Windsurfing In The BenAnna Republic

The world of Ben-kingdom seen by Anna-rchista

17 November. The Day we broke the world.

You’re probably not going to read this. I might not even send it.

It’s expiatory to lay down words on paper. A bit like an exorcism, you want to get it out of your body, something overwhelming, sucking out the oxygen in the room.

I’m scared. I feel like, for years I wasn’t able to feel anything before I met you. Then I din’t know what to do with all my feelings.
Now, somehow, as we separated, I felt numb again. Not able to feel anything with anyone. Yet, a leech without a shell, raw and ugly and thirsty for blood.

Detached like a puppet tugging at her strings.

I’m able to hold my head high and look like a functioning human being when someone else is around. I dug a huge pit of darkness all around me the last few weeks and avoiding anyone to come close.

When I’m on my own, it all burst through the seams likes blossoming of mushrooms, spores blooming through my body, starting at the diaphram, rippling through the skin, eyes operating their own nuclear fusion, overflowing of liquid and snort. I am a english jelly cooked up at 100C.

Electronic devices stop working when this happens.

I feel that I’m getting closer from an aneurysm everytime. A the same time, my dark creative energy to paint tortured souls has come back. I was almost missing it.

It comes regularly, the great bursting, once or twice a day as images uncalled and boxed away, make their way through my mind.

The buzzing feeling when we put our heads together, your hands around my body when you couldn’t get enough of me and I was trying to focus on making dinner.

The countless laughs,about anything so silly but we couldn’t stop laughing. The smell of the boat ramp and the trips and the dinghy by any weather, we didn’t care where we were living as long as we were together.

The feeling when we lay down in the cockpit, the sun bathing us, roasting us, together as if we were one piece of cake.

Or one complete fruit ready to mature.

The look in your eyes, at all times, under sail, in the dinghy, ashore, tired, upset, in the morning and while speaking to your mum.

The smell of your skin and how I couldn’t keep you out of my hair. My hair everywhere. The pulling on my legs in the morning and the tens of games we invented that were only proper to us.

Mister mittles, the finger man, the silly scenarios with played with anything that was lying around. The ukes jams.. The jam.

I remember the dark moments, the ones I was scared to express and the ongoing frustration at you seeming to go deaf. My constant worry around your back and your migraines but I was always so happy anytime I was following you anywhere.

Feet in the mud squishy between the toes and sometimes up to your ankles, spiky unidentified things scratching your soles. I was convinced that as long I was stepping in your foot steps nothing could ever happen to us.

Things don’t behave the way the are supposed to be when we are together.

Do you think you will ever go back to our cave? The constant clear blue sky following Inara sailing.

All these days of clear skies and things going to the perfection.What happened? where are you gone? Why have we been taken apart? What is the meaning of this. It’s wrong. It feels wrong. It does wrong and I am wondering if you feel these burst of emotions at the same times.

I mean, I just exploded in tears in the plane, hysterical, because a young woman my age, looking alike was holding her 18 months baby girl against her chest.

Our future has been robbed, sacrificed on the autel of both our egos.
I feel betrayed. By myself, mainly, who persuaded herself so much that it was forever, that we were special, that we are bonded. So much that there is no turning back.

I physically ache everyday and I wake up with the most horrible sense of loss. It’s worse than if you were dead; I know now I’m dead to you.

The fact that you feel you have recovered is suddenly a proof. It wasn’t real. I made it up. I am crazy.

The pit is engulfing me and my gargles of sanity add to the grotesque of the situation.

I hope I made you laugh, maybe you sneered, which is fine. Maybe you convinced yourself that my desperate attempt to lay my feelings upon you is a control technique.

If it’s the case, it’ll be a relief for me to know. Whether you weave yourself a shell of Stoicism and cynicism, maybe a bit of pity and have moved on. This isn’t something I will move on from, probably for a long time.

I’ll probably die before I recover.

My only excuse, the only way out is that, you are well and fully secured on your feelings towards me. That you have engraved them on a tombstone and left it somewhere in the shadows of your mind.

And no matter how excruciating it must be, this would set me at peace.

What makes your boat floats and your sails fill?

We all know the answers to these questions. For us out there, money is just a way to continue eating while we sail further (and maintain our boat). So what really makes your boat float and your sail fill? Everything around us is the answer, our next port of call, our current weather forecast, the whales cruising along your ship and the sky melting with the sea endlessly filling us with peace.

The places we go, we like to imagine them untouched, uncharted, wild and full of mysteries, a plethora of opportunities for adventures and discovery.

There is so much beauty in this world that its is hard to grasp a significant amount of it, to cultivate it, to retain it.

Yet, for those who have sailed long enough and can actually observe around them further that monotonous berth of marinas, we know our beautiful world is in danger.

There isn’t a third of the amount of fish there used to be on the Queensland coast anymore, big schools of tuna and bait are now a rare event. Seabird life is declining by the eye. Gannets, terns, albatrosses, shearwaters are getting a full diet of plastic and they are only a couple of generations away to go extinct.

