Me, Matt & Meg in the USA!

FRIDAY 13TH NOVEMBER

Yesterday was Matt’s 29th birthday. Hard to believe I have a son a heartbeat away from 30! I feel so much for him, his birthday forever inextricably interwoven with Danny’s loss. I’m so glad I’ll be seeing him tomorrow.

Today is the first anniversary of Danny’s death, something I’ve been dreading for all of us. But we got through the day, as with all the other “firsts”, no choice in it! I did pretty well really. It was a weird day. I went on the bow by myself in the morning to listen to some of Danny’s music and just reflect. Hearing an anchor being dropped, I looked up and saw, to my delight, Arena setting her pick near us. I bounced up, waving to Steph on the bow, tears of pleasure in my eyes. I was so happy to see my lovely friend.

We got in the dingy and went over to see them straight away. They’d decided to surprise me, hoping they’d arrive before I left to join Matt and Meg. Four hours to spare! I got a big tearful hugs from Steph. I miss hugs. Bernie’s not much for physical contact, even between friends in need. And I’m so tactile, sometimes it’s hard. I was so so pleased to see her, even if it was brief.

Kim picked us up at 1pm and we headed for Hermisillo, where I was to fly from early the next morning. She and Bernie dropped me at my hotel at 3pm and I hid out for the rest of the day. I listened to music, had wine and food, shed tears and generally thought about how life can change in an instant and your reality is forever different.

I will miss you always, Danny. Our lives are forever less without your beautiful spirit in it. πŸ’–

SATURDAY 14TH NOVEMBER

Today was manic. I got a cab to the airport at 0630 and with my flight not leaving until 0850, thought I had plenty of time! However, after a total lack of signage, coordination, zero English speakers among airport staff and three different queues, I finally was checked in to the correct place and aboard my flight. The first leg of the trip was to Guadalajara. We were 20 minutes late arriving, turning a one hour turn around into a very tight connection with my next flight to Las Vegas.

Presenting my passport and Mexican visitors visa (FMM) to the check in woman as I went to board, she refused to let me on, saying I had 10 minutes to go and renew my FMM. I literally ran to the opposite end of the terminal, downstairs, back to the other end on the bottom floor, and panting, found the Immigration officer. He was awesome, filling in my new one in record time. I raced back to gate B2, certain I’d be too late, and saw the woman who’d sent me off beckoning at me to hurry. Rueing my lack of fitness, I made it on last, the doors shutting behind me. God, I was lucky. That’s the closest I’ve come to missing a connection. All because of an FMM which had run out a few days earlier and shouldn’t have been a problem. Every website said not to worry, as most offices are closed due to Covid-19 and its impossible to renew unless you’re leaving and returning. Oh well.

My travel drama was not quite over! I cleared customs in record time, got my bag and was joyfully heading out to find Matt, when I nearly got stopped at the last hurdle! At the last check point, the guy asked how long I’d been in Mexico and where I’d been. I told him the exact truth and he said “you’re lucky, if you’d been to Mexico City or living ashore, I’d have had to make you quarantine for a week.” As it was, he sent me on my way.

And suddenly, there was Matt. After almost a year, a horrible heart breaking year, I had my boy in my arms again. Such joy and relief. After a bunch of three way hugs, we hit the road.

The plan was to drive to the town of Williams, and visit the Grand Canyon the next day. The Hoover Dam was en route so we checked that out, just on dark.

We stayed the night in Williams, a town just west of Flagstaff and a short run into the Grand Canyon National Park. Viewing this astonishing work of nature was the day’s plan for the 15th. We didn’t get there till around midday, as we all slept in!

Matt’s got a dodgy ankle so we stopped at various places to look and admire, rather than doing any of the hikes. It really is truly breathtaking. You’d be seriously annoyed, as an early settler, coming up against that impasse, completely unexpectedly! We saw some elk in the forest on the way out, which was cool.

MONDAY 16TH NOVEMBER

We stayed last night in a wee town called Gallup. The hotel was nothing to rave about but comfortable enough for the decent price of $57 for the one night for three of us. It was a long drive from the park and we didn’t arrive till after 8pm.

A lot of miles covered today! Matt was happy to be passing through very interesting and diverse geology. Incredibly long straight roads, and the young ones took turns at driving.

Meg and I are pleased to have Matt’s expertise to explain the volcanic geology! We found the local Walmart, after checking in, as I needed jeans and we wanted food and wine for the evening. Ticked all those boxes, then relaxed with a vino!

TUESDAY 17TH NOVEMBER

We stayed stayed last night in the town of Alamogordo. It was a great hotel with a very good breakfast. We have them grateful feedback on the way out. I rang Bernie before we left and had a catch up, as well as talking to the kittens.

We went to the White Sands National Park this morning. There weren’t many people there so we were able to have vast areas of these beautiful white dunes to ourselves. Matt and Meg took some gorgeous photos for their Instagram. I just took holiday snaps!

The five hour drive from White Sands to this city of Lubbock, now firmly in Texas. The Trump mad population have put flags up everywhere. Nauseating. However, the endless flat, desert-like terrain en route was very interesting. There were massive ranches, though barely an animal did we see! Then there’s endless miles of oil fields, which was rather sobering, oddly. Its a bit creepy to see the pumping arm (horse head) of each little oil well bobbing up and down. Another feature, was the cotton fields which have just been harvested. So there were round bales of cotton, not hay. We went through tiny, barely – there towns with names like Tinnie. That particular town (don’t blink!) was set in a gully with one of the few rivers we’ve seen. So there was a narrow strip of greenery and then it gave way to arid desert again. The town of Roswell had little to remember it by, except for its obsession with UFOs! Even the McDonald’s was UFO themed. And there was a diner called Big D’s Downtown Dive!

Tonight we are in a big town called Lubbock. Not a very nice name! We’re all a bit tired, covered a lot of miles the last few days. 1048 miles, in fact. So we’re just chilling to my music. Might hit the hay soon.

18TH NOVEMBER 2020

Today we were up earlier than usual to get to a Covid testing place at 9am. Meg had to get one done. I’m sure it’ll be negative. Then we hit the road and busted out the 5 hour drive to Dallas, stopping only for food and loo breaks. Meg teases Matt about how often he goes to the bathroom but he says he listened to his Mama and takes every opportunity that presents itself! Good lad.

The terrain has been endlessly flat, though the vegetation changed slowly from desert to tree clad, autumnal acres. Lots of cotton fields also, in the process of harvest. And the never ending oil wells and wind turbines. At least wind turbines don’t give me the heebie jeebies.

Today was one of those days. I was constantly on the verge of tears. Once we arrived at our hotel (a very nice La Quinta) I had half a gummy of sativa which improved my mental space 100%. It’s great being able to take it, knowing exactly what you’re getting, that it’s safe and regulated, and the effect is predictable. Man, it irritates the hell out of me that NZ missed this opportunity. We’ve had a lovely evening, the three of us just chatting. Nice to know we don’t have to rush off tomorrow. Meg’s appointment isn’t till the afternoon.

Where now?

13.11.20

One year ago my younger son, Danny, and Matt’s brother was taken from us by a drug driver.

I feel as if I’ve conducted myself with as much strength as I am capable of. Matt and I both felt we were allowed to do whatever we needed to get through (is that even possible?).

I’ve read a lot of books dealing with this loss, I’m a nurse so I’ve seen it first hand in other people, I’ve tried really hard to control how I react. I’ve had to deal with all the legal stuff by myself, because both Danny’s father and Matt didn’t want to. It’s understandable, but I gave birth to him, I raised him, I’ve loved him with every atom of my being from the moment he’s popped into the world. I’m the ONLY ONE who can claim that.

Yet, so much has been expected of me.

Finally, one year on, I admit I can’t do it. I’m adrift. I’m alone. I regret so much. I’ve tried so hard.

I have to find a new focus. Start over.

I wish I could swap places with Danny. He had so much to offer. I loved him so much.

Bahia Algodones

It was with joy in my heart that I hit the “up” button on the anchor winch this morning! It’s Sunday November 1st and I’m so so happy to put a few miles under the keel today! We’ve been at anchor in Bahia San Carlos so long that the anchor chain had spun itself round and round. We had to bring it up slowly, going up and down a few times to get the kinks out! The kittens handled the engine starting and anchor coming up like pros. Not too perturbed at all! I popped ashore quickly before we left to take the rubbish and get wine. There’s a nice trail from the dingy dock to the town. One of the things I love about Mexico is the colour and pattern they put into every day things!

I drove us out while Bernie checked a few engineer type things! We rounded Punta Doble and headed due west towards Punta San Antonio, the south western point of Bahia Algodones. The dramatic Tetakawi mountain, Tetas de Cabra, makes a wonderful backdrop looking back to shore as you cross the bay.

The kittens decided the best spot for them was in the well of the cockpit, though they got their courage up to watch the world go by a bit later. Then Jack discovered a great spot inside the bimini! We did wonder if they felt a little bit sea sick at one point. It was quite swelly, more than anything they’d experienced on anchor. But they’re fine now and totally chilled.

