Day 10: 7 May 2017
Monday, 07 May 2018 06:10

When we arrived here last week, I noticed a substantial new, shiny white rope running from the stern of Solarus to the marina bollard. At the time, I wondered who put it there, and why no bill? Today, I met the kind person responsible. It was our next door neighbour, Mike, who owns a magnificent cruiser. Upon meeting Mike and his lovely partner Sharron as we passed one another on the marina, Mike admitted it was he who had voluntarily fitted the extra line to our yacht after a particularly stormy night when FIVE FOOT waves came crashing over the breakwater and severely buffeted vessels in the pens. It’s why only half of our tender dinghy remains, tucked away under the Café balcony. It sure must have been some storm. Arjay didn’t hear Mike’s explanation of what happened that night – about the FIVE FOOT waves and our smashed dinghy – and I’m reluctant to pass any of it on to him in case he decides he wants to abort what otherwise is our new, utopian lifestyle. After all, what’s wrong with occasional FIVE FOOT waves? In your mooring! Of course, what I learned from this exchange of information is not to trust our seemingly passive maritime environment. What can look to be perfectly still and serene can cut up horribly rough, in seconds. Looking at our surrounds, it is difficult to imagine FIVE FOOT waves crashing over the breakwater, and wiping out a perfectly good dinghy strung above the yacht’s stern, yet clearly these things can happen. Boats can be buffeted to hell and back. A week after writing this piece, Shorty, our gregarious marina manager, will install two very large extra breakwater barriers between our pen and the open waters. He doesn’t say anything about it; he just puts them there. Me thinks he’s concerned as to what’s likely to happen this winter. And I decide to say nothing about the new breakwater barrier, either. Meanwhile, what remains of our erstwhile dinghy lies mournfully out of sight of anyone other than our fellow yachties. Whenever I pass by, I look the other way.

Day 8: 5 May 2017
Saturday, 05 May 2018 08:42

Yachtsmen are often regarded as grumpy and snooty, people with far too much money and too little emotional intelligence. I guess the sign hanging across our marina deck – KEEP OUT: BY ORDER OF FUSSY SAILORS – serves only to reinforce the snooty image, even though, as far as I’m concerned, if the sign keeps prying nasties from snooping, all well and good. Truth be known, yachties are lovely people. Witness the delightful Carolyn who works in the Mermaid Café. ‘You’ve moved into the yacht just down there, haven’t you?’ she asked on the morning we met. ‘We live aboard our yacht, too,’ she added. Carolyn and I have good chats, her about the renovations which her partner is undertaking on their boat, me whining about being cold, and cramped. Yet, in Carolyn, I know I’ve found a delightful new soul mate. We have our secrets. Mine include being willing to pay folding money to sleep just one night in a proper bed, while I sense Carolyn yearns for the day the renovations are completed, it being more than annoying to have to navigate electric saws and drills in your loungeroom, and constantly extracting sawdust from your sleeping bag.

* * *

As with most hobbies, yachting has its in-talk. I sense the locals think I’m a total moron, until I mention how, after sailing a VJ with my cousin as young teenagers, I progressed to a Paper Tiger catamaran (him to a Mosquito). The Paper Tiger seems to legitimize me here. Feeling I’m on a roll, I go on to say how, when another friend and I were in our twenties, we built a QB2 catamaran. Well, Graeme actually built it; I carried stuff for him. We painted it canary yellow and had a sign writer add in dripping, bright red lettering, 'The Rocky Horrors'. When it came time to sell the yacht, the Cunningham family, which created the QB2 design, bought it from us. We figured that they did so either because they were mightily impressed with our craftsmanship, or embarrassed by our effort – and they wanted to get it out of circulation.

Day 9: 6 May 2017
Sunday, 06 May 2018 07:30

Today is the third and final day of Agfest, quite separate to Tasmania's other major rural event, its Royal Show. I have to say the attention (read ABC coverage) given to things rural here in Tassie, whilst warming to the heart for this former 'Aggie', is very old school. Not saying Tasmania is backward, God forbid, but surprisingly old world. Why is Tasmania so stagnant? That's not my question. Tasmanian journalist Jonathan West asked it in The Conversation, in 2013. West argues that a majority of Tasmanians don't want development, and that most proposals to improve the state get blocked. Yet, the stats don’t flatter or justify the status quo. Unemployment at 8% is dangerously close to double the national average; fewer than 10% of households here derive their income from the private sector; and for every dollar Tasmanians contribute in taxes, they get $1.58 back in benefits from Canberra. With such little net incoming private capital, it's little wonder Tasmania fights tooth and nail to continue to receive its disproportionate (high) share of GST. Yet, a positive future, argues the state Government in its self-congratulatory way, lies in wine, dairy (that's why this week's announced planned closure of the Edith Creek milk processing plant in northern Tasmania is such a blow), aquaculture, horticulture, mining and tourism. Take your pick. Development is not exactly blocked, but it is more often than not frowned upon. A proposed hotel development – three times the height of the Wrest Point Casino hotel – in central Hobart, is likely to fail. As is a second hotel proposal by the same developer just around the corner. Another interesting proposal is a cable car up Mt Wellington, of which the Government not only seems to be in favour, but for which it has legislation to facilitate. People are angry about a seemingly sweetheart relationship between the politicians and the project’s proponents. Personally, I’m not fussed about a cable car; the narrow road leading up Mt Wellington is heavily congested and, to my eye, fearfully dangerous. Build the cable car, I say.

These are daily diary entries of the 279 days we spent living aboard a yacht in Tasmania in 2017. Feedback -- to impress a publisher -- is welcome via email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  

Day 7: 4 May 2017
Friday, 04 May 2018 05:37

So, the Business Council of Australia believes workplaces should be measured according to their degree of happiness. It’s only taken a century for them to work this out, or admit to it. A few years ago, I was shortlisted for a major fundraising role with a large Jewish charity. I even produced my grandmother’s death certificate to prove my Jewish ancestry. At the end of the interview, I was allowed to ask one question, which is common. (But don’t ever try to ask a second question, because you will annoy the hell out of the panel.) ‘Is this a happy place in which to work?’ I boldly asked. The CEO looked at me, aghast, and replied, ‘What an extraordinary question. I’ve never been asked that before.’ Well, just bloody answer it, I’d wanted to say. I sensed I’d failed the interview, and that the answer to my question was a definite no. Yet, sensing my chances were lost, I felt a degree of quiet pleasure at having successfully upset the CEO.

* * *

After my younger son died from complications to his chronic diabetes and I was recovering in a Melbourne psychiatric hospital from a resulting, massive breakdown, my psychiatrist got me to read Dr Russ Harris’s highly-regarded The Happiness Trap. The good Dr Harris contends that for too long psychiatrists tried to make their patients happy, whereas what really is required is to help people cope with the unhappiness in their lives. It makes sense. Let’s face it, given life’s manifold trials and tribulations, none of us are ever going to be completely happy, so we need to learn from, and how to deal with, the unhappiness. Before coming to Tasmania, I was seeing a psychologist. Jason’s advice was simple, yet profound. ‘We can choose how we feel,’ he said. We can choose to feel happy, or sad. Right now, living here in Paradise, and despite the cold, I choose to be happy.


Page 21 of 23