Pretty good video here on the topic if you don’t believe me:

Has anyone ever wondered where all the pelicans have gone? There are only a handful now in places where it used to be hundreds. And the seagulls? Even them, super tough birds living near the city are all disappearing at an scary rate. Count them next time and let me know if you see more than a hundred.

Look around you in Moreton bay, no more flatheads, breams are only living in marinas (it’s a wonder how they survive given the amount of anti-fouling they must be eating… ), let’s not even talk about the biodiversity present in the pond.

Have you been to the sandhills much? Do you remember when the visibility was about 5 m? I do. It was only 5 years ago!!! Now we are lucky if we see further than 2m. Murky waters have filled the bay coming from the Brisbane river, the dredging for marinas and shipping channels. The sandflats in the sandhills are being quickly turns into mudflat as the silt settles and smothers everything.

Do you know what is that bright green fuzzy algae growing on the mangroves roots? Phospshate contamination. It sucks out all the oxygen out of the water and it’s caused by the products in your detergents, laundry products and all. So if you’re not aware of this, I implore you to switch to readily biodegradable solutions or not use anything at all. I know, it’s more expensive but a little bit goes a long way. Also, in the long term, you might be doing a favor to your stomach lining.

Nevertheless, 80 m3 of blue green algae were removed from Beachmere just in march this year. No need to incriminate the yachties, the city can’t possibly filtrate all the suds out of the water. Do you know where it goes when there is a storm and overflows? Yeah, right into the sea.

We also notice that most of the little mangroves creeks in Brisbane stink of detergent and laundry product on sunday night aroun 10-11pm. Coincidence? I bet not.

People on boats are on the fringe of the city. We see what others do not. We have eyes and noses more accurate that scientific studies rigged up in favor of lobbies. We read weather maps and see the rapid degradation of the weather patterns.

What to do then? Sit back and have a few more mojitos? Complain about it and hoist our sails to the next port of coal? (pun intended)

We have to be realistic. Our way of life is in direct danger. more storms, more violent weather events, more unpredictability directly put us in the fire line.

Less fish, less food.

Less birds, less inspiration and wonder.

The climate crisis is here and we are in the midst of it. We will be blown like straws in the wind.

Even the cane fields are in danger… no more rum?

So we could step off our boats for a little while, our beautiful sleek cocoons and state our fear and despair. We could join up with land people in the action that is needed; so the sunsets are never smoky with bushfires. We could tell our story high and loud as direct witnesses of the degradation of our beautiful natural word.

Our very own lives are at stake, literally, as the risks of going at sea are getting greater everyday, waves are getting higher and wind shifts are more sudden. Piracy is on the rise in areas of the world previously safe. This is due to lack of resources, food, destruction of crops and eventually famine and war.

No need to talk about insurances here. They have done the math before the situation gets out of control. Many of you would have seen your premiums skyrocketing and further limitations on seasons restricted areas due to cyclones.

We could use our boats as ambassadors to spread the message. Demonstrate that people at sea have rights too. We are resourceful, as sailors, we can do things, get work done, work in teams and use a certain sense of practicality.

We also love to see ourselves as pirates. Apart for the orgiastic stuff practiced at shaggers, being a pirate is more than an eye patch and a few arghh, it’s a way of life, a set of values . It’s being able to act for freedom above all and disobey unjust laws; abide by moral standards aiming at safety, responsibility and liberty. May I remind you that living on your boat is actually illegal in various states in Australia and places? Laws from the land often don’t apply much on us as they can’t be enforced as long as we stay under the radar.

Then, drop the fake eye-patch, wooden leg and plush parrot. Stand for your rights and those of the sea including all creatures living in it. There are many ways you can help and be involved. From supporting the Australian Marine Conservation Foundation to going at rallies with the different climate movements. We need to save ourselves, step off our boats or use them for greater effect.

It’s never too late to fight for what is ours, our future, the one of our children, our grand children, our planet, our oceans. Join the Rebellion. Be a Real Pirate.

Loosing a Turnbuckle

I am so glad our mast is still standing and for a good reason, I can’t stop thanking our luck. We started our day late as usual, in a hurry to go to Shorncliffe to watch the start of the Brisbane to Gladstone race, we didn’t leave until 9.30am. There was a nice southerly breeze around 15-20 knts and we started tacking into it. We quickly realized that the start at 11am was for the monohulls and we had plenty of time running along them for a while before coming back to see the multihulls start. Black Jack followed closely by Envy Scooter TP52 is quite a sight to behold even for monomarans, we were comfortably going at 15knts and witnessing the sea of coloured kites not getting any closer. Coming back up to Shorncliffe to see the real race start saw us leaving a little tri which was game to catch up in our trail. Inara does nice angles into the wind.

