hearted myself. Fortunately, by the time we reached the boat and emptied our last truck-load of stuff, it was time to… eat again! Nothing like food to take our minds off our early nostalgia. Indian takeaway eaten at the nearest park under a glorious sun did the trick, and, inspired by summery vibe, we then headed straight to Narrow Neck beach to soak in the holiday feel, with a detour to the marina for me to deal with the laundry, and get my first bike ride in our new neighbourhood.

The evening was spent helping Obelix gulp down all the stuff dumped on him in the morning, grooming him for his blessing the next day, and getting some well deserved rest…

Celebrating Obelix first times

With a Margaux, Château Marquis De Terme, which was waiting all those years for the right occasion…

  • First cruise on Obelix as a family, just the four of us, for the pleasure.
  • First time without having to go all the way to the marina toilets to pooh.
  • First time communicating on the VHF with another boat (“Cirrus, Cirrus, Cirrus for Obelix, is it you behind us with the yellow spinnaker? Over” […] “Obelix, Obelix, Obelix, for Cirrus, you’re going too fast, stop your engine! Over” Our engine had been off for a long time NDLR).
  • First time anchoring, in a nice little bay (Waikarapupu Bay, on Motutapu).
  • First time getting ashore on Idefix, our grey and yellow dinghy, with a working outboard!
  • First time getting a sight of Obelix from the shore, while taking a walk up the headlands of Motutapu.
  • First time having visitors over for dinner who came and went with their own dinghy.
  • First night aboard while anchored and not moored to a marina deck.
  • First time …, no that wasn’t the first time.
  • First time diving off Obelix, braving the cold water for a morning swim.
  • First mosquito inside (and God knows the damage it did on Azur who got bitten all over his legs!)
  • First time cooking pancakes aboard Obelix.
  • First time having breakfast in the half open cockpit.
  • First Father’s day celebrated on the water.
  • First time rehearsing lines (acting) while lying on the deck in the sun.
  • First handstands on the flush deck (still hard to find one’s balance though).
  • First time letting the kids row the dinghy on their own (“I can’t believe we’re doing this!” Azur). We had a blast watching them row, get to the beach, get off and pull the dinghy out of the water. We thought they wouldn’t be able to because the outboard was still on, it is quite heavy, and has no wheels, but they did brilliantly. I later asked Zephyr how they managed and he explained “Team work, and we saved our energy for when the waves were helping us”. They then boarded the Idefix again and made it back to Obelix while adults were having brunch on Goldfinger (our friends’ friends’ boat). We watched them approach Obelix, then stand up to grab the rub rail and pull themselves towards the ladder. Zephyr climbed safely on board, Azur stayed behind and it wasn’t long before he was drifting away as they had forgotten to tie the dinghy. So here was Azur on Idefix, struggling to row in the right direction and Zephyr astern coaching his brother : “Come on Azur, you can do it, believe in yourself!” He was so sure they could manage without adults, he was furious when Thomas finally came to the rescue borrowing Goldfinger’s dinghy to tow Azur & Idefix back to us. The whole scene was so entertaining, we could have let them try longer, but were short of time as everyone wanted to make it back to Auckland before sunset…
  • First time maneuvering a boat back to a marina berth, and I managed to do it in one go without scaring anyone! The sight of Cirrus’ crew as our welcome committee definitely offered me the right psychological support and incentive to perform, I guess.

So, all in all, perfect week-end, perfect weather conditions and perfect friends to share good times with.
Next time we’ll just need to learn to do all the maneuvers without screaming at each other with Thomas, which is absolutely useless as we can’t hear a thing when one is in the cockpit and the other on deck, and frustration and anger are only inferred by our facial expressions which increases the frustration. Better learn sign language so we can actually communicate, and life will be perfect indeed!

Thanks Cirrus’crew for the pictures of Obelix on the water 🙂