August was another month of sweet dreams. We lingered at Nias. When we finally hauled up our anchor—five and a half weeks after we set it—we sailed south to spend the remainder of the month in the Mentawaii Islands.
LIFE. Same old, same old:
…Stuffed toys. Books. Nail polish.
SURFING. The bay was alive. (For those of you who know Lagundri, this is The Keyhole and beyond…)
…Dale got a couple of waves.
…I did too.
…Some waves in particular were breathtaking.
PASSAGE: NIAS TO MENTAWAII ISLANDS
SAILING. We left Nias bound for our other favourite anchorage in Indonesia, The Playgrounds. There was not much wind. We motored most of the way.
CREW. Our new friend, Bernie, joined us. He was a pleasure to have on board: he missioned with Dale, he was a good friend to Willow, and he did my night shifts. Bernie had a good taste of ‘livin’ the dream’ as we do: he was on board when ZINC became caught in a fishing net and when her anchor chain became caught around a deep coral bommie, and he huddled on the couch with us during several wild lightning storms in the middle of the night.
ANNOYANCE. At 10pm, two hours south of Nias, three local fishermen caught ZINC (a 12,500 pound catch!) in their five-mile-long, unmarked surface net. (Again. Yes, this has happened before. Three years ago. Around the same place. Around the same time.) Coincidentally, Dale and I had just finished telling Bernie about the first incident when Dale noticed ahead in the moonlight a minor dispersion in the wind line. He managed to turn the engine to neutral about five seconds before we ran over the net. This action prevented the net from becoming lodged in the propeller (which happened the other time), but it didn’t prevent ZINC from becoming caught. The net–which can best be described as a very, very long swimming pool lane rope (old-school style), with netting hanging from it to a depth of 10 meters–was lodged under ZINC’s port rudder and hull. We were stuck. Nevertheless, with a few screams and grunts and thrusts of a boat hook by Dale, and a few fancy flicks of the engine throttle controls by me, within 15 minutes we were free. Phew.
REST STOP. The next morning, we paused at the Batu Islands. Interestingly, the ‘frontier’ surf spots of yesteryear are among the most crowded we’ve seen this season.
…Willow conducted business.
…But she didn’t buy this boat (or anything else).
SURFING. We surfed at beautiful spots.
…Often with (fifty-odd?!) mates.
LIFE. We did the surf charter boat shuffle. We anchored at rolly surf breaks during the day.
…And we chugged to protected anchorages at sunset.
…It was tiring.
BOAT KID. “What does she do all day?”
I am often asked this question, and I am always stumped for a response. What does any two and a half year old do all day? As far as I can recall, Willow does pretty much the same activities as she did when we lived on land. Though, for better or for worse, here are some of the differences I notice in her daily life:
• She interacts more with adults and older kids, but less with kids her age.
• She snorkels more, but scoots less.
• She hears and speaks more than one language.
• She reads more.
• She spends less time (no time) strapped in a car seat commuting.
• She enjoys more free and independent play, but less structured and group activities.
• She spends more time with Dale.
• She spends less time on swings, slides, and monkey bars.
• She meets more new people and visits more new places.
• She tastes more new foods.
• She hears more of the following words: “No!”, “Stop!”, “Don’t!, “Careful!”
• She endures more storms.
• She spends more time with Dale and I together.
ANNOYANCE. ZINC was stuck. Again. This time she didn’t get caught in a net, but her anchor chain became caught on a deep coral bommie. We had planned to leave the anchorage at midnight (to arrive at a particular surf break by sunrise in true surf charter boat style), but this was not to be. When we couldn’t bring up the anchor, we returned to bed. The next morning, Bernie, Willow, and I watched this gorgeous sunrise while Dale scuba dived to 28 meters to free the chain (even super-free-diver-man-Dale can’t work underwater at 28 meters without air).
ANNOYANCE. The island in this photo is called Snake Island. Over the years we’ve spent many, many hours on Snake Island, but we’ve never seen a snake there. This month I saw two big ones, up close; I almost jogged onto one.
…And, at another anchorage, this little fella tried to climb up our back steps.
BOAT KID. Willow went to school. Random. There wasn’t much swell around and we were hanging at an anchorage in front of our friends’ house. Their little boy goes to the school in the village, and they invited Willow to join him. For a kid whose parents are keen to delay institutionalising her for as long as possible, Willow was ridiculously excited about going to school and she was terribly disappointed that she didn’t have a uniform. Here we are waiting for our friends to pick us up in their dug-out canoe on their way to school.
…Once at school, despite the kids being older and the class being conducted in Indonesian, Willow engaged somewhat.
…However, she did spend most of the time doing her own thing in the playground. (That’s our girl.) Her little mate and his best friend skipped class to join her. Whoops.
…I was left in the classroom learning Indonesian with the other three to five year olds.
UNRELATED BUT AMUSING. The secret is out: Dale funds our lifestyle by modelling snow gear.
Note: This is a joke. The man in this photo is not Dale. We don’t know who it is. But most people agree he looks like Dale. Even Dale is a bit confused: When did I do that photo shoot? Thanks to Adrian for giving me a photo to go to whenever I need a belly-laugh.