First launched thirty years ago, SisterShip Magazine has been taken out of drydock, refitted, and is now ready to set sail. Our team has been busy in the ‘shipyard’ and we are about to untie the lines. We would love you to join us on our voyage!
Here is a taster of what is coming up – there are plenty of other surprises… don’t miss out, follow us on our Facebook Page or via our website, so you’ll be the first to know when the first issue is ready.
In January I will be launching the Pyewacket story. In 2009 we flew to San Francisco, purchased a sailboat and sailed back to Australia via Easter Island, Pitcairn and many other wonderful, far-flung places – over two years.
It sounds so simple when I write it now, but it wasn’t – it was a tough and emotional journey. When I trawled through my notes and logbooks and pulled the story together we were both surprised at the magnitude and variation of events – some were hair-raising!
I will be placing a full photo album on this website when I launch the book (as per usual there will be additional colour photos in the paperback edition), for now, though, here’s just a taster….
Down there is Peru! Tristan Jones inspired us to visit Lake Titicaca. From Ecuador we rode on a bus inland. This was our galley and our host!
Lake Titicaca – we learned fascinating information of how they ‘make’ their islands on the lake
Samoa – during a week-long festival – so many naked bodies, so little time!
Suwarrow – no strangers here…. A place where we picked up the threads of our previous voyage; a place where it all began to make sense….
I had a terrifying shark encounter, which I am still trying to recover from!
The adventure begins in Pitcairn!
Salt encrusted lines, via strong head winds day after day, week after week! We were close to sinking en route to Easter Island, then even closer to losing the boat at the Gambiers!
Guess where. The remotest inhabited island in the world!
A heavenly place we were blown to during a gale… a place we never planned to visit – heaven!
The book, (title to be confirmed) will be launched in January. It’ll have you gripping the sides of your armchair with fear, and clutching your stomach in laughter.
I don’t usually deface books or magazines, but the other day I did – out of desperation.
I should apologise to Motor Boat Monthly Magazine. But the magazine in question was several years old, ten I think, and it had been read several times, by us both – AND, they went out of print last year (according to Wikipedia).
Instead of throwing out the magazine we became inspired. Most people, who live the nomadic life (especially on boats) learn this knack, everything has at least two uses. We certainly had a use for the stiff folds of paper.
Saving your sanity
So, what can you make with an old Motor Boat Magazine, coloured tape, paper, scissors and string?
You can make something to save your sanity – that’s what!
Freedom at a price
Mooring on the French canals is a wonderful freedom. At many places, most times, you can stop for the night or even a day or two.
Currently, shade is our top priority. Fortunately, we have found great shady spots, safe depths and tied up safely on a straight stretch. (Why oh why do so many boats tie up on a blind bend?)
It’s here, tied blissfully to a quiet spot we are hounded by hire boats that insist on racing alongside with total disregard of the ‘rules of the road’ – you must pass all moored vessels at no more than 3 kms/hr.
As the water is sucked and pushed alongside a speeding boats’ hull, we shift forwards then backwards and our mooring pegs, that have been driven into the bank, are literally pulled out.
When we see a boat approach and ask them to slow – most do. Some look at us as if we are mad!
So, we made a sign, that’s reinforced with Motor Boats Monthly magazine. It is nowhere near big enough, it’s a little amateurish (hastily cobbled together in desperation and fear of being set adrift!), but it’s a start. I am already planning Mark 2.
What creative ideas have you developed to improve your life on the road?
We’re still buried in the bowels of our little ship – renovating away, only popping up for air when we need feeding.
Below are galley progress-pictures from a month or so back (where has the time gone?). Some people liked the painted cupboards, but we changed them for several reasons:
1) The photos looked so much better than the real thing.
2) My eyes couldn’t stand all the hectic patterns and clashing of colours, stripes and frills (frilly net-curtains, red curtains, striped curtains, and the stencilled flowers on the sky-hatch windows) – something had to give!
3) I like fresh, simple decor that creates the feeling of space.
4) We didn’t like them!
