I have created this blog with the hopes that you, my friend, will follow me as I sail around the world (figuratively or literally, not sure yet) with my parents on their Contest 48. Whereas I hope to keep you updated with exciting adventures of exotic ports and epic waves, keep in mind that cruising - that is, traveling by boat in a leisurely fashion - tends to be filled with days of intense boredom, punctuated by moments of sheer terror. Please keep this in mind as you read these entries, for this platform will be just as much an attempt for me to maintain my sanity (and connection to the California-based world), as entertainment and reassurance for you. And so, follow me as I sail the world.

P.S. All material on this blog, words and photos alike, are copyrighted by me. Copyright 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018. If you decide that this material is worth re-publishing, please give me credit and lots and lots of money.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Surfing - Couch - Surfing

India, New Zealand, Germany, Poland, Spain, France and Turkey to name a few...

Surfing -- you know I am all about it.  And I am sure you know of couch surfing, whether it be in the form of a flashback from 1969 or a current reality (p.s. your friends are getting tired of your dirty laundry all over their couch).  You might have also read about my brief encounters with couch surfing in previous posts, but over the weekend I had what one could consider a "full on CS experience", and I would like to share it with you.

Yes, there is actually a website called Couchsurfing. to be exact.  The mission of this website is to connect travelers with other travelers as well as locals all over the world.  It is not only a website that hooks people up with a free place to stay for the night, but also a forum to post casual activities like, "Drinks tonight at Bondi", so that people such as myself who don't have too many friends don't have to drink alone.  Noble, don't you think?

While I usually use CS to meet people to surf with, this past weekend I decided to join a camping trip to Jervis Bay, three hours south of Sydney.  I saw that a few people I know (and like) were attending, so I decided, what the hell, and signed up.

By the night before we were to leave, nearly thirty people had signed up for the trip.  How was anybody ever going to organize and coordinate getting thirty people - mostly backpackers, who are about as easy to herd as cats - into cars at 9am on a Saturday morning?

Miraculously, people showed up on time, perhaps because the organizer, a guy named Dan, threatened to leave anybody late behind (which I am pretty sure we did).  By 9:30 we were on the road headed for Jervis Bay.  I was riding with my buddy Alex, who is also a keen surfer (the real kind) so along the way we sussed out a few waves.

Although we had an agonizingly long stop at a Woolworth's for everybody who didn't buy food and drinks to do so before we went out into the boonies, everything was amazingly well coordinated.  I guess it just comes down to the fact that, being adults, when told to be at a certain place at a certain time, we can usually do it.

Around three in the afternoon we finally made it to the campsite, where the rangers stuck us in the far corner so as not to disturb any of the nice families, which we managed to do anyway.  However, we had a nice big space to ourselves  - our big, happy family.

The thing that struck me most about this experience was the cultural mismash of people.  It was amazing.  We had people from all over the world: the UK, the US, France, Spain, Estonia, Germany, Sweden, Ireland, Poland, Turkey, Jordan, Israel, Russia, New Zealand, China, Japan, India and Australia.  We had Muslims and Jews, Buddhists and Hindus, atheists and devotees.  Sure, there were a few religious and political discussions, but people were far more concerned with playing soccer (football), swimming, drinking, eating and having a good time than solving the world's problems.  

No cheesy icebreaker games but a cheesy underwater picture (or 200).

There were no cheesy icebreaker games and although there was a general game plan: arrive 3:00pm, start drinking 3:01pm, we were all free to do as we pleased.  Alex and I considered sneaking off to go find a decent wave to surf, but decided to hang out with the group and get to know people a bit better. 

There is something a bit exhausting about starting a friendship from square one, but it is exciting and exhilarating as well.  Particularly with Couchsurfing, people come from such different backgrounds than mine that they always have at least one mind-bending story to tell.  From sharing ridiculously strong (and bile-like) spirits with a Turkish dude to watching two British chicks trying to set up a tent, we had many entertaining moments.

I tend to like the people I meet on CS.  Granted, you can pick and choose the people you want to interact with, but I find that, in general, Couchsurfers are genuine people, interested in other people and doing interesting things.  They are the people who did more than just talk about getting out there - they are out there doing it right now.

