Scarecrow Hack

(This is not related to Halloween, despite the timing).

This is a perfect hack for boat owners, especially if you are in a marina with flocks of birds.   You just hang this black crow off the back of your boat or anywhere they land and most birds will think twice so before they poo on your vessel.  It is waterproof, light and ‘flaps’ around on the string, which is strong enough in most winds, although be sure to fold flat and tuck away when you are sailing.

When we bought our Austral 20, she had not been sailed for more than a month and birds were quite frequently sitting, even trying to nest, on the boat.   So there was a good amount of ‘white’ peppering our deck and sail covers.   Two weeks later we put up this scarecrow on the stern under the solar panel.   Since then we have hardly seen a bird near our boat and yesterday the marina manager jealously commented there seems to be less of a poo problem on our boat.  (He has a motor cruiser berthed beside us and only a stationary plastic owl on his bow to scare birds and clearly it is not as effective).

If you would like to buy one of the black scarecrows in the above photo, please leave a comment below stating quantity and we will be able to send to your land address.   USD5.00 each plus postage. 

It is almost a decade since I joined the 5am Club and now summer (southern hemisphere) is steadily coming, much easier to be walking around at that hour.   Today is also the first day in a long time since I have been in productive mode at 5am.  So good to be writing as the sun comes up and even better when it is about sailing on the sea.

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MISSION 2 ACCOMPLISHED

You may recall last year we first wanted to move to the island.  Tick!!!!!

Now 10 months later we have finally purchased our first boat and so proud our son Alpha and Stayathomemotheroffour were the first of our family to take it for a test sail before we paid.   Stayatworkfatherofthree was left on shore to watch with Bravo and Charlie, under doctors’ orders not to get my arm wet in the sea until the wounds healed (a whole different story).

Here is our first (crappy) video of the test voyage (shaking a bit as arm in sling and keeping one eye on our toddler climbing on the rails):

Three Cheers (how appropriate) for the smallest boat in the marina.   Good things come in small packages is what my old school Principal used to say.

And it is not what you have, but what you do with it that counts.  Well, that’s what my wife says anyway.

LIFEJACKET CLEANING HACK

We had six (6) adult lifejackets to wash before the boat surveyor arrives tomorrow.   They were kindly included with the price of the cute little second hand sailboat we finally bought last month (a whole different and wonderful story of keeping your eye on the prize).

The two yellow jackets required the most cleaning and so being new to actually owning a boat with lifejackets, spent about 45 minutes reading blogs and websites about washing them.  Most of which included a mild dose of bleach, although knowing that is the kiss of death for most fabrics and stitching, we began with regular laundry powder and a plastic scrubbing brush.  Even the kids got in on the act.


We made some progress and then we pulled out the big guns.    DISHWASHING LIQUID….and less elbow grease.   In fact dishwashing liquid works on a number of other cleaning jobs, with discretion.  Especially if you apply it directly on specific stains and leave for a few minutes before scrubbing.

The first picture above does speak volumes, although the previous owner’s wife claimed they really did look brand new.  So do give it a try and be sure to rise well and dry the jackets in the sun completely so you do not need to repeat too often as it will increase the life span of the jackets.

The Ides of March?

Well Stayatworkfatherofthree is certainly glad March is over.   Let’s see, arrived in Bangkok on March 9th and within a few days Mum calls me from Australia to report her computer and online banking had been hacked, then Dad passed away and not three days later Cyclone Debbie skirted around the coast putting us all on notice.   Set up the mahjong table in the bathroom with our cyclone kit and first aid box, every plastic container we could find was filled with water (since used to wash dishes and water plants).

Not all bad news.  Was elected President of the Parents’ & Citizens’ Association (PTA for Nth. America) at the Island school and coined a monumental sound bite that I will elaborate on in another post as it will be the cornerstone of everything we do this year.   Those two things alone propelled me through a whirlwind accounting nightmare I had previously left in Bangkok last November and our colleagues’ spirits were all lifted by the ease with which their leader handled each obstacle without a raised tone.

