EIGHT MONTHS OF COPING STRATEGIES

Since Danny died I’ve been reading quite a bit on the psychology of grief and resilience. No doubt that is unsurprising and a normal, healthy way to deal with the events of the last eight months.

Among my favourite (or perhaps, most helpful) authors are New Zealander, Lucy Hone, and American, Mark Manson. Lucy is a consummate professional and acknowledged expert in resilience, and also has lost a child to a car accident. She talks us through her experience and coping strategy in her book “What Abi taught us”.

Mark is harder to describe; a blogger, writer, has studied psychology and philosophy, and has a unique way of putting things. Blunt, could be one way of describing him. He has a take no prisoners, harden up attitude, tempered with down to earth common sense, which appeals to me.

Both allude to various exercises one can do to test our view point or help us strategise how to cope with difficult life events. I’ve done a few of them. Mostly, I’ve felt I haven’t needed to, but it’s a good way to check I’m not feeling too much of a know it all health professional! After all, just because nurses deal with a fair bit of trauma and death, doesn’t mean we should cope any more easily than anyone else when things happen to us. It’s one thing to know recommended coping strategies but not necessarily so simple to take one’s own advice.

Anyway, almost all the authors I’ve read, at some point, urge some version of the WHY Game. And, of course, the point of it is to make one examine the roots of our feelings and values. They’re not talking about the superficial bullshit we’d rather focus on, like “Why am I happy?”… “because I’m eating ice cream”. No. They want the Why question to lead to a whole scary bunch of other questions that force you to focus on the next step, and the next one after that.

For example. “Why am I feeling my life has lost its joy and meaning”?           “Because my son was killed in a car accident due to someone else’s mistake”. “Can you change the outcome”? “No”. “What can you influence”? “I can only influence how I react to it”. “How do you want to do that”? “I think I need to try to redirect my anger at the unfairness of his loss, towards ensuring the offender doesn’t do it to another family”. “Would Danny want you to feel sad all the time, angry or without direction”? “No, I know he wouldn’t. He would want us to find happiness again, continue with our plans and look after each other”. “Are you able to do this? How are you going to do this? Do you need help to do this?”

And so it goes on. I quite like this exercise because it keeps me honest. If I start to fall off the wagon, so to speak, to let anger and thoughts of revenge pop up, or thoughts that life isn’t worth living without my son in it, or that I don’t want to travel /get my yacht masters…. any of these things, it gets me back on track to ask myself to rationalise my wishes going forward. It works every time.

Naturally, every time I do any exercise designed to help me find a way to live life without Danny in it, the process always brings me back to Matt. I was the mother of two sons. In a way I always will be but the reality is I only have one living, breathing and very precious son. As Matt so poignantly said “We don’t want to do life without you, Danny”. Yet, we must. And, for me, part of coping is being thankful for my wonderful older son. He is a truly beautiful human; intelligent, hard working, loving, full of humour, giving and helpful, family and friends oriented, a joy to me in every way. So my focus, going forward, is to help him live a joyful life. We will make new memories and treasure the old ones.

Part of the idea of questioning one’s feelings and digging into them, is to identify what drives you, what you want to stand for, find your defining values. It can be easy enough to do this but working out if they’re good values to live by requires more self awareness than and honesty than we might like! Some of the values I try to live by are honesty, vulnerability, standing up for myself and others, respect for myself and others and not being judgemental.

I’d never thought about it until I read his book, but Mark Manson says good values are reality-based, socially constructive and immediate and controllable. Also that bad values are superstitious, socially destructive and not immediate or controllable (eg: dominance through manipulation or violence, being narcissistic, wanting to be rich, or pleasure seeking). That simple definition makes it easy to see where you might be heading wrong!

In the end, it’s all about picking your battles! Matt might laugh at this, because it’s something I’ve always said, and tried to do! I even asked him once how he dealt with some of the things a certain girlfriend did, and he replied “you taught me that, Mum. I pick my battles”! How I laughed. But it also have me a wee rush of pleasure to think I’d done a good job of parenting!

So, pick your battles, choose how you respond to various life events, take responsibility for how you react. In all things, at all times. It’s amazing how empowering that is. Choosing to focus on using the justice system we have in New Zealand for youth offenders to try and ensure Hope (the girl who killed my son) never repeated her mistakes and hurt another family like she hurt me and mine, was my way of redirecting my anger into a more useful channel.

