I could title this post something click-bait-y like “10 reasons not to buy a boat” or “I hate sailing” and likely get more reads, but that just would not be me. Instead, this will be my usual SEO-failing fare from the heart, a heart currently full of disappointment and doubt; because, in the past 48 hours, we have run into another significant delay that will keep us from heading north, from having fun, for at least a couple more weeks.
It all happened Tuesday, the day after we – finally – splashed after a month and three days of intense boat work on the hardstand at Boat Works. We had splashed on Monday, after running things right up to the wire with finishing waxing and buffing the underside of Avalon’s hull literally as the sea lift crew was driving up, and spent that night on the dock as the weather was forecast to be foul. This turned out to be a good idea, as mere hours after Avalon was back in the water it was raining sideways. However, there was more ugly weather in the forecast and, as it was only a motor out of the Coomera canals up to nicer anchorages in Moreton Bay, we still decided to go on Tuesday morning, despite the continuing rain (we wanted to get into Raby Bay, an anchorage we knew had good holding, before the wind really set in). So, we got up before the sun (or before the sun if it actually came out that day…spoiler alert…it didn’t) and threw off the sodden dock lines to – finally – head north, as the sailing season in northern Australia began May 1st and we were already late.
Hours of motoring in wet, cold conditions later and we weren’t what you’d call ecstatic. I kept thinking, “Damn, this is it, we are going north, I should be excited!” but the most I could muster was a wane smile and a “It will be fun, eventually, right?” I probably would have felt more triumphant if we were motoring out on the type of day we’d motored in on – a glassy, sunny day heralded by dolphins and kookaburras – but the rain, and the prior 17 months of “beginning”, were putting a damper on my mood. So much so that, even before the fateful event, there were tears and doubt. So, so much doubt.
See, this sailing dream has been a huge part of our lives for the past five years, but it’s not our only big dream.
There are many things we have put off to action this sailing dream now, while we’re young and adaptable, and it’s these things that have been rearing up more and more in my mind as the hard, beginning part of this sailing life drags on and on. Things like adopting kittens and puppies, living in the Southwest of WA, raising chickens, more international travel (I’ve desperately wanted to go to eastern and southern Africa ever since I was a young kid, not to mention Japan, India, South Korea, the list goes on), having human babies (eventually): these are all things we have put on hold to go sailing and when all we’ve done is spend ungodly amounts of money, work our assess off, and have maybe three fun days, well you start to wonder if it’s worth it. If sailing is worth it.
That’s when the doubt creeps in. It takes hold on the rainy days, the days full of overwhelmed, overworked tears when you can’t lift your arms to brush your teeth because your shoulders are so sore from boat work. And it settles home to roost when your husband falls down the stairs and breaks his ribs.
Yup, you read that right, this past Tuesday, the day that was supposed to be the triumphant start of the northward journey, Kane slipped badly on wet stairs (remember that pouring rain I mentioned earlier?) and fell HARD.
“Babe?!” I yelled, the crash reverberating through the boat.
No response, just groaning.
I made sure the boat was on a safe course, dropped the throttles, and ran inside to see Kane lying on the floor, clutching his ribs, his face contorted in more shock and pain than I’d ever seen on him before.
“Holy shit! What happened? How can I help? What do you need?”
“Can’t. Talk,” he managed to choke out. “Fell. Bruised. Ribs. Give. Me. A. Minute.”
Oh god, oh god, oh god, he’s seriously hurt, he broke something for sure, oh god, oh god, oh god, what do I do?
“Let me help you.”
“Can’t. Help. Just. Time.”
At this point, I had to run back up to the helm to make sure we were still on a safe course, but as we weren’t fully out of the canals yet, I couldn’t leave the cockpit long for fear of running over a lateral mark (aka NOT something you want to do at anytime, and especially not when you’re a man down). “Babe, I need to take care of the boat. You sure, I can’t help? You look bad.”
“Sure,” came his pained groan.
“Here at least take a pillow for your head and Panadol.” He nodded his assent and I dropped the goods unceremoniously down the stairs, landing rather rudely on his chest, but hey, I was also trying to make sure we didn’t crash.
