For me caring and advocating for the ocean is not only a professional mission – it is a personal one.
I bought a lovely 37-foot bluewater sailboat in Far North Queensland and sailed her nearly 4000km along the East Coast of Australia with some fantastic and fun crew to Melbourne. The journey took us a little over two and a half months during the summer of 2022-23.
On a sailboat you are responsible of all of the systems normally externalised to the city you live in: water, electricity and sewage. You become your own floating city in the middle of the blue. You must become not only the skipper and the navigator, but the plumber, the electrician, the cook, the mechanic and Jack (or Jill) of all trades.
I became aware of how much solar energy we needed to run the fridge, the freezer and all of the electronics. I quickly realised we needed to cut down water consumption, otherwise the desalinator would be running 24/7 (it is surprising how little water you actually need). I became painfully aware that I knew too little about plumbing and engines, and of the endless number of things that make a sailboat. Things broke that I was able to fix, and things broke that I had no idea how to fix – but with some help I learned and will know next time.
I realised how much stuff I had, but never used – and what is the stuff that really matters.
I obsessed about weather – instead of Instagram I logged into Windy, Predict Wind and checked the Bureau of Meteorology forecast many times a day. I was grateful for all the sailing training and theory I crammed in, especially in situations like making a decision when to cross the Wide Bay Bar, or the Bass Strait. We carefully picked the days and the crossings were fun and exhilarating. However, regardless of preparation, on a sailboat you are at the mercy of the elements for better or for worse – the good days are amazing, and the bad days are the scariest moments of your life. From a pod of playful dolphins at sunrise to lightning storm and gale winds at night – just another day on the ocean. I am grateful for the crew who all knew more than me about something in sailing.
This is a project for life, as there is an endless amount of things to learn. Now safely in Melbourne, I am getting ready to explore with a smaller footprint, and a gentle wake.