was born in the
though this metropolis became known as the City Of
In 1985 she
continues to live in
To view photos of their trips visit www.joyhobbs.id.au
Nautical Growing Pains
Men talk of killing time, while
time quietly kills them.
Dion Boucicault 1820 - 1890
was four o’clock in the morning and I woke from a very deep sleep. It was a
pitch-black night but I could just make out the silhouette of a person standing
over our v-berth bed, watching us as we slept. I automatically shut my eyes and
thought, I must be dreaming, then I opened my eyes again to find that the dark
shadow of a human form was indeed a reality.
sat bolt upright in bed and shouted to Dennis, “There’s someone on our
my husband is one of those individuals that take about half an hour to wake from
a deep slumber. By the time he had stirred enough to begrudgingly pop his head
out the front hatch of the boat I had chased the dark form through the saloon,
up the steps and out into the cockpit.
the intruder frantically scrambled over the lifelines of our boat into his
dinghy, I had vengeful thoughts of giving him a push into the murky waters of
far too cold to be swimming in the middle of winter at this early hour of the
morning all for the sake of a drowning trespasser, I thought.
So I stood there and yelled expletives at him in the manner of a livid
fishwife, as he rowed his tender speedily away into the darkness. The first and
last thing I heard him say was, sorry lady – wrong boat.
shook my head, only half believing him, and wondered how on earth I had got
myself into this crazy predicament? Here we are out on a completely dark night,
the two of us living aboard our yacht, with only a handful of other boats
around. My heart was still pounding and my mind reeling from the drama when I
felt my legs buckle and I sank down on the deck.
get the jug boiling,” Dennis said, “I think you need a hot cup of tea.”
later when I sat in the galley with my hands encircling the warm beverage, my
mind wandered back to the day it all began.
and I both arrived home after having a stressful day at work. It was one of
automatically turned my head towards him and scanned his face for any clues
regarding this totally unexpected statement. Unfortunately Dennis had an earnest
intensity about him, a look I had seen before, and I knew without a doubt that
he was deadly serious.
boat I thought, but I don’t know anything about boats! That was possibly the
craziest idea I had ever heard him suggest; however, I knew if I took a negative
stance he’d only dig his heels in more. Perhaps I was over reacting and he
only wanted to buy a small tinny that he could go fishing in.
seemed to stand still as a multitude of harried thoughts raced through my mind.
I carefully adjusted my stricken facial expression to one of nonchalance and
took another sip of wine before replying with great decorum,
that I changed the subject hurriedly, hoping all the while that the ‘boat
dream’ might just be a passing phase, and that Dennis would soon tire of the
idea – after eight years of marriage I should have realised that my
husband’s stubborn nature was not to be taken lightly. Shortly after that
conversation we took a ‘Sunday afternoon drive’ which just happened to end
up near the harbour.
we could have a wee browse through the yacht broker’s window, while we’re
here,” Dennis said. Subtle as a sledgehammer, that’s my husband.
this stage I had come to the conclusion that no amount of wriggling was going to
get me out of this ‘boat dream’ dilemma.
the months drifted by I was surprised to find that I quite enjoyed the
boat-hunting exercise; it appeared to be just another form of shopping, and as
that was my most favourite of hobbies I quickly picked up the general gist of
learned how to ask the boat brokers the relevant questions.
draft does this boat have?”
a few months prior I would have thought ‘draft’ was associated with beer,
now I knew it was that protruding boat-bit under the water.
reliable question was, “Does this boat have a fridge?” In later years, when
I repeated this exercise, I adapted my question to ‘Does this boat have a working
was beginning to realise that this seafaring world had possibilities and I was
kept busy trying to absorb as much information as I could. My nautical learning
curve had only just begun to develop.
this period Dennis worked for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and
spent a fair amount of time in Sydney. Unbeknown to me, his spare time was also
used up perusing the waters of
afternoon at Chesney Yachts in
next step was to get the yacht trucked up to
back up – perhaps he should tell Joy that they now owned a boat.
phone rang and Dennis, using his most cajoling voice, said “Darling we’ve
bought a boat.”
I answered, “how deep is its draft?”
it have a fridge?”
