Home sweet home

We have internet! A big change from Deal Island.

After 45 hours of solid travel, we made it home. Our flight off the island was rough. It was windy and the pilot warned me my head might hit the ceiling. It didn’t and Tim managed to get a beautiful parting shot. One of my favorites. It shows the magnitude of the cliffs, the sea and the beautiful lighthouse, now partly painted.

We spent a day on lovely Flinders Island. It really is as beautiful as Deal Island, only with a few more people.

Next stop Launceston, Tasmania, where we visited old haunts: the Cataract Gorge, The Aquatic Center, Museum and the best hamburger joint around (twice). I also had my first flat white not made by me! So pretty.

Then our journey began. We flew to Sydney where we had a nine hour layover. We made good use of our time. We visited my favorite dumpling place and then we toured the Harbor. Never fails to delight.

Then 20 hours of flying…Followed by a six hour drive home. And we made it. After a week, I am beginning to adjust. And home is pretty sweet too.

Ihave hundreds of photos from Deal I was never able to upload. I will gradually get them online, until our next adventure.

Guest blog from the other caretaker

Guest Blogger—WHY WE’RE CARETAKERS

We have now volunteered on five islands for a total of more than two years. Each has been an adventure, sometimes hard work, and endless fun. A new island is on the horizon.
What makes island caretaking so fulfilling? Partly, it’s living in the moment. We sometimes slip out of the present and into the future but it’s a limited time frame since none of our stays has been longer than four months. Mostly, we live day-to-day, focusing on the task at hand, listening to the wind and birds, or marveling at the 360-degree beauty. There are very few outside distractions.
We enjoy greeting visitors and making new friends. Indeed, welcoming those who arrive by boat is one of our most important tasks. But, we enjoy nothing more than the solitude, peace, and meditation of having the islands to ourselves.
Four of “our” islands have lighthouses which guarantee world-class views. The fifth, the one without a lighthouse, was no exception, situated offshore between the Straight of Juan de Fuca and the Olympic Peninsula in Washington.
We are always keyed into weather and listen to the forecast on our VHF radio or download it with our limited internet. Fog (sometimes triggering the fog horn), strong winds (blowing down trees and branches), downpours (creating sand slides), and sunny forecasts become an obsession. As I sit writing this, we await a gale gusting to 60 mph with rain, hail, and thunderstorms over four days. We once weathered a storm lasting more than a week with constant 70 mph winds, gusting to 90. Bad things on land are always worse at sea, however, and, as sailors ourselves, many are the nights we’ve been gratefully tucked into our comfortable caretaker houses.
Caretaking isn’t for everyone. I wouldn’t want to do it by myself and Lynne is the perfect companion. We find joy in each other’s company, day after day. R-E-S-P-E-C-T is the key and we try to reach a consensus on most decisions.
Lynne possesses endless reserves of joie de vivre. Her incredibly eclectic choices in reading reflect her approach to life. She enjoys everything from Marcus Aurelius to Isabel Allende, often focusing on books about the area where we are staying. Similarly, she undertakes endless and varied projects and her skills range from imaginative cooking to weaving to wielding a chain saw. In short, Lynne is the best caretaking companion I can imagine. She never gets bored.
We learned the following dictum from some fellow caretakers. Every day we try to accomplish three things: do something for the island, engage in creativity, and exercise. There is always something to do for the island: mowing, clearing trails, small engine maintenance, building simple furniture, hosing off seagull poo, painting, and on and on. I have no problem with the second because I practice two or more hours a day on my electronic keyboard. Number one often takes care of number three but on those days when I can’t kill two birds with one stone, there is always hiking, swimming, or jogging.
We share our islands with more permanent residents. In Alaska, we marvel at whales swimming sixty feet offshore. In Tasmania, wallabies hop all around us, penguins cry and whistle half the night, and dolphins dance in the coves. In Washington, we spy on napping seals and watch forty bald eagles watching us. And, in Maine, we listen to lobster boats grumbling through the thick fog.
We’ve been doing this off and on for ten years and I’d like nothing better than to do it for ten more. That said, we’re looking forward to coming home.

Joint venture

Paper nautilus shells, which are really egg cases, are known to wash up on islands in the Bass Strait. There are several on display in the Deal Island Museum and in the caretakers’ house. I had always hoped I would find one myself.

There is also a lovely children’s book, Argonauta, Octopus Navigator, in the library.
I bought a copy of the book for home in 2015, after grand children arrived. Last year I broke down and BOUGHT a shell on eBay for me.