We hoped to tuck in behind the highest hill on the island to the northern part of this bay but couldn’t set the anchor there. So we had to move closer inshore where its sandy but more exposed.

Bernie’s new set up with the solar works perfectly. He’s pretty chuffed, I think!

Bernie made these potato pancakes for dinner, a childhood favourite he tells me. They were good too. He had sugar on his! Crazy man! He’s such a sweet tooth! After eating, we sat in the cockpit, out of the wind, yarning. The kittens did sprint laps round Momo. At one point I found Alex in the dingy, which we’d winched up for the night. These cats will age me further!

It’s full moon at the moment and it was enormous and red as it rose behind the mountains. I got a cool shot of it a couple of nights ago.

2.11.20: We went snorkeling this morning in hopes of catching food for the next couple of days. Bernie got one fish but the sea life is pretty minimal here. This side of the sea of Cortez has definitely suffered from the higher concentration of human beings taking more than they should! But it was nice to get in the water and get some exercise. Jack was fascinated by the fish when we got back, wanted to play with it.

4.11.20; This time last year I was heading to Koh Phangan with Ruth for my diving course. What a wonderful trip that was, the last truly happy week of my life.

Yesterday Bernie and I had a lovely day. It dawned flat calm so we lifted the pick and headed north early. The prevailing winds are northerly at this time of year, and tend to get up later in the day, so we wanted to avoid that. We’re trying to acclimatise the kittens to boat travel gently. It was an interesting coastline, with very volcanic, contorted rock formations. Little gullies had palm trees and other greenery too, so there must be the odd underground spring.

We spotted a particularly attractive spot and I suggested stopping for a snorkel and wander ashore. So we did that and what a treat it was. There’s a lot more sea and bird life as we get further from San Carlos /Guaymas area. We even saw sea lions and a seal. Bernie got lunch and I made cerviche & rice. Delicious.

Still with perfectly calm seas, we motored the last stretch to Bahia San Pedros, our destination for the next few days, probably. I took the helm and Bernie set the anchor this time! He took the opportunity to let all the chain out, get the twists and kinks out, and give it a wash! Then we settled on 150 feet out in about 25 feet of water. More than enough.

This bay is postcard perfect. It’s almost circular, the entrance fairly narrow, has a lovely sandy & pebbly beach, stunning mountainous backdrop and there seems to be so many fish, as they’re constantly jumping. There’s a small motor boat here, as well as a fishing panga, and a large motor boat turned up at dusk, unfortunately, as they anchored really close to us and have their genny running. (it’s 0500 as I write this)

We went for a walk after lunch, finding a rough trail across the peninsula to the next bay. Climbing a small hill gave us a great view over both bays. Sadly, we found a disgusting amount of rubbish on the beach and in the scrub behind the beach. Likely local fisherman, judging by the endless fish carcases on shore.

The kittens have been hilarious today and given us both multiple heart attacks with their wild antics! They’ve really found their mojo and show little fear, especially at anchor! There’s a lot more insects here and they chased them with concentration and a lack of respect for the yachts boundaries! Until Jack nearly fell in! The closest either of them has come, and a stunning recovery he made, hanging off the steel railing on the extreme bow! We were sitting up there, in the half light, had smoked a pipe and it totally set me off. I was in fits of laughter. Well, we both were but Bernie announced he felt Jack’s momentary fear and was fairly concerned, whereas I simply found it hysterically funny. Maybe because I’ve had more experience with animals? Even if he’d gone in the drink he’d have been fine! It’s a short swim to the rescue net. It subdued him though and he stopped haring around for the evening! We’d also noticed Alex was a bit quiet and hadn’t eaten much dinner. Bernie, while holding him up for a snuggle, spotted a bee sting in his lower lip! I pulled it out and he seems right as rain.

God, I’d love some rain! I actually dreamed it rained earlier this night! In my dream, I was delighted because Momo was getting a really good fresh water wash down! A real deckhands dream, lol!

Thursday 5th November

It’s nearly 8am and I’ve just climbed back in bed with a coffee. There’s a bee buzzing up in the hatch which can’t be opened at the moment. The kittens can see it from my bed but can’t get to it. So they’re jumping in and out the scuttles trying to get it from above! Which, of course, won’t work because it’s inside and they’re then outside! So funny! They’re very fiesty this morning and I don’t intend to be caught in the cross fire!

Yesterday morning we took the dingy and slowly motored round the next couple of headlands. The geology is incredible here. Matt would be in his element and able to tell us what we’re seeing. There’s so many colours in the cliffs, layers of red, yellow, orange, brown, white; just beautiful. The bird life here is impressive too. When I hopped up on deck first thing this morning, there were hundreds of pelicans and cormorants on the water, sheltering out of the wind. And during our outing yesterday we went very close by a group of perhaps 20 baby pelicans. They are totally adorable and when they feel threatened, all duck dive as a unit. Though there’s always that one kid that’s like “hey, wait, where’d you all go?” before disappearing beneath the waves!

Bernie went spear fishing after we returned from our jaunt. I didn’t feel like it and stayed here to cook lunch. He was gone two hours and in that time the wind got up a lot. We dragged the anchor and the motor yacht anchored near us started swinging wildly on hers (without the deep, stabilising keel Momo has). I wasn’t happy at all with how close we were getting. I tried to attract Bernie’s attention but he goes off in his own world when he’s spear fishing. I got pretty pissed off actually, that he never checks in with his crew, just disappears. Anyway, I tried to call Good Lack (stupid name!) on Ch16 but she wasn’t keeping a listening watch (queue the eye roll) so that was zero help. Deciding I’d get ready for any necessary action before it became totally necessary, I opened the fuel and sea cock lines below and started the engine, took the snubber off the anchor chain and came up on the anchor a bit. Then, with 150′ out, I reversed on it and tried to set it in hard again. It seemed fine and we were a healthier distance from Good Lack. Still, not entirely happy since I couldn’t see Bernie and was here alone, I turned the engine off but left it ready to start again and the anchor free for manoeuvreing. However the chain was being pulled from the drum now and then, which shouldn’t happen. We should be able to ride on the winch. Of course, you don’t usually as that’s hard on the gear, but it should be possible. But there wasn’t more I could do for now and we seemed OK. Not long after I saw Bernie haul himself into the dingy and start to head off round the headland. I tell you, I was livid. It obviously didn’t occur to him at all to check in with me, look at Momo and notice the weather was worse, just because he was right under the shelter of the cliff. Jeeeez! I yelled and waved my arms at him and eventually he noticed and came over, to be met with a fairly pissed off deckhand, who was trying not to let fly the temper! Poor man!

Once he was on board I explained everything to him and to be honest, I don’t think he believed me. With a very dismissive “Oh, well, that makes no sense. We shouldn’t have dragged. We set it well.” he wandered forward, put the snubber back on, mucked around up they’re for a while, then upon returning aft said “The winch was loose, don’t know why, shouldn’t be. I’ve tightened it so the chain shouldn’t pull through now.” I was standing there, keeping a tight rein on my ire, and said “yes, I know that. The problem here is less about this situation, which I handled by the way, but the complete lack of communication. You’re off for two hours, no radio, because guess what, that doesn’t work either, and never once thought to check in with me. And you would have disappeared round the corner without even telling me, if I hadn’t seen you going.” He saw my point and apologised for stressing me, but I still think he reckons I was over reacting.

Perhaps I was, but he needs to remember I’m used to really big ships, with a full crew, well maintained, with an anchor that can be operated from the wheel house if necessary. Also, he and Michelle have had 15 years to get used to how Momo works, and know every detail about her. I’m sick of being expected to be on that level, being compared to Michelle and found lacking. In fairness, I don’t think he even realises he’s doing it half the time. He only notices what directly affects him, not how it might affect me! Such a bloke, lol!

I made a hot pasta dish for lunch but I think it was a bit spicy for Bernie. At least it would’ve helped warm him up after fishing. I’ll have to tone it down. Shame, I love it hot!

11am. Oh my goodness, the cats are wild today. As my Californian friend, Dawnda, would say “they’ve got a wild hair up their ass!” They’re leap frogging round the interior after winged beasts, a mixed blessing since some of those are bees! Then wrestling like sumo fighters with each other, and getting totally in Bernie’s way as he’s trying to go locker by locker cataloguing what he needs in spare parts. I came on deck to do a little laundry and they followed me up, giving Bernie brief respite. Of course, as its windy, everything is flapping most satisfactorily! You’ll see, if you look at the photos taken along the yacht’s waist, that the guard rails are two stainless steel rails with netting inboard. Except on the extreme bow and stern. Well, Jack has discovered he can stand on these rails, back paws on the first and front paws on the top. Most nerve wracking for parental watchers.

We have the bay to ourselves today, rather nice. The winds shifted from overnight stiff northerlies (30+ knots) to a steady north westerly of about 18 knots, I reckon.

I’m very cross with myself as I think I left my good deck sandals on the beach when we swam the other day. Of course they’re not there now. So I only have slip on $3 floppies and some cutesy jandals. I’ll have to go buy some runners or something similar before going to see Matt and Meg. I have tickets, did I mention? Very excited and feeling better within myself for having a plan, a date. Every parent loves to see their kids but I tell you, when you’ve lost a child, seeing the only remaining baby is super important. Even if they are packaged in a 6’2″, highly intelligent and independent adult!