Getting ready to sand
Some of the paint was very thick (dobbed on!), I was glad we had the electric sander!
I couldn’t wait to lighten this lot up!
First coat – there were five coats in total!
Sitting on the stove top!
Much better! (Ignore the timber door on the right, we currently have a vagrant door just sitting there in the way!)
That’s better on the eyes!
Or, this one?
Currently, we are finishing off the front cabin and that is the end of the renovations for now.
Photos appearing soon-ish!
Living on board a compact ten metre boat is not for the faint-hearted!
Cruising is not all about calm seas, wind propulsion and dolphins at sunset. For a start moving from land to boat is confusing, frustrating and tough! You have to sell or store all of your belongings and live without ninety percent of what you usually live with!
Here’s more cruising realities you may not be aware of:
Flexibility is a must. Even with a large engine room you’ll have to learn to bend yourself into a pretzel.
Once in the engine room, you’ll learn how to perform miracles to unscrew, twist, replace…
The top of the mast sways a lot, even at anchor in dead flat water.
Bruises accumulate. The vice in the workshop bit me every time (until I told him to stop!)
Finding free WiFi on anchor is incredibly exciting.
It’s possible to live cheaply on board (read Cruisers’ AA to find out what I am talking about).
While preparing your boat for oceans, riding your bicycle sixty-seventy miles a week while balancing the equivalent of a small truck load, will become perfectly normal.
Movies, concerts and shows are replaced by slowly swinging on anchor, devouring the three-sixty-degree moving vista, and watching the sunset.
Just a couple more knots of wind can make the difference between a peaceful sleep and a fitful one.
Resourcefulness becomes your middle name.
It is a fantastic relief to be cut off from emails and phonecalls (which is how we cruised).
You will never have enough rags on board.
The laptop and camera become cherished items, to constantly capture those memories that fade with wine, oops, time!
Life on board is hard work, but immensely satisfying.
… it would be nothing, nothing, without a woman or a girl…”
Thank you James Brown – you hit the nail on the head in more ways than one.
WARNING – THIS BLOG IS FOR WOMEN ONLY!
As a woman sailor, maritime teacher and commercial boat skipper, I’ve come up against plenty of prejudice. I fought the testosterone-fuelled nautical world and won.
You don’t have to go to the extremes I have. But I can help you take your first steps into solving the mysteries of the maritime world. If this thought scares you silly, don’t worry, I WAS TERRIFIED!
First Four Lessons
When we purchased Mariah, I didn’t know the front-end of a boat from the back-end. But Mariah felt ‘right’ to me. Lesson number one, trust your instincts.
The ropes and winches were a complete mystery, the boat’s behaviour an enigma. Lesson number two: don’t try to learn how to sail from a book. Step on a boat, any boat, as much as possible, be instinctive, it’ll make more sense than text (that part can come later).
Taking the helm was enough to turn me into a gibbering wreck. Lesson number three: Women are often better at the helm. During my experience of practical teaching, women listened to my instructions, many men had been ‘taught’ via mates and erm, supposedly knew it all already.* (Women are often exemplary at navigation too!)
Practical exercises on police boats, while training others
I felt alone, lost and way out of my depth. Lesson number four: SO DOES EVERYONE WHEN THEY START. Persevere, chat to other women. FB groups such as Women Who Sail and Women Who Sail Australia are amazingly supportive, with zero judgement and zero tolerance for those who do judge! There are women here at every level. (If you join quickly, there’s a chance to win lots of goodies, WWS are celebrating reaching 5,000 members!)
• You can become a sailor!
• Remember it takes time (but not as long as you think).
• It’s a brave move to step away from ‘normal life’.
• Ensure/remind/beg your spouse to be patient with you – I’ve seen so many men yell at their partner and then wonder why they are left alone on the boat!
• You are both working towards the same goal – when something goes wrong, you or your partner are not sabotaging it! Work together.
• Don’t panic – deal with the situation first, then panic if you must!
• Shouting and anger can be born from fear. Talk about it, work it out.