That was entirely the wrong answer – what was my next step? Think shopping I
deliberated, could I make him take the boat back and get a refund? Unbeknown to
me, my nautical learning curve had just increased up a very sharp incline. I was
now a boat-owner and it followed that I might possibly have to learn to sail the
new boat was a thirty-foot fibreglass yacht. It was a Clansman design and was
named Tamba 4. Dennis took an instant dislike to the name and promptly
decided to change it.
had grown up in the South Island of New Zealand and was fond of the name of a
famous sheep station. So the new boat was re-named Erehwon,
which was actually the word ‘Nowhere’, spelt backwards. However, when naming
a boat it is a good rule of thumb to keep it simple and easy to pronounce. Erehwon was not a simple name to pronounce and Dennis was about to
find out the hard way – he too had his own steep nautical learning curve.
arriving at the entrance gate, he rang the bell and was invited in.
would like to join your club,” he said. “My yacht will be pulling up at the
entrance, on a truck, very shortly.”
poor gentleman had never met anyone quite like Dennis before and tried to
explain how things usually worked.
sir – that is not the correct protocol. To join this particular club your name
has to be proposed and then it has to be seconded. You see, we don’t know
exactly who you are.”
that’s fine,” said Dennis, “you’ve met me, why don’t you put my name
on the list and then get one of your friends to second it.
Now let’s get down to practical things, which berth is my boat going
give the RQYS its dues, Dennis became a member shortly thereafter. He had been
proposed by the Chairman of the Membership Committee and seconded by the
Secretary. Dennis has continued to be a member since that time and has found it
to be an excellent club, in every respect.
felt a mixture of emotions the day I arrived at the Yacht Club for the first
time. I was excited, nervous and curious all at the same time. My heart was
pounding as I walked down the long pontoon and I noticed that the floating
walkway was moving slightly under my feet.
not even on the boat yet, I thought, and I already feel seasick. How on earth
could I have got myself into this predicament? After all I have no boating
experience what-so-ever, I didn’t even like boats and I certainly have no
affinity with the sea. What was I going to do?
when I first saw Erehwon my initial
thoughts were positive. I decided that she was a very pretty little boat with a
sleek, traditional hull line. She seemed clean and tidy from the outside, with a
shining white fibreglass hull and powder blue coach-house. The inside was
another matter, and once aboard I mentally went through a list of things that
might spruce her up.
this was a good step, as I had now accepted the idea that we owned a boat and
that she was going to be a part of my life, regardless. Unbeknown to me I had
taken the first baby step of a gigantic leap of faith – I was on the road to
becoming a ‘sailor’.
Erehwon the walls were grubby and
dark, the cushions and curtains were a faded colour and the floors were dingy.
Over the following months I painted the walls white, made bright new curtains,
and got an upholsterer to make brand new nautical-coloured cushions.
Erehwon took on a new persona and it was a pleasure to then go below decks.
this period Dennis was also very busy, acquainting himself with such things as
the engine, the sails, and charts of
afternoon he spread a number of the sails out on the lawn. I noticed that one
particular sail was very small in size.
a cute little sail, when do we use that?” I asked.
a storm sail,” Den replied, “and it’s used when there are very strong
I thought, I’ve changed my mind and gone off the idea of using that cute
little sail, after all.
and I gradually started taking our new boat out onto
that first day I was in awe of absolutely everything. I constantly perused the
charts to understand the meaning of the different markers, I watched the depth
sounder as the depths of the seafloor changed, I noticed the changes to the
colour of the sea as the sun came out and I tried to learn about the intricacies
of the wind. All that occurred before we had even put a sail up!
this timeframe, I also came to understand the dreaded art of berthing the boat
back into its marina pen. Many a wife has despaired at the very thought of this
much-maligned task, I on the other hand was blissfully ignorant of this fact.
idea being that Dennis would ease the boat gently into the berth and I would
then jump gracefully to the ground with a couple of lines to hook around cleats.
first try made Dennis ‘lead foot’
I jump now?” I yelled, trying to make my wobbly voice heard over the throbbing
that moment Erehwon came to the end of
her berth and endeavoured to climb up over the pontoon. Her smooth bow was
cushioned by the rubber edge and she rode up slowly and then started going
backwards out of the berth again.
jump!” Dennis demanded.
I have long legs and so I flew over the water gap onto the pontoon, just as the
boat started to pick up momentum again. I wrapped my rope around a cleat and we
were tied to the pontoon once more.
that a good berthing?” I enquired innocently.
we might try it a bit slower, next time,” Dennis replied sheepishly.
he had mastered that part, Dennis then had to make sure he brought the boat
close enough to the pontoon, so that I could jump onto it.
next time Erehwon entered the berth we were gliding in slowly when I noticed
with horror that the pontoon was too far away for me to get to.