5.11.20: We had a few bevvies sitting on the bow last night and a long talk about the future, options and what we hope for. It was productive. Bernie, very kindly, told me he thought I was an intelligent and amazing woman and he admired that I was modest with it. Well, I’m not used to being told that by men and don’t really think of myself that way, but it was sweet of him. He is certainly way smarter them me, and I reckon Michelle is too. I’m just me. A simple country girl! At one point, in a lighter moment, Bernie asked when the cats have to be speyed and if they’d start marking their territory. I laughed and said at about 6 months old and that, no, they wouldn’t. He remarked it was funny because he always felt the need to pee over the side of Momo each time we anchor! I howled with laughter. I stayed on deck after Bernie went to bed and had a wee melt down over Danny’s loss and being on my own for the anniversary. It had to hit me sooner or later. I’ve been coping OK the last couple of weeks since being ashore. But this was always going to be a totally shit time. I’m so glad I’ll be seeing Matt soon. I’m still feeling delicate this morning. It’s a gorgeous day and I’ve been sitting on deck again since sunrise. We’re still here on our own and it’s peaceful. Good spirit food. Alex has caught two bees that I’ve seen, without getting stung! Goodness knows how.

11am. Bernie is climbing the hill on the edge of the bay, so I have Momo to myself at the moment. I couldn’t go, having stupidly lost my only decent footwear. We looked at Michelle’s stuff she left behind but she’s got bigger feet than me. Bernie said I could borrow some of her warmer gear too and I’ve grabbed a couple of tops and a fleece, but she’s much bigger than me round the waist so none of the trousers or shorts fit, unfortunately. I’ll have to go to a second hand shop.

I’ve done the laundry, having decided the water is much cleaner here than in Bahia San Carlos. So Momo is lined with flapping clothes! The wind has got up from the south but we’re ok for now and I’ve seen Bernie on his way back.

1300. Bernie got back, a bit worried I’d be stressing about the wind, after yesterday’s drama! But I was fine. Anyway, we decided to move to the other side of the bay where its more sheltered in this wind. Its a nice spot too, and I’ve had lunch. I made chicken masala. When I say I’ve made something definitive like that, it is usually doctored in some way, as I seldom have the exact ingredients! So this had whisky instead of sherry! Still tastes really good!

7.11.20: We had crazy gusty winds overnight and were up and down checking our position. No worries, though an annoying swell from somewhere is hitting us broadside, even though the wind is on our nose. The dingy got flipped over. Luckily we’d taken the engine and fuel out last night. But all our snorkeling gear was in it. We recovered what was floating but Bernie will have to dive for the rest. On the plus side, I’d tied the dingy anchor to the dingy (as well as the painter) so we have the location to dive marked! We had some of the fish Bernie got yesterday for breakfast. Very good too.

8.11.20

It’s 0440 and I’ve had a restless night, don’t know why. I woke at 0030 and popped my head up on deck to check our position. The wind had flipped into the north and we’re in a better position now. We moved back to the North side of the bay last evening, though it was still southerly, because it was forecast to change around midnight and we didn’t want to have to move then. So we risked a lee shore for a few hours. It was actually more comfortable anyway. I reckon the southerly swell swings around the point of the bay and turns as it enters, making for a broadside swell at the bottom end of the bay.

We got Momo ready for sea last night, so plan to head back to San Carlos first thing. I’ve had about an hours sleep so would be happy to leave now, lol! I think Bernie’s still asleep though! I’ve got Alex sleeping on top of my legs and Jack wrapped round my head! They are funny! Jack has an obsession with grooming my face that I don’t really share! They’re due for their second round of vaccinations, poor kitties.

Maintenance +++

24th October 2020

Bernie has been working really hard on getting the new solar panel mount made and installed. It involved a lot of time under the deck preparing for the aluminium frame, a very uncomfortable and hot job. I do admire how he can think the whole process out in his head and translate that into a working arrangement. It is up and we’re trialing some panels that Arena bought and then found too big for their space. We think they’ll work, which is good news for both them and us! We just need to go to Guaymas today for some wood and parts.

Other than the solar system upgrade, we’ve been working our way through a list of maintenance jobs and Momo is starting to look pretty sharp. It should benefit both Bernie & Michelle in working out their finances, so I hope it goes ahead smoothly for them. He really does want the best for them.

The kittens love all the work going on, as each time we open cupboards or get gear out, it’s like a whole new jungle gym for them to explore! They’re getting more confident with their swimming lessons too. They’re not too fazed by it all!

Kim has two new babies too hand raise, the most adorable Siamese looking kittens!

The weather has cooled down a little. Its still in the 30s but the humidity has eased, thankfully. The water temperature has dropped a bit too and is much nicer. We’re getting a rolly fetch at the moment, the last two days, which is a bit of a pain! So somewhere out there they’ve had rough weather, lol! Still no rain! There were a few drops a couple of weeks ago and the kittens took off inside as though they’d been stabbed! It was so funny. Didn’t even dampen things though. We’ve had some lovely sunsets and sunrises.

Matt and Meg are in the USA! Hooray! πŸ˜πŸ’ƒπŸ’ƒπŸ’–

Sunday 25th October: We had a great night out with the couple who live on Maitairoa, in the marina. Patrick is South African originally, and Ellen is American. It’s a friendly place and getting to know the other yachties is the good thing about being stuck here.

26th: Is Hannah’s 21st! In NZ, that is! Hard to believe it’s 3 years since my boys took her on a pub crawl for her 18th! She’s the only one who got to do that kind of stuff with Danny  πŸ˜•

I’m ashore, house sitting, though its not necessary, more “time to myself” to reevaluate. A couple of months ago I would’ve been 100% sure about staying on Momo. I was happy. But now, I don’t know. Bernie’s put me on a back burner. Big time. I’m not willing to be messed with again. It seems to have coincided with his trying to finalise things with Michelle. I’m attempting to give him the space he needs to deal with that. It understandably hurts. But in withdrawing, it’s meant my willingness to engage has suffered. I think, for now, we’ll remain close friends.

And I’m really struggling with losing Danny. I guess it’s catching up with me. I’ve tried so hard to look after everyone else, doing the legal stuff by myself because Richard & Matt “didn’t want to know”, not wanting to stress Bernie with “bereaved mother” etc etc etc. My walls are caving in. The pieces of the puzzle are lost.

30th October.

I came back to Momo yesterday, after helping Kim take her yacht out onto her mooring. We did it like pros. Go the girl team! Her animals are so happy to be on the water! The babies have really grown.

My few days on my own ashore have done me the world of good. No cooking or endless cleaning. Just peace. I feel like I can handle it all again. It seemed to have been good for Bernie too and he seems happy to have me back! He’s nearly finished the solar panels which is great.

The kittens reaction to my return was so sweet. They’re so pleased and are all over me. Jack actually was drooling he purred so hard! He slept on top of me and Alex right beside me. So I couldn’t move! They’re following me round like shadows today! I’m enjoying the extra attention!

I’ve managed to have nice chats with Matt. They’re doing a bit of a tour in their hired truck, making the most of their free time before Meg gets into this treatment regime. They’ve had snow in Colorado! Posted some gorgeous pics. Hard to believe it’s snowing up there when we’re still getting hot days in the high 20s.

It’s definitely cooled at night. I bought a cool blanket for my bed. I love the colourful Mexican designs. Bernie said “oh look at your lovely bed” and I replied “yours could look like that too!” Never gonna happen!

The Weirdness that is Meditation!

Soon after rejoining Bernie and Momo in July, Bernie suggested we do a daily meditation using Sam Harris’ guidance. As there’s a ton of research showing it is a helpful practice in dealing with trauma, I readily agreed.

It’s never been something I’ve felt I’d be any good at, since I don’t usually sit still for long and my mind spins off on all manner of tangents. But Bernie explained it in a way that gave me reason to think I might learn and also Sam Harris teaches it in a slightly different way. He talks you through the meditation and then follows up with a discussion/lesson.

So, while we’ve been fairly erratic, not exactly managing the ‘daily’ part, we have been doing his lessons sequentially. We sit on deck, in the shade, or early enough to avoid the heat. Anyway, yesterday something fairly wondrous happened to me. We were asked to try to meditate with our eyes open. We’ve done little snippets of that before, but this was for almost the whole session. Sam got us to focus on one place and then, without really moving our gaze, widen our fields of view and sort of try to not really see the individual objects but just notice the colour fields blending. I found I could do it easily and really enjoyed the experience. Bernie was astonished, as he finds that difficult. And I’m pretty useless at the exercises we get usually!

However, I was reminded of those pictures that were very popular about 15 years ago. They were a picture in a picture, and you had to focus intently on one spot and let yourself look into the painting to find the second one. I could do that easily too and knew many people couldn’t. Bernie said he’d always had trouble with those. It’s so interesting the way our brains work.

He asked if I couldn’t see anything except colour any more. But I could see the boats, mountains and so on, they just became indistinct and blended together, more patches of colours. I did see a turtle because it popped up right in the central point of my focus!

