A New Leaf
Updated: Jul 11, 2018
After three weeks of goodbyes, two full days of car-rides, and 23 hours on the plane, we’ve finally arrived on the boat. It’s berthed in Rivergate Marina, at the mouth of the Brisbane River, bobbing alongside bigger, more industrial, engine-powered yachts. The dust from the factories to the north drifts south to settle on our fiberglass decks and the multicolored lights from the Brisbane skyline gleam through our portholes at night. The urban world is not friendly to many, but it's particularly uncomfortable for yachties (people who live on boats, like us), seeing as how all of the most enjoyable aspects of boat-life are eliminated. Swimming in the dark green water between the docks is gag-inducing, the sky is consistently an impermeable gray, and the land, though accessible, is absent of the tropical vegetation and wildlife which entertain us in the islands. None of this, however, has managed to dampen our moods much, because we are plenty entertained by our new home: a shiny Lagoon 500 with four spacious cabins and a forward cockpit. The hallways are wide enough for our grown-up family to unpack our many suitcases into the dozens of house-sized cabinets and shelves, and I have my own bathroom with my very own shower separate from the toilet; not a big deal in a house but actually quite rare on a boat. The first night I crawled, exhausted, into my berth under the open hatch swishing night air into my cabin, and I felt a new kind of contentment. As I drifted off, I wondered what I would dream about now that my fantasies had finally found their way to my waking life; the answer was nothing. I had never slept better.
A ferry passed the marina and the wake jostled us gently awake. Little estelas trapping light in the dark, oily, water. I was reading, once again enchanted by the simple pattern of letters in my kindle; wondering at how I seemed to have already won the battle against my jet lag. Breakfast was a bowl of greek yogurt and banana slices with muesli, reminding me of how Australians ate dry muesli and toasted muesli instead of granola. Jade finished a bag of jam-smeared crumpets in one sitting, pleasing mom because they were a dollar a bag at Aldi. She added them to her provisioning list. The suburban neighborhood of Murarrie, just outside of Brisbane, is a labyrinth of strip malls and round-a-bouts; not something I’m usually fond of, but a necessary evil for this one week. We drove our rented car from parking lot to parking lot, swerving onto the left side of the road at the terrifying last second. The Coles, Woolworths, and Aldi’s slid together as we stuffed each trolley to the capacity and lugged bag after bag to the already bursting trunk.
The next week passed in an exhausting blur of Marina life. Our stores of food, toilet paper, hard-ware, and school books grew as mom hauled loads of supplies back to the dock and handed them up to Cleo and I. Jade was an inventory whirlwind, stacking cans and Tupperware in listing towers to be entered in her spreadsheet. Various clicks, bangs, and curses sounded from the deck and deep inside the cockpit lockers as Dad fiddled with this and that boat part. It rained three days in a row and we found a leak in the master bathroom. I crouched next to the lifelines, spraying water along the bedding of the saloon windows to test the exact location, finally finding a crack in the caulk that poured the musty hose-water onto Dad’s head. Cleo’s shower pump broke and she levered up the moveable floor-boards, lying at the edge of the gaping hole to wrench the hoses apart, tightening and screwing a new float-switch on. New cabinet doors were delivered and one day was devoted to drilling and attaching them to the hinges. I kept the old ones as surfaces to paint on; pre-stretched canvas is expensive in Australia and rare anywhere else. I swabbed washable paint on my walls, making sure it came off before starting my bedroom mural. I tested the bread maker, producing a hockey-puck-like loaf and fighting with the yeast for hours before finally filling the loaf-pan with fluffy dough. Cleo tried out the popcorn maker, spilling all of the kernels in the pan, and then rushing around to find enough bowls to catch the enormous amount of popcorn that flew out.
The past month has been a time of successive changes, and that didn't stopped with the landing of our last flight, I keep finding new things to gush about and others to complain about. There are still parts of the new boat that will take more time to adjust to, but my initial delight has barely diminished. As we’ve settled back into our familiar boat-life groove, I can see how the bigger space helps Mom fit every jar and loaf of bread she needs, how Dad has new toys in the nine electric winches, and how Cleo found the perfect spot for her guitar. The mural on my bedroom walls won't be finished for a while now and I can't wait to add to it as we sail. Our time in the industrial world is drawing to a close and we might have named this boat Dafne, but the II is just as important; we are casting off as the Dafne family, version 2.O.