Although I entered into this with a dose of scepticism, feeling nothing but jail could come close to justice for my son’s death, I knew she was unlikely to get a custodial sentence. I did have a moment of ranting and crying at the poor policewoman who told me that, about the unfairness of it all, but she encouraged me to engage in the process, saying she was sure it would help me find some peace. She was right and I thank her daily. I made a conscious decision to use the family group conference as a tool to change Hope’s attitude to life, to see if I could get across the huge price we were paying for her poor choices. Instead of ranting at her and abusing her, I tried to project encouragement to change, to use her life in a better way, to be thankful for her life and opportunities.

And, miraculously, in trying to help her, I helped myself. She and her family not only accepted responsibility for her actions that resulted in Danny’s death, but acknowledged the gift of my understanding (Forgiveness might be a bit of a stretch still) and thanked me for sharing our feelings with them, and for making Danny a real person to them, instead of just a name on the legal documents. For myself, I felt a sense of justice I hadn’t expected and did indeed find some peace in the knowledge that she took responsibility and was genuinely remorseful and wanted to change.

Friday 21st August 2020

I’ve been on Momo for over a month now. Bernie keeps asking me if I’m bored yet, lol. Not going to happen. Anyone who knows me at all well, knows I don’t get bored!

I’ve got three books on the go, do most of the cooking, all the laundry, can swim and snorkel as much as I like, do whatever maintenance stuff I’m in the mood for, do nursing education and listen to podcasts or music, write, take the dingy off somewhere – no, I don’t get bored. Bernie and I have started a little meditation routine too, in the morning after our coffee. I’m quite liking that.

We talk a lot too. Bernie is so knowledgeable about so many things. I’m too lazy to do research like he does. Hashtag Matt! I work on a need to know basis! He’s always educating himself! We’re both pretty liberally minded and non judgemental, on the same page about a lot of things, but also totally comfortable with our differences. I find it refreshing that he doesn’t try to bend me to his way of thinking or will.

We’ve been watching the weather closely the last few days, as we had hurricane Genevieve on the warpath. But it’s moved offshore to the north west, and we didn’t even get too much wind in the end. The gusts were maybe 40 knots. The visibility for spear fishing isn’t that good though. The swell courtesy of the hurricane has stirred things up.

Bernie’s been working hard out on his book, trying to get the translation finished. I’m trying not to interrupt! This morning I went snorkeling with Andrew, off Utopia, and he showed me a stone fish. Ugly things and scarily hard to see. If you stand on one the poison can kill you, or at best, be excruciatingly painful. Just reinforces my opinion that I should be on top of the sea, not under it (except with dive tanks!). I wish I had an underwater camera though. The sea life is amazing. I saw a crazy looking puffer fish today and some incredible starfish. There’s also loads of Cortez Round Stingrays, unique to this area. And the kinna are ginormous – up to 10 inches across. For those Kiwis reading this who know how the snapper go crazy for kinna at home, they don’t here! I tried. Very disappointing!

We skinny dipped last night, after returning from an evening on Utopia. There is so much bioluminescence in the water and we just had to experience that. Your whole body lights up. It really is spectacular.

22.08.20: An awesome day today. Bernie and I decided to go fishing since the visibility has improved a bit, though the water is still green. Apparently the bioluminescence has gone for now. It’ll be back no doubt.

Anyway, we (Bernie really) hunted until we had enough fish for us and the Vanninis on Love & Luck, who are anchored next to us. They’re a family of 6, so it must take some feeding! I did take the gun at one point but the fish I had in my sights was such a good one I didn’t want to mess up and miss! So I let Bernie take it! Also my fish recognition skills need to improve. I don’t want to take things that aren’t good eating or are on the endangered list. We have a great local website with heaps of pertinent information.

There’s a mother gull, similar to our Dominican gulls, with two young, who watch the filleting avidly, and scrap over the leftovers!

There’s lots of pelicans here, also boobys and frigate birds. Not much on land but the sea certainly supports an abundant variety of wildlife.

One good thing about the hurricane having gone past, it’s a bit cooler. Only 32 degrees today and last night I even had to put my sheet over me, as it dipped to 27°! Have I mentioned that in these hot climates all my menopause symptoms disappear? It’s great. No more hot flushes. So weird. And my body hair stops growing, or slows right down, which means I shave about once a month! It is quite bizarre but I’ll take the wins!

Bernie speared a small relative to tuna right under the boat this evening so I’ll turn it into a spicy coconut recipe I like for tomorrow’s dinner. It needs a gamey fish to go with that sauce. We’re out of fresh produce and I traded the fish we caught for an onion earlier, with Julie (Love & Luck) so at least I have something to put in a sauce! We’ll go across to Santa Rosalia on Monday for groceries. We’ve only spent 250 pesos in a month, so can’t complain.