We met with the fleet as the were heading towards Redcliffe after jibing close to the turning mark and hailing some friends watching the start from their nice little cat named the Imp. The wind had died back to 10 knts then and we saw Beau Geste so conservatively reefed still take the head of the fleet. Morticia on her trail, was absolutely smoking! The guys on there were in for a ride and she looked very mighty for her 30 ft size. Really impressive little tri which might be so much fun to race! Behind were Rushour and Top Gun fighting for the third place. Both probably in their 18-20 knts range already, all huge screechers out. Inara felt so smallish with just her poor state jib and main. Our girl is a Cinderella in taters compared to the racing fleet. We need new sails…
Anyhow, Cosmo was running under kite and might have had some issue with their screecher as they slowed down and went with jib only. We were able to keep pace for a while with them although we had a better angle as we were not following the race course.

Still, beam reach on our shortcut to catch the rest of the fleet ahead, we saw 20 knts boat speed, sat forever on 16-18knts and had a grand time, while the camera boat came looking curiously at us for a few minutes. (By the way, I absolutely need to find this footage…).
Not bad for our little vessel carrying dinghy, MTB, windsurfs and all cruising gear, with quite small old sails! Ben’s modifications to our rudders surely improved performance, average speed and comfort of steering for Inara.

We waived goodbye to the racing fleet as they were heading towards Moreton Island and we started plodding along into the wind to head for the sandhills. Still exhilarated by our ride, we were joking about how we should tag along to Gladstone and enter this race one day. The big question was who we could take aboard as third and fourth crew that we could trust, we liked and that would have good seamanship qualities. Names were thrown about of our various friends when all sudden, out of nowhwere, I heard “tick”. Not a big sound or a scary bang. Just a small “tick” and next 10th of the second, I see our stay just passing 30 cm in front of my eyes. Ben and I both knew. No sound was made. We both looked at the mast instantly, 1 sec had passed. I was on my feet, Ben straight headed into the wind.

“- Dropping everything? “ I asked.

“- Yep, everything” he answered, a very small look of disbelief was still lingering in his eyes.

And he backed the main to take the load off the remaining lower starboard stay.

I straight went for the main sail. As my first reflex was to drop the biggest load on the mast. But I heard Ben say:

“No, drop the jib first!”

As I was reaching for the winch. I heard him say (still unbelievably calm and composed)

“Anna, the spinnaker halyard”.

I knew straight away was he wanted to do. So, I left the heady alone, jumped to get the spinnaker halyard after quickly getting it off the cleat on the mast, (while Ben was saying something along the lines of me being too slow…nevermind),

I brought him the halyard and we bowlined it to the back cleat. Back to the mast, tightening it as much as we could.

I then dropped the jib, half tied it, Ben put the outboards down, started them and headed into the wind to allow me to drop the main.

The whole thing took 3 minutes at most.

We finally took care of our flying stay and secured it to the side of our vessel to stop it from scratching everything.

We started motoring toward Moreton Island, cleaning up our deck in shambles and licking up our wounds.

Instant hangover. Five minutes before we were a flying machine and now we were just counting our blessings to still have a mast standing up. Just unbelievable.

Turns out it was the cap shroud turnbuckle which cracked and let go. A visual inspection of the port one revealed that there is also a crack there and it was only a matter of time before we would have run into trouble anyway. The fact that it didn’t happen when we were pushing the boat and being filmed is just amazingly lucky. Loosing the full rig, sails included (even as old and stretched as they are) would be extra painful for us as we aren’t covered by insurance for this kind of event.

This is what happen when you bay sail and work both full time. You get lazy and the rig inspections are not carried as they should. If this sounds familiar to you now and you haven’t looked at your rig in a little while, go have a look at it right now.

Anyway, now we have no other choice than to seriously think of our rig options and we are fantasizing already of Kevlar rigging and Wichard turnbuckles….

Retire on the Go, the secret of thrifty living.



Since we came back to live around the same city, I’ve met several other women sailors and also read more blogs about other people’s adventures. It’s quite surprising how often the question of the sailing budget comes around the corner with other sailors or just our family. We consider that  we live with a lot (largely)) but apparently when we compare with our contact’s budget we are nowhere close to their figures annually. We live with less than 10 000 AUD/year; for both of us.

I made a little spread sheet to explain:


This might seem a lot to you or very little. For the ones who think it’s a lot: yes we are working constantly to reduce our needs and we will bring that figure down on our next trip. The less we spend the farther we can sail before going back to work.

Now, if this seems to you very very low; let me explain and give a few tricks. For starters, we have a light sailing catamaran, built by my talentuous skipper thought out to produce the LOWEST maintenance cost possible while achieving marvelous performance sailing (light light light). Ben and I can repair/fix absolutely everything which is not too electronically complex. Thanks to his incredible cleverness and practicality and a little bit to my engineering degree, we are technically wired, both of us. Inara is made unsinkable and doesn’t have the following: bilge pump and diesels (the main sources of a worry on a boat). Our Philosophy is KEEP IT SIMPLE AND IT WILL BE SAFE.

