This month the wind howled, the sea raged, and the rain poured. We dreamed of living on land. The wind howled from the north the entire month. This is irregular; here, at this time of the year, the wind (usually) puffs lightly from the south, if at all. Life onboard was challenging.
BATU ISLANDS (“THE TELOS”)
SAILING. The passage from Nias to the Telos was delightful. We floated downwind on the spinnaker. Our American buddy, JT, met us in Nias and came along for the ride. To celebrate, we partook in one ale each at sunset, breaking our rule of keeping a dry boat while underway.
BIRTHDAYS. JT turned 40.
…Dale turned 38.
…Someone was interested in the cake.
LIFE. The Telos are pretty.
…We stand-up paddled.
…We practised yoga.
…We met locals. By the way, when next you are doing something like, let’s say, camping, what would you do if at 9pm the local mayor knocked on your tent and demanded that you give him whiskey and cigarettes and pay him $50 (in addition to the fees you have already paid; the grog, smokes, and cash are for the mayor’s pocket, not the good of the community)? This is our life in Indonesia. It is tiresome managing relations so the mayors we meet are satisfied with $5 and a packet of coloured pencils. (We read somewhere a couple of years ago that Indonesia was the most corrupt country in the world. However, I just did a quick search and apparently Indonesia did not make it into the list of the top 10 most corrupt countries last year. I wonder what it’s like to sail in the countries that made the list?)
SURFING. Willow to JT: “JT, you’ve been Telo-hoaxed.”
…Dale to JT: “But if you come back when the swell is a little bigger and a little more to the west and a little more to the east, and the wind is a little more to the north and a little more to the south, and the tides are a little higher and a little lower, and the Bintangs are a little colder, then you’ll score waves in the Telos. For sure. Guaranteed.”
LIFE. We are regularly told the following things:
1. I am lucky because my husband “babysits” his daughter while I surf.
2. Dale is lucky because his wife lives on a boat in the middle of nowhere so that he can chase surf.
3. Willow is the luckiest kid in the world.
We agree we are lucky, very lucky; though we do find such comments amusing. And of course we constantly remind Willow just how lucky she is, and we expect her to be eternally thankful and grateful to us, and to honour us, for making her the luckiest kid in the world. Ha!
BOAT KID. Willow has decided to give her day sleep the flick. We miss our long lunches, but gee it’s easy to get her to bed at night. Some days, though, if we go for a drive in the afternoon, she dozes off. It has taken some work, but we now have a child who will sleep anywhere.
CREW. JT worked hard for the few waves he scored with us. He snapped family photos.
…And he made life onboard easier: He cooked almost every night. He collected coconuts.
…He helped Dale with odd jobs.
…He did my night watches. (Meaning I was awake to spot these two whales off Siberut early one morning. Wow.)
…Thanks JT. You are always a pleasure to have onboard. We hope you had fun despite the storms and the (lack of) swell.
ANNOYANCE. We weathered the worst storm we have encountered on Zinc. As I recall, it was 2.14 pm on a Monday. We were anchored in a reasonably secure location. Dale sped back to Zinc when he saw the front approaching, but JT stayed surfing Rifles by himself. Half an hour into the storm, a resort boat reported to us on the VHF radio that they had seen JT in the water on their way out, but not on their way in. I was frantic with worry that he’d been blown out to sea. (We were not far from the place where, a couple of months ago, a guest fell off a charter boat and spent more than 24 hours lost at sea, floating in the water being circled by sharks and pecked at by birds.) Dale was unperturbed, confident in JT’s expert knowledge of the sea. It was ninety minutes before the storm eased and we could search for JT. We soon spotted him on the beach waving his board in the air; thank goodness he’d paddled to shore when the first squalls began. Zinc performed exceptionally. The only damage aboard was to our poor old Australian flag; it could not handle the sustained 40 knot winds, least of all the 44 knot gust that Dale recorded, which is the strongest wind we have suffered on Zinc.
BOAT KID. I suppose Willow would be taking a kindergym class or the like if we lived in Australia this year. As a substitute, the “luckiest kid in the world” gets to navigate obstacle courses such as the one below. Often the stakes of a stumble are high. In this instance, there was a sea snake slithering in the septic water below the path. Willow knew not to fall (and she thought the snake was pretty cool to watch).
…Test driving luxury vehicles.
…Patrolling the Padang beat.
ANNOYANCE. We weathered the worst storm we have encountered on Zinc. Again. Nine days after the last worst storm we had encountered. Again Zinc performed exceptionally. As I recall, it was 5.32 pm on a Wednesday. We were sailing from Padang to the Mentawaii Islands. We were about 25 nautical miles out of Padang, commenting on the glorious weather, when the storm roared in from the southwest. It was a cracker. Again, sustained 40 knot winds, but with several 48 knot gusts. We changed course to go with the storm back to Padang. And after ten long hours at sea, we woke the next day in the exact place we had been the morning before, our poor old Australian flag hanging by a thread and no yellow potty to be seen.
SURFING. There were four solid swells in the second half of June.
…We all surfed fun waves, Dale especially.
…Willow loved clapping and hooting along with the blokes on the charter boats when Dale popped out of barrels.
LIFE. Science experiments. The remote control for the stereo does not float, but the Tupperware container holding the tea party set does.
…Collaging and decanting gas.
BOAT KID. This year, the question we are asked the most is “Can she swim?”, or if the person has seen Willow in the water, “How long has she been able to swim?” Now to me, “swimming” means cutting at least ten laps of a pool, or in our case, busting a few hundred meters to shore. I don’t believe in “drown-proof” babies, or kids, or even adults for that matter. I think it is irresponsible to suggest such a thing is possible because it can lead to complacency. There are too many factors involved in water accidents to presume that someone is “drown-proof” because under perfect conditions they can manage themselves in the water for a period of time. Nevertheless, I guess most people would claim that Willow can “swim”, and that she has been able to do so for a couple of months now. She can even “swim” against a bit of current and a foot of chop. So that is my answer. (But she still has to ride on my back most of the way to shore, and she definitely would not be able to cut ten laps of a pool.)