Then, last evening (10th), we were sitting in our usual spot on the bow, a little bit high after a nice wee Mexican buzz, and I tried it looking at the sunset behind the mountains. I found I could not only blend the colours but actually manipulate them and their outlines. It was way trippy and so cool. I could make the whole horizon become one entity, though its actually hills in front of bigger mountains, then darken it and move it down the front of the mountain, though the whole time still able to see the original horizon. So freaky and awesome! I was commentating as I did it and Bernie was fascinated! Later as the sun made a red gold back drop, I could turn it sort of black & gold like a honey comb. It’s rather addictive!

12.10.20: Yesterday I got onto my list of “tomorrow’s jobs” (clever, huh, always got an out!) I started polishing the stainless on the bow, a work in progress, mended Bernie’s trousers, tried to free the rusted solid fittings on the Danforth (spare emergency/kedge anchor), cleaned out the kittens’ litter (daily job), added refinements to the kittens’ rescue nets (weighted the forward edges so they don’t blow out), did Spanish lesson/practice, researched how to make a bong and mended the foot pump for pumping up the dingy. I also swam over to Compass Rose and back. All by lunchtime. Then I was knackered for the rest of the day!

The kittens are battling around my feet, a disconcerting experience. I expect my ankle to take a bite any second! We have a little step stool that just gets used to sit the computer on while we watch a movie, but the kittens love it. One gets under it and they pretend to be hidden from each other. Oooh, my calf just got bitten. Rats! It’s probably payback for all the times we swoop them up for tummy rubs. It must be infuriating to be so little at times!

October 13th 2020: Its 11 months since Danny died. I’m feeling a bit tender, well, more than usual. I’m trying Sam Harris’ exercise for today which he says will help stop us reacting to things that upset us. Guess it doesn’t work on the feelings that come with losing a son. Kitty cuddles work better.

We had Thanksgiving dinner with the crew of Arena and Kim, last night. I’ve never experienced traditional thanksgiving before. We did pot luck so Steph wasn’t cooking for nine people. It’s was a truly fun evening. Steph made us all name one thing we’re thankful for, before eating. The kids were funny, struggling to think of something and settling for practical things like “a comfy bed”! I said I was thankful for Bernie having me here while I tried to put the pieces of my life back together, and for the wonderful new friends I’ve made here. Bernie said he was thankful to have my company on Momo. I’m also thankful for our kittens, which give me so much joy!

On the subject of the cats, again, we gave them another rescue lesson. I’ve made better nets for them to climb up, out of some spare green net Arena had and two old swim noodles. It worked a treat. I got in the water with fins and Bernie handed down each kitten to have a go. They did so well, didn’t panic or claw me to bits. They just perched on my shoulder till I said it was time to swim to the net. Jack went very sedately but Alex cleverly did a massive jump off my shoulder onto the net and scrambled up like a bat out of hell! We did it twice. Jack didn’t find it as easy and I realised it was because I’d trimmed his claws that morning, so I won’t be able to do that again. Poor man. His ego took a hit!

Alex taking the leap!

The poor kitties also had to have their first jabs recently. The vet came to Kim’s catamaran, The Cure, which was awesome. Kim has 4 cats and Midnight, our guys’ sister. So it’s easier than carting them all round! I felt sorry for them but someone pointed out they probably minded a lot less than the swimming lessons! Alex made a wee squawk when injected but Jack didn’t seem at all bothered. So round one of inoculations done and the next lot, including rabies, on November 2nd. I can also get them microchipped for 200 pesos each, so will do that then too. Its a requirement for bringing them to NZ, so I’m glad it’s no trouble to get done here.

0100 hours on the 16th October:                I’ve been tossing up whether to mention this or not, but have decided that I’m not into just putting the “perfect life” up. So much on social media is not real but I don’t want my story to be a lie. So, over the last month Bernie and Michelle have been working things out between them, in a much more civilised way than many couples when they are separated, I might add. You know, the financial stuff etc. It’s been hard on both of them and messing a fair bit with Bernie’s peace of mind, which is understandable. I’ve tried to be supportive and not be involved any more than he wants me to be. It’s their business. The bit I’m finding hard is that all of a sudden the lovely, easy, caring relationship we were developing has vanished. He’s pulled right back from me, putting physical and emotional distance between us. I feel very much like “the crew” and that I should be “working” all the time. I no longer feel relaxed and able to plan my day as I wish. I feel guilty if I’m not slaving over something. Which is crazy because I’m not being paid, I came as volunteer crew, I’m putting quite a lot of my own money, caring and time into being here, yet I’m not feeling entirely wanted right now.

I’m trying to just let it ride because I do know this is a difficult adjustment for him to make. But I have my own demons to deal with and don’t really need this. It all comes just as we’ve got the kittens and I’ve committed to doing the crossing next year. Yet here I am, feeling like I could be doing it only to find on arrival in NZ, I may not be welcome, that Bernie might just try and get it all together with his family again. For all their totally disfunctional relationship over the last few years, he is definitely still in love with Michelle. I don’t know that I can cope with being screwed over yet again by a man I’ve put my trust in, however unintentional. I’m thinking my trip to see Matt soon will put some timely distance between us, give some perspective. I just can’t deal with any more hurt right now. I didn’t come to Momo expecting to find someone I could be with, only to help a friend, but Bernie himself put that possibility on the table and now I feel it’s being withdrawn. Except that he’s not telling me, not talking to me, just quietly backing off. I guess time will tell. At some point I will need to try and get him to talk about it. When I raised it the other day, he denied there was any change, which I found disingenuous because it’s so patently not the case.

On so many levels, I wish I could turn back the clock. Maybe to 2018, September, when I was on MY Moonbeam with Fouche. We had such fun and made the most of every day. Matt and Danny were happy and doing great things. Life was good. Damn it. I want that back.

I went back to look at my posts from that time and found I hadn’t made any. I only stop writing when I’m really happy, so I guess that shows I was totally loving life at that point.

A Touch of Autumn

It’s Thursday 8th October, nearly 11 months since I lost my beautiful son, Danny. I still can’t get through half a day without feeling that tingling in your nose that you get when you’re trying not to cry. It’s a long and tough journey, this road through grief. It is what it is. I just have to be a bit more patient with myself and know its OK to feel this roller coaster of emotions. Putting the jigsaw of my life back together will be an ongoing process. It’s a lonely trail.

I’m crossing all my fingers and toes that I’ll see Matt soon and praying we’ll get to be together for the first anniversary of Danny’s passing, and for our birthdays. We were all in November and it’s always been a fun month for us. Matt and I need to make different memories. Danny would’ve been 27 this year. Being with Matt is all I can focus on at the moment. I am also keen to get to know his girlfriend, Meg, better. We had a lovely week together in Prague last October and of course I saw her at Danny’s funeral. But I’d like a chance to see more of her in better circumstances. She’s been instrumental in getting Matt through this ghastly time of loss.

Back here on Momo, Bernie and I are getting on well. He’s nearly done with two big translation jobs, so we’re hoping to go sailing for the next couple of weeks. We might head to the Bay of LA, and then to Santa Rosalia in the hopes of meeting up with Utopia and Love & Luck. Arena might come too, so we’ll all be together again which will be great fun. We’ve got some maintenance jobs done and others planned, as well as getting Bernie’s passport off to the Canadian embassy. That was a relief! Everything is so tricky in these weird Covid-19 times!

The kittens keep us laughing and are a comfort to me when I am feeling low. They seem to know and both show up for cuddles the minute I start sniffling! We gave them their first rescue lesson two days ago. A dip in the sea and a scary scramble up the net over the side, gave them enough of a shock to slow them down for 24 hours! But they are away again now, defying gravity at great speed!

We’ve had some lovely times with Jamie & Steph, from Arena. They and their four kids are a delight and I love them to bits. It’s been nice having another woman to talk to and share stuff with. Steph’s a nurse too, so we have a lot in common. Between them and Bernie’s gentle kindness, I am very blessed in my support during this tough bit of the year. They’re all so understanding when I lose the plot and need time out to give myself a pep talk! We go for happy hour margaritas fairly often and usually end up getting yummy Mexican food! It’s so cheap! Their youngest, Lochlan, turned six recently. I thought he was older! They’re all so tall! Jamie is 6’4″, so not really a surprise!

There is finally a touch of Autumn in the air and we had a foggy start to the day today. It was a beautiful morning, all misty and calm. Its still in the early 30’s during the day but the heavy humidity has eased, and the nights are in the 20’s. Much kinder on a sleeping body!

09.10.20: If there were room to be doing cartwheels rounds Momo’s deck I’d be trying! I’m very happy because Matt & Meg are definitely coming to the USA. Meg has a somewhat personal project she’s doing so they’ll be here for six weeks. We’ll make more definite plans once they’re here and know what they’re doing!