• Be buddies on the boat – that’s important, really important.
I used everything I’d learned on Mariah and studying, while skippering ships in PNG
Okay, sailing and cruising is not for everyone but if it is for you, you will find:
A life you’ve always dreamed of
Freedom beyond your wildest dreams
Help in the most unexpected places
Resourceful skills you never knew you had
How to live on next to nothing
An enormous back yard, aka ‘the world!’
You’ll release it’s a waste of time and energy to ‘sweat the small stuff’
… you will always wonder why you didn’t do it sooner!
Do you agree? Ladies, what have you found once you stepped into the cruising life?
Gentlemen – if you’ve read this far without flicking off an angry email to me… well done and thank you! If you want to go sailing with your partner… buy her this – it’ll help – honest!
*Noel adds that it isn’t always a male/female distinction of who listens and who doesn’t. It was, for him, the person with the most experience that didn’t usually listen or wasn’t very good at taking advice/tuition. Maybe the women I taught had less experience, but this is what I encountered. (And, yes, Noel does receive special dispensation to read this!)
After a ‘sticky’ start, the renovations are starting to show promise. Here’s what caused the delays:
The new holding tank – made from one of water tanks. Sourcing the right welder was a rather frustrating project. Having to cut the big tank up INSIDE the boat, made the boat filthy. It was too big to get out, so Noel cut it into four pieces, two were the holding tank (including lid), the other two pieces were superfluous. The plumbing parts were purchased on-line and all in French. Other bits-and-pieces from the Brico-marche, eight kilometres away, hauling all purchases by bike.
Noel drilling a hole for the vent.
There’s a hole in my hull!
A neat job – we now know what’s behind all the walls – good insulation and good wiring (now!) – we replaced all the old wiring.
Another hole, this time in the deck, for the new water tanks. These will be situated under the bed.
We’ve been lucky with the weather, Noel chooses the outside-projects in time with the better days.
“Nothing is impossible – the world itself says, ‘I’m possible!'”
Inspiration: The quote above is by the beautiful Audrey Hepburn, and the beauty in life was part of the inspiration for my story: Of Foreign Build – From Corporate Girl to Sea-Gypsy Woman.
Living on a ten metre boat, for nine years, I saw the world and changed from a scared, brokenhearted girl, into a sea-gypsy woman – I figured out who I am. Here’s a brief glimpse into my life…
Sailing: Traversing oceans is not like a plane or car ride. Nothing is certain except a vast puddle of water and a great stretch of sky. The days pass, measured not in hours but in distance. It’s dynamic, fantastic and petrifying all at the same time. There is rarely pattern or logic; you deal with what’s received, as it arrives . . . moment by moment.
Paradoxical beauty: Pounding waves, great geysers of water, white bubbles chuckling softly amid giant swells. Plunging into the void, pushing away thoughts of what lurks below. The wind from hell. Disgruntled clouds carrying punches.
Reality: Hopping in a warm bunk, trusting my partner with my life enables me to sleep. Malcontent wind and waves provide rude awakenings. The dawn paints the horizon in breathtaking crimson or sadistic black. The crucial burden of stores, lifted with the seas.
A Lesson in Humility: Vivid green phosphorescence streaks behind magnificent dolphins and rainbow reflections of oil. The paradoxical beauty of the ocean.
The result: “Your book helped me through a recent bereavement.” “It made me cry, laugh and quake with fear in equal measure.” “Your insight-fullness and sense of adventure captured me.” “Beautifully written with honesty, humour and love for all living creatures on this planet.” “It’s a long while since I’ve so engaged with a book.” “Once you start this book, you’ll not want to put it down.” “Moving, rousing, uplifting, stimulating.” “I loved “Of Foreign Build.” The book is listed as a memoir, a misnomer I believe, as I found it to be much more. It’s really a love story, an adventure story, and a story of personal growth and determination all rolled into a nine year odyssey.”
We’ve made the decision to stay on board this winter. This is our first winter on a boat in the northern hemisphere.
