We bought Dusky Dolphin in August 2000. Our plan was to use the yacht to go sailing, to practice what we had learnt during a training over the previous year. We had absolutely NO IDEA how much the sailing, and the people who go sailing, would fill the void left in our lives with our children leaving home!
You will see from the photos in the Photo Gallery that we have made many wonderful new friends. And we have made new connections with old friends, both ours and our children’s, through sharing time with them on the water at at places that Dusky Dolphin can take us. Rottnest, which we have only visited by ferry and plane only a few times in our lives before 2000, has become a very favourite place. To approach this island from its bays is so different to our previous experience. We sail across the 10 miles between Fremantle and the island, usually in ideal conditions, and anchor or moor in one of the bays. Usually we stay for at least one night, and enjoy the clouds as they pass over us, the many birds that live there (including Rob’s favourite, ospreys – we are even getting to know individual pairs that nest on cliffs or on rocky knolls!), the sunsets (you can share some of the amazing sunset scenes in our photos), the stars as they peep out one by one (Rob always looks south for his favourite constellation, Orion, and I look north for the Pleides), the moon in all her phases (we watch the phases closely now, because they are such a strong influence on the tides), the rocking of the boat as we sleep, the sunrise (if we are awake early enough) and the patterns of light on the water. We go ashore in our dinghy, and take the bus or walk to the settlements for supplies or meals. Or we just enjoy wandering along the shore, sharing the beach with the many sea birds and waders who live there.
There are many other places that we enjoy – you are welcome to share them in the Favourite Places section under the Dusky Dolphin heading in the Photo Gallery.
We have also survived some truly terrifying times, such as the thunderstorm at Lencelin that sent lightening bolts down very close to our boat, and the strong winds that came out of no-where and almost blew our boat onto the beach, and the time when a storm surge smashed our boat into a jetty and put a hole in her side.
But, somehow, Rob and I have found a different closeness to each other and to the Earth than we enjoyed with our bush-walking and mountaineering. Being on the ocean, and always being conscious of the currents, the weather, the moon’s phases, the tides, and all the other factors that affect how the wind and the surface of the ocean move, has awoken a different way of being alert to our surroundings. As Rob so often says, “At least in the mountains we are safe when we get back to the hut. On the ocean, the ground moves, and we are only safe in harbour which can be a long way away when we get caught in bad weather!” Even when we are asleep on Dusky Dolphin, we will wake for a “different” noise, or a strange movement of the boat, that would never wake us on land. And we have learnt to trust each other’s abilities at a very profound level.
So, as well as filling that awful void that was left in our lives, sailing has filled our lives to overflowing with people, places and continuous learning about and loving of the ways of the blue water that covers most of our beautiful planet and the abundant life that the ocean sustains.