Sunday, 27 November 2016

Sailing Around Australia - Chameleons


We have been on a sojourn from our sailing adventures since April, as we top up the kitty by working and top up the browny points by spending time with the family. During this time it has amazed me how chameleon-like we are.

Looking back, when we left on our sailing adventures in 2013 it was a slow transformation from jobs and “normal life” to relaxed, carefree cruising sailors that took 2 or 3 months to evolve, a bit like our sun tans that took a few months to bronze, or in my case to go from red to a shade of fawny brown.

In April 2016, we had to leave Easy Tiger on the hard stand (in storage) at the Gold Coast while we attended to business matters at home in Bunbury. After a couple of years of sailing around pretty much as we pleased, it was a shock to the system to have to front up every morning, on time, motivated and prepared for the cut and thrust of managing staff, customers and general business.

I would say that within a week our tans had started to fade, our minds had changed from the next sail to the next sale and the dreaded rise in stress levels had kicked in.

Fortunately, in July we sold our business. That was again a real change in our psyche. We now had to make sure all our I’s were dotted and our T’s were crossed so that the sale would actually go through. Rather than waiting for the next weather window we were waiting for the bank to approve the purchasers finance, then we were waiting for the handover date, then we were waiting for the handover period to finish and then… finally were done.

Our next change was into thinking like investors. The money we had left over after all the business bibs and bobs were done with, had to be squirreled away very wisely. Then hopefully we would have some left over to re-boot our sailing adventures.

By the time we settled all that it was now, September. The annual southwards migration of Humpback whales and cruising sailors had begun by then. We were being teased by blogs, emails and facebook stories of the wonderful time our sailing buddies were having as they ventured to new destinations such as Hardy’s reef, Yellow Patch and Orpheus Island.

A quick look into our sailing money account told us we had enough to sail for probably six months, then it would be back to work. After much discussion, some negotiation with each other and several coin tossing sessions, we decided to find jobs now, for the next six months rather than race back to the boat nd catch up with all the others for a few weeks. We could then build our sailing funds up to the point where we could sail for a year or so, beginning in April or May 2017 when the northward migration began and conditions are much better.

So with out further ado, we morphed into job seekers. We were both concerned though as the local economy in WA has suffered a huge downturn and many businesses were closing, not hiring.
For me, finding a job was surprisingly easy, courtesy of having had a road train driver’s license for some years. I was able to find a job working four days on then four days off which suited.

For Leanne, though, it turned out to be a far more difficult task. After sending 20 or so applications off, often having no response, three interviews at Bunning’s and a host of other dead ends, Leanne was getting quite downhearted. Also, the processes employers are using such as group interviews, (and the video response I had to send in) for what are relatively straightforward jobs is now very interesting.

16 years of running our own business yet it was very hard for Leanne to find work.
For someone who has run our own business, has achieved a lot of sales success, and has sailed short handed around Australia, getting constantly rejected for jobs as a checkout chick, or chicken recipe demonstrator csn be really demoralizing. Thankfully, our friend Christina came up with a solution and offered Leanne some work as a housekeeper at a resort.

So I have morphed into a fluoro wearing, shift workin’, gear crunchin’ trucker who rolls up and down the highway dreaming of our next sailing adventure. Leanne now spends her days cleaning and making beds, dreaming of getting off her feet, having a cup of tea and a lie down after her day of physically demanding work.

After some weeks of get up early go to work come home, have dinner, go to bed… repeat;  our sailing dream had begun to slip away. In fact we had both been looking at maybe buying a house and putting our roots down and…egad… selling Easy Tiger.

How lucky that our friends, Melian and Ian, shared some of their sailing journey on facebook with Leanne. These friends had bought a catamaran in the Seychelle Islands, had it sailed back to Mandurah and become our neighbours in the Marina. These two both had hectic jobs, teenage kids, were building a house etc..etc.. while Easy Tiger was moored next  to their boat, Indian Summer.

Somehow they managed to get their boat up to speed (I think Ian stayed on board during the week, so that he could work on it during the evenings) and had thrown the ropes earlier this year. With tons of courage, they had headed north on the Western Australian Coast, through the Kimberleys to Darwin and were now in North Java, Indonesia, participating in the Sail Indonesia Rally. From there they intend to do a circumnavigation of the world.

When I arrived home the night after Leanne had been Face timing with Melian, the transformation in Leanne left me quite amazed.

Just like the first time she had got excited about buying a catamaran, her lights were back on. Just like the first time, within a week we were booked to fly to Queensland although not to hire a boat this time, but to visit our boat and to reunite with some of our sailing buddies.

Our arrival at the Boatworks yard on the gold coast was exciting. Neville and Amanda from Bossa Nova picked us up from the train station. After an hour or so of talking about their adventures of their cruising season, we realised how relaxed they were, how tanned they were and how many new adventures they had.  The conversation flowed like it was like we had never been away, but left me feeling that I had missed out on a lot.

There was a Pizza night at the cafĂ© where we met several more “boaties”.  A couple of days later there was a talk about sailing to New Caledonia and there we caught up with part of our “Sailing Family”, Brain and Eva. That also left me with the feeling of how far removed from this “community” we had become

I was relieved to find that as the discussions turned to next years planned adventures, I realised how easily and quickly we will morph back into being cruising sailors, once our work is done.

As Land Lubbers do, Leanne got dressed up for a day at the races with her sister.