A Morning At Anchor



It’s about 6:30 a.m. in Tonga, and since we've crossed the date line, it is actually your tomorrow here.  Fruit bats are screeching in the trees on shore, the sun is rising, and a new day is beginning on Field Trip.  If I’m lucky, I’ll be able to get a cup of hot coffee made, so I can sit out in the quiet of this anchorage and breathe in our surroundings before the bustle of the day comes.  But coffee doesn’t come in an automated machine, like my Keurig back home.  Coffee is a process. 

First, I go to the control panel and switch on the LP gas (propane).   This panel is the mission control of the boat.  Here, we can switch electricity on for lights, water pumps, outlets, electric heads, cabin fans, etc.  In the first year we had the boat, it would take me minutes of standing in front of this panel of switches to find the one for which I was hunting.  Finally, after 3 years, I know which switch operates which light... I think.  The top half of switches control items that can run on 12-volt, and the bottom half are for the things that require the inverter and/or generator.   Wonder why most cruising ladies don't blow-dry their hair??  Yep, it requires high voltage, which means starting the generator or taking charge from the inverter.  


Then, I make sure the kettle is full enough on the stove, and I push the button on the wall behind it, allowing the propane to flow to the burners.  A click, click, click, and the burner ignites beneath the kettle.





While waiting for the water to boil, I pull a melamine mug from one cabinet (porcelain just doesn’t make sense on board a moving vessel).  I find the sugar and instant coffee in another cabinet stored in airtight containers to reduce moisture.  I can’t drive through Starbucks for a latte, but I’ve found that their VIA packets make a great cup of joe.  

Consequently, each time guests or crew fly down to visit us, I place an Amazon order to restock my coffee supply and ensure that my addiction is sustained.  Some things are just too good to do without.

The kettle begins to whistle, and I rush to turn the knob on the stove off, so as not to wake my little ones.  Then I push the button to stop the flow of propane to the stove, go back over to the control panel in the other hull, and switch off the LP gas.  I hurry quietly, still hoping for a few moments of peace out on the deck before the crew starts to stir.


I pour the steaming water into my mug, then reach into the fridge and grab the boxed UHT milk.  I know, boxed milk?  But this is the only milk that is found in these remote places, and it can be stored unopened for up to 6 months or more.  For baking, we use powdered milk.  We’ve all gotten used to the slight difference in taste, and don’t think anything of it anymore.  I pour a dash into the mug, return it to the fridge, and sneak out the door and outside. 


The water is like glass around the boat, and I can’t help but peer down to see what creatures are swimming beneath me.  A parrot fish swims slowly under the hull.  A school of mullet break the calm surface of the water.  From shore I hear roosters crowing and those fruit bats screeching together as they settle into the tree tops that line the water.  I relish the sounds and sights that awaken with me, sip my coffee, and whisper a prayer of thanks.







Eventually, a little blonde head full of ruffled hair peeks out to find me.  He nuzzles close and enjoys a snuggle.  Then it’s time to get going.  Mark is up and at the stove.  This morning we’ll toast the rest of a loaf of bread he’d baked yesterday, some eggs (unrefrigerated, of course, and just bought from the local market for 7 Tongan pa’anga, or US $3.50, per dozen), and a special treat of bacon that we found in the meat freezer of the Chinese supermarket in town.







To toast the bread, we have to turn on the generator or use the inverter, which provides power to the outlets onboard.  Whenever the generator is running, it’s best to put a lot of load on it, so we make sure to switch on the water heaters and get a load of laundry going simultaneously in our miniature Splendid RV-sized washer/dryer combo machine.  Laptops, iPads and other gadgets are plugged in to get charged up.


During breakfast, we often listen to the morning net to find out where friends are and get information about the places we will be heading.  Then we check in, letting others know where we are anchored or our position if underway. 





The breakfast dishes get washed by hand and set in the drying rack, until they are completely dry and can be stored without causing mildew in the cabinets.  Elizabeth and Michael get ready for the day and put their school boxes on the salon table.  At his desk, Mark pulls his headphones over his ears, cracks open his computer, and sets to work on video editing, route planning, weather reading, and more.

I relish one last swig of my coffee, take the laundry out to hang on the lines, and get the kids started on their studies.  The tranquility of my early morning is now just a whisper beneath the demands of an ordinary day in our extraordinary life aboard.   







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