26.08.20

We’ve had an eventful few days, and productive. Bernie had finished the book and sent off the translation so we could get on with other things. We had to go into Santa Rosalia for groceries and it was a crazy hot day on Monday. We left San Marcos early but it was getting on for midday when we arrived. Andrew and Tristan were there so we had lunch with them before heading to the supermarket. Bernie was really feeling the heat but we eventually got it done and collapsed in wet puddles back on Momo. I found a salsa with Danny’s name on it!

Tuesday was better as we went ashore early to explore a bit. I wasn’t that inspired by Santa Rosalia; it’s pretty dirty and smelly, especially the marina area. The town itself has some interesting buildings and a lot of history. There’s even a church designed by Msr. Eiffel of Eiffel Tower fame! I bought all the masks I could in the pharmacy and new sun screen. Then we had lunch before grabbing a few more groceries and returning to Momo.

We headed out, expecting to motor back to San Marcos island but the engine died. Andrew and Mark, off Utopia and Love & Luck, rescued us. I’d write a lot more about this but am feeling a bit stressed right now, so maybe later. Boating, while great, is not always roses and rum.

27.08.20: Bernie’s diagnosis that it was the impellor was spot on and he spent yesterday pretzeled on the saloon floor fixing the engine. It’s fine now and running better than ever! No surprise when you see how bad it was.

I talked to Matt for ages yesterday too. It was so good to have a decent catch up. I miss him so much. It’s looking less and less likely I can go to France. Borders are closing as Covid-19 increases again across Europe. Matt and Meg have just attended the Awake concert in Croatia. Ben and Michael Gorman joined them, so it was nice for him to have time with his friends.

They think they’re going to get the virus as there were people there who’ve tested positive. So they’ve decided to stay in Croatia another week and make sure they’re not taking it with them. I want to go to see my boy. 😢🙏

We went snorkeling this afternoon, in a couple of different spots. Got 3 fish so Bernie is making cerviche and I’m making guacamole for our friends off Utopia and Love & Luck. We’re heading to San Carlos tomorrow pm with a view to sailing overnight and arriving mid morning.

Friends and Hunters

It’s the 16th, I believe! The days get lost in each other. I spent yesterday afternoon on Arena, with Steph, getting to know her. Such a honey. She’s a nurse also, her specialty being neurology, another theatre nurse!

While I was there the kids off all the yachts had congregated to make flowers for a memorial tribute to the 14 year old boy killed by another boat speeding through an anchorage while he was swimming. God, there’s some idiots out there. The 5 knot law around anchorages is there for a damned good reason.

Steph and I then followed them all out into the bay in the dinghies, and took photos and videos while they placed the flowers on the ocean and watched the tide spirit them away. It was a sweet and beautiful thing to do. Good young people. 💖

It gave Bernie a chance to get a lot of work done. I think he’s nearly finished the current project. After dinner, we sat on deck in the cooler night air, and were treated to a marvelous display from a large pod of dolphins. Wonderful.

Today, after morning coffee and meditation, we decided a fishing effort was required! Getting low! So we snorkeled near the point opposite the light house and Bernie got 6 fish. My awesome hunter! The spear gun really is efficient, I must say. I’m very impressed with it. He did get another fish but it got off the spear and before he could retrieve it, two moray eels got it! I wouldn’t argue with them either! As well as a stunning array of fish life, Bernie saw a turtle and I saw some skates. We both saw the sea lions!

Steph and Jamie are coming for dinner, to share our bounty of the ocean. The other epic hunter in the group is Tristan.

San Marcos Island

It’s the 11th August. Bernie and I got up about 0530, me with more enthusiasm than mon capitaine, to get ready to sail to San Marcos island! This involved stowing all the diving equipment, taking down the sun shade, removing the sail cover and getting the dingy on board. We were going to do it last night but ended up sitting on deck watching the sunset with rum! As you do.

So we were underway by 0710, just as the first bees thought they would start hassling us. I’m very grateful to leave them behind. It’s now 0840 and we’re sailing nicely along at 5 knots. I’m on watch as Bernie is tired! Those extra two years are telling! He can’t handle the rum sessions! I am sitting on deck aft, and just saw a shark cruising near Momo. Awesome. Happy to admire from a distance!

Bernie’s sleep lasted all of two minutes because we hooked a fish on our long line. A mahimahi or dorado. Great eating. He’s just filleted it and cooked some for lunch. Probably less than an hour from hook to plate! So good!