We feel that every moment that passes is nostalgic, important and gone, so whatever we’re doing, we must enjoy it, and keeping warm is part of the enjoyment!
Seven-thirty in the morning – the frost stayed with us all day.
We still have a few months(!) of this winter to go, so I will post more tips, for now – here are our top tips so far:
Don’t turn the heating off, just turn it down.
On those really chilly days, it takes too long to warm the whole boat up again if you turn the heating off. Just turn it down and let it simmer, keeping the boat warm all day.
Have project to keep you entertained.
We are renovating the interior. It is bedlam on board, we are focussed on the job at hand and not indulging in the cold. We finished the exterior painting just before winter set in – perfect timing.
Noel cutting ‘bits’ off -making a waste tank from old water tank.
Buy good gear to wear for those times you have to step outside!
This doesn’t mean spend lots of money. The charity shop near us has an abundance of great clothes – layering is the key. Hats, scarves and good gloves and socks are a must – heat escapes at your extremities.
Watch the weather – be prepared.
If you are totally independent, like us (ie without the constraints of a car), the weather will be important for days you want to go shopping. We cycle seven kilometres to the nearest large town. It’s an easy ride, but we time it with bright, dry days.
Insulate with rugs
We’ve tucked in the curtain (the rods will be painted – one day!)
Insulate all areas – not just the hull
In the autumn we bought half-a-dozen thick floor rugs, which insulate the floor brilliantly. We have plastic ‘blinds’ outside our portholes which we clip down each night. The curtains are tucked in (yet to be painted) to prevent the warm air being sucked up to the windows and cooling. Under our mattress, we’ve placed a layer of carpet – it all helps.
Extra protection on the outside of the windows
Eat little and often.
Food keeps you warm and energised. We tend to eat small meals often. Tea and toast in the morning, porridge mid-morning, a light-lunch, a snack mid-afternoon (fruit perhaps) and then dinner. It helps keep our tummies warm and therefore keep us warmer.
What tips and ideas do you have to surviving winter in Europe?
And she is right….. I know I’ve written a good yarn when someone ends up knowing me so well…. read this review at your own risk…. (I’m still in tears!)
I’ve just finished Jackie Parry’s book. I was actually in tears at both the beginning and the end. At the start of the book, I felt the loss that Jackie experienced deeply and understood her need to escape to another world. By the end, I felt as if I’d been living with her on board the Mariah II with her and experienced so much. I felt her sadness at leaving this wonderful, free, wandering life behind; the disillusionment of being back in the ‘real’ world again. I shared both her delight and her torments – the joys and the fears of living so close to the elements. But more than anything what I admired about this book was what it represented: the choice of living a dream, of following a way of life that is totally against the normal grain and revelling in discovering the strengths and trust built in a relationship that is more than simply symbiotic. Jackie and her Noel develop a bond that is so strong, it brings a lump to my throat just imagining it. They also make some wonderful friends among their fellow world travellers, the very special Den and Tash, a Dutch couple so intrepid they take living under sail to new levels. I have to say the sense of a community of cruisers just opting out of the daily grind and routine and living like gyspies as they meander round the world is immensely appealing.
It’s taken me a while to read, as it’s a pretty long book to get through if you can only read at bedtime, but in fact it could have been longer. I would have loved more about their travels through America. That could have been a memoir all on its own. The French section could also have been longer, so Jackie, if you read this, maybe we could have two sub-memoirs? The last thing I want to mention is my admiration for Jackie Parry too. She glosses over her achievements, but reading between the lines, I more than take my hat off to her. For an example of someone with guts, courage and determination to live life on her own terms, I can’t think of anyone better. She has not only lived her dream, she is fully qualified to do it too, gaining top diplomas in many areas of marine skills. And let’s not forget the magnificent (and probably very patient) Noel, the rock on whom Jackie has depended and whose patience helped her find peace after the sadness of her early bereavement. Jackie’s personality shines through this book. She is feisty, intrepid, fun and friendly, but also unashamedly given to bursts temper and petulance – a wonderfully human being who has told a wonderfully compelling story.