Day 2: 29 April 2017
Monday, 30 April 2018 07:03

Another glorious, sunny day – two days in a row – and I order my morning coffee fix at the Mermaid Café, the balcony of which protrudes to just four metres from Solarus. We’re in the first pen on the closest marina; almost touching the Café. The Mermaid is next to where the car ferry departs for the popular-with-tourists Bruny Island. The double decked vessel is capable of carrying up to sixty vehicles per journey and makes its first, fifteen minute run to the Island every morning at 6.30am. Cost is $33 for a standard car; humans travel for free. I awoke this morning to the ABC radio gardening show featuring cuddly Peter Cundell, gardening extraordinaire. I’d known he was Tasmanian, but I thought he was dead, it having been an age since he hosted the gardening program on national TV. ABC radio here in Tasmania is so antiquated; it just gave a talkback caller fully five minutes of valuable air time to describe in extraordinary length and hugely boring detail her not-to-be-missed garage sale! Rob, the previous owner of Solarus, dropped by yesterday. The electricals, which run off two big batteries, aren’t working, and I called to seek his advice on how to fix the problem. Rob also kindly agreed to run through with us all of the yacht's workings, including taking a short sail out in the Channel to show us the ropes (literally), when we’re ready to do that. The local marine mechanic is also booked to give the motor its biennial service, when he can fit us in. For now, we’re happy to just live aboard; actually sailing the yacht can wait. We also need to sit our boating licence tests, given it’s a requirement to drive a vessel with an engine exceeding five horsepower in Tasmanian waters. The engine on Solarus is an eighteen horsepower Volvo Penta diesel – highly regarded in its own right – on which I spent $3,500 having it overhauled when I bought the yacht back in 2015. Rob says a tank of diesel will keep the motor purring for at least eighty hours of blissful cruising. I don’t doubt it.

 
Introduction
Saturday, 31 March 2018 10:20

In April 2015, I landed a job in Tasmania. I’d been fundraising for private schools for forty years, and felt the role in Hobart would make a good, final gig prior to retirement. Applying for the job had been a gamble, because two months earlier I’d left a school in Melbourne, in tears, the depression I’d been suppressing retriggered due to what I’d considered a pedantic and unfair six-month probation review with the principal, days earlier. Achieving huge philanthropic gifts requires a special bond between CEO (in this case, the principal) and fundraiser. It requires TRUST. My probation review, however, for reasons I still can’t fathom, clearly showed the principal had lost confidence in me. (And me in her!) On my way to an executive meeting the following Tuesday, I’d completely lost it; tears spilled everywhere. Believing as I did that it had been the principal’s problem and not mine, against better advice from a trusted friend – and aged sixty-five but feeling forty-five – I ploughed on, and put my hand up for the Tassie job. I was duly appointed, moved to Hobart and began to embrace all things Tasmanian. I even bought a thirty-two foot yacht. The headmaster had said that if I was serious about sailing, I ought to look for a berth at Kettering, a hamlet thirty kilometres south of Hobart, where less expensive marina fees would make owning a boat more manageable. Then the six-month probation review came round! There we were, on the cusp of asking the school’s wealthiest past student for a two-million-dollar lead gift, and the headmaster wanted to know why I wasn’t using my computer calendar more. ‘And how old are you?’ he asked. I mean, really? What’s important here? Again, I sensed that the all-important TRUST was lost. In me, the school had one of Australia’s few ‘advancement’ officers willing to ask for money gifts, yet the headmaster queried why I wasn’t electronically recording a visit to the tuck shop. Two years on, and having returned to Melbourne but unable to find a buyer for the yacht, one night Arjay and I looked at one another, and one of us said, ‘Let’s go and live on Solarus’. And that’s how we became Almost Tasmanian Yachties.

 
Day 1: 28 April 2017
Thursday, 26 April 2018 14:53

I’ve woken to our brand new world here in Tasmania – living on calm, still waters – just as the sun pokes its bright face over Bruny Island, to the east. The sea, both in our harbour and out as far into the Channel as my gaze allows, is pure glass. Just staring out from the cabin’s hatch confirms that our decision to come and live onboard Solarus in the Tasmanian seaside port of Kettering, was one hundred per cent brilliant. This, I tell myself, is indisputable paradise. Might this be the place where, at last, I can stop feeling guilty for being retired, for not being dressed in a suit, not being at work as I have been for the past forty years? Will it be here that I might learn to stop looking over my shoulder to ensure I’m not sprung? Will it be now, finally, that I can learn to relax, to be at peace with myself, and embrace retirement? On my way to the shower block, I meet Reg, roughly my age, both of us wearing shorts and with towels draped over our shoulder. Reg has had his shower and is on his way back to his boat, which he points out to me. It’s a fishing trawler big enough for a wedding. Reg is a cray fisherman, and during our first chat, he promises a free sample. (Months later, that free cray will be yet to materialize, but I’m sure it will, one day. All in good time, as they say.) As I make my way back to our yacht, an eye-pleasing sloop motors quietly past our marina, as if gliding across ice. Others will follow throughout the day, each of them on their way out to catch whatever puff of wind they can find in the D’Entrecasteaux Channel. Mesmerized by it all, I reflect on my first sleep aboard Solarus. It was as if Mum had been gently rocking my pram, the sweet sound of water kissing the hull just inches from my bunk bed, Mum quietly humming a sweet lullaby to help put me to sleep. It had worked! Our new world, for now at least, certainly is one of complete serenity, and peace. I wonder what it will be like to sail out into the Channel, off to my right. All in good time, as they say.

  

 
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