Well, not anxiety more like preparation, but separation preparation didn’t have quite the same ring to it, and also didn’t really describe both topics.
Topic 1 - Leaving the boat for a month.
Leaving a boat in a foreign country for 1 month required a LOT of work. Firstly and most importantly, would the insurance company allow us to do it? Generally, we are not allowed to leave the boat for more than 24hours unattended unless the boat is in a marina or on a surveyed mooring buoy. With a few contacts and a bit of luck we managed to find such a mooring a buoy in Luganville owned by a friend of a friend (thanks Mike and Deb of Jetty Dive, Coffs Harbour). Paul of Aore Adventure Dive has 3 surveyed mooring buoys all rated at 20 or 30 tonnes. We are only 11. He has agreed to rent us a mooring buoy for the month and keep an eye on the boat, which will be ‘parked’ right in front of his house and business. Whew!
Next, weeks of planning as to how we would leave the boat. It’s a bit like leaving your house when you go away for a long holiday (but multiply the issues by 10).
We needed to approach this methodically and we needed to consider all the potential weather, power and water related issues that might occur while we were away!
Outside prep first
Secure headsail with additional rope (in the event of a large storm it is common for sails to become unravelled and rip to shreds). This required Jamie to monkey climb up the headsail and wrap an additional rope around it.
Secure the mainsail with an additional rope - no monkey climbing this time, just wrap the sail bag with additional rope - same reason as above
Anchor chain - this needed to have a fresh water wash to reduce rusting and I wanted to replace the 10m coloured markers along its length that I use to determine how much anchor chain we have in the water. There is a different colour at each 1om (Red, Yellow, Green, Blue, White, Black, Red etc). This involved pulling all 100m of chain out of the chain locker by hand, washing it and then reapplying the coloured markers - it was back breaking!
Additional ropes to the mooring buoy. This wasn’t actually possible but we did secure additional ropes to the mooring line on the boat.
Take everything not tied down off the outside of the boat and clean and dry it and put it inside.
Clean and cover all electronic instrument panels to protect them from damage from sun and salt.
Chain the dinghy and motor to the boat and drop the back of the dinghy with the plug out so that it can drain if it rains.
Fill all water tanks to the top
Fill all fuel tanks to the top and add fuel additive to prevent algae growth - refill all jerry cans (an exhaustive process of dinghy-ing into town, walking the jerry cans to the petrol station filling them up and then returning to the boat - each one weighs 20kg - we have 6!!!)
Turn off gas bottles
Padlock lifejacket locker
Fresh water wash the fishing gear and stow inside
Leave the anchor light on
Clean all surfaces to eliminate as much mould as possible. Mould is a constant companion in the tropics, and most days I clean at least one wall or ceiling or fan.
Turn on all fans - these will happily run of the solar and constant air movement is the biggest preventer of mould
Strip the beds of linen
Get as much washing done as possible - this involves a similar process as the fuel, but not quite as heavy (and to the local resort, not the petrol station)
Defrost and clean inside fridge and tie door open
Put ice cubes in zip log bag and layer in different spots in the outside freezer. This way if they still have their shape when we return we will know that the freezer hasn’t defrosted. The solar should generate more than enough power for this outside freezer (it’s an Ever Cool Esky) and all the fans, however multiple successive days of clouds could cause a drop in power in the batteries and then the freezer would shut down temporarily - a bit like a blackout at home.
Pickle the water maker - our reverse osmosis water maker needs to run every 2 - 3 days in order to keep the membrane clean. Leaving it, requires us to run 10L of fresh water (mixed with a nasty ass chemical) through it. With this chemical in the membrane it can be left indefinitely.
Lock all the windows. The two main ones have a slightly open position (5mm) that allows the windows to be locked but still allow a little fresh air flow - also important for mould reduction
Clean and declutter the “electronics corner” -this is an optional activity but needs to be done in order for us to pack so…..
Clean the coffee machine (that’s the barristers job)
Clean the toilets and bathrooms
Whew, I’m exhausted just listing that off again.
All of the above doesn’t even include the months of online research and purchasing that have gone on in order to have a plethora of boat parts ready and delivered into Adelaide for us to bring back to the boat. We are going very remote in the next 6 months and need to be even more self sufficient. Jamie’s poor parents spend most days receiving our parcels!!
Also we need to consider the next 2 countries that we will be visiting. We are heading to the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea - so we need currency, vaccinations, maybe visas and the lists goes on.
Finally we can leave, and then we worry about the boat for the next 4 weeks whilst we are away, hoping that she is ok and most of all still there when we get back. Boats are very easy items to steal!!
Now the really hard part
Separation Anxiety - Topic 2
Leaving family and friends. AGAIN!
Part of choosing to live this life means leaving pretty much everything behind. The boys and their families are the hardest, and saying goodbye to them, knowing that we are missing really important milestones is very difficult. Close on their heels are siblings, parents, nieces and nephews, and then of course our closest friends. At least a week back into living on the boat we are still a little sad, and it takes a lot of effort to start looking ahead and being excited about this next chapter. Luckily, a new country is on its way, and as we are thrown back into prep work for the boat to take her from Vanuatu to Solomons it starts to get exciting again.
So, I hear you ask how was the boat when you got back?
Bloody perfect, there was no mould on any surface (except the inside of the toilet seats. Next time we will leave the toilet seats up - they were thickly covered in mould, but at least that was the only place)!