Bernie and I watched a film called “My Octopus Teacher” last night. Everyone has been raving about it and it purports to be a documentary. The cinematography is great but a documentary it is not! It’s more like a soppy, cheap Mills & Boon nature equivalent. It annoyed the hell out of Bernie! I just took it all with a grain of salt and enjoyed the underwater scenery. But it’s all made up, a load of BS, nothing ‘real’ about it. I’m getting quite a lot of amusement out of how much it got under Bernie’s skin though. Truth and honesty are important to him in a very visceral way, and with the way they present this film, I can understand his irritation!

The kittens are scrapping. Again. Jack is feeling very full of himself. He bit me hard this morning, so got held up by the scruff and told “not on!”

Bernie’s painting the shower, so there’s stuff all over the saloon. It amazes me the positions the kittens sleep/relax in!

I’m polishing some of the rust off the endless stainless steel a yacht possesses! I quite like doing it but it’s hard on my back so I do it in stages. I don’t have to be as obsessive as on a superyacht either!

It’s been a hotter day again, real feel of 41Β°C. So we’ve just had a swim and it’s nearly wine time! Good job!

Morning Watch

It’s 0453. 18th, maybe! In the Navy this period of four hours from 0400 to 0800 is called the morning watch, so I guess I’m subconsciously on duty! For whatever reason I can’t sleep anyway. I had nightmares when I went to sleep and am now awake again with a bit of an upset tummy. We went out for drinks with Jamie & Steph, and another couple from another boat in the marina, Josh & Morgan. I hadn’t met Morgan before and she seems like a nice girl, but we’d both met Josh before. Bernie’s really funny about Josh, doesn’t like him much at all! I don’t think he’s too bad but he is a bit of a blow hard! So, we had a couple of margaritas and some finger food. I guess that’s what upset my tummy. It’s not bad though. I’ve always found, when travelling, that it’s best to cook your own food. Especially in countries like this!

Once we got home, we sat on deck, on the bow, as we often do. Most days, in fact. We had a good long chat about the future, where we thought things might go, and so on. Didn’t solve much, lots of “don’t knows”! But good to toss stuff round. I find Bernie easier to talk to, on just about anything, than any other man my age I’ve met. He’s incredibly non judgemental. It’s refreshing.

On a totally different thread, I’m cat sitting for Kim at the moment. She’s gone to her place in Tuscon for a few days. She has four cats and the sister to our boys, so I’ll go twice a day to feed them etc. Our kittens have really settled in and love it here now, I think. In fact, when I got back this afternoon, they were calling to me, happy to see me, and Alex did that kneading /sucking thing wee kits do. I forget how young they are. Normally they’d still be with their mum. Bernie and I sat on deck watching a TV series and they stayed close all the time.

Alex and Jack are getting bold though, and have nearly gone over board chasing each other or attacking halyards! They seem to think the whole yacht is a fancy playground designed just for them! We laugh so much.

On Monday we took the dingy and went exploring the harbour. The ride was a couple of hours before high tide (springs) so we went up the river a ways too and saw a beautiful white Ibis (I think, lol). Then we hopped ashore on the isthmus to the west side of the harbour. It was actually pretty spectacular and I couldn’t resist a swim in the fresher cooler sea on the other side.

24.09.20: I’ve been feeling weird this afternoon. On edge. Emotionally delicate. It’s not all Danny this time either. I don’t know what I’m doing here. I haven’t earned any money for nearly a year and it worries me to be living on savings that have taken a life time to earn. I don’t feel I can say anything really. Bernie has enough on his plate right now. He needs me to be supportive at the moment, with things in NZ giving him sorrow. So I get that it’s on me that I’m letting it ride for now. Though I did mention I’d applied for a job in Fort Lauderdale.

We had a nice night out with Steph and Jamie this evening. They’re Christian and we aren’t and it’s never been discussed between us. I don’t know how it came up tonight but next thing I know Bernie is really getting into one of his passionate dissertations. He’s so educated and articulate about it, it’s impossible to argue with him. I was embarrassed. I think they’re entitled to be left alone regarding their belief system. So I’m feeling a bit fed up. I hope it doesn’t affect our friendship cos I love them to bits. They’re great people.

I don’t know. I just feel in limbo. Like I don’t belong anywhere any more. The jigsaw is a bit shakey just now. If it wasn’t for the kittens making me smile today, I might’ve given in to a good old sulk and grump session!

It was a gorgeous morning though, with stunning light on the sea at sunrise.

I’m still not feeling 100%. When a girl can’t drink her happy hour margaritas, you know there’s something wrong! I did get some grocery shopping done this morning though, so at least we have fresh goods again. But had to ly down when I got back.

Sunday, 27th September.

Where has this month gone! There’s a lot of local traffic in the bay today and many of the ignorant a-holes are screaming past us so close, making Momo bounce all over the show. You can tell I’m in one of my really tolerant moods!

We’ve both been productive today. Bernie’s been filling screw holes in the shower cubicle, readying it for painting, and I’ve cleaned the whole deck and done a ton of laundry. It’s too hot to do more now. It’s 36Β°C. I wonder when it starts to cool off for the Winter. I’ll be happy when the sea temperature drops. It’s almost the same as the air!

Alex and Jack are doing well. I rather suspect Kim has incorrectly sexed them. I had a look for myself now they’re happy with us handling them. I think Jack might be a girl and Alex a boy but I’ll see what the vet says when we take them in for their first rabies jabs. We’ll have to do that soon, though they never go ashore to have contact! But we’ll need the record for sailing to other countries.

Kim took us for drinks and nibbles at some friends of her’s house two nights ago. Nancy and Glenn. What a cool couple. We had a great time. They live in a lovely place between here and Guaymas, overlooking the sea. They also have rescue cats from Kim! And two dogs. They’re educated, articulate and a ton of fun. Great attitudes to life. Glenn is a psychiatrist and Nancy managed health care facilities for indigenous populations, I think. Really interesting to talk to. Glenn is now involved in running a local medical clinic and three ambulances. It’s free to use and supported by donations. The staff are paid so it’s a well run, successful local enterprise. I offered to work for them while I’m here and Glenn was very keen for me to. He was keen to have me do some education and go out on the ambulances. Bernie was very supportive which I appreciate, because if I do it, I will be exposing us to Covid-19. No doubt about that. Glenn said its prevalent and killing people regularly here.

We both went in to hang out with Steph and the kids for a little while this morning. Bernie needed to collect his tools. He’d been helping Jamie do some work on Arena yesterday. Steph had had fun with her two older girls, putting temporary hair colour in their hair. They’re great kids. While there, Ada found a sick young sparrow. I helped them try and pipette some sugar water into the poor wee thing. But it didn’t live so they asked us to do a burial at sea for it on our way back to Momo!

What day is it?

One or other of us asks that every day, I’d say! The days are blending together. We’re getting things done though, slowly, Mexican time. I’ve learned that everything will be done “maΓ±ana” – tomorrow! Today could be Tuesday, I think. I could look on my calendar but I rather like living in this zone. I’m sitting on the bow, it’s 0630ish and the kittens decided we should come on deck and enjoy the extraordinary calm.

The stanchion bases we took off and got an engineer in Guaymas to strengthen, are back on. Momo’s engineer did a great job with help (holding screwdrivers etc) from his deckie. The deckie also tidied up, she’s good at following the engineer round and mopping up stray tools and filthy cloths! All that’s left to do on that job is restring the netting, not a job I’m looking forward to as it requires me to be bent double for long periods. It kills my back.

We bought some garden type solar lights the other day and I’ve put them on the bow and either side aft, as a precaution against idiots at night. The commercial sight seeing boats aren’t too bad, but the sea fleas (jet skis – bane of a sailor’s life) are ridden by total eggheads. That’s me being polite about them. They rocket round at 30 knots, so close to us, unlit at night. Et cetera. Loathe them. I’ve asked the skipper, repeatedly, for a 50 cal to mount on the bow, but it must be on back order, coz I’ve yet to see it. I could’ve had so much fun with that… The fringe benefit of mounting the solar lights is it’s stopped the pelicans from sitting (& shitting) on the bow, something that gives me perverse pleasure!

We had Kim for dinner last night. She’s a neat lady. She raised the kittens. Alex was so happy to see her. It was adorable. Jack didn’t seem as engaged!

I think Alex is the more sensitive of the two. I was having a wee weep over Danny’s absence today and Alex came into my cabin and snuggled with me, doing that kneading thing kittens do, purring, meowing and being just so sweet. It made me feel better and I couldn’t help thinking how much Danny would’ve absolutely loved these kittens!

They’ve worked out they have cool as cat doors all around the yacht! The scuttles seem to be their favourite mode of getting in and out!

We watched a documentary called The Social Dilemma, about the effect of social media on us. It was disturbing, to say the least. Worth a watch. I found it more disturbing than A Private War, which really got under Bernie’s skin. He got pulled down by that and I actually felt bad. He’s missing his daughters. They’re not great at keeping in touch and that hurts, understandably. I told him he just has to keep trying because a) they’re teenage girls who see things in black and white and think it’s all about them most of the time, and b) they’ve got different lives they’re focusing on but will one day raise their heads from and see him there again, as long as he keeps trying. I hate seeing him sad. The same way he hates it when I’m having a melt down about Danny. But that’s our lives and the reality of it, so all we can do is support each other. It doesn’t really help, I guess, that my family are all so close and talk /message every day, or that Matt and I call each other every few days and talk for hours. It throws the lack of communication from his family into rather sharp relief.

