Some things shit me to tears. Cold feet, Christmas carols and flying on long haul flights. These three items are to be avoided if possible. As 2014 came to a close, we avoided the first two by doing the third hate item, travelling home to Tassie.
Flying Cattle Class
Who can argue against that long haul flights are crap-a-rolla. Three days of continual travel, sitting in a small plane seat, or at an airport, straight back lounge chairs with little or no sleep makes even the most tolerant human crabby. Flying for hours with strangers, you get to experience rare delights such as men without shoes who have long toe nails as well as bad body odour. Gross, I am still traumatised. Then there are neighbours who get intoxicated and louder as the flight progresses. Passing wind, belching and snoring up close with strangers, becomes a quiet shared horror. If you travel long enough, you no doubt get to travel with all types of irritating selfish people. The only thing I haven’t experienced is the vomit buddy, those little bags in front of you always make me think of the possiblity.
On one flight, the guy in front of me put his seat all the way back as soon as the food arrived, sending my drink into my plate. Cheers mate your a champion. The woman behind me did nothing to me, so moving my seat back was not an option.
On all flights the positive were the great kids and babies we travelled with. Yeah there were the odd tears but hey if I could have gotten away with it, I would have cried loudly too. The medicinal factors were the free tiny wine bottles, and an endless supply of movies. One leg of the journey, there was no sound available. Never have I appreciated subtitles quite so much. The staff were lovely, as well, I got to chat with some new friends from Russia, Cypress, England and Italy.
A New Class Of Traveller
I would like to suggest to the air services of the world a new term to describe some passengers – “The Long Haul Mongrel”.
A Long Haul Mongrel is when a normally nice person becomes a complete dickhead who forgets their manners and common decency when they fly.
The Travel Mongrel Transgressions
These include (but not exclusive) holding long conversations with the passenger beside you when they are obviously not interested in a chat. Please don’t. You are a mongrel if you think its OK to put your knees in and out of the seat in front of you. Mongrel behaviour includes not lifting your chair from the lounge position at meal times. Biggest horror of all is to place your bare feet on the head rest in front of you and proceed to go to sleep. The rest of us who aren’t sleeping are now looking at your toenails really do hate you. Champion mongrel behaviour.
Special mongrel mention goes to those who think it is OK to steal airline blankets, I have to ask why?
For the sinner who sits in a middle seat, a.k.a prime real estate why do you insist on going to the toilet 10 times in a flight, you move without asking or your yoga means you wake the person beside you. You too are a champion. Finally for the food obsessed mongrel who insists on bringing aboard their own extra smelly food just because you must. There is a special place in flight purgatory just for you.
On the bright side airline travel makes sailing look very attractive. Plus while you don’t sleep you have time to ponder other things besides the gallery of heads and toenails and bad smells around you.
I got to ponder the year that was.
2014 Was A Big Year
We sold our home, quit our jobs, left loved ones and moved onto our new boat on the other side of the world.
Mate What A Year.
Over the year we made plenty of mistakes, we learnt a great deal about others and ourselves as well. We laughed, we cried, got excited, went fast, too slow, sometimes it was bliss other times it was cold and uncomfortable. We discovered normal life continues whether you are going to work or sailing a boat. Work follows you where ever you go as does not enough time to do what needs to be done. We realised the process of learning is on going and we need to be kind to ourselves and each other as the learning curve is still steep. The big reveal of the year was that we both like the transition from home to boat. Before we left, we both agreed that if one of us hated this life then we could sell the boat and come home without shame. The only failure is not having a go.
The Miss Truths About Living And Travel With On A Boat
Truth 1: We have discovered that there are huge extremes in the day to day and having a grounded relationship is essential. This trip is a love story first and adventure second. Love is important as it’s love that stops you from pushing your partner overboard when they are being a prat!
Truth 2: Weather, anchoring, entries and exits are the biggies of living on a boat. This is when the shit will hit the fan so like the French “be careful”. Try and think ahead and prepare for the worst and act accordingly, then when your boat is in or secure you can enjoy the moment. Practice and extra checking is worth doing.
Truth 3: Leaving all your stuff and downsizing to a boat is easier than you think. Like you we had a nice home and heaps of “stuff”. Packing up, selling and moving on was empowering rather than daunting. Small is beautiful and less is more.
Truth 4: Once you get used to sailing, going fast is the best. One knot slower adds large amounts of time to a trip. Going slow sucks. This in effect means trimming the sails, fixing the ropes (sheets) and taking hold of the helm is worth it and fun. Go Fast but Go Carefully. Yeah Baby!
Truth 5: When you arrive in a new port it takes about two days to get into the groove of being a local. The first day of arrival in a new port is always a little unsettling. Once your boat is moored it takes time to find the local grocery store, market and bike tracks etc. Then by morning three the early discomfort is gone and this is your new home town and neighbourhood and you feel right at home be it in port or anchor.
Truth 6: Public toilets are usually disgusting and take grotty to a whole new level of icky. You just have to build a bridge and get over it as well as carry hand wipes at all times and never sit down. Learning how to breath through your mouth only and blocking your nose is a good party trick as well.
Truth 7: As you travel you will appreciate McDonald’s. Free wi fi and clean toilets without exception guarantee your presence and you often visit for one coffee.
Truth 8: Living on a boat is up close and personal so you need to make sure you like the people on board with you. We learnt this lesson the hard way and asked someone to leave within 20 minutes which was traumatic for all concerned. Visitors are like fish, perfect when fresh… Unless it is our nearest and dearest we think 10 days is just about right for fresh fish.
Truth 9: You can rely on people everywhere you go. There will be cultural differences but you can rely on the basic goodness of people. In this world of increased fear and media hype it’s good to remember that people are still for the most part good. I know the world may say different but I beg to differ.
Truth 10: Patience. You need to have bucket loads and a heap more. Travelling will take so much time that you need pre travel. WTF is it with queues, becomes a new meaning of life. This patience is needed both on and off the boat. If you doubt me imagine making your bed while on top of it each day. In fact this is my new shit me to tears item.
Truth 11: Eat and drink local. Occasionally the boundary of your natural gag reflex is pushed but with practice this gets better. The only time I have had to spit in my hand (when the host wasn’t looking) was for uncooked dried pork leg. As horrible as it was I am glad I tried it so I never have to try it again. Plus at every opportunity I eat an olive and now I am finding them not that bad.
Truth 12: You must learn how to react and make alternate plans quickly and without fuss. Getting lost, not knowing where to go or how to get there is no issue and part of the great adventure. That is until I’m hormonal and just want to strangle someone.
Truth 13: You don’t need as many clothes as you think you do and wearing items multiple times with new levels of “clean” are the norm. My desire for a washing machine continues and this is a watch this space.
13.a Truth is I should have got a machine right at the beginning. Bugger
Truth 14: Learning a few words of the language as you travel is as important as your reef knot, you just have to do it. Basic greetings, common courtesy like please and thank you, counting to 20 and know how to ask for help or something you can point at makes all the difference. Past that sign, language is universal.
Cheers the Miss
PS On our trip home we flew with Emerite Airline and the mulitnational staff were fantastic. It made a huge difference to the process.