Woh Woh Woh – Where have you been Lily!?

Wow, sorry guys. I kinda went AWOL there didn’t I?

But guess what? I have SO much to tell you!

When I left you last, oh so many months ago, I was in the Mediterranean, working on a 70ft classic sailing yacht. Remember the one?

image11Right. So, Marc and I are still working on the same boat, but a lot has happened in the meantime! For starters, we bought a boat together !!!!!!!! Yes, we bought a boat together. That’s sort of like marriage isn’t it? It felt just as serious and stressful and fun and heart-racing as marriage anyway.

Ladies and Gentlemen… Introducing… our new darling lady… the one and only…

Sailing Vessel PROJECTION – a Stevens 47:

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Wow, right? Are you thinking what I’m thinking? (**NB: I’m thinking: DAMN, that’s a big boat!!**)

Yes, we bought a big boat. She’s 47 ft long! That may come as a surprise to those of you that know me as the “smaller is better” “go small go now” “who needs a fridge anyway” philosophical sailor… but there is rhyme to our reason, don’t you worry.

Here’s the thing. It’s not just our boat. It’s your boat too!

The story is, we’re launching our very own business. It’s called Projection Travel and it’s officially a company so you can go ahead and put PTY LTD at the end of that ūüėČ We will be offering sailing and¬†cycling charters throughout the Pacific, starting in January 2016. Think gourmet food, kayak expeditions, tropical bike tours, turquoise¬†anchorages, yoga mornings etc, etc…¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† So, can I get a HELL YEAH?

More info on all that exciting stuff will come over the next few weeks as we get our website launched – watch this space for an opportunity to join us for some sailing and cycling adventures!

But by now you might be thinking… what about baby Portal?

Yes, baby Portal.

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My first love… my beautiful, darling Portal. This little lady will always hold a very special place in my heart. She taught me so much of everything. And she made it easy. Portal was a wonderful First Boat, and our journeys together… all the way from the smog of LA, through the clear waters of the Pacific, and into the tidal belly¬†of the Brisbane River… will never be forgotten!¬†

What? Portal’s GONE!?

Yes, ’tis true. Well, she’s “moved on” let’s say. She has found herself an abundantly suitable new caretaker, who I trust will love and care for her twice as well as I did. She will mosey her way along the Northern NSW coasts, and be grateful to have the wind in her sails once more.

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… So that’s about it for the BIG NEWS items. A summary, for those of you that skip to the bottom:

  • I left my job in the Med for a 3 month crazy-head-spinning trip to Australia, where I scrubbed my lovely boat Portal within an inch of her life and sold her to a delightful man named John.
  • Marc then came to snatch me back. It was a joyful reunion after 2 months too long!
  • Then,¬†we signed some big documents with scribbles at the bottom to say we just bought a NEW boat – Projection.
  • We are now back at work in the Med. But only for a few months – in September we jump ship, and start the real¬†project – Projection Travel: Sailing and Cycling Adventures.

Stay tuned for more ūüôā

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February’s Endings

As the second month of the year draws to a close, it feels unusually overdue. Time has been moving quite slowly in my world, due mostly to my recent hermiting tendencies and self-focus.
I’ve been living off Portal for the last month, house sitting a friends apartment and the calendar tends to flip slower when I’m not on the water. It’s part of the ‘deal’ Charlie and I have had to work on – how to divide our one tangible joint asset: the boat. As any ending relationship is, it has been a difficult and emotional process. I owe you, my community, for the heartfelt support and non-judgement you have offered us. If I haven’t personally said it yet, Thank You.
We have finally settled on a deal – he has Portal to himself for February, I move back in, alone, in March and buy out his share of her value. We now both feel significantly better and some of the tense frustrations have dissipated.
I also started a pretty hectic, time-demanding job at the start of the year, workshop manager at Reid Cycles. It has been challenging but rewarding and despite working massive hours, I’m glad to be playing with bikes again.
You know how they say don’t make more than one big life change at a time? Home, Work, Love. Oops.
I’m accustomed to change though and the obvious truth is, it sits well with me. My reaction has been to take a time-out for myself, focusing on meditation, health and diet. It’s liberating to be sleeping 8 uninterrupted hours a night, to be filling my body with green smoothies and veggie/raw-rich meals, to spend my precious free-time cycling around my city or going to the cinema alone or shopping and cafe hopping, a good book always at hand. A part of myself that had been long neglected is developing again, and yes that’s partly due to a change in my love life, but it also has a lot to do with being back in my ‘hometown’, in a challenging new job, and for the first time in a long time, not thinking about boats or projects or travel plans (much).
After two months of lone-living though, I’m starting to emerge again, make more plans with friends, stay out past 10 occasionally and even consider inviting others to join me at the movies! Sometimes I worry this will get harder again, but maybe it’s all been too hard for too long, and maybe all (at least most) of the tears have fallen. Maybe it’s time to just let love flow it’s flow, to sit in fields of green grass, sun on my face, smile on my lips, and just say “be here now”.