We also have normal expectations of comfort: no washing machine, no TV, no air con, no complex shower system, no abnormous fridge/freezer (a full 40L Evacool fridge last us 2-3 weeks which is anyway what the fresh food usually last..). We like to do most things ourselves because it makes us happy, the notion of “chores” is overrated. We also have a plethora of toys (light) onboard to entertain ourselves: mountain bikes (very important for shopping and discovering), spearfishing equipment, hiking equipment and of course…. Windsurfing equipment. Believe me we are always super busy, not really a lazy life out there…

Because we are always busy, we buy less… we have the shops in horror.

Which brings me to the next topic: food. We value fresh organic food and I love cooking (especially on the boat). We try to eat red meat once a week only and it’s almost always kangaroo meat. We just found out that we are happier that way, red meat is hard to digest and makes you dozy. We eat chicken a few times a week and fish aplenty when we catch some. This happen often when we cruise, we love fishing. I buy my veggies in farmers markets and I found out that the same amount of veggies cost me half the price that when I get it from Woolies or Coles. AND they last longer! It’s up to you to organize yourselves with farmers markets when you are cruising. I repackage the meat to take less place and it last longer. For example, I would buy a full chook and consume it bits by bits (breast, legs, wings, carcass). A full organic chicken used this way make us 5 meals for the two of us along 10 days. We carry a good assortment of cans and plenty of options for Asian food. I can’t live without cheese so we make sure the fridge always have some and I bake my own sourdough bread with homemade culture, propagate yoghurt from used jars, make anzac bikkies and shortbreads, grow sprouts and herbs… the classic yachtie gal… we carry a massive assortment of sauces, spices and teas.

A few ideas of what we love to eat regurlarly (homemade): Roo burgers, asians stir frys, Indians curries, satays, miso soups, enchiladas, tortillas con frijoles, slow cooked chicken soup, crumbed fish and rice, ratatouille, crepes and the very occasional australian baked dinner. When we are under sail, I make salads sandwishes and toasts. But sometimes, I can as well bake a “tarte aux pommes” while we are flying at 15 knots….

Because we are very busy, exploring everywhere during the day, we tend to eat a massive breakfast (coffee muesli, yoghurt and fruits) and then have a large meal of the above around 4-5 pm, cup of tea and bikkies at night time. That’s it. Less dishes to wash, less haziness to digest and more time to be with the Nature.

We don’t drink much alcohol; a 6 pack every couple of weeks, sometime per month. This can lead to funny situations: while invited for sundowners we turn up with 1 L of fresh green coconut water harvested by Ben. We tend to share a drink (a can of cider or beer) at sunset because we found out that we were enjoying more the symbolic than the drink in itself. Unless after a hard day of windsurfing: a Mojito with fresh mint from the boat garden is mandatory!

What else? Our gas consumption is quite typical. And our fuel consumption is mainly for the dinghy! We never motor anywhere else than arriving and leaving anchorage. We tend to do more and more under sail anchoring and leaving procedures because we hate the sound of fuel being burned. It’s a lot less hassle to just sail everywhere!

We don’t go to marinas because there is nothing there we want: we don’t need water, electricity, fuel or social status. Also, because we are confident in the way to manage our boat, we save on the insurance: why spending so much money when we can just be careful, anchor responsibly far from everyone and fix everything ourselves? In the worst case scenario (gale at 50+ knots), we can beach Inara in a corner somewhere or tie her in the mangrove. Ben has been living for twenty years on his own, with his boats, without any insurance. For many of boats owners, those thoughts are frightening. It’s quite a risk.

Anyway, marinas are bad: they are expensive and your boat is locked into a slot baking in the sun. It damages the paint, the sail covers, wooden decks, the ropes, everything… so it makes your boat age faster and therefore cost money also in the long term in terms of additional maintenance cost. And seriously? Who wants to live just next to others people, able to hear them when they go to the toilet or put music and pay more than for an apartment on top of this? Anyway, plenty of people live in marinas and it’s fine. It’s just not for us, Inara and the BenAnna team like to be free to swing at anchor, enjoying a 270 degres view…. (and 360 sometimes…. Inara….!!!)

We get books at book exchanges and clothes at op shops. Most of my clothes have an average of 5 year turnover because I only get things I really like of durable quality….

Finally, there are the phones and internet…. I didn’t realize until I did the exercise but that’s way too much! Hopefully when we cruise oversea next time we might be able to bring down that expense. But it will probably be replaced by satellite phone bills for weather forecasting and cruising permits….

All of this goes with a philosophy too: the more frugal we get, the more we can explore everywhere and spend days living our life properly instead of laboring for someone else. We don’t believe there will be any system of retirement living in 20+ years. We don’t understand the material acquisition race that everyone else seems to be having.  We don’t want to spend the best years of our life paying for the system, the banks, the rates, just to be able to go somewhere warm when we are 60 and our health is not so good anymore. So we retire on the go: 2 years on, 2 years off, 1 year on, 1 year off, depending of our mood. We don’t need any kind of center link support and we don’t use any; our only objective is to stay in a good health, be free and be happy.

