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The Tale of the Treacherous Tasman

“Man cannot discover new oceans until he has the courage to lose sight of the shore”

Andre Gide

With a change in the wind, one thing led to another and I find myself on board a 25 m yacht with my life on my back- this being a backpack chock full of bikinis and shorts ready for Malaysia – and I’m setting sail across the big blue sea with four Kiwis.

“Storms ahead”
“Nasty sea”
“Dead winter”
“Arctic winds”
“Righto”
“To Dunedin!”

They say.

My hair is whipping in the wind. Salty spray stings my lips. We traverse the Great Barrier Reef and embark on our journey across what is known as the Treacherous Tasman to this place they call Dunedin.

One jellyfish, one flying fish on deck, one seabird in the sail, one accidentally caught albacore, one storm, five books, eight whales, ten movies, thirty dolphins, and nearly three weeks later, we cross New Zealand waters through Cook Strait, down the East Coast, up the Otago Harbour and arrive in Dunedin.
One, two, nearly three months later and this Californian is back in New Zealand, settled on shore, making Dunedin my new home.

Have you experienced a moment where you experienced your true intuition and didn’t let anything hold you back? 

Rewind. We are in Australia.

I’m in the Whitsunday’s shnorkeling and 2000 km earlier, I’m in Sydney packing my bags for Malaysia and 2 hours from Sydney, you can find me in the Blue Mountains meditating for days on end.

Let’s start from the beginning now.

I’m in the Blue Mountains at a Vipassana Meditation Center. I’ve stayed here for around a month, sitting a ten day silence retreat and staying to serve at the center. I’m uber zen. It’s time to leave now and I’m feeling incredible and ready to take over the world.

I make two decisions; one, I’m going to Sydney to see Ava and Dane and two, I’m going to become a dive master in the Great Barrier Reef.

One. I head to Sydney to catch up with my good friends – Ava and Dane – I had been missing Ava and at this point, I can’t wait to share my zen with her.

Two. I need to see the Great Barrier Reef before it’s too late. In the mountains, I had been witnessing nature change and contemplating this in silence day by day. I come to these realizations:

no day is the same, the time is now, and the Great Barrier Reef might not be so great if i hold off to swim in it another day, another time.

I remember. This is what brought me to Australia in the first place. Steve Irwin and the Great Barrier Reef (yes really). It’s been a year and I haven’t gotten close to it. What am I waiting for? More money. I know that’s not going to happen. I decide to go hitchhiking.

I start to pack my bags with Ava’s help for my projected 6 month hitchhiking spree to Cairns. I have 6 months to go 2000 km and to become a dive-master.

“you’ll need the hedgehog sarong”
“Do you have any of those vacuum pack bags?”
“Take the yellow pants”
“Will they match anything?”

As I’m sorting my clothes in yes, maybe and Vinnies donation piles, I get an email from Air Asia
This just in: Tix to Kuala Lumpur for $200. Chances are chances, and I had, that very day, received $200 from my ex roommate in Melbourne from an old bond. It felt like it was meant to be so I book the flight for T+6 months, pack more bikinis and chuck out more jumpers.

I hit the road with a Japanese yogi from the Blue Mountains. With this woman, it really didn’t matter where we were, every minute was special. This ageless, beautiful woman taught me what it’s like to let go and really forget about this silly becoming-this-and-becoming-that thing. We just laughed and let the universe do it’s magic. Which it will do, if you don’t fight it. The subTropics. Treehouse(s). The Never Never River. Tom Robbins. Pythons. We let the children teach us. The stars were bright, the air clean.

Annica. Change is the only constant we have in our lives.

Next minute, I’m waving goodbye to the wise woman and catching a train, bus, train to meet Aubrey, anoldAmericanfriendIwenttouniversitywithandgotintouchwithonfacebook,

“one spot in the car! Cairns roadie! meet me in Brizzy tomorrow”

And we’re off.

Aubrey and I drive north and north, hours and hours, around 24 hours of driving later and we’re in a little hostel somewhere in Queensland. Our German backpacker roommate asks,

“do you know how to say butterfly in German? Schmetterling”.

It’s 2 am now and I’m sleepless and I’m quite the sleeper. I roll out of the hostel bunk and crawl to the computer lounge. Intuitively, I pull up gumtree. I find an ad. It’s for me, I know it. The ad asks for crew on a voyage trekking the Tasman Sea from Australia to New Zealand. I research the yacht and it looks too good to be true. This yacht specializes in chartered natural history and documentary film and research. Right up my dream alley. One thing, the yacht is departing the day before I will arrive in Airlie Beach. I frantically write an email.

It’s morning now and I have one new message.

“Thanks a lot for your email. we met people in Airlie Beach yesterday and I think we may have the crew we need for the trip but if you happen to be in Mackay on the 27th please visit. We will be at the Mackay Marina, just ask for Evohe.

Regards,

Steve “

I take this as an ahoy-all-aboard-sea-ho! Giddy as can be, I keep this as a little secret as I contemplate and continue up North with Aubrey.

Now the secrets out and I’m wishing Aubrey a fabulous time scuba diving as she hops in her little rental and continues to Cairns. I’ve decided to stick behind in the Whitsundays and wait around until the glorious 27th. Then, I scheme, I will hitchhike to the docks and hop on the boat. They will let me on. I know it. I count down the days and live in a little tent by myself in the rainforest. The birds are loud in the morning.

It happened. I find myself on shore in New Zealand. I was too busy rigging up sails and fulfilling my duties of whale watcher that I forgot I spent all my money snorkeling, jet skiing, there were a couple of drinks and whatnot. I’m penniless and it’s snowing. Snowing. And I have a bag full of bikinis.

I get a gig cleaning a haunted hostel. Way too many ghosts. I think, maybe I can’t really stay here. But I get used to them and this place is free in exchange for some cleaning. Mike the Chinese Singaporean owner is super funny anyways and tells me there are only three ghosts. They are nurses, can’t you tell this was an old hospital? He offers me rice. I feel at home.

Have you heard of backpacker love? There’s usually a hostel, give or take 20 backpackers, no obligations, maybe a van, and tomorrow’s to do list is find someone to go to the chocolate factory and the world’s steepest street with…oh yeah and write in my journal, that’s important.

He’s German. He also likes cameras. He has kind eyes and blonde hair.

It’s three months later. I’m living in Dunedin. I call him mein schmetterling. We live together. We made a map and hung it on the wall. We are going to travel the world together. We did yoga together tonight and meditated in the backyard. He tried hummus for the first time 10 minutes ago. He eats vegetarian around me. We joined a sailing club. Right now, I’m sitting on the counter and he’s installing photoshop in our little twin bed that we sleep in together. This room used to be a laundry room. We eat too much dark chocolate and coconut products. I like his accent. He kind of looks like a squirrel. We call this our nest. He’s so cute. I love him.

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