I don’t like the way WordPress has changed the formatting. Now you have to open each picture to see it fully. So annoying.

Great conditions coming along the west side of San Marcos. There’s a gypsum open mine at the southern end. Very rugged island. There is an incredible number of stingrays here, it seems. They treated us to a wonderful display of leaping. We had to bring the lure in, in case we accidently hooked one.

1528 and we’ve dropped the pick! Utopia, Arena and Love & Luck are here too! Great day’s sailing. 😍⚓

12.08.20: We went over to Love & Luck last night for drinks. So did the crews off the other yachts. Fun evening catching up with everyone. The kids put on a play for us which was cute! Both of us were fairly tired so didn’t stay late

This morning we put up the sun shade and I washed clothes & sheets. Then I went for a swim but unfortunately swam through a bunch of tiny jellyfish (I’m assuming) that I couldn’t even see. But my skin all over was, and still is, tingling and bloody uncomfortable. The usual vinegar trick didn’t help, but hot water, aloe vera and manuka oil all seem to give a bit of relief. Not pleasant. Rather gun shy about swimming here again! Bernie suggested wet suits.

Saturday 15th August: The month is half gone in such a flash. Bernie had been working long hours on his translation so I’ve been endeavoring not to interrupt him. I’ve read a lot and been sleepy. I guess it’s partly the heat and partly catching up on nine months of continuous stress, devastation, intense sorrow and dealing with Danny’s affairs and Hope’s trial and sentencing.

We had dinner on Utopia the night before last and everyone except Karen got pretty hammered. Knocked off the better part of two bottles of Rum between the four of us. Great conversation, such an epic bunch of people. Karen made a beautiful meal using some of the fish Bernie smoked, that Tristan and Andrew had caught. It probably saved us, as we weren’t hung over, thankfully! I adore their kids, three of the four being home. Their oldest has flown the nest and Tristan had gone for a while but was visiting when lockdown happened, so he’s stayed. For me, it’s nice having a couple of nearly grown boys around again. They’re all smart, worldly and articulate, a credit to the lifestyle, as were Bernie and Michelle’s girls when I met them.

Bernie and I had a quick run ashore to explore a bit and then took the dingy around the caves nearby. It’s pretty spectacular, but too hot to climb inland. We took some posey photos, being silly, because Matt and Meg’s pics always look so perfect! It does not work when a couple of middle aged, scruffy sailors do it, lol! We just ended up cracking up over our foolishness 🤣🤣

We’ve had a fair bit of wind and it was enough to get us out of bed and stowing things on deck, a couple of nights ago. It caught the saloon hatch, too, unfortunately, tearing it right off its hinges so a fix up job awaits Bernie. He’s very good at fixing things and seems to enjoy it. But he’s focused on his deadline with the book atm.

My interview with Karine Rayson of The Crew Coach, was aired on Yachting International Radio this week. I think we did well and got the message across well. The idea was to get across that trauma and grief have no time line and each person can use the coping tools provided by mental health experts in any way that suits them. I also wanted to get over that recovery requires a positive commitment and resilience, that you can’t move forward by wallowing and expecting other people to put you back together. So far we’ve received great feedback and heartfelt thanks from crew who’ve watched it. For me, I think that’s the last thing I want to do following on from Danny’s death.

Bahia Concepcion 06.08.20

It’s Thursday so I’ve been in Mexico for two weeks now. We’ve arrived in Bahia Concepcion where we’ll stay for the foreseeable future. The other yachts with friends on are here too. The Deeley family on Utopia, the Vanninis on Love & Luck and Jamie & Steph (another nurse!) on Arena. We all gathered semi ashore for a catch up. That means we took the dingy to shore but floated around with our drinks, talking and doing social distancing! Funny and fun! Bernie did a bit of a number on himself with rum and mango juice! He’s such a happy tipsy! Mind you, I was pretty happy too!

Bernie’s been feeling not quite 100% but I think it’s because he’s been doing a lot of diving with the spear gun and is just tired and maybe a little dehydrated, though we drink plenty of fluids. He dropped a screw driver in the tide yesterday so I free dived for it this morning while the water was super clear. I’m not good at free diving. My ears hurt like hell and I’m so buoyant it’s hard to go down. But he was trying to work on translation and I wanted him to get a break from diving. It took me three goes but I did it. So I was pleased I succeeded! We’re anchored in 18 feet. I have seen a bunch of skate cruising below us today, even some baby ones. So cute. Potentially good eating too!