I’ve had lovely talks with my nieces, Hannah and Kelly, in the last week or so. Both are doing so well, as are Suzie and Elsa, though I’ve not talked to them lately, just messaged. I’m very proud of all my nieces, and nephew, Sam. Such lovely young people they’re all growing into, navigating the trials of life in their own ways and with increasing maturity. ❀️ I’m going to do something a bit special for them all in the next few months. It’s a secret! Not telling yet! Matt has another wonderful idea, too, for when we both get back to NZ.

2030 on the 16th September. We’ve just come in from our usual Sundowners on the bow with the kittens. They’re getting very bold. Jack is an absolute greedy guts and I have to watch him like a hawk at dinner times. He eats five times as fast as Alex and will steal his food with zero compunction! Would you believe, I haven’t taken any pics of them today. πŸ˜‰

I went into the marina at lunch time today to fill the water drums and collect the laundry. But I met up with Steph, from Arena, and we went for lunch together. Nice girl time. She’s such a honey. I really hope they get to NZ next year too. They’d Canadian and want to emigrate.

Yesterday afternoon I took the dingy out to the heads, then went in with snorkeling gear, towing the dingy, and snorkeled my way back. It was nice to get the exercise and cool off, though the water is almost at air temperature, but the sea life is so disappointing here. The impact of the hugely increased human population is so evident. No fish, no sea plants, zip. Pour visibility, a grey sludge over everything. Amazing, when 80nm away at San Marcos island the wild life is abundant. But no one there. Remote. Just incredible. I want to go back.

My back is giving me gyp at the moment, not sure why really. My beds too hard but not enough to cause this much grief I wouldn’t have thought. Oh well. I’m looking forward to getting my fancy topper mattress though. The kittens had me up on deck for sunrise this morning. It was a good opportunity to ring Johan too. We haven’t caught up for a while and it was great to hear his news. I’m so happy for him that his new job is going well.

Marina San Carlos

04.09.20

We’ve been here a week already and I did say I’d fill in the gaps! First, though, Brett sent some more photos of my taonga which I’ll put in. It’s very beautiful and thoughtfully made. I will certainly treasure it.

Since arriving in San Carlos Harbour, Bernie has got on with his next translation job and we’ve started on a few maintenance things. We’re preparing for the Pacific crossing next year. We’ve ordered bits and pieces online and getting them brought down from the USA by a lady, Debbie, who does that a lot for cruisers. I’ve ordered a mattress topper as I find this bed too hard and my back complains. It was damned expensive but at least I know it’s a good one. The couple on the yacht Kyrie have one and let me try it! Bernie’s ordered a new battery charger. We’ve also taken the stanchion footings into Guaymas to get strengthened and if the guy seems to do a good job we’ll get him to make a couple of new ones as well.

We did take the dingy out the harbour mouth to snorkel around a big rock there. It wasn’t amazing snorkeling but was nice to freshen up in the cooler sea. We saw some as yet unidentified birds.

We’ve been pretty social, spending time with Arena, Kyrie and meeting a few “locals”. Kim, on The Cure, who has the kittens, is mending our dingy cover. Hopefully.

Did I mention we are adopting two kittens? They’re tortishell males which isn’t common. It was Bernie’s idea and I totally second it! I tidied out a kitten zone for them today, in my cabin!

5th – Jamie and Steph have gone into Guaymas and messaged they’d get litter and food for the kittens. So we might be able to get them today. Super exciting. I only have a photo of one at the moment since they were hiding when we visited Kim yesterday.

We watched the French movie The Intouchables last night. I’ve seen it before and I was pretty sure Bernie would love it. The deckie was right again. We both laughed our way through it. Such an awesome film. Last time I watched was with Matt and Danny at Christmas and I fell asleep with my head on Danny’s lap.

We talk a lot. The weirdest things, or thoughts, provoke long philosophical discussions, which I love. Bernie has a very wonderful way of seeing the world, partly because of his historical education, partly their life of sailing and partly because he’s one of the most self questioning and introspective people I’ve met. He has better insight into himself than most of us achieve, and with humility. I very much appreciate it. Its good for me too, when my less tolerant side wants a say! The meditation, while not quite as routine as we hoped, is going well. I enjoy it and Bernie has helped me learn to settle into it. I was really struggling with the concept but he’s explained it in a way that makes sense. We go and sit on the cabin roof, get the air on our faces and feel the sea beneath us, close our eyes and tune into our (not quite) daily lesson!

I’ve been slowly going through all the cupboards, cleaning things out and generally making Momo easy for me to operate in. I wasn’t sure about doing this at first, because she’s not my boat, but Bernie gave me the go ahead since he wants me to stay. We’re quite different in how we approach things. I’m a neat freak and very methodical, but do know how to pick my battles! Bernie leaves stuff all over the show and manages to lose incredible amounts of stuff on 13.3m of yacht! I get endless amusement from watching him look for things. He’s huffing and sighing, going “oh god” in his lovely Canadian accent, and I’ll say “lost something”? knowing damned well he has. 9/10 I can either see it from my seat or can tell him exactly where I last saw it! So I guess the deck/nurse has her uses! I’m usually rewarded with a sheepish grin.

We’ve both had messages from Michelle and Bernie had a long chat with her yesterday. She and the girls really like Dunedin, which is great, and her literary endeavors sound wonderful. She’s a very clever girl! I think it’s so good they’re still close friends because it means they can talk over things about their daughters and parent together still. I wish I’d had that level of support. Bernie set up financial support as a matter of course, he’d never not do that, whereas I had to beg and fight for every little thing. So unnecessarily exhausting. Still, it’s all in the past and not worth thinking about, except as context.

It is very hot. We literally drip! I’ve washed all the seat covers and we’ve got towels on them now. Easier to clean those! Sheets are not needed at night, only to ly on, and even then you feel wet! I can’t say I mind. I’d so much rather be hot than cold. Though I’m also glad we’re not labouring physically in this heat. The light grey shade cloth strung above the boom makes a huge difference and every little breeze is appreciated! We have fans too. I’m glad a brought a stack of surgical sponges with me as they make great mop cloths. Yeah, I know, gross!

9th – The kittens have been here four days now and have settled in beautifully. They’d never been outside so their first two ventures on deck with us were interesting. It was a mixture of abject terror and ‘eyes on stalks’ intrigued. The great side effect was they suddenly put us in the “good guys” zone, realising we’d save them from any Mexican equivalent of the Loch Ness monster!

11th – I’ve had nice long chats with everyone back home over the last few days, as it was Pip’s birthday on the 9th and Lucy’s is today. Also Mum and Dad’s wedding anniversary is the 9th, this year 59 years. Wow! Matt has rung a couple of times for long catch ups. I miss my big son so much.

Bernie and I went with Kim (off the Cure) into Guaymas yesterday. Got things for Momo and the cats, and passport photos for Bernie. Unfortunately they aren’t the river size, when he got back and checked the Canadian requirements. So we’ll have to try again. We also started putting the stanchion bases back on, a messy job. The guy, Luis, who fixed them did a good job.

I’ve started doing Spanish on Duolingo, which is fun. At least I can do greetings and basic stuff like that now! We’re going to be here a while so I figured I should at least give it a shot!

Kim told us about the cartels and their influence in this area. Apparently their families traditionally live or holiday here so there was a bit of a no go zone for killing each other, but the truce broke down recently and they’ve been murdering the police and each other again. Bit scary. I have no desire to get caught in their cross fire. The quicker we get our maintenance done and foxtrot oscar, the happier I’ll be.

The kittens have worked out how to get up on deck and back in my cabin scuttle, jumping down onto my bed. They’re so small it scares me that they’ll try to jump through the hatches. But so far they’ve decided it’s too high. Thank goodness.

I’ve just worked out what the hell WordPress does with my photos. It automatically crops them. So maddening. I have to deselect “crop” every time. Still, at least o know now.

Isla San Marcos to San Carlos.

02.09.20

Our faith in Windy App is a bit shakey just now! Either there is a ton of local anomaly or they just get it wrong all the time. Whichever, the wind we’re expecting seems to be continually at variance with what actually is! So, as my captains in the Navy used to say “look out the window, sailor!”

I think it was the morning of the 28th, we got up to a strong NNW blowing us onto the lee shore of San Marcos island, the anchor pulled up tight. I said to Bernie “I don’t like this much” and got some sort of a grunt in reply as he was (again pretzeled) wedged on the nav station floor mending something. I went outside and started readying Momo for sea, not wanting us to be caught out not ready in a difficult spot. All the weather forecasting apps were giving different info, with Accuweather being least wrong!

Mid morning I went below and told Bernie I thought we should make tracks. The weather was looking increasing awful and I really do not like being blown towards rocks. Not healthy. He came topsides and decided I might have a point so he tidied up below and we lifted the pick around 11am, heading out on the engine. I took the helm and Bernie got the sails up but there really was little wind, bizarrely, once we got out into open water, though the sea was rough and confused. Another plug for lots of variance in local weather in this area. Mon capitaine (I might’ve mentioned he only likes to sail!) bemoaned the engine noise and suggested we turn it off, to which I replied it was up to him but I wouldn’t just yet! There wasn’t really wind in said sails and we were still not clear of the island which boasts grand rocky outcrops just begging over confident sailors to get too close! We kept motoring.