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What I havn’t told you

Why do I write this blog?

Is it to simply share my travel experiences? To inspire, to encourage, to reflect? To give a voyeur-view into my life, as a young woman on the road? Or maybe just to self-indulge? I always said it was a platform for me to practice my writing, to keep me writing. And to share in this human-experience, to explore ‘the meaning of life’ together, as part of a community, all searching relentlessly for answers to questions or questions to answers.

I believe strongly in the value of transparency, of openness, so that we might all learn more, grow faster and understand one another better. I write because it’s a way to share life, to connect with people both known and unknown and explore ideas as part of the bigger picture.

But it’s not always easy. Sometimes I find myself slipping into the tedium of “I went here, I did this”, or glossing over my experiences so they all sound like passionate, fulfilling adventures. And when I am living my dream (to sail my own boat across the Pacific) it’s all too easy to leave out the rawness of it, the tears and grit that are inevitably involved in risking yourself while following your heart.

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Charlie and I have always questioned the institution of marriage, challenged the assumptions made by society, by couples in love. It’s why we had a commitment ceremony and not a wedding, it’s why we tried open relationships, it’s why we’ve travelled apart for months at a time and it’s why now, after 5 years of being together, we’ve decided to separate.

I shared very little of our slowly disconnecting relationship, even with closest family and friends. I felt embarrassed at our failure to make it work, felt other people’s disappointment, those who love us both dearly and think of us as a team, felt that so soon after our heartfelt and powerful Union Ceremony, we should be doing better.

But then we sailed into Brisbane, and the time came to share our lives with others. It came as a shock to most, as it might to readers of this blog, because (through my own fault) what they didn’t see was the fighting, the misunderstandings, and the differences we found in each other. Our relationship has always been a balancing act, a hard won passionate battle of communication and empathy – always talking, working or moving our way through big impossible issues. We haven’t made it easy on ourselves, and maybe this is just what happens when you live through so much together in such a short time. I don’t know. Thankfully, what Charlie and I do know, is that we don’t want to go on with the struggle – we need to go our separate ways, to follow our dreams in different directions.

What I feel in my heart is that we are no longer meant for each other. We have growing opposing opinions about some fundamental philosophies, and despite still loving Charlie as the beautiful man he is, I recognize that’s not the man that helps me be the best woman I can be. Our vows to each other were clear: we would make our independent selves our first priority, always love the other, and live life together as a team so long as our happiness benefited.

Our roads have forked, our lives are separating, but we have stayed true to that commitment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Portal’s Pacific Complete!

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At 165 million square kilometers in area, the Pacific Ocean covers about 46% of the Earth’s water surface and about one-third of its total surface area, making it larger than all of the Earth’s land area combined.

Translation: Crossing the Pacific Ocean on a 30ft sailing boat, often going no faster than a brisk walk, takes a really, really long time. It’s big. Really big. Big enough to contain thousands of paradisaical islands, a whole bunch of curious whales, dozens of delicious Dorado, miles and miles of treacherous waves, kilometers of tranquil still seas, squalls, thunderstorms, pelting rain, rainbows, turtles, sunshine, parades of fast moving ships, communities of slow moving sailors, black people, white people, weavers and carvers and builders, and a whole bunch more of COMPLETE UNKNOWN.

But, all crests are conquerable, and after 9 months of sailing, Portal has made it to Australia. We are tired, dirty and hungry, but we’re here!

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Waiting for the Weather

After our spot in Tanna’s town of Lenakel turned nasty, we decided it was time to leave. Despite getting a migraine, not having an autopilot and it being dusk, the building swell and increasingly uncomfortable anchorage meant we had to go.

And a good thing we did! In complete contrast to our previous sail, this one was the best of the trip yet! It would have been perfect if not for the hand-stearing, but with a light breeze beam on and flat seas, it came close anyway. Our two day trip to New Caledonia passed quickly, but we were quite exhausted once inside the protecting reef. We found a small bay close to the pass, and anchored for the night, again with our friends on Alliance.

The next day we picked up the hook and continued on to Noumea, city of lights. Some hiccups with Pixel meant she had to be quarantined while we waited for our newly ordered auto-pilot, but soon both were back on the boat and Portal cleaned and ready for Australia’s harsh regulations. We were ready to go.