Bernie’s canning tuna just now and I’m sitting under the shade cloth on the cabin top. My laptop updated over night and deleted all my files. I had to contact Microsoft and they talked me through restoring it all. Thank god.

0610 on the 7th. Blowing like buggery. Momo is bouncing like an excited kid on her anchor. I’ve hopped up at regular intervals to check all is well. Had to rescue the sun shade at one point and one of the solar panels flipped up! Otherwise fine. At least its a bit cooler – a pleasant 25°C.

2030 – been a very hot day, not really conducive to swimming either, with the wind. Bernie has worked diligently and I’ve done some nursing education and cooking. We sat on the cabin roof for Sundowners and Bernie’s gone to bed now. A pod of dolphins just cruised by.

I can see the stars from my bed. Danny would’ve loved this. God, I miss him so much. I miss them both.

08.08.20. I’ve just cleaned the saloon and the bathroom. And made a sauce to go with pasta for lunch. So feel I’ve earned a wee sit on deck. At least the bees have gone for the day. They swarm us every morning. Which I do not like! When I was out earlier, doing laundry, a couple of stingrays had a leaping competition right near Momo. They looked so cool. They’re incredibly graceful. I wish I could photograph them! Bernie got an awesome picture of a Boobie sitting on the bow, a few days ago.

09.08.20: Last night didn’t dip below 30°C and it was hard to sleep! I ended up talking to Kiwis in the early hours! It’s been a really hot day too, still 36 degrees now, at 1730. Bernie and I started doing a meditation course this morning, after coffee. Nice way to start the day, sitting on the cabin roof! He’s worked steadily on translation all day and I’ve done some nursing education and starting cleaning the hull. That’s quite a physical job so I only do a bit at a time. You can practically see it growing in these warm waters! The water temperature is 29 degrees! So we’re told! Could be more.

Bernie offered to do dinner tonight, mainly coz I wasn’t feeling 100%. I was getting postural hypotension whenever I stood up, which is really unusual for me. So I’ve been trying to keep my fluids up and rest this afternoon.

We had an invasion of bees today. It freaked me out somewhat, as I’m not great with buzzy things. Bernie had to deal with them for me because I was descending into squealy teenage girl territory!

Monday 10th August.

After the morning ritual of coffee, we decided to go ashore before it got too hot. It was well worth it, to see just how extreme this land is. Incredibly dry and challenging. Saw a few birds but not much else. The plants look twisted and tortured! Great view back over the bay to Momo, bobbing cheerily on the waves. Its a bit windier today, I think the edge of a fiesty weather pattern offshore to the west. No diving today.

Upon our return, the bees turned up with a vengeance. I really really do not like them in swarms. Bernie is my hero, currently! I hid in my cabin, thoroughly unnerved, while he dealt with them. Hundreds of the little fuckers. He even got stung 😢 Rusty, you can have your bee keeping all to yourself! 🛑

I’m very keen to sail on to San Marcos island! 🙏🙏🙏🙏⛵⛵⚓⚓

August 1st. Ramada Cove.

Yes, we’re still here. When we got up this morning the water visibility had cleared so much, Bernie suggested we stay another day. Sterling idea. So I made a Mediterranean breakfast, then we headed across the bay. It was a great morning’s snorkeling. I saw 3 turtles, two together grazing right below me and another swimming away some distance. Also saw a stingray. There’s a lot here I think. We both saw them jumping out of the water many times yesterday. I found a rock with fantastic coral growth and numerous species of reef fish. I even wished for dive tanks, as I’m useless at free diving.

Bernie caught two fish so that was lunch sorted. We swam a long time and are both knackered now! Currently having post lunch nana naps! This is good for my shoulder and knee. They’ll be strengthening up nicely. I’ve lost so much fitness since my knee injury.

We sat on the bow, as usual, last evening, yarning. A motor yacht came in close to sunset. She’s a Sunseeker, British built. I have never seen such a shit job of anchoring. Honestly, it was both hilarious and embarrassing. We were relieved when they finally anchored well away from us! At one point I even got the radio, because we thought she was going to back up on us. I tried calling her on Channel 16 but they ignored us. Must’ve got the message though because they moved away. Bernie didn’t want me to call up but I wasn’t about to leave it till the situation was totally fubar! He seemed quite pleased I had, afterwards though! I think he secretly likes the “take action” side of me! Makes up for the simple mind, lol!