Stayathomemotheroffour returned to Thailand with Charlie to finish selling our apartment so we can move closer to getting boat and living on the sea.    She has been gone two nights out of the 29 nights she will be away and the boys finished Term 1 yesterday so the house is a bit of a disaster already.

Nevertheless, never shy to accept a chaotic environment to tame, we had hotdogs for dinner last night and watched the LEGO movie for about the 40th time, laughing our way through dirty clothes, growing pile of dishes and litter of cyclone preparations no longer needed.    Woke at 4:30am and surveyed the manor with a cup of black instant coffee and a pipe or three of Davidoff Specialty Blue mixture.

By 6am, when our drought induced water restrictions allow us to use a hand held hose for an hour, I had dragged out the massive green hemp living room rug from IKEA Thailand to our back yard and started to hose and scrub all the baby formula spills and squashed banana away.   Have you ever tried lifting a wet 4m x 3m rug onto a kids climbing gym?  See above picture and note the two (2) classic green banana lounge sun beds required to spread it enough to dry today.

Pancakes for breakfast with the boys in between washing machine loads and then finished mowing the front lawn by 10:30am ready for fruit cordial and biscuits morning tea with Alpha and Bravo.  By 11am we were having a video chat with Charlie and Stayathomemotheroffour as they had arrived safely in Bangkok at around 22:30 last night.

Boys are now flipping through volumes of free supermarket recipe magazines tearing out things they would like to make for school lunch and home meals.   They are about half way through 19 of these and picking mostly dessert ideas with some sandwich options.   It is a start and enough to get a shopping list together for our trip to the mainland tomorrow.

There are good reasons why I am a Stayatworkfatherofthree, although homemaking with my two wonderful sons is not one of them.   Time to hang out the towels and finish mowing the edges in the backyard while I ponder how to flip the rug over on the climbing gym without a ten foot spatula.   

The Four Seasons

So there I was a month ago sitting beside my Dad’s wheel chair in the waiting room of his psychiatrist and there was this painting behind the reception counter.    Doesn’t it just sum life up in one moment?

Life being a series of four seasons in rotation.   Nothing lasting forever unless, you jump on a plane and chase winter.

Six summers ago I designed a company management system based on a four color system much like the above picture.   So much so we will re-launch the system with a new group of colleagues under the banner of The Four Seasons.

More so because one of our newer colleagues overheard me playing this video of Max Richter’s new arrangement of Vivaldi’s Classic.   This young Thai gentleman leaned over and asked me what this piece of music was called.  Most likely because he had heard it in so many car advertisements, although he admitted it helped him concentrate and finish reports.    Ditto for me.   I have been using The Four Seasons to overcome procrastination for years as it is 44 minutes long and ensures I finish or at least make a dent in whatever nasty bit of a task I am wrestling with.

Please enjoy and with all credit due to the creators:

If anyone would like more information on our Core Four Management System, let us know as it all started when I told someone I had a hundred things to do and no one to delegate to.   How wrong I was !

Even better it will now center around 44 minutes, rather than the original 90 minutes recommended for focused productivity.

Meanwhile, there is Super Tropical Cyclone heading towards our tropical paradise.   Of course the wind will not last forever.   It is nearly the end of cyclone season.

Map of Destiny

During my October 2016 trip to Bangkok, one of our Thai colleagues helped me photocopy and laminate a 100cm x 50cm nautical merchant navy map of the world I have treasured since the 1970s although time is making the original fragile. 

When I was a small boy my maternal Uncle gave us that map.  On browning paper the countries are all yellow and only show the coastal port names and the country names.  There are no borders or capital cities marked, unless they are also ports. The oceans are gridded out in what must be some multiple of nautical square miles.   Marked in pencil by my Uncle’s crew, is a voyage on November 27, although no year written, shows a 27 day journey from Auckland to Liverpool.  There are also some scribbles from my younger brother, who despite our differences, was always my Watson, as much as I was his Mycroft.   

