Saturday, 12 December 2015

The Emotional Roller Coaster That Is Adjustment

Dave parked up with a cold one, relieved and happy our Ula is safely parked up
on the haul out trailer
Four months ago we stored our boat in a boat yard in the Caribbean, left the airport at 6am in a comfortably balmy 29 degrees celsius.  Two days later we arrived back in NZ at 6am also, into a bone chilling 6 degrees! 

Road trip home stop over in the gorge
 Having been born and raised in NZ, and only been away for a year, it’s funny we’d forgotten just how green the landscape is.  What a welcome reprieve after the desert-like conditions of the two islands we’d spent the last two months in.
Road trip home

Dave’s boss graciously accommodated for him.  Both Eli and Eden were eager for school life.

Edens' school doing their "Kapa Haka" performance at the Gisborne Maori Cultural Festival. 

Eli made this for Salem's birthday at woodwork

Salem still enjoys being home schooled, which is now shared between Mum and I, along with other home-school parents helping out sometimes.

Mind lab: stop motion movie creating

sewing leather chaps
I’ve managed to get some part-time work learning the art of a barista at a friends’ new coffee shop in the central city, which I’m loving. They make all their own salads, pastries, artisan bread, cakes, slices etc at their main bakery and bring it down for us to on-sell in the CBD.  It’s a fun place to hang out for work and I’m enjoying the social interaction, selling beautiful products, and learning new skills.

 Getting back home, the boys were ecstatic to be surrounded by familiarity.  It has been great catching up with friends and family, and in all honesty, living here is just so easy! We are a short 10-15 minute drive to numerous beaches/surf spots. 
no surf today

picnic dinner at beach
There is very little thought or concern for safety. A large variety of 
good quality, locally grown food is readily available and fairly affordable.  The boys are loving the free-range, home reared meat!! ( I must say I am immensely proud of their adaptability, over the past year, the majority of our dinners and even lunches were some form of “rice surprise!” Yes, sometimes there were complaints, but they handled it most of the time very well.) 
No customs/immigration issues, no language barriers.  Many good nights’ sleep as opposed to getting woken by waves slapping, wind howling, noisy party boats, anchor chain groaning, or some other concern for the boat or our safety!  I could go on but I suspect I’m preaching to the converted anyhow.

moored at Bonaire
Despite all this, I still find myself yearning for my life at sea, back with my beloved, yet rugged, purple pirate ship.

I must acknowledge the courage of my husband at this point, I am hugely proud and impressed with what he has achieved and overcome, in spite of his fears.  Anxiety issues in their various forms run deep through his family.

When we met, we were young and carefree, doing what we loved and were comfortable, so I was blissfully unaware.  Dave did try to warn me at the beginning of our engagement that all he does is eat, sleep and surf (he was working for himself as a contractor but clearly that wasn’t worth mentioning!)  I happily agreed ‘cos in the previous year I had already discovered about myself that too much time spent away from the coastline made me feel miserable and claustrophobic.  This led me to the conclusion that if I want to spend the rest of my life near the ocean, perhaps the safest bet for finding a life-time mate would be to only consider a surfer! (Hey, I was 18!!)

antique photo!
I digress.  Dave liked the idea of being anchored up near uncrowded surf spots and having an interesting project to tinker with.  The safety side -or should I say, keeping the kids safe - was the real issue that would sometimes make him feel quite ill.  In spite of this, he gave up the security of his own-built house, 5 minutes from the surf beaches he had grown up with. He left the security of a well-paid trade. 
As he likes to remind me, “only love would drive a man to take his family to live on a boat on the other side of the world to keep his wife happy!!”

