10 September 2007

humpbacks, bowlines and b.o

It’s Monday morning and I’ve discovered peace on earth, sailing inside the Barrier Reef at pre-dawn. No other boats around. The radio is silent, the boys asleep. The only sound is that of Pelican cutting through the water at a lazy five knots. We’ve got the leeward genoa, staysail, main and mizzen up. A sliver of moon rises in the east; above it a bright star – Venus, perhaps? – casts a glow on the water. The eastern sky lightens, first yellow, then pink and orange and finally a placid blue moving west overhead. The mainland, now in view, gains definition. I keep an eye on a container ship moving south-west across our bow about five miles off. Skip wakes, we pull in some sail. He makes us coffee. I self-administer a quiz in the Australian Boating Manual (from the nav-desk library – our boat has two libraries!), then practice my clove hitches and bowlines in anticipation of our arrival in Cairns this afternoon. Skip relieves and I go freshen up and lay on the tramp in the sun. With two wash-downs in a week, it’s fair to say that I stink; my hair has felafel crumbs in it; and the top layer of skin has flaked clean off my hands. My shins have copped a hiding from endless trips below deck (usually with an armful of stuff, so I’ve been holding on with knees!). Have to say though, I’m pretty content.

Compare this to a usual Monday morning: get up tired, discover I have nothing to wear, spend way too long getting ready (whilst fending off the always excitable, ‘I drink red cordial for breakfast’ cat), wait for the bus, sit at a keyboard writing speeches and strategies and all sorts of puff that will either be rewritten, not used, stalled in their ascent up the hierarchy and/or were pointless to start with. Throw in a meeting, a ridiculously urgent Ministerial request and a client lobbing round unscheduled for a ‘quick chat’, and that’s the morning done.

If you’re reading this at your desk, my apologies, I don’t mean to rub it in... ok, well maybe just a little! ;) And if you’re a previous manager or client, please stop reading about two paragraphs ago.

This might make a few people rather envious… this afternoon we saw a humpback and calf about 150 metres from the boat: officially the closest I’ve seen whales in the wild. Mum floated with her fluke hoisted in the air for an inordinate length of time (I thought it might’ve been doing headstands but wasn’t game to share this insight with the crew!).

Saturday was a cracker of a day, sailing through the Whitsundays under sunny blue skies and strangely marbled cloud formations - will post photos tomorrow. Can’t wait to get my own boat and go cruising! There was lots of laying around on the tramp, reading and drying out water-logged cells. (Don’t get me wrong, there’s been lots of cooking, washing up and night watches too!)

Fave sailing tunes at the mo’…

Lighthouse, The Waifs
Building ships, Lior
Starlight, Muse
Washed out to sea, Something for Kate
Six months in a leaky boat, Little Birdy version

Secret squirrel stuff… yesterday I critiqued and edited a $10 million funding submission. Can’t say too much, other than skip has a vision (sshhh) which may or may not involve establishing a (crackle, fuzz) marine research and (more crackle, crackle) education institute. Hopefully he’ll remember me when he sits at the helm of that baby too.

Also just heard that my inherited state will get its first female premier this week... about time too! Yet more reason for celebratory ales tonight...

‘Tis all for now. xx

1 comment:

Phil Hargreaves said...

Its just a rumor circulating around George St that Peter Beatie has been reading your blogs and realised theres more to life then desks, speechs and media releases.