Murphy’s Law and an example of a crisis by Anna



 Disclaimer: The picture is not reflecting the story below, that was another day when the CDI was driving us crazy…

It has been 4 years and a half that I became permanent resident decky on Inara, proudly representing the BenAnna Republic. We had a few scary moments; under sail not so much; but at anchor yes. Like that time when a wild trawler in Tasmania froze our blood by drifting just past us in the middle of the night. We, so rarely drag anchor that I can give you each of the cases that happened to us:

– Once in Shute harbor, I was on the boat for 2 days only and we were having a tropical shower on deck Ben and I, when Inara started dragging like crazy. A big oyster had prevented the anchor to resettle. I was then well informed of the main risk of anchoring practices….

– Once in Narooma, bad holding (hard packed sand) and strong incoming tide almost saw us in the rocks walls surrounding the creek. We started the engines just on time and left.

That’s it. A few times while anchoring the anchor refused to bite and we had to restart several times (especially with the Lewmar that we had… grrr) but we always managed to keep a reasonable holding or at least change place. Ben has always been the one doing the anchoring maneuver. I know well the theory and hoisted the anchor a few times. I can maneuver Inara with the two engines quite ok.

Oh yes, something else: Inara outboards commands have to be operated with the foot. Yes you read well, monkey style: the tiller in one hand, looking over the deck, the anchor switch in the other hand and the left foot has to coordinate the levers: right and left outboards. The right leg is the one left to stand on (no seat). So it’s a bit of a full coordination job and with Inara being very light and swinging like crazy from one side to the other, a bit of patience and skills are required…

So there I was, onboard on a Monday, minding my own business and baking tortillas around 4 pm. Ben called me worried (my skipper has premonition powers when it comes to his boat) but nothing had happened yet. Only ten minutes later, the trawler next to us seems a lot closer. It’s wind (gusts at 15 knts) against tide so I relax and think that they probably have a lot of scope. But they get closer and closer until they are only 5 meters from us and I finally decide that yes, we are definitely dragging very slowly our anchor in the mud. In the next swing we might as well be against their hull!!.

Oh dear, I’m the only one on Earth who can do something.

So there the waltz starts: I lower both the outboards in a hurry, start them (no time for them to warm), switch the battery to anchor winch position, look at the dinghy clipped sideways at the back and think “it’s gonna be ok, wind against tide, it will come back and get in the way if I tow it. Ben does it with the dinghy at the back no worries.”

I start winching the anchor, put the thrust forward alternatively to stop Inara swinging like a mad child from side to side, run on the foredeck to unclip the bridle, and come back finish the winching. Free! A gust comes; I put a bit more thrust on the starboard side and clang! I hear an awful sound. I look over my shoulder and see the dinghy fully sunk with water, the paddle, the fuel container, the bin floating away. It’s hanging itself from the back beam, the outboard half sunk in the water.

Shit! shit ! shit!

I confuse myself in panic and the starboard engine stops. Shit! I try to start it again and I can’t because the battery has to be switched back inside to do so. I only have the port engine left and the gusts are swinging the boat on the side in this tiny creek. Shit!

I manage to put Inara facing the wind far enough from the trawler and drop at once 15 meters of chain, no time to put the bridle on, not time to set the anchor properly. I have to fix the dinghy problem first, I can’t maneuver the boat like this.

I stop the outboards and look at the dinghy. What a mess! 400 liters of water are filling it, the safety bulkhead lids were not on it and are full, the tide is rushing over it, the outboard is half sunk. It’s hanging there just held from the bow and from the outboard handle.

That’s when a bloody horrible sharp pain hits the middle of my left foot. Something is in there and it looks metallic. But no time for that, Inara is dragging still very slowly and I have to somehow fix the dinghy situation.

A burnt smell comes to my nose. Nooo! The tortillas!! I turn off the gas completely to avoid a case of fire adding itself to my disastrous situation.

Ok, to be honest, at that point, I was pretty down. Half crying, half wailing. The boat was slowly but surely going toward the mangroves and the trawler, there was no way I could go pick Ben in less than one hour, I had to find a way to put the dinghy back afloat somehow. There was little chance the outboard would start, there was a very very little fuel left in it and the fuel container could be seen on the shore. Also, I couldn’t free the outboard out of the dinghy or the dinghy would have completely sunk and hang itself from the front clip. And time was running out!! Inara was 50 m away from the trawler

I tried to lift the dinghy out of the water a bit (so the water would stop passing over the sides) but that’s absolutely impossible when 400 liters of water are in it. I am not Superman. I secured a third rope onto the beam and tried to lift it that way. But no. (this would prevent the dinghy to sink if one of the 2 other point broke). I tied up another rope to the handle and used the pulley with a purchase of 3 from the boom. This work well enough (and quick)that I managed to stop the water coming over the sides. I start bailing like crazy with the big bucket. No time.

Inara was 20 meters away from the trawler.

Once the dinghy floated again (half empty), I took off the outboard after quickly testing it. Unbelieveable it started first pull. Yeah! One good thing finally.

