Monday, October 19, 2009

Tips n' Tricks

We’re back in Whangarei now, since we’re giving up on this whole sailing around New Zealand thing. That’s a crazy idea anyway. What we really need to do is sell the boat, get jobs, and live like reasonable grown-ups for awhile.

The only problem is, we’re not reasonable. Or particularly grown-up.

So I guess we’ll have to keep sailing. We’re just in Whangarei for a week, where we plan to tackle the endless mechanical projects and errands that keep sailboats afloat. Our month in the Bay of Islands was our shake-down cruise, where we learned a few tips and tricks for sailing with a baby in New Zealand. Curious? Allow me to share our hard-earned wisdom:

Babies Don’t Need To Be Bathed
As we’ve recently learned, the need for a daily baby bath is dangerous bourgeois propaganda. No, instead we’ve discovered a new invention, one we heartily recommend to parents everywhere: the FHAT bath. This handy acronym stands for Face, Hands, Ass and Tootsies. With a mere inch of soapy water in the bottom of a bowl, we can wash the baby’s critical systems without running an entire bath. We love the FHAT bath because it saves water. Silas loves the FHAT bath because it means he doesn’t have to get his hair washed, which as far as he’s concerned, is the baby version of waterboarding.

Folding Clothing is a Silly Waste of Time
As a hardened old sea dog, Silas doesn’t have time to fold his clothes. Instead, he has five colour-coded sea bags, into which his gear gets stuffed. They’re made out of polar fleece, which is a fascinating plastic-based material that seems to repel water.

Increased Deck Time = Decreased Baby Vomit
At first, I was so nervous having Silas on board underway that I kept him down below, in a padded room, reading Dr. Seuss books and eating snacks. Of course, that’s enough to make the toughest sailor sick as a dog. Once coated in baby vomit, I decided to try bringing Silas out on deck more. And guess what? He loves it. However, he doesn’t think Peter is a very good helmsman, and he is anxious to take over the wheel.

And While We’re on the Subject of Baby Vomit
You don’t want to take the vomitous towels and shove them in the bottom of the laundry bag until you happen to find a Laundromat two weeks later. They will… GROW things. FURRY things. I’ll leave the rest up to your imagination.

Navigational Hazard Buoys are Tasty
Not strictly baby-related, but good to know all the same. The waters around New Zealand are positively infested with delicious things to eat. With the help of our dinghy, we managed to pull bushels of fabulous green-lipped mussels off of a hazard buoy, which we later consumed in obscene quantities, with lots of garlic and lemon butter. While not strictly legal, this maneuver does save on grocery bills, allowing you to spend more money at the Laundromat (see above).

Touching the Void

Remember the story of Joe Simpson, who pulled himself down the sheer face of an icy mountain with a shattered tibia, after his climbing partner left him for dead? He didn’t do it all in one go, because that would have been impossible. Instead, he used his watch. “I just have to get through the next twenty minutes,” he told himself. “If I can get through the next twenty minutes and not die, then I can make it.” Basically, that’s our philosophy on sailing with a baby. When the kid is screaming, the boat is rocking, and the pressure cooker sails across the cabin, we just have to make it through the next twenty minutes without losing our minds. After that, we’re home free.

So: we’re not sailing around New Zealand with a baby. That would be crazy. But we’re not giving up, either. Hell no. Next week, we’re sailing to Auckland. Then we’ll see.


  1. Good to hear you are making head way with the baby pukeing thing. It's all just a matter of time now before he throws you both overboard and takes to a life of piracey............m

  2. As I recall Joe Simpson's first thought upon landing in a crevice with a broken leg was, "Crikey, at least I'm not sailing with a baby." And he was probably right, but you might need to know what happens if you actually sell the boat and get jobs like reasonable grown-ups.

    The kids are just as impossible, only you no longer have the escape pod. You still have to feed them a banana peel every so often or they complain. They don't get seasick and vomit on you, true, but they get one virus after another from other children at where ever you have to send them away to because you're at work and away from them, and then they vomit on you, and then they give the virus to you. So as not to go insane, you have to buy another boat, and that gives you a list of stuff to fix, and so you ignore the house and it falls apart around your ears. Then you realize, 'Crikey, if I don't get us moving soon, one of these kids is going to be a teenage boy, not some "I think I can make this work" toddler.'

    And if you're thinking, at least on land we'd get away from the toilet problems, not so fast...
    My children will pump away flushing the boat heads until they are covered in sweat, but do you think a potty gets flushed at the house? Ha! We can't go away for a night without me checking every bathroom one last time, otherwise we come home to a house that reeks of bilge.

    Fiji isn't that far, don't do anything crazy.

  3. Ah yes, bathing is definitely not a nightly routine for boat kids, is it? Around here we have a "bath season" and my son knows when the hoses are run down the dock (meaning they shut off the water for the winter) bath season is over. Baby wipes and bumming showers from land friends becomes the norm. We show up at everyone's doorstep with a bag of laundry and a bottle of shampoo.
    Best to you in your adventures, big and small.