Initially the waves were quite big and coming from two directions, so not wildly comfortable, but once we cleared San Marcos and were heading east of Isla Tortuga, the sea was less confused and there was a decent breeze from the ESE. Bernie happily turned off the engine and we were sailing close hauled nicely on the auto helm. It was mostly overcast and we’d even got a solid, though short, bit of rain which freshened up Momo and ourselves. Bernie forgot to shut one scuttle in his cabin, though, and his bed got totally drowned. Luckily the couch in the saloon is also a comfy bed!

We sat together on deck for a long time, yarning, then Bernie went to kip and I stayed up till about 2100,when he took over watch. Having expected  20+ knot winds, we ended up having a lovely sail all night, with mostly 10-15 knots, sometimes even a bit less. I took watch from 0100 to 0500,then had a wee sleep before we stayed up together again as we approached the Eastern coast of the Mexican mainland. And very spectacular it was.

The closer we got, the more inspired by the rugged mountainous coastline we were. There was some debate about where we would be rounding into harbour. The deckhand was right 😜!!

Thursday 3rd September @2100

I’ll go back to fill the gaps but I have stuff I want to get off my mind.                

Today was a pretty good day but ended in a rush of emotion I should’ve been prepared for.

We had an easy start with Bernie making crepes for breakfast, then we both worked online till lunchtime. Around 1530 we went ashore to go see a yacht which is looking for homes for kittens. We’ve discussed having a Momo cat and both of us are keen. Of course, we’re both soft as, so I was pretty sure once we saw them we’d end up wanting one! Turns out the two male tortishells (yes, I know that’s rare – so cool) are super close mates so naturally that’s what we want most. There’s really been almost no discussion about the wisdom of this move. I’m pretty sure we’ll just do it! We’ve been researching (well, Bernie has coz he’s like Matt and is the research guru while I just go “sounds awesome”) boat Cat bed /litter systems. It’s a thing – who knew. I have a feeling you’ll get photos before long. Of the new kids 😜

After that exciting interlude, we used the fresh water shore showers, not an everyday luxury we’re making the most of courtesy of Arena (they’re regalvanising their anchor cable so have to be on a berth).

Then went to have a few bevvies on Arena with Steph and Jamie. Had a great time but then I got a text from Brett saying he’d just done the marae visit on my behalf, receiving the taonga from Hope’s family.

I don’t know why it threw me but I did rather lose the plot. I knew it was on the 4th but its the 3rd here and I just hadn’t quite factored that in. I’m not sure if I explained before but Hope (the girl who killed my Danny) has an uncle who is a respected carver of Maori Taonga (treasure, things of value, usually culturally). He offered to make a piece to represent Danny and be a memorial. I so badly wanted to be there to receive it myself but can’t be. And I wouldn’t want to rush him in making something so special, to get it done before I left NZ. So my very dear friends Brett and Raewyn stood in for me. However Raewyn wasn’t well so Brett went on his own. I’m looking forward to seeing the pictures.

I’ve talked to Raewyn and Fizz since then and feel much better. Bernie’s gone to bed but I’m sitting on the bow. My brain is still wide awake. I’m listening to country music, missing my boys but in a better place. Fuck it’s tough, this road to learning life without Danny.

Steph and Jamie are just a gorgeous couple. They’re so kind, generous and I’m really happy they’re here with us. They have four adorable kids who are learning life in the most amazing way, just like Bernie and Michelle did for their girls. Ada is their oldest daughter at 14, then Riley at 12, Bronwyn is 10 and their only son, Lachlan, I think is 6. Steph is a nurse too, so we can swap notes! Then there’s the other yachts we’ve been anchored near the last few weeks. Utopia are an Aussie family (yay, cuzzies!) of Andrew and Karen with three of their four kids on board. Tristan is 19, Max is 17 and reminds me of Danny (he is who he is and adorable with it) and Ava, their gorgeous little sis! Love & Luck (Mark and Julie) I think have three kids and I haven’t spent enough time with them to get it all sorted out! Pretty sure it’s Fenton, Lucy and Heidi, but I’ve never been great at getting it right straight off!

Since I’m being all open and honest with rum on the bow by myself, I might as well state that I reckon Bernie and I have a good chance of making a great team going forward. Apparently he told Michelle that already, before I even knew he was thinking it! I arrived here originally after Danny died, not even knowing they had irreconcilable differences. I was simply crew. I came back in a similar mind set but have come to realise things are quite different. We have talked a lot and though it’s early days, we do get on well and are good, caring shipmates. That’s enough for now. I appreciate Michelle and the girls coming to Danny’s funeral very much. I think it would be wonderful if we could all be supportive of each other in our lives, though the dynamics might have changed more than I ever envisaged. God knows I realise life can change on a dime.

In a way its similar to the changed relationship between Richard and Sarah, and I. Danny’s death has brought us all together in way that would not have happened otherwise. I mean, I’ve always tried to work in with them, but it’s not entirely been reciprocated. But losing a child has a way of stripping away those petty games. For the first time ever I feel they’ve recognised I gave my every atom of my heart and being to my boys. I love them so very much and this has taken the pieces of my life apart and I don’t know how to put it back together. But I will. For Matt. For everyone else I love. For life, because we’re lucky to have it.

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 27Β°! 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. πŸ˜’πŸ™

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. πŸ’–

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. πŸ˜βš“

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 25Β°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 30Β°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! πŸ›‘

I’m very keen to sail on to San Marcos island! πŸ™πŸ™πŸ™πŸ™β›΅β›΅βš“βš“

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! πŸ˜‰

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! πŸ˜‰

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.Β Β  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.

Well, HELLO MOMO!

24 July 2020 – 7am and 27Β° 😍

I can hardly believe I’m back on board the good ship Momo! Bernie certainly looks at me as if I might be an apparition about to evaporate! It was harder leaving home than usual, not entirely sure why. I was a little apprehensive about the trip but the planes and airports were about a third full, everyone was sensible about social distancing and masks. I had a whole row to myself on the air NZ flight and slept lying down. Almost first class 😜

I got through LAX in record time and grabbed a cab to my “pod” hostel for the night. The guy who owned it was really great and took me for a boost, very fast 😁, in his Polaris 3 wheeled car. Hilarious looking thing but a ton of fun. I was a bit worried I might get stung for my overweight bag on the small Air Alaska plane but the guy at check in let me off. So I’ve got the whole way here so much overweight but no extra fees! Happy about that!

The flight down the Baja Peninsula was awesome. It’s a wild and rugged desert landscape. Mountainous, volcanic and with huge salt plains at the Northern end. I could check out all the islands in the Sea of Cortez along the way. As we descended into Loreto, I could see Momo at anchor. Made me feel rather nostalgic! I’ve been dreaming about her cheerful and colourful profile for weeks! And here I am!

Of course, my Mexican card, which I’d topped up using Ding, with US$85, didn’t work, so I couldn’t let Bernie know I’d arrived. But really, he couldn’t miss our incoming flight so wasn’t stressed about that!

The poor man had to wait quite a while for me to get to the marina though. I got chosen to have my bags checked. Every damn nook and cranny, and there were lots! The lady was great about it and didn’t seem stressed at all the medical supplies and boat parts, lol. Just took ages! She dropped my kindle though, and cracked the screen, which I’m less than thrilled about.

And yes, my bag had been last off the carousel!

So, I’ve unpacked and given Bernie all his boat presents πŸ˜‰. Potentially the favourite is the new BIG coffee pot! Or maybe the serious set of knives! Actually, it might be that I can hopefully clear his blocked ear for him!

We had a few cold beers and Bernie made dinner. I was ready to sleep by 8pm! Then, of course, awake half the night! It’s unbelievably great to be warm again. And I woke to the sound of fish jumping and dolphins blowing. Happy sailor.

Sunshine and Storms

That’s life really, isn’t it… the good with the bad. I have to admit I’ve come a long way from my last post. I’ve achieved a lot, both physically and emotionally, in a practical sense and in finding some peace going forward.

The Family Group Conference was not really at all how I expected and left me with hugely different emotions than I anticipated. In a good way, I am pleased to report! I thought I was going to be confronted with a nihilistic teenager who had no remorse. But that didn’t turn out to be the case. Pip and Lucy came north to support me, for which I was intensely grateful. The three of us, Fizz, Richard and Sarah, Emma James, Brian & Olivia and Mum and Dad had all prepared Victim impact statements. We also arranged to play some of the funeral video – everyone arriving, plus Queenie’s and Matt’s talks, followed by the Humble and Kind song with the slide show of Danny’s photos.

Hope was there, of course, with her family for support, her lawyer and social worker. Also present were the two Police Officers involved and the Youth Justice Co-ordinator. She (and they) listened to our presentations with respect and emotion. She met my eye and cried, as did everyone there. It was incredibly emotional for us all, very confronting for her, and I found a sense of justice that I hadn’t expected to feel.