I considered letting the dinghy go on the rope but the rope was twisted around the port rudder. And the tide was rushing in, so the dinghy would come back to attack us while I would be re anchoring the boat. For sure it would manage to entangle its rope with the prop and provoke more disasters (our dinghy is pure evil, didn’t you know? Read the article about Palm Island….)

I had no other choice than somehow find a way to pull the dinghy completely out of the water on the back netting. But how to empty it fast enough?? No time no time.

Inara is 10 meters from the trawler

So once again, I use the boom/ pulley lifting system from the middle of the dinghy this time. Sure enough it lifted the dinghy on a vertical plan and emptied most of the water. Still with 30 liters of water under the seats at odd angle, it took me a lot of sweat and cries to finally put the bloody thing secure on the back beam. I even tied it up well to avoid that it decides to escape back into the water because of my brusque maneuvers of the boat.

Inara is 2 meters from the trawler. My hair has more grey in it.

This time, I warm the outboards a little bit, pull up the anchor and go re anchoring properly  (with bridle and all) on the complete other side of the creek. Na!

Thirty minutes have passed since the beginning of the drama, my foot is sore like hell. But no time, Ben will be waiting on the shore very soon.

I put back the dinghy in the water, put back the outboard and the second paddle and go fishing our fuel tank and our bin on the shore. I come back to Inara, fill the fuel tank with oil and fuel, go back to the dinghy and go picking Ben at the boat ramp.

Ben is not there. In my confusion, I forgot that he meant the other boat ramp upstream, I also don’t have my phone… Doh!

I go back to Inara, run out of fuel , (haha! Saw that coming!) refill the tank. Phone Ben, turn the anchor light on. Ben has foreseen my confusion and moved onto the fore-mentioned boat ramp… grrr…

We finally go back safe together onto Inara, he doesn’t suspect anything until he sees where the boat is anchored. I extract 1 cm stainless steel wire from my #$%$# foot. We re-anchor Inara safely together.

Once I tell him everything, we find out that a weird burnt smell is present. The stereo. The fuse (from the factory) supposed to protect it hadn’t worked!! So the winch overloaded it (and I also neglected turn it the stereo off…).

How about that?

Even if you get on top of everything, even if you accept that most of the things happen because you are stupid and not prepared / calm enough (like me, like the dinghy), Murphy’s Law still slaps you in the face at the end of some days! Thankfully 99% of the rest of the time is pure bliss.

Why yachties should be shortlisted for employment opportunities

Let’s face it, I am looking for my next stimulating position within a great company at the moment. I have to sell myself, my experience and also convince the prospective future employer that the numerous holes in my CV are due to the fact that I am dedicated to live my life fully and not to incompetence. Given that we spend a lot of time sailing, some might wonder if our social qualities are up to date and if we are competent enough to be entrusted with great responsibilities. I believe that yachties living aboard can demonstrate the following qualities:

  • We are passionate about our commitments. It takes a great amount of money, time and will to maintain a life on the water and be successful doing so.
  • We are naturally organised people. We have a place for everything on the boat, we set rules and know what getting rid of the clutter on a permanent basis means.
  • We also have a great affinity with logistics and organizing replenishment on a schedule with weather imperatives.
  • We have a keen eye for detail. We can spot what is wrong quickly or also pick up small disturbances on the water, spotting lures in an amount of plastic and so on. The other day someone put a test to spot a “C” in a middle of columns of “O” and said that if you find it in less than 1 min you were part of 10% of humans. It took me half a second.
  • We take initiatives and think outside the box. No other choices when breakage happens, you have to react quick.
  • We have a great sense of teamwork. Or at least when you are not a solo sailor.
  • We understand hierarchy and the need to use it sometimes especially in dangerous situations.
  • We are trained everyday with risk assessment scenarios. We read charts, weather maps and encompass all the data we can find for a safe journey.
  • We can live with very low energy consumption levels and be self reliable in term of water management and electricity production.
  • We know why it is important to do maintenance work. We do it ourselves.
  • We understand systems and procedures as well as material stress and constraints.
  • We love learning and observing our changing environment.
  • We know when to shut up, to manage tensions when the crew is edgy. We are very sensitive to other people’s mood. We care.
  • We have a high regard for “safety first”.
  • We are independent and able to manage our own situation for the best.
  • We are responsible individuals in charge of the safety of the boat, the passengers and the other users on the water.

Ok, there is nothing about humility there. And I guess I have met a lot of live aboards who were missing this undeniable quality.  However, Ben, my partner is the absolute buddhist monk in that respect and I, “little bandicoot”, am making a lot of efforts to follow his wisdom. So do you think a human ressource manager would value this or am I missing something important?


BenAnna, Inara and the Goanna


This article ought to be a funny one. Ben just told me “Are you really going to write about that? How can you stretch it for that long?” Well, I write about things that make my day and I hope will make you smile; things that I find out of the ordinary and worth telling the tale.