Neptune however, has had other plans. We are still here, still waiting. The weather for the last 2 weeks has been less that savory for a passage to Australia. We rest in wait for it to change, along with a dozen other sailboats all chafing to get to their final destinations.

We have made the most of it though; Jess, Duncan and I rented a little red car, ‘cherry’, and visited a national park near by. I loved it so much that I returned the follow day by bike, and explored it on two wheels. I was brought almost to tears by the largest living Kauri tree, and the cute Cagous, a native and endangered bird that is close to my heart. Boat projects have also been getting done, and Luckey’s sailing rig officially complete – more details on that to follow!

May there be fair winds and following seas soon!

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Tanna and The Mighty Yasur

“Never go to windward!!” Jess of Alliance had warned us, several weeks earlier about the perils of moving the boat into the wind. But with the island of Tanna and it’s unmissable live volcano lying south of Port Vila, we had little choice. Besides, the wind was light and from the East, how bad could it be?

Our new friend Cam would be joining us on this leg, continuing on until Noumea. We were excited to have him aboard, and spent a lovely calm evening aboard Portal in Havannah Harbor before setting off the next morning. What followed was easily this trip’s worst passage. 50nm became two days of constant slamming, beating and grinding as we tried to aim for the west coast of Tanna. Getting swept off the shore by West setting currents, a fierce SE wind and decently sized swells, Portal bravely pushed on. Our tiller-pilot broken, our engine over-heating and our batteries too low for comfort, the trip seemed to drag on endlessly. Unable to point up at all, we followed the coast south, getting soaked and tired through squall after squall. A new plan was set for the East coast anchorage at Lenakel, and finally, on the third morning, we were 5nm away.

Then the wind died. Typical. With our engine out of action, Charlie and I started getting creative. We rigged our 8ft oars up on either side of Portal and tried to make way in the now calm but rolly seas. Surprisingly, this didn’t really work. Our exhausted bodies ached for rest, and the now chaotic cabin cried out for a clean. At last, after 2 hours, a squall came through with winds from the NE and we were able to coast into the somewhat protected anchorage at Lenakel.

This exciting adventure was about all the sailing Cam could handle, so he jumped a flight back to Vila the next morning. We tried to convince him it wasn’t usually so bad, but with a deadline to get back for, the verdict was made. He treated us to an absolutely divine meal at The Tanna Lodge – a haven for three weary sailors.

With Cam gone and our friends Alliance over on the other side of the island, we began our mission to join them at the Volcano. What began as a hitchhiking journey through the heart of Tanna, became a 5 hour hiking escapade, often taking us in circles; but with the mighty Yasur booming close by, we were in good company and thoroughly enjoyed the adventure. By nightfall we were reunited with our good friends, and recounting our horrendous sail over tea and cookies. We slept a sweet slumber in their spare cabin, ready to take on Yasur the following day.

This live, spitting volcano is best seen at night, and in it’s current Category 3 state (there are only 4), we were treated to a seriously awe-inspiring event. I won’t even try to describe what it’s like to stand precariously on the edge of a lava filled crater that’s shooting red-hot boulders high into the sky… suffice it to say that I’ll never appreciate fireworks again.

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Re-united with Friends at Last!

Jess and Duncan, of Alliance, finally sailed into town, and then the fun really started! We gave them a warm welcome of cappucinos and pastries, along with an assortment of Vanuatu tourist info! We are so glad they are back in our lives!

Our friends Cam and Ros took us around the island again (in a car this time) and we had lots of fun being silly and getting massages from their son Oscar:

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We even treated ourselves to a paid adventure – Horse riding! Charlie and Duncan had never ridden, so we made it a priority. It was loads of fun, and most of the horses were well behaved. Charlie’s “Rocky” didn’t like to be told what to do – but no matter, Charlie was loving it!:IMG_9324 IMG_9332 IMG_9333 IMG_9347 IMG_9348 IMG_9350 IMG_9357 IMG_9363 IMG_9369 IMG_9374 IMG_9373 IMG_9372 IMG_9383 IMG_9385 IMG_9388

We went camping on the small block of land my Mum still owns. (We love our homes, but it’s nice to stop the moving occasionally). And built an awesome mosquito free palace!:¬† IMG_9391 IMG_9402 IMG_9393 IMG_9403 IMG_9411 IMG_9442 IMG_9437 IMG_9445

We took hikes, and went to checkout my old favourite water fall… unfortunately it’s been taken over by a huge oily water pump, and the ambiance wasn’t quite the same…:IMG_9660 IMG_9672 IMG_9667 IMG_9690 IMG_9678 IMG_9693

And at the end of the day – there’s always Happy Hour and the good-ol’ Water Front Bar and Grill:IMG_9698