But you don't necessarily have to be a backpacker on a budget to be involved with CS.  I have met a few Ozzies that host couchsurfers just to keep their lives interesting.  When things get a little boring, invite a Russian to crash on your couch for the night and that should spice things up!  

Granted, as with meeting anybody online, one has to use good judgement when meeting and finding people to stay with.  Everybody has a profile and can get responses and feedback from other people, but  I guess to takes faith in humanity for this site to work.  

As far as my experiences have gone, Couchsurfing has only given me more faith in humanity, as it is not only good for a casual beer and an interesting conversation, but also demonstrates that people from all over the world and from all different backgrounds and can have one hell of a time roughing it out in the wilds of Jervis Bay for 24 hours or so.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Oz Day and Other Exciting Information

This tree fell within 1 meter of Emma's car - yikes!

It's been a long time, I know.  It's not you - it's me.  I want to be able to wow you with crazy and exotic stories, but life here is just a bit too normal at the moment.  It has gotten to the point where, when I take the ferry to Manly to go surf I am more interested in watching Judge Judy or whatever else happens to be on the TV than taking pictures of the opera house and harbour bridge.  I am not trying to be smug, but one can only have so many pictures of the opera house, and we don't have TV on the boat.

To be fair, this is exactly what I wanted - to get to know a place and people, to learn my way around.  Unfortunately I still get terribly lost every once in a while.  I have been seriously considering joining the 21st century and getting an iPhone so that I might know where I am all the time, but it seems like it might take a lot of the excitement out of trying to get to work in the morning.

In other news, Australia Day was last weekend!  Australia Day is the Aussie equivalent of 4th of July meets Columbus Day.  Nobody could be bothered to tell me the exact significance of the holiday, except that you drink all day, have swimming races and listen to Triple J radio station's hottest 100 countdown.

Actually, Triple J is a really cool radio station.  If you are interested in listening to new and awesome music, check out their website at  It is a government run radio station so there are no commercials, so brand endorsements, and no bad language censoring.  It has been great to catch up on all the new music I have missed over the past two years.  The hottest 100 countdown is the world's biggest music democracy, with millions of people from all over the world voting for their favorite songs of the year.  Of course I had not heard of most of the songs, but believe it or not there is some great new music out there.

Aside from listening to the hottest 100 countdown, I survived my first cyclone.  Ok, it was not a legitimate cyclone, but I forgot to check the weather before I flew up to the Sunshine Coast for a little weekend trip to spend the holiday with Emma and her mates, and as the tail end of Cyclone Evan crashed into Queensland I was in for a bit of flooding, power outages and falling trees.  

Nevertheless, it was great to spend time with Emma and be back on the Sunny coast.  It felt like visiting my old neighborhood!  I surfed Noosa twice, which was a bit stormy but there was plenty of swell in the water, and we went to a party at Emma's friends house down the coast a ways for Oz Day.  In spite of the torrential rain and howling winds, we partied until the sun came up (or at least until the sky was light).

That afternoon as we were recovering from shenanigans we watched Django in the family's home cinema.  Just as we were to the climax of the movie - have you seen it?  I don't want to spoil anything - where Django is about to DIE, the power went out.  We were all left in the pitch black to wonder if Django makes it out alive.  If you have not seen the movie I would highly recommend you do so - it is pretty good and relatively not-too-gory, at least by Tarentino's standards.

On Sunday evening we returned to Brisbane as the weather got even worse and the news on TV spewed doomsday segments.  To be fair, Bundaberg (remember Bundy?!) was hit with the worst flooding in the town's history and thousands of homes were lost.  People there are still homeless.  Fortunately Brisbane was not hit too hard, although a few boats broke loose from their moorings and a tree fell down in front of Emma and Rowan's house, narrowly missing Emma's car.  At least our minds were put at ease as we downloaded (shhhhh!!) the last 20 minutes of Django and saw it through to the end.

Alas, other than a quick weekend trip, a national holiday, a bit of work and a bit of cyclone, that is all the news that is fit to print.  I have made nice friends in Sydney, have good work (albeit a bit spotty), and surf as much as I can.  I have to enjoy these sandy beach breaks before we head back up to the tropical, razor sharp reef breaks of Indonesia.  At least, that is the plan at this point.  But who knows what the future will hold?!