We were anchored in Hill Inlet for a couple of days, the most beautiful inlet of pure white sand in Australia. As we came out with the tide starting to flow out, we were once more in awe with the color of the water at noon which is of the purest turquoise, a dreamy milky blue gleaming all around us as one huge giant swimming pool. We saw a few fish and as we approached the middle of the channel, to our amazement, a goanna was taking a bath. He was swimming in a bee line to the other side of the inlet which is about 400 meters wide. The beach he just left was packed with backpackers, and we both could understand his decision to try his luck somewhere else. Seeing him swim so eagerly was no common sight and I couldn’t believe how comfortable he looked with his head out of the water looking toward his destination, his tail and legs moving in a coordinated fashion for swimming.

However as we came close with Inara, he clearly changed his direction to come toward us for a rest. At first we thought nothing of it and continued on our way. But then we observed him a bit confused and not so sure anymore of which direction to go. He had stopped swimming and was just drifting a bit in circles. I said to Ben “Do you think he’s going to be ok? What will happen if he gets swept out with the ebbing tide? What a beautiful meal he would make for the sharks”.

We hesitated a few minutes and then, our do-gooder penchant for animal rescue (we rescued successfully an angry lorikeet hit by a car and a young magpie that was drowning in Moreton bay) took over. Ben turned the boat back to the distressed Goanna and I grab a towel and waited by the stern. Man overboard procedure training. As Ben closed up on him, he clearly came very eagerly towards us and he wasn’t afraid at all of me or the towel. I grab onto him by the arms just before he got swept under the hull and heaved it onto the back netting. He was a lot bigger than I anticipated, a little bit more than one meter long and a good five kilos. He hurried up visibly relieved under the dinghy. That was it. We had an extra passenger onboard, a wild goanna, what a strange feeling.

We decided that we clearly were not going to keep it as a pet. Well, Ben did, because me you know, I was alright to start feeding him and giving him a name. It would keep the birds of the boat and scare the jet-skiers I said. So before this happened, we motored to the other side of the inlet (Whitehaven beach) to release our rescued reptile. As we were discussing the goanna’s fate, he peeked his head out from under the dinghy and observed us with an interrogative look “Well, excuse my intrusion, are you sure you are not going to eat me? I’d like a simple ticket to the next beach, please.”

So we anchored Inara ten meters from the shore. We launched the dinghy, uncovering the poor Goanna and wondering how the hell we were supposed to bring him ashore. He was calm and didn’t looked too panicked. So Ben grabbed him by the tail (he didn’t like that part one bit) and put it in the dinghy. Mister the Goanna decided that the dinghy was an adventurous idea (no wonder when you know how is our dinghy) and he jumped overboard. Yes, but clearly he had enough of being in the water because once he realized what he had done, he wanted absolutely to come back with us on Inara or in the dinghy. We shooed him off, showing the shore just ten meters away. He finally got the drift and we watched him making his way to safety. He got a bit washed off by the tiny waves. Goannas are not very good surfers. And then he laid there, at the edge of the water, like a shipwrecked survivor gathering his forces and blessing the nice hard ground.

First the oyster catchers came straight at him in a very menacing way and then the sight of such a distressed animal attracted a crowd of opportunistic scavengers: seagulls, ready to poke his eyes out. We waited five minutes but the poor little guy didn’t seem keen to reach the safe cover of the bush. So we jumped in the dinghy, went ashore and gave him a free lift (It was my turn to hold him by the tail) to the underbrush at the edge of the beach. While I was holding him, I saw him regurgitate a few hundred milliliter of sea water. He looked a bit more awake after that and started to wiggle, hiss at me and try to pinch me. Goannas are not that grateful. I let him go once we reached the bush and he darted off apparently in full form and happy, as to say “so long suckers!”

Yes but…. The Crocodiles?



We were on a prowl up to Cairns, where we decided to start heading south. Since Palm Island, I was longing to see the famous estuarine reptiles in their natural habitat. But if they are there and dangerous, they are also very shy and quite camouflaged. In Innisfails and Cairns, despite our efforts, we didn’t see any. I started to be a bit upset. I could blame only myself for being absolutely terrified of those contemporaneous to dinosaurs. You see, our dinghy is very small and stand over the water only by a few centimeters, so it was out of question (for me anyway) to go croc exploring in the mangroves. I also stopped any kind of fishing activities. And I hurried up like a waterlogged cat to the shore every time I was stepping out of the dinghy. But do you know how crocs eat you? Well, first they stalk you and as soon as they see an opening they grab you. They weigh hundred of kilos so any resistance is futile. They armored body can only be pierced by a gun so my habit of carrying my diving knife with me was useless. Once they get a hold on you they do a “death spiral” and basically turn endlessly on themselves to shake you like a doll and break most of your bones. But you are not dead yet, maybe you are still even conscious; while you see your relatives and the shore disappear, unable to move a finger and being taken under the water. Then they drown you and put you under a log to mature nicely so they can eat your tasty rotting flesh. It’s an horror to even think about it, isn’t it? Compared to this, the sharks that make you bleed to death and leave you pass to unconsciousness by blood loss is a mercy.

