Sunday, November 9, 2008

Shiriri Saga # 67. Stepping Ashore.

Stepping ashore.

Feb. 15th.
"Bill, Bill, come and join us in the cockpit!" Heather call to me as I stand at the bow watching the breakwater at Manley Harbour draw closer. We have squirmed our way back north through the ‘ditch’, passed Peel Island again and are approaching the voyage`s end. This could be our last voyage with Shiriri if she sells in Australia and I feel a need to be alone with her. One can make a sensible decision with one`s head and find that those lazy old feelings have just not kept pace.

This is the ending of a great thing, but soon we are tied alongside in the marina and learning to wear sandals to prevent our feet burning on the concrete docks. We check in with customs, get Shiriri evaluated for sale and I settle into getting the last of the painting done. We discover the commuter train to Brisbane and explore the city. The library just down the road at Wynnum provides us with free e-mail and reading material. We find all the best walks around the local community of Lota. I begin to repaint the interior cabin walls and overhead. Anne comes and goes, still waiting for the paperwork to be evaluated which will allow her to start teaching in Mildura. More rain squalls and southerly gales.

David and Lisa of the Francis vessel arrive in their car from Scarborough and we all drive off to explore the highlands behind Brisbane. Heather and I keep craning our necks to get a glimpse of the land farther west. We are still thinking of Edith`s river project.

By April, we are flying off to Canada to launch Heather`s first Patti story " Life on the Farm"and visit with the family at home, just as Anne drives off all alone to travel half way across Australia and the beginning of her teaching job in Mildura.

Walking home.
May 1st.
Back again. Heather and I get off the train from Brisbane at the Manley station and stagger back along the waterfront with our many bags - some loaded with boat parts. The break has done us good and we settle down to life at the docks. We move across the harbour to a Yacht club and gradually find a whole dock full of new, mostly Australians and New Zealanders, friends who live aboard their boats.

Our days settle into a routine. Heather starts a third Patti story and I begin a series of small postcard sized paintings of our ocean adventure as I reread my journals. I have finally made it to the essential next stage of any major life experience: the evaluation and understanding phase where I pull meaning from the experience, incorporate it into the present moment and use it to build a new foundation for the future. As his wartime stories were for Keith, so this process of painting the highlights of our voyage works to preserve important memories while they are still fresh. I have discovered that I can move forward into the present while preserving the important lessons of the past.

Waking to Lota along the seawall.

We walk the parks and waterfront trails of nearby Lota. We talk to Anne on the phone and plan a visit to Mildura during her holiday break. I read the Murray River Pilot that Carrick Road`s dad has sent to us and begin to plan. This travel plan needs a van to carry us and Edith and we finally find a little Toyota on loan that we rig up for camping. We load Edith on the roof racks and drive carefully around the boat yard to see how much we list to one side or the other with her weight on top. Hmm, she`ll be right, we say optimistically. I learn to drive on the left side of the road.

Walking in the boatyard: confronted by lapwing.

There is not a lot of interest in Shiriri from prospective buyers but really we are good for one whole year in Australia and time and adventures stretch before us!

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