Me at the helm after driving us for the first time up to a jetty and onto the haul
out trailer
Often while preparing the boat throughout our year long journey, the anxiety/stress "monster" would rear it’s ugly head.  Usually in the form of grumpiness, snapping remarks or conversely, shutting down to all around him.  Which then led to the rest of the family feeling either stressed, concerned or just down-right annoyed.
The timing of these “anxiety attacks,” I guess you could call them, sucked.  The worst being our 18th wedding anniversary and Mother’s day.  Thankfully, the boys made up for the latter.  So when my birthday was approaching, I gave him a few stern warnings that under no circumstances was he allowed to let the “monster” out on that day.  I’m happy to report, he kept up his end of the bargain nicely!
At different times when the “monster” was lurking in the shadows and he was wanting to sell up and go home, he would say, “I just want to go surfing and hunting, have good food and comfy living.”
So when we eventually arrived home, to all the creature comforts he raved and longed for, I expected my nice husband would have returned, leaving the “monster'” behind. 

First surf back in Gisborne
But to the family’s bitter disappointment, that “monster” had stowed itself away in the deep recesses of my husband’s already busy head.
I guess the adjustment back to work/land lubber life was harder than expected.  With the boys so happy to be back in NZ on terra firma, there is the added stress of whether we should work toward “the dream,” or give it up and focus on making a life the boys seem to want.
Also, because we are essentially only sleeping in our cabin and using my very accommodating parents’ kitchen, living, bathroom, can at times add to the tension.  My Dad is up often at 3am heading off to drive a logging truck, he is at retirement age, so naturally when he gets home, he looks forward to arriving home to his peaceful abode in the country.  While we all generally get on well and enjoy each others’ company, unfortunately, kids being kids, they can often be loud, and argumentative etc which in turn leads to more tension, trying to keep the peace.

Our wee trailer-able cabin

My family reluctantly gave in to this “amazing life we could have” and left all they love behind, sacrificing all, fears and concerns in tact, trusting me.

Eden while sailing

We invested so much time and money and never got to really reap or enjoy (apart from one week) one of the main reasons for taking on this project: to anchor up somewhere tropical and be able to paddle over to primo surf.  To me, it seems a shame to give up after all the hard yards we’ve put in.  We are closer to our (my?) dream than ever. 
Well, aside from the massive crossing that lies ahead, getting into the Pacific.
So, what is it that I love about sailing?

Eli and Salem motoring up coast of Bonaire to haul out
I love the idea of sailing.  Of my family seeing/exploring new places, meeting cool people, being amidst nature, more self-reliant. 

making friends at boat yard
 I love the physical nature that the lifestyle demands, being in tune with weather and tides, learning about the way the boat works and can better operate, even if I don’t always fully understand it.

I love that my kids are experiencing a different way to do life. That we could travel, but have our home with us also.

pancakes for breakfast
But then, sometimes I would find myself getting impatient with the slowness of sailing from one place to another and when it got really gnarly, I wasn’t as brave as I’d hoped I would be.  Well, actually, I was at the time.  Both Dave and I were calm and focused, and did what needed to be done: keeping the kids and boat safe and avoiding any collision as we sailed between the islands.  It was just later when we were safe that I no longer felt brave to take it on again.
Concern for the kids is what made me apprehensive.  The kids not being fully comfortable and getting bored because they felt too nautious to do anything.  That is what I took on as pressure and then felt impatient to get to our next destination, so they would be happy again.

A very rare moment: eating out!
During these times of impatience and concern for the unhappiness of my children on passage, I found something in the recesses of my mind that helped me keep it together: I would think about being home, on land, and all the fun things we could do as a family just travelling around NZ by car, a wonderful land-lubber life!

Now that we are back on land and some time has passed, I find I still have no desire for a house and my heart is longing for my former salty life and my lovely boat.
Aagh, the agony and absurdity of it all!  (drama queen moment) Seeing my kids so happy on land I feel deeply torn.  Whenever the stress of our living situation or the “monster” lurks or Eli’s teenage hormones come lurching out of the looney bin and I start resigning to the idea that maybe we should sell our boat, my automatic, sub-concious routine seems to be that I get short, (in temperament - I’m vertically challenged enough already!) and snappy.  That then morphs into a simmering anger like hot mud at the geo-thermal parks, bubbling just below the surface.  The last phase is despair.  The mud bubbles have dropped down into the depths and the steam is condensing in my eyes, cascading down my face in hot, silent tears.