There are a lot of bees here, constantly flying into the yacht looking for fresh water. I wish they’d go and ask someone else. Buzzy things are not my favourite. I was trying very hard not to react last night but one stung me for no reason, miserable little beast. Bernie thought it was so funny, equally miserable beast! Revenge is a dish best served cold, they say, and he wants me to cut his hair! A mullet, perhaps? I’m delaying it because I like his hair long! It suits him! We agree to disagree on that and he’s apparently not that desperate for a cut that he’s begged me yet! I think I’ll get it out of his ears, maybe, and leave the top long! 😉

These are some of the fish etc I’ve seen while snorkeling!

Cornetfish, fusiliers, groupers, parrotfish, wrasse, dragonet, moray eel, rays, turtles, goatfish, snapper, trevally, butterflyfish, angelfish, surgeonfish, unicornfish, damselfish, bream. And Bernie with his spear gun! Some I’m sure of and others I think it might be one of those!

2.08.20 – lying in bed while the coffee pot does its thing! It rained briefly overnight, just a quick electrical storm NE of us. We both dived out of bed to close the scuttles and hatches. And I grabbed the towels off the guard rails. I threw a kikoi round me but Bernie is wholly unconcerned about nudity! I often wonder what his daughters thought growing up. Teenage girls SO do not want to see their Daddy’s boy bits! Just no! But I doubt very much Bernie took that into consideration over the years! I must remember to ask during one of our bow/rum sessions! It doesn’t bother me at all but I don’t feel the need to bare all myself. I guess if we were a couple, it’d be different, but we’re friends is all. So I wear togs to swim in and put clothes on whenever I’m out of bed!

We watched a documentary yesterday about a study initiated by an (ethically fucked up) American Psychiatrist. He separated twins and triplets at birth and adopted them to different families. The doco was primarily about triplet boys, each sent to a different socio-economic family. The parents knew nothing about their son’s background, certainly not that they had identical twin brothers. They were told the boy was part of a study into adopted children and the study group was given permission to interview the child every 6 months. For years. However when one of the boys was 19 he went to college, and on arriving had people coming up to him saying “great to see you back”, girls kissing him hello, that sort of thing. Of course it turned out his brother had attended that college the year before and dropped out. So they met each other. It ended up in the news papers, and so the third boy got to find out about his two brothers. It was a crazy story, so ethically wrong that those involved should’ve been hung out to dry but never were, the families got zero answers, the study was never published so a complete waste of time. Quite tragic really. It upset me but, interestingly, Bernie didn’t seem to see that it was so bad. We have very different takes on some things. Children seems to be one! Makes it interesting to be ship mates!

We got underway pretty early this morning. Set off on the engine as the wind was on our nose, its not far, and it does the engine good to have a run. But it’s 1045 now and I can hear Bernie putting up the sails. I’m lying down as I’ve got a wicked tummy ache. Don’t know why but not concerned as yet.

Before I came to ly down though, we sat yarning, as we do, so I asked him if he pranced around on deck naked when the girls were still here. Of course he did. Not all the time of course, but changing sails at night, that sort of thing. I laughed and he looked a bit sheepish! I like that he’s comfortable with who he is. It’s a good trait. I wish I was less self conscious, but I never recovered from the years of my husband poking me and telling me I was fat. I never was of course, but the damage was done. Intellectually I know I’m in pretty good shape for a woman my age, and looking back on photos, actually find it very sad that a man thinks it’s OK to shred an attractive young woman’s self confidence like that, but that wee voice in my head still makes me want to cover up and hide. And, there’s the fact I’m a nurse – not much I haven’t seen! So I don’t give a rat’s arse that Bernie bounces out starkers in the night to fix something!

Oh, peace. Nice. The engine is off and we’re sailing again. I think I’ll find it hard to go back to a motor yacht with the constant noise.

The island we’re going to today doesn’t have a real anchorage so we’ll be deep water anchoring. No decent chart info either, but we’ll go in slowly on the engine, and take it easy. And it’s only lunch time so we can move if necessary.

1616 – Well, we’re at anchor and a great wee spot it is. The island is almost totally devoid of vegetation and sprinkled with guano from the prolific bird life. It looks like a dusting of snow. The 30+ degrees heat belies that! 😉

It took two goes to set the anchor but we gave it a good hard tug to check! Then we bailed for a bit of snorkeling /hunting! Very different underwater terrain so new fish to check out. Not that many bigger species. My favourite was the simply awe inspiring schools of small fish, completely unconcerned by my presence, surrounding me. Millions of them. It was like being in a snow globe.