She read a prepared apology statement and I did feel her remorse was genuine. All her whanau were upset and ashamed, very apologetic to me and sorrowful. It did indeed help me to realise they had real understanding of our extreme loss. They thanked us for making Danny real as a person, sharing who he was with them and said he was no longer a name on a piece of paper but someone who’s loss they also felt now.

We went out for dinner that night at the Fisherman’s Wharf restaurant in Ohope. Brett and Nicola joined us, but Finn was in Gisbourne unfortunately. It was a lovely end to a very emotional day and I felt a weight had been lifted off me. I could only trust that the legal teams will come up with a plan that changes Hope’s future into one of positive productivity.

We cannot do anything to bring my darling Danny back. All I can control is my reaction to it going into the rest of my life. I recognise I’ll feel anger at times but I’m not going to let it rule. All I can hope for is that Hope never does this to another family and becomes a better person.

Last Friday, the 3rd of July, was Hope’s youth court appearance, held on the Wairaka Marae. I was led onto the marae as an honoured guest, ahead of everyone else, and given the traditional pouwhiri. It was rather awe inspiring. There were initial speeches in Maori, followed by morning tea. I couldn’t eat anything as I was nil by mouth for my knee arthroscopy that afternoon! Then we were called into the formal meeting hall. This is a lovely room steeped in history, with photos of the ancestors framed with traditionally carved woodwork.

The Judge sat in front, with two Kaumatua next to him. Brett and I sat facing them with Hope & her family next to me. The legal team and social workers were on the left, the police and other Kaumatua on the right. Everyone gave their mihi (introduction) in Maori then English. Then the judge announced the order of hearings. We were first, so everyone else left. Hope’s lawyer said his bit, then the police, then the Kaumatua took turns. They didn’t pull any punches. She was made to feel the wrath, disappointment and shame of her whole Iwi.

I was asked if I wanted to say anything, which I hadn’t expected and was unprepared, but did anyway. I reiterated the huge void Danny’s passing has left in our hearts and lives, and said all we could pray for was that Hope changed the course of her life and became a better person. The judge commented on that in his summary, entreating her to see that for the gift it was and to not let me down. She afterwards thanked me for my kindness in supporting her efforts to change, instead of berating or abusing her.

As well as dealing with that event, I’ve had a bunch of other stuff going on. Matt and I have finally TODAY (06.07.20) got Carly off the books and the house into our own title. Thank effing God. Cost so much more than it should have and I’m still stunned that someone I gave an amazing opportunity to could be such a greedy grasping piece of work. But, it’s over now. I’ve bought a bottle of bubbles, the real deal, to take to Fizz’s tomorrow and celebrate! The biggest bouquet to our bank manager, Tim, who is one epic dude and totally helped us every step of the way. He’s defs in the friend zone, not just the banker! Matt and Meg have just headed off to Paris and I’m catching up with the whanau in Chch.

I’ve also had my sailing friend, Bea, to visit, which was awesome and had a weekend with Raewyn in Tauranga. I love spending time with her family and animals!

And on Friday afternoon, after the meeting of the youth court in the marae, I had my knee arthroscopy in the surgeon’s private theatre in Whakatane. He fitted me into a last minute cancellation, for which I’m very grateful. It’s doing well.

Other than that I’ve wrapped up all the legal things pertaining to Danny’s estate, found lovely new tenants for the house, arranged for Finn’s guys to build a new fence along the west boundary of the property, got the loo door and bathroom cupboards fixed, changed the locks upstairs and rekeyed the downstairs door, sorted the garage to the point where Chase can get his boat in one side and I can get my car in the other, had a wardrobe built into the room Danny built and begun glueing the floor tiles down. That will now have to be finished by an expert, since my knee is recovering! I’ve also had the window in Matt’s room fixed, the Internet cable extended for downstairs, and Brett helped me take out two dead trees. The Roofer is coming next week to try and find the leak in Allan’s room, for the second time. I think I’ve done pretty well, really!

It’s now July 9th and I’m at Fizz’s. Dad, Mum and I came down on Tuesday. Pip, Sam and Lucy came on Monday. Kelly is home and Suzie, also, on holiday from Massey. It’s been a wonderful couple of days. So long since we’ve all had time together, other than Danny’s funeral.

I caught up briefly with Jake and Daniel, the young friends I made while in lockdown here. It was particularly wonderful to see Dan. He is a truly amazing guy (with an epic name, of course!), a hard and honest worker with an unusual amount of self awareness, and a caring Dad to his young daughter. Last night he picked me up after work and while he had a shower, I got the fire going and cooked him an omelette. He then showed me the guitar he’s bought for Briar, and tuned it ready for her. Very cute. I hope he goes well and happy for the foreseeable future. Another rare and treasured friend. These connections in my life are a joy and keep me going in darker days when my loss threatens to overwhelm me.

Fizz, Lucy and I sat up after everyone else had gone to bed. I’m blessed in my siblings. My life has been reduced in such an enormous way. What seemed important to me before, is no longer. Things that drove me, do so no longer. I haven’t the energy for extreme endeavour now, only an honest existence.

Tomorrow we head back to Christchurch. Its going to be hard leaving Mum and Dad. There seems a fragility to them I hadn’t seen before Covid-19 came along, an unseen, unpredictable foe, frightening for the older folk. They are amazing, so brave and strong really, considering they have four score years each. I’m blessed in my parents also.

Saturday 11th sees me return to Ohope. This new land I’ve named my home calls to me in unexpected ways. The ocean, the Bush, the wildlife. It is pure spirit food. I may be gone a while, but I feel next time I come home, I might stay. Time will tell. I rejoin Bernie on Momo on July 23rd after flights via LA and Loreto. I’m looking forward to being on board again. I do have a permanent job in France starting late September. Who knows how that will pan out. I mostly just want to see Matt. I miss him deeply.

A Future Always Less

Bernie asked me this morning (25 May) if I had progressed at all in deciding what I am doing next. The short answer is No. I very much want to run back to Momo. I’d give a lot to see her cheerful profile out in the harbour, to be hauling myself out of the tender aboard. It’s too easy to want to hide behind Bernie’s tranquil good nature, his calm lack of judgement.

At some point, however, I have to face real life again, get paid work. So I’m treading water. Let’s not forget how good I am at that! I will do the last bits and pieces for Danny’s estate, sort out some house stuff, and apply for boat jobs meanwhile. I’m getting my “Danny tattoo” soon and must renew my marine medical. Once these jobs are done I’ll have to make a decision. It’s a bit hard on Bernie but as usual he’s being undemanding and patient with me.

June 15th 2020

Where is the time going? Guess what, I’m still treading water. Well, not totally, I’m going forward at a slow crawl, one might say. I’ve renewed my ENG1 and got my “Danny tattoo”, which I’m thrilled with. Tristan did a wonderful job of coordinating Danny’s design with mine.

I’m in Ohope sorting out new tenants for our house. Matt and I are a heart beat away from having sorted out Carly, thank god. What a nightmare that’s been, on top of everything else. Ohope is wonderful as always, so good for the spirit. I do feel close to Danny here. He loved it so much.

I have a lovely Canadian, Allan, staying with me at present. It’s nice to have company and he’s a hard worker. Brett, too, has spent time here and helped me do a few of the jobs Danny had been going to do! On Saturday (13th June) we took out two dead trees. I played with the boys’ electric chain saw. Lots of fun, though I’ve rediscovered a few muscles!

On the job front, I’m waiting to discuss a potential position for a two year contract with the yachts owner /captain. She sounds a really lovely lady so I’m optimistic. The only down side for me would be forgoing doing the crossing with Bernie. That’s actually messing with my head because I badly want to do that. But with Danny’s death and then bloody Covid-19, I haven’t worked for 8 months, in paid employment. Normally I’d do a seasonal job, finish September /October and then be able to join Bernie for the crossing. But jobs are scarce and the season is fucked up. This job doesn’t start till September, nearly the usual end of the season! Argh!

Bernie is being wonderful about it, though realistic. He needs me to commit one way or the other so he can find someone else. So once I have the full information, I’ll talk to the whanau and decide.

The girl who killed Danny, Hope Wilson, is required to attend a Family Group Conference with us this Thursday (18th June). I’m nervous but feel I need to face her and make her realise what she’s cost us, how much less our lives will be without Danny. I just hope (it pisses me off so much that’s her name) I don’t lose control and throttle the bitch. Hats off to all those people who say they “forgive” the person who murders their loved one. But I call bullshit. I don’t feel that way. I think I’ll be able to do this and move past it but I’m damned if I forgive her. If it was an accident, then yes, but it wasn’t. She had broken so many laws so many times and knew full well she was putting others at risk. I wish she’d died, not Danny. I refuse to be ashamed of my feelings. My son was a good person. She is not. So I’ll get up and tell her what she’s done and she can listen, like it or not. I’ll show her Danny’s brother having to say goodbye at his best mates funeral, I’ll make her listen to Danny and my song, while watching photos of him scroll through. Fuck her.

I should probably stop!