How quickly the years fly by. As one year ends and another begins, I like to think it’s a chance to focus on the important things in life and try to forget about the woes of the previous year. But as we all know, life goes on.
On 27th January 2011, we sailed away from Melbourne – so we are now into our tenth year living aboard Blue Heeler. We are blessed to live this life. Despite the blustery wet conditions outside, our boat is warm and we have everything we need aboard Blue Heeler, but I do wish I could be nearer those I care about; when it really matters.
Over the past few months, it’s been hard to watch Australia burn, particularly as the fires in Victoria consume areas well-known to me. Over 80% of the Blue Mountains in New South Wales went up in flames plus all the coastal towns that have lost everything is really devastating. But the Aussie spirit will lift them out of this tragedy, as always. The scenes of burning wildlife and farm animals was truly horrible – those poor animals didn’t stand a chance and the population may never recover. So very sad.
So as the world turns as it does every year, our world has slowed down somewhat over winter. My last post shared the details of all the projects we’d undertaken aboard Blue Heeler since September last year. Boy we were busy! But after a very enjoyable Christmas with friends near London, we had a decidedly quiet New Year’s Eve and it’s been quiet since then. Well, when I say quiet, I mean we’ve been doing other jobs inside the boat, quietly.
I was asked recently why we are always ‘fixing’ the boat. It’s not that we are always fixing the boat, but we are always improving the boat, or at least maintaining it. Our boat is now 23 years old and so are some of the remaining items aboard. Salt, stress and constant use deteriorates everything on a boat and things just need fixing or replacing.
Our Webasto diesel heater died a slow and wretched death. Despite refurbishing it two years ago, the bit Wayne couldn’t source and replace at the time eventually stopped working so rather than keep the thing alive, we gave it the last rites and installed a new Autoterm Planar 4D 4kW diesel heater for half the price of a new Webasto (built in chilly Russia so it’s gotta be good!). So far it’s working a treat. The Planar was recommended to us by a friend in Germany last winter – thanks Andreas!
Other small jobs such as resealing the galley bench-tops and head; replacing cooling fans to the fridge, replacing our old gas cylinders with new composite Safefill cylinders, planning our 2020 sailing season, and so on – the sort of jobs that we need to do and can do during the winter.
The weather has surprised me. I thought it would be very cold (0-2degC), but typically the days are around 7degC and usually no less than 3-4degC at night. It does rain a lot though, but I manage to get a couple of hours each day to go walking or riding (I’d go mad if I had to stay on the boat all day). Storm Brendan recently blew through the area, but despite the 60kn winds up on the hill, we had no more than 30kn tucked down in the harbour.
There’s plenty of trails and routes around the region. Whitehaven is the starting town of the C2C cycle route (it’s actually the Sea to Sea Route) to Tynemouth on the east coast. It’s around 220kms and crosses from the west coast across the Lake District to the east coast of England. It’s one of the UK’s most popular routes. I only cycled 20kms before scuttling back to Whitehaven, but it would be good to do, perhaps not during winter.
And finally, this week we have BREXIT. It’s been a long time coming, and still no-one is really certain how this will affect their everyday lives. As far as we know nothing will change substantially during the ‘transition period’ until December 2020, but BREXIT will have implications for us and others in the same ‘boat’ as us (figuratively that is!). We have British Passports and plan to spend time in Europe so will probably have to abide by the new ‘90 days in and 90 days out’ rule. As far as the 18-month rule for boats entering the EU, that is also unclear as to when this is triggered. So, I guess we’ll just wing it and see where the cards fall. No point worrying about something we have no control over.
So that’s what we’ve been up to. The good news is we have a couple of months left to get our stuff out of storage and fit the boat out for sailing. (we put all our sails, etc., into storage to give us more space while we do all the work). Still, there’s a good chance a cold snap will remind us that winter isn’t over just yet. Daylight hours are almost at nine hours as the sun slowly returns to the northern hemisphere.
I do hope your 2020 is filled with good times and happiness. Many people we care about have had a hard time so far this year, and we can only hope the year improves for them.
Until next time…