But after a total of 9 months on this island over the past 8 years, and frequent beach combing, I found one myself, sort of.

Actually, I saw a seagull find one. I thought this weekend had possibilities because there are gale winds and the shells could be swept on to the beach.

I was watching a black backed seagull fish; it dove straight into the surf and came up with something in its beak, which it pecked at and dropped on the sand. It looked odd to me, it wasn’t a fish. I asked the seagull to leave. It obliged and to my delight I it was a paper Nautilus, Knobbed Argonaut or Argonauta nodosus, shell. The seagull had already snacked on some caviar and left me to it.

I rinsed the remaining eggs into the sea and will try to bring it home intact.

Clouds, moon pies and a meteor

There’s never a dull moment in paradise. Sunsets and even a few sunrises take my breath away. Each one is unique and beautiful.

The other night while we watched a downloaded movie indoors, we heard engine sounds outside. At least one helicopter buzzed the residence. I saw them make their return trip the next day, not so close this time.

The next night Tim stepped outside and was amazed to see this meteor fall over the swashway on Erith and Dover Islands.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-05-22/a-suspected-meteor-ignites-the-night-sky-over/11137696?pfmredir=sm

So I baked cookies, known as moon pies by some, and Oreos by others.

Looking good

The work is done for now. The lighthouse cracks have been sealed, the metal work ground down and painted and an initial coat of paint has been applied. It will look so flash and more importantly won’t leak water any more.

Both houses, the workshop, generator shed, radio shed have new roofs. It was a whirlwind of work and activity but now we are on our own for the time being. The barge arrived yesterday morning and asbestos debris and the various vehicles and trailers were hauled aboard. We cleared the airstrip and off went the last of the crew. Phew.

I see a rainbow or two

Funny thing how you need rain or misty weather to see a beautiful rainbow. Another life lesson.

Sunset – no filter

I could not even imagine this. Lucky for me it is the real Deal!

Weather is getting a bit nippy, I am wondering if my swim cap would be warmer than my wool beanie. I may get to wear both. I am keeping my wool items clean and close at hand,

As time ticks away, I am in overdrive with weaving and reading. When we first arrived, I selected about ten books from the island library to read; largely by Australian authors or about remote lives and adventures. Now that I see our departure date closer than may arrival, I am reading feverishly. Some good, some bad. I am so used to using a kindle, not the actual book, I found my self tapping the page or trying to highlight a word for the dictionary. I even stirred and looked several words up in the dictionary.

Same with weaving. I brought several spools of silk thread with the notion I would weave shoelaces! Can you imagine? Well now I am. I am making one set on a tiny rigid heddle loom and the other with tablets. I spent the first month reintroducing myself to Andean Pebble weave and wove a few bands in varying thicknesses with that technique. I have knit two pairs of socks, one for me and one for Tim, a pair of mittens, a wimple, a child’s hat, fingerless mitts and now a pair of child’s mittens. Trying to go home with mainly finished items instead of skeins of wool. I haven’t picked a project yet for a ball of beautiful hand dyed, hand spun merino I received from a dear friend. It will be something to remind me of this beautiful place.

I often remember where I was when I made something and so it becomes my souvenir. Even a lot of food I make now, I can remember the first island I experimented with it. This trip’s new addition will be croissants and sticky buns made from artisan bread dough. Memories and calories!

Pink contrails?

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Could it be the contrails are pink in Tasmania. I think not since no planes fly overhead. Our time here is quickly winding down. Roofing is almost complete and there should be another adventure with the barge, boats and ATV’s next week. In the meantime, we continue to relish our final days.

 

Planes, barges, fishing boats, bobcat, ATV’s

Our quiet paradise has been shattered. In the course of five days, the island population swelled to 14 people on island and at least 5 in yachts.

The pace of work is blazing. Tuesday and a Thursday brought several plane loads of workers and equipment. By Thursday evening, one roof had been replaced, and as you already know, the toilet problem was fixed.

Friday, the barge arrived with all the materials and equipment. It parked on the beach and offloaded. Yesterday the roof on the caretaker cottage was removed and replaced and a pitch was added to replace the flat roof that often leaked.

Today a fishing vessel arrived with a year’s worth of propane tanks to swap out and three seemingly tireless workers came down to give us a hand. They did this during a break from removing an asbestos roof.

In our spare time, we shoveled the road clear of sand again because the sandy hill slide sloughs off with any significant rainfall.

 

It’s mildly chaotic but also heaps of fun. How much time alone do you really need?