Anyway, being scared of croc is very common. I just happened to have a highly tuned instinct of survival, call it irrational fear if you want.

So, no crocs in Cairns, none in Innisfails, and none when we went cast netting, at thigh deep, at dusk in the big mangrove creek, in Zoe Bay (that was risky, right). Ben was, I was keeping an eye on him.

On our way back we stopped at Scraggy Point, on the eastern mangrovy side of Hinchinbrook. There, everything was screaming of croc danger: a little beach, full of wallaby tracks; a little creek with steep sandy banks, not quite clear, 3 meter deep at most and fenced by a door put there by National parks. Oh yes, crocs signs everywhere, of course. Ben and I were careful when we stepped back in our dinghy, keeping an eye out for any suspect wavelet.

The tide was flooding then and we were heading back to Inara. As I looked into Ben’s face, I saw some surprise, wondering and amusement as je was looking over my shoulder. I was sure he was plotting a joke as he said: “Look at that log over there, Anna, it might be one.” I turned around and saw… a log, two hundred meters away, bobbing slightly up and down, drifting as logs do in the flooding tide. With a bit of imagination you could think that the round part of the log was the snout of a crocodile coming out but not more.

I turned back to Ben “Yeah, it’s a log, alright. I don’t think it’s a crocodile, it’s just a dumb log. I don’t believe you, I think you’re joking, right?” Ben answered “Ok, well, let’s have a look then” and he changed course toward the innocent log at increased speed. It was still a hundred meter away when all sudden….. the “log” sunk down without a wave in a split of a second. My horrified expression might have been quite funny to witness but I remember myself being quite clear in saying : “ Oh my god, It dived down, It’s a fucking crocodile, please Ben, go back to Inara quick!” And all my attention was focused in reaching the boat.

As we approached Inara, I swiftly jumped onboard and hurried up to the bridge deck roof, the highest point possible. Ben came to sit next to me and we enjoyed watching twilight slightly creeping in. Fifteen minutes later we could see an irregularity in the surface of the water close to where our crocodile had plunged, a hundred meter away. With no imagination at all you could clearly see the snout, the scales of the back and the flicking tail delicately covered with triangular back and white flag shaped scales. We grabbed the binoculars, excited as if we were watching a puppet show. We could see all the details and we watched our first and unique wild croc drifting past. It was way bigger than the dinghy, at least three meters from snout to tail. It was incredible to observe how a perfect imitation of a log it was: any movement was imperceptible; it was going exactly at the speed of the tide, not a ripple to be seen. It went on scooting the beach where we launched our dinghy not even 20 minutes ago and then slowly drifted down toward the creek where it dived down suddenly again, getting ready to ambush its prey at dusk. That’s how I like to see crocs: far away from the safety of our boat. Unfortunately, I decide to not grab the camera and enjoy every moment I could observe the log full of fangs.

Apocalypse Doom day in Dunk Island.


How many movies have you seen about the end of the world? How many were showing human civilization reclaimed by nature? Search no more if you want to have a tingle of it: go to Dunk Island.

Dunk Island was a busy, family resort just five years ago. It was bustling with activity, accommodating families of tourists and day visitors by the thousands every year. The ferries were loaded with clicking snapping vacationers. An airstrip was delivering 5 stars customers to their 5 stars condos. A dreamy beach surrounded by palm trees would continue on as sand spit on which was a swimming pool. Another main swimming pool was fiercely implanted in the middle of the resort, next to the beach, facing the sea. This was not really the kind of place we like to stop. But now, it is…..

Five years ago, Yassie the cyclone made her entry and left behind her a trail of devastation hardly believable. I mean, I feel sorry for the local economy and the jobs that were lost at the destruction of the resort but I couldn’t help but feeling an immense joy at the proof of Nature supremacy.

The units were made of concrete and built way too close from the beach. As a result, they were completely smashed! The windows are broken and sand blasted, the roofs are literally folded back, the railings on the balustrade are bent in figure of eight, the main pool is leaking, turning the adjacent palms trees yellow, the beach is gone, the sand  spit have a completely different shape and the pool that used to be on the sand spit is nowhere to be seen anymore…

Waoooh! That’s something to witness. Can you imagine what kind of highly destructive wind could do that? The same wind that wiped a full patch clean of Hinchinbrook Island, leaving anything standing more that 1.5 meter, into pieces. Five years later, the derelict resort have been sold and bought but the disaster hasn’t been cleaned. It all there for the “I don’t believe in climate change” and “I stick my head into a hole to avoid to think about the next twenty year” to see. I was marveling at it: The units haven’t even been touched, the furniture is still inside, the aircon units and ventilators idle and broken. The plants are growing everywhere and the birds seem to enjoy it.

The other fabulous things about Dunk Island are the walking tracks, the abundance of green coconuts and the complete absence of people on the island. Finally, I can’t close that chapter without mentioning one very useful thing: no plane lands anymore in this “Lost Paradise” but hot water showers are in free access for anchoring yachties. So fresh and so clean!

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