I’ll end up in the water,” I wailed.
you don’t jump now, I’ll have to back the boat out again.”
this stage the wind had taken great delight in blowing us in the opposite
direction to which we wanted to go and we were even further away from our
pontoon. Luckily our neighbour’s boat was out for the day and I noticed that
their finger was much closer than ours and so I made an instant decision and
jumped over that way.
did you do that for?” Dennis asked, after we were safely tied up to our berth
I said, “you have to bring this boat in close to our berth or else you can
reverse her out again. I will never ever jump a distance that I know I can’t
as a novice I had made my first decision on the boat. Dennis had also learnt
that he might not always be able to boss me around and that this game was going
to involve some team effort.
with much practice, we finally established a ‘method’ of berthing that
seemed to work – most of the time.
it had to happen. The day arrived when I became frightened while out on the
had arranged to meet our friends, Rients and Donna, for lunch down at
started out as a perfect day – the skies were blue, the sun was shining and
best of all the wind was very light. Dennis and I enjoyed a leisurely three-hour
sail across the bay and as we came around the corner of
and Donna could wind up the keel on their boat, so we saw that they had taken it
right in close to the shoreline. We anchored Erehwon
further out in
chatted for a while and then decided to have our lunch but as I moved up the
beach I happened to glance down
strange,” I commented. “I wonder what’s causing that?”
the others glanced in a south-easterly direction also, we were hit with a blast
of wind. A southeast wind change of twenty-five knots had come through early,
have to get out of this bay fast,” Dennis said.
what about our picnic?” I wailed, not understanding the urgency of the
had already gathered up our belongings and was running down the beach towards
our dinghy. I followed at a fast pace and as I glanced over my shoulder I
noticed that our friends were packing up their things just as rapidly. Dennis
piled everything into the tender, jumped in and grabbed the oars.
day this has turned out to be,” I muttered, as I followed suit.
the wind strength increased little wavelets formed making it very hard for
Dennis to row, but with adrenalin giving him an extra boost, we finally made it
back to our boat.
felt like hours instead of minutes since we’d left the beach and I noticed
with alarm that Erehwon was now heaving up and down with the wave action.
looked back to our friends and saw that they had their own problems trying to
get their trailer sailer out beyond the surf, as they kept getting pushed back
onto the shore.
dramas weren’t over yet either – we still had to get the anchor up. As
Dennis attempted to pull the anchor up by hand, he yelled to me, ‘steer the
boat in that direction’, as his arm furiously jabbed in a westerly direction.
That’s all very well, I thought, but my dear Captain Bligh, you haven’t
taught me how to steer yet.
more the boat had a tiller and not a steering wheel, so when I thought I was
pointing the boat in the direction of his hand signal I ended up steering in the
the time we managed to finally get the anchor up I was astonished to see that
the bay was almost completely empty of boats. As we had struggled to get our
boat free, hundreds of vessels had departed at a very fast rate.
had learnt another valuable lesson – when the wind was blowing your boat onto
a lee shore, you got out of there as quickly as possible, otherwise you might
end up as flotsam and jetsam on the shoreline.
the trip home was not to my liking. The wave action had increased with the wind,
and even though we flew home with the ‘cute’ small headsail up, I came to
the understanding that I was going to be one of those people that suffers from
Dennis sat there with the rain plastering his hair to his head and the wind
screaming through the spreaders, he had the biggest grin on his face.
actually enjoying this, I thought. Is that possible?
feelings I was experiencing were queasiness, cold, fear and anger – quite the
opposite end of the spectrum from enjoyment.
shook my head with amazement and came to the conclusion that men were very
that trip I had some serious thinking to do. I had been quite shocked at how
quickly the seas changed with a weather disturbance. Maybe this ‘boaty
thing’ was not for me? I suggested that Dennis take up racing, as I’d
noticed a lot of men seemed to enjoy this competitive hobby, and luckily women
rarely seemed to participate.
give him his credit Dennis did give this a try for several months, as ‘crew’
on a friend’s boat.
learnt a lot from crewing,” he said, “but I’ve decided that racing is not
my scene and I really just want to cruise around on my own boat.”
that stage I had lost any small confidence that I might have gained in the
sailing arena and felt I’d just be content to stay at home while Dennis went
off by himself.
each Saturday came around I would make Dennis a packed lunch and then wave
goodbye to him as he drove off to the marina – alone. Then I would promptly go
inside and have a good cry. The trouble was I really wanted to be with him but I
was just too scared to give it another try.
Dennis’s skills, I think I would place manipulation quite high on the list.
never once tried bullying tactics, nor wheedling nor pleading methods, to get me
back onto the boat. He endured months of learning how to sail our boat, all on
his own, while I wimpishly stayed home alone.
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