This map was deftly sticky-taped to our island bedroom wall.  One night it fell down onto a lit mosquito coil and thus a fiery cyclone was burnt into the North Pacific Ocean on the Tropic of Cancer between Hawaii and the Mariana islands.  Our house did not burn down and the map has interesting half moon holes with blacked edges.  There are tears and folds, cockroach poo stains too.  Yet even when we moved to the mainland, it was proudly tacked to my desk wall and I just looked at that simple tricolor depiction every time I got frustrated with high school home work.  By end of Uni, I had lightly penciled out my own sea route to different continents.  There were years I took the map to Hong Kong (yet another island home) when I was living there and cutting my teeth in business, dim sum and the ways of women.  For seven years it has filled the void in a little wooden alcove shelf home office in our Bangkok living room.  Calling it my ‘ship desk’ where I keep all my wooden cigar boxes, matches and timber card file drawers. 

So I have now rolled and wrapped up the fragile original and the laminated photocopy is now back in my new Australian home, ready to be white board markered to our hearts delight.
Last December, as we said farewell to the many families and friends we know in Bangkok, we agreed without a doubt 2016/2017 would be years best spent in our countries of birth as only more discomfort would be experienced if we lived in nations having transition, nationalization, missile tests, land grabbing in open waters and opposed to our own countries in the process of having elections, protests, human tidal waves and natural disasters.  Rarely do I lament, 25 years ago I became a migrant myself and in some aspects an economic refugee.  Probably, due to the comfort I enjoyed and lack of persecution.  With no lack of irony, I was now wanting to make my young children boat people.
By February, we carefully considered the facts that we have family in different parts of Australia and Thailand, a head office in Hong Kong and frequent work in Vietnam, Indonesia and Singapore.  Consequently, living on a boat seemed the best compromise as jet fuel is overpriced and gravity lacks forgiveness when it comes to helicopters.

My quietly suffering wife and I have both worked on boats at different points in our life and lived modestly on islands of varying size and temperament.  Despite our kids being so young, we contacted some boat owners in Newcastle and Cardwell, who advised us to only consider large catamarans if living on board with children.  Ditto for blogs of floating home schoolers. (Don’t worry, I didn’t go totally Mosquito Coast meets Jonestown!). Less rocking and more space to walk around, as opposed to walking up and down the length of a single hull.  We had Chinese New Dinner with some of our Hong Kong friends who were once school teachers and have since moved back to Townsville and with three tables, we also met their local friends who are involved with boating.

By early March I enrolled for general entry test to join the Navy, with the view to learn some more sea skills and ultimately be on the right side of ocean disputes in the South China Sea.  Navy has big plans for North Queensland and need lots of people.  Despite basic training involving 6 months in freezing Victorian seas and being away from my family, it was an exciting and mentally stimulating exercise, practicing for the onscreen exam and being shouted at by Air Force officers. Was even more interesting looking at the roles I could apply for, though I ultimately declined their subsequent request for further documents.   Good wife preferring we all be together on a boat as a family and crew. 

One evening when we were walking home, we spotted a 25 year old Toyota Corolla across the road from us for sale $1,600 and only 100,000km. So we got it specifically for the purpose of driving to Mission Beach on one of the long weekends. Had a great time in a caravan park and I started writing a blog https://stayatworkfatherofthree.wordpress.com and my best friend in Hanoi keeps asking me to update it, although I am more interested in using it to complete chapters of novels, rather than journaling.

In May, Alpha completed his four week junior sailing course with flying colors and did not get eaten by any of the crocodiles or sharks said to roam the foreshore.  He also got student of the week and Bravo was noted as reading way above his level.   Grandpa and Grandma loved coming down to watch our boys sailing and we became members of the sailing club.  Stayatworkfatherofthree starting going out on the $10 Wednesday night Twilight sails, which is a 2 hour race around the bay between mainland and Island from 6pm to 8pm so, meet some people, drink some beers, have a race at sunset, give baby sitter deposit for small Federation cottage whenever Stayathomemotheroffour comes with me;-)