I can’t stand the thought of selling, in spite of the obstacles that surround us.  But at the same time, my family has sacrificed a lot for me, should I now be the one to do the sacrificing?   Drop the “dream” for a while and pick up another boat later when the kids have grown up and left home? 
Dave is at least more settled and less grumpy now, by the way, -thank goodness!
These are my concerns:
1) Kids can say one thing and do a complete turn about another day (actually, I would have to include Dave in this also!).
2)There’s so much potential in our boat for various opportunities, it ticked a lot of boxes in our ultimate boat checklist and we’d be hard pushed to get another boat like it for the price we did.
3) And definitely not least of all, the boat, the lifestyle, makes me feel so alive, like this is what I was made for.

Herein lies our dilemma, our emotional roller coaster.  I guess in time, things will work out and make more sense so long as we don't make any rash decisions. 

Nectarine and peach picking
And in the mean time, we will just enjoy all the good things we have available.  We have a lot to be thankful for that we live in such a great, easy place and have options available, considering the amount of craziness going on in the world right now.

Eden picking nectarines from a nearby

So thank you for kindly enduring my rant and may you all have a wonderful Christmas.


  1. Hey our favourite New Zealand family. Thanks for sharing with us where you are with life at the moment. We want you to know that we think you are all awesome for getting Ula up and running and having a great adventure in the process. You made some tough decisions but didnt let that stop you, both starting out and going back to NZ. Every bit of that time and energy worthwhile in the journey of life. John and I discussed your dilemma this morning as we roll about here preparing to make the great leap forward. For what its worth, we think to look for a third road could be useful. How can you scratch that itch without too much fallout? Firstly remember that you have time on your side. We think Ula is a great boat but she's not the only boat, so whatever you do regading having a boat is not the be all and end all. Ideally, if you could find someone to bring her to NZ you could then enjoy her and keep meeting other needs. Secondly, you can always scratch the itch by coming sailing with us. Vicki and Dave, either one or both feel free to jump on Marilyn with us for a passage any time. Did I mention we were going to make the run south to Marquesas in February or March. :)

    1. Hey guys thanks so much for all the encouragement once again, we feel very privileged to have met and to spend so much time with you. Appreciate your ideas, definitely got the cogs turning! Will be in touch once we've had time to process and figure things out. Hope preparations are going well

  2. The idea of getting someone to bring the boat back to NZ is one worth considering. However whatever you decide are blessed with a great country to live in , three great wonderful children and a spirit that will tackle any concerns, trials and tribulations head on with a smile, laughter,understanding and the ability to stick at it! You would not have got where you are today if you didn't. Have a great Christmas and enjoy!

    1. Thanks so much orion 1, you always pop into our lives with much encouragement at the most pivotal times, we feel very blessed to have met and spent time with you. Really appreciate and definitely will consider your thoughts. Much appreciated, have fun with your overland journeying:)

  3. Thank you for sharing Vicki...You are a brave, creative and inspiring woman and mother...Do not doubt yourself, when the right decision comes it will feel right. I personally think that you should send Stew and Josh up there to sail Ula down to NZ or even the pacific Islands!

    1. Ohh, thanks.. does stew and Josh have offshore experience. ? Pretty funny me asking that when we started out with none but this is my baby we're talking about!

  4. Purple Pirate Ship is Art!!!!!

    1. Thanks Jonathan! Checked out your website, you have some amazing paintings, all the best and thanks for checking us out:)

    2. Hi Vicki,

      Thank you for your kind remarks! I have more pirate art coming in the spring.

      Jonathan Frank