After quite some time, I realised I hadn’t seen Bernie in ages. Initially I wasn’t worried because he spends a lot of time under water. So I watched but couldn’t locate him. After about 5 minutes I got a bit stressed and got in the dingy for a better view. I still couldn’t find him, so pulled up the anchor and started looking round the bay for him. As time went by with no sightings I really got almost panicked. It suddenly occurred to me I really didn’t want to learn to solo sail the hard way. I was literally screaming his name. Not that that would’ve done a frigging thing if he was under water! I actually had to get a grip on myself. I decided to go back to Momo, get my sunnies and hat, fill the fuel tank and look more carefully. As I returned to Momo I suddenly spotted his fins as he duck dived. God, the relief! I motored over and beckoned him out to the dingy. I was so relieved my eyes got black dots in my vision as the adrenaline released me!

The poor man had an almost tearful shipmate plastered to him, saying “don’t ever fucking do that to me again”! I really got a fright. Ironically, we’d been talking about what our fears were earlier today, so I said “well, I know what scares the hell outa me now”. The thing is, it’s my own fault really. When I first joined Tohora I got Brett to show me all her systems; starting the engine, generator, lifting the keel, everything. But I didn’t do any of that with Bernie on joining Momo. I was so wrapped up in grief I didn’t care. I suddenly realise I do need to know. So tomorrow Bernie is going to show me it all. I mean, I daresay I could work it out, but best not to learn in an emergency, huh!

Monday, apparently! 3rd August. If it weren’t for my phone, I’d have no clue! It’s amazing to me that it still keeps the date and time correct when we have zero internet at present. How does it do that? Must ask Matt. Anyway, we got underway early because I woke Bernie to tell him the wind had veered and the anchor chain was noisy. Due to the rocky anchorage we didn’t want to risk wrapping it round any rocks in deep water. That would’ve meant Bernie having to get the dive tanks out and scuba down to release it. Way too much admin!

It was a SE breeze so we sailed to our next anchorage, more of a lee of the land than real shelter. But it’ll do for tonight and Bernie got two fish when he went over the side, so we’re fed again! What a good hunter he is! We’re almost out of fresh goods. I think there’s a couple of onions, garlic, a tomato, an avacado and some Kiwifruit. Oh, and potatoes.

Sailing Again 29.07.20

Bernie cracked the whip over the pair of us this morning, saying we’d take the solar panels down as soon as we’d had morning coffee. To be translated as “actually, let’s start now”! So we were ready to lift the pick and get under way by 10am.

We started with a nice breeze that dropped off as we tracked west of Islas Los Coronados. It picked up again after an hour or so of ‘goose winging’ the sails, trying to capture every puff. I rather like doing that. It looks awesome. The rest of the way we had a solid breeze on our starboard quarter, running at a pleasant 5 knots.

We anchored for the night around 1630, in a lovely little bay called Ramada Cove, just north of San Juanico. It’s been a hot day so we put the dingy in the water again and went to a reef to snorkel and hunt. Bernie got dinner with the spear gun. He saw turtles and rays up close but I had stayed in a more sheltered spot and saw a load a beautiful reef fish, soft corals and some really cool starfish. They had kind of fat bodies, not the long legged variety, and were covered in structures that look like studs! I told Bernie they should be in a gang, which comment required explanation and made him laugh once he understood! He’s learning Kiwi again! Soon he’ll be fluent in yet another language!

Once back on Momo, Bernie filleted the fish and nominated himself to cook dinner, which I appreciated. So I’m writing this! It’s a week since I left home and will be a week since arriving on Momo tomorrow. We started our isolation yesterday, after getting the water. Can’t say it makes much difference! Even after we catch up with Utopia and the other yachts Bernie had been hanging out with before, we won’t be going ashore at all. So we have what we need on board and what we can catch for fresh fish. Happily this region is abundant, encouragingly so.

It’s been nice catching up. Although I think Bernie is pleased to have some company, I doubt I challenge his intellect even faintly. His formal education far surpasses mine and he continues it. While I’m reading a war novel or historical romance that requires zero brain power, he’ll be reading some deep thing the average Joe (me) wouldn’t begin to grasp!

30 July 2020.

We decided to stay another night in this bay. There’s no rush to catch up with Utopia since we’re in quarantine.   So after our morning coffee we went ashore and went for a walk before the serious heat of the day kicked in. It was interesting to wander through this arid land, so harsh and challenging. We saw little wild life – a few lizards and birds, one road runner and a rabbit! I said it was a shame I didn’t have a gun! Bernie was surprised I thought I could hit it from where we were, lol! I told him I’m pretty lethal with a gun. Lol.