“What about a blanket?” I asked, poking my head around the corner from the helm to see my very sad looking husband lying on the floor in the port hull, still clutching his ribs, but now his head was on a pillow and his face wasn’t quite so contorted.
“No. Fine. Just. Drive.”
So, I drove.
I cried a bit in fear and worry, but safely helmed Avalon for the final hour and a half it would take to get us into Raby Bay, thankfully an anchorage we’d been before, so we at least knew where good holding was.
Kane managed to stand and get back up the stairs in time to help with the driving while I went forward to deal with our anchor and bridle, and soon, but not soon enough, we were anchored safe and sound, but very, very bruised, in both body and soul.
At this point Kane was optimistic, he was clearly in a lot of pain, but he said he didn’t think they were broken, just badly bruised. They’d heal in a few days and maybe we’d still make our weather window to cross the Wide Bay Bar that weekend…oh how silly we were.
Two days later, days of rolling in and out of the dinghy in so much pain that the first time he did it Kane had to lay flat on the public dock for a solid two minutes to recover, and the pain was not getting better; so even my too-tough-for-his-own-good husband had to admit, it was time to see a doctor.
He was still hopeful going into the doctor’s appointment.
“I know people who’ve broken ribs. They are in more pain than this. They’re just bruised. Probably.”
“Babe, you are tough, if you’re admitting this is painful, then it’s ten times more painful than what most people could handle. I know you.”
“Oh well, we’ll see.”
And see we did.
When we got the call from the radiologist after the appoint at the GP and the x-rays, I actually laughed.
“Only you can bloody go and break you ribs and be all ‘oh it’s a bit painful, but it’ll be right in a few days’; you’re too tough for your own good my love!”
Kane did not laugh, but only because it hurt to laugh…and to breathe, and to move, and even to fart for that matter (I laughed a lot when he told me this particular detail). He did crack a smile, but then his characteristic good cheer fell away. “It’s going to be weeks.”
“I know,” I said, trying to be uncharacteristically cheerful, to buoy his sagging spirits. “It’s not your fault, it’s okay, we’ll manage. Let’s go back to Mooloolaba, see if we can get the end dock again so you don’t have to battle with the dinghy.”
“Ya, but we’re going to miss so much time in the season.”
“I know, it sucks, but there’s nothing we can do, you need to heal.”
“It does suck.”
“Ya, it really, really does.”
So, Kane called the dock master, we got our old spot at the end for two weeks from this weekend, and we desperately messaged our friends ‘can anyone come down to Raby Bay ASAP to help us sail Avalon back to Mooloolaba? Kane broke his ribs and we need at least two able bodies to sail in case something goes wrong’.
Thank god we have amazing, flexible friends and someone was able to help us out on less than 24 hours notice (she is training down to Raby Bay as I write this and will help us sail to Moreton Island tonight and then on to Mooloolaba tomorrow). At the beginning of this post, I said my heart it full of doubt, and this is true, but it is also full of unending gratitude for our friends and for all the people who have helped us through this trying ‘beginning’. I doubt we would still be sailing if it weren’t for this wonderful community of people.
The beginning of this sailing life has really tried us, from a much longer than anticipated buying process to poor “professional” work leading to boat work sagas to anxiety and, now, injury and doubt. I cannot lie, I have so much doubt about if this was the right move, if this life is for us, if it will be worth all the money and literal blood, sweat, and tears. I honestly just do not know right now.
All I can do is take care of Kane while he heals, rest and regroup over the next couple of weeks, and try to keep the doubt at bay, to hold onto the hope that one day, soon, we will head north.
One day, we will dive the Great Barrier Reef and I will wake up to turtles outside my bedroom window. One day, Kane will catch that huge tuna he dreams about. One day, we will have fun. Unfortunately, that day is not today and, damn, I wish it was.
This is not a happy post, this is not an ‘anyone can do it, go buy a boat, go sailing, it’s awesome, it’s easy, it’s cocktails on the beach!’ Life as full time liveaboard sailors has been harder in every way than I could have ever imagined, but we still have yet to have the fun part, to see if the good is worth the bad.
So, we carry on, until September at least, and hope and pray that the doubt is wrong, that it will be worth it in the end.