We returned to Momo for an omelette for breakfast. Then I did a quick bit of laundry before getting ready to go snorkeling. The sealife is amazing here. Bernie saw turtles again. And again I didn’t! Grrr! Ruth and Orges would love it here. So much variety. Even just looking for starfish, I saw maybe 5 different kinds. Wonderful. Bernie caught lunch. I think we’re both a bit weird because we both feel bad for hunting the fish, yet we have to eat! Ah well! I did mashed potatoes and salad to go with it. The avocados are amazing! We’re making the most of fresh salad stuff! Once it’s gone, that’s it! Tinned and dry goods only.

We snorkeled again later in the day, after reading and lazing the afternoon away. Yours truly was the only one not to see a turtle, yet again. Hot damn. Resumed our favourite spot on the bow after dinner, shooting the breeze. Bernie told me some adorable stories about their time in this area when Lola and Jana were little snappers. Seems amazing to me that he and Michelle circumnavigated the world in little Momo, faithful wee ship. Bernie says he’ll never sell her, never change yachts. I can understand why, though I’m not convinced she’d be an easy vessel to live on as he gets older. Just getting on and off is a challenge. Luckily for him he’s a very fit, healthy guy, no health issues at all really. Rare, and very blessed! He’s astonished at how many surgeries I’ve had, never mind the associated limitations that go with that. I know I couldn’t live on this boat long term. At the moment I can haul myself out of the water and into the dingy, then up onto Momo. But in a few years? Who knows. No, I want a yacht with a swim deck!

31 July – Friday, I think!

The wind really got up during the night and I got bugger all sleep. Bernie didn’t even notice, lol. The difference between sleeping in my cabin in the forepeak and his down aft! He was surprised to hear it was probs hitting 40 knots and I got up to check we hadn’t moved, multiple times! There were 5 yachts in this wee bay over night so I guess the others were hiding from the weather for the night. Two left first thing but there’s still a catamaran and a ketch in here with us. We’ll head north a bit further tomorrow.

After morning coffee we went snorkeling/hunting again. I saw a turtle, hallelujah! Another successful mission and Bernie cooked brunch. He made this yummy sauce, pan frying the fish in it, on rice. After I commented how good it was he said it was made with a chocolate sauce! What? Really? I was astounded as you couldn’t tell it was chocolate at all. He said he didn’t tell me before I tasted it on purpose! Clever guy. He knows I’m not a sweet tooth – at all! So I’d have been unenthusiastic if I’d known, I’m sure! In this, we are diametrically opposite! Bernie puts that disgustingly sweet Condensed milk in his coffee! I rarely eat Ice cream even! Can’t stand creme brulee!

We have talked a lot about our respective losses: me learning to live with Danny’s death and his separation from his family. Its not the same, obviously, as it was a choice for her to go ashore and him to stay on Momo. Yes, he might be deeply sorrowful about it but he could go too. Really. I do understand why he doesn’t. He’s a sailor through and through. He loves this life. But it’s still a choice. Danny had no choice. His life was taken. Suddenly and much, much too soon. Matt and I get no choice in that either. We can’t just say “oh, let’s pop home to NZ and see him”. I wish. Every moment of every day. Bernie could go visit his family. (granted Covid-19 has complicated that a little) We do look after each other though, because we all have days when it’s just too hard.

We have no Internet at present but I did manage to talk to Matt before we sailed. It’s so good to hear he and Meg are making their work / travel plan work so well. They’ve done a lot of miles on the bike (my bike, hehe!) and I’m grateful every time I hear they’re safely at their next destination! I can’t help worrying but it’s not fair for me to put any anchors on Matt’s life just because of what happened to Danny. And I’m not exactly staying home being safe. After all, couch potatoes probably generally have a shorter life expectancy than adventure lovers! I wonder? Be interesting to check that out. High risk life style versus poor diets /no exercise etc!

Anyway July is a wrap. Another month gone in this new phase of my life. I’m grateful to Bernie for having me back, even if I am a lesser companion compared to Michelle and his girls! I am who I am. Not going to change into an intellectual die hard overnight, nor stop trying to be a decent kind person. He commented he doesn’t like people being too nice to him! I understand he means he knows he’ll take advantage of it, but I don’t see it. He works hard on his translations, does the hunting, helps cook etc. So I do other stuff and it seems to be good team work. I can’t get titchy over things that aren’t a problem. But it has made me suddenly feel uncertain about giving him positive comments. Which annoys me. I shouldn’t let it bother me. It’s not my issue. So I should just carry on being me!

I’ll have to add photos before I post this, when we next get Internet. I might go on deck for a while. Loving this weather.