Living in Limbo Land

I know, it’s been a long time between blogs. Almost six months to be precise.  I’ve made several attempts to start writing, but each time I’ve come up smack bang against the mental wall of denial and disbelief. It’s been too hard to put the reality of the situation down on paper.  But…as they say, it is what it is.

Just like everyone else on the planet, our world changed in March this year due to Covid.  Our Indonesian visas were about to expire after 6 months, and we needed to leave the country in order to renew them.  So we booked a 3-week trip back home to see family and get our new visas at the same time.  We took Toucan up the river in Sorong to Helena Marina and gave her a good clean and locked her up, then made our way to the airport. The rest is pretty much history.  One week after getting back to Sydney, the borders slammed shut and here we’ve been ever since – separated from our home, and with our cruising life in suspension for who knows how long.

In truth, it could have been far worse.  We could have been stuck in a foreign country with no visible means of support and a high risk of contracting Covid.  Our hearts go out to the many cruisers around the world who’ve found themselves in impossible situations, unable to stay but with nowhere to go.  One friend of ours in Sorong has been separated from his wife since March, when she flew to the UK to be with a sick relative.  Other owners stuck overseas, whose boats are at the limit of their legal stay in Indonesia (3 years) have to get their boats out before copping huge fines for over-staying (up to $20,000 per month). But if you can’t get in, how do you get out??

For us, we’re in the next best place apart from being aboard Toucan – we’re safe and have our family and friends around us, and they’ve been simply AMAZING!  For the first few weeks we desperately clung to the belief we could find a way, any way, to get back to Sorong.  Every day Bruce would come up with a new scheme – ‘Maybe we can buy a cheap boat and sail it back?’, ‘What about chartering a light plane?’.  All very illegal of course, and becoming more ‘007’-ish with each passing day. The idea of two sixty-something-year-olds parachuting into Sorong under cover of darkness was the final straw. ‘NO!! Just accept that we have no option; we have to stay and be patient.’

Everyone has been incredibly generous in offering help.  After ‘couch-surfing’ with our youngest son and fiancé and various friends for the first few weeks, Jackie and Ron offered us their granny flat in exchange for Bruce’s handyman skills around the property. It’s been a godsend, and what a beautiful view to wake up to every morning.

Overlooking our old home, The Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club

Geoff Sherman (aka The Pirate), who joined us in the Caribbean and across the Pacific, has loaned us his car on a semi-permanent basis – another godsend.

Others have loaned us winter clothes (we only came for 3 weeks, remember, with a wardrobe of mostly t-shirts and shorts), invited us to dinners and lunches and shared laughter and wine.  We feel incredibly blessed to be supported and surrounded by such wonderful people.  It’s a difficult and disorienting time for everyone – Melbournians are enduring their second lockdown, interstate borders are still mostly closed, and many people are struggling mentally and financially.  What extraordinary times we live in.

The other day I read a phrase I hadn’t come across before – ‘the liminal state’. Liminal means ‘threshold’ in Latin, and describes a state of transition, or suspension, between one place and the next, or between one stage of life and the next.  It seems an apt description for what we’re all experiencing during this time when the world has stopped – this state of suspension, waiting, waiting, for it to be over, to go back to our lives and normal activities (but will it ever be ‘normal’ again?).

So how do you function when there’s no certainty – when days stretch into weeks and weeks into months?  Luckily, Jackie has plenty of work to keep Bruce busy. For me, it’s about finding things to occupy myself and maintain a good routine.  It’s been impossible to go back to psychology as I can’t commit to a foreseeable timeframe. Instead, I’ve been getting back into daily yoga, daily walks, and completing a course in proofreading (something I can continue to do remotely when we’re back on the boat).  It’s good for my body and brain and helps me feel productive.  

Practising my proofreading with the help of my lorikeet pal
A rare sunny day in winter. One of our hikes in the Kuringai Chase National Park
The birdlife here is a great distraction
Good morning Mr Kookaburra

Who knows what the future holds?  We’re still hopeful of getting back to Toucan by the end of this year, and we know she’s safe where she is (albeit in need of a lot of TLC). But we’re questioning our plans after that. We’d intended to keep travelling west, but we suspect the world post-Covid is going to look very different with so much poverty and desperation wreaking havoc amongst disadvantaged populations.  Depending on the season, we may stay longer in Raja Ampat (there’s still so much more diving we want to do!), but perhaps we’ll retrace our steps east into the Pacific or make our way back to explore our home waters once more.

All we can do right now is stay hopeful, appreciate the small pleasures life provides for us every day, and be thankful for our wonderful family and friends.  Stay safe everyone.

15 Replies to “Living in Limbo Land”

  1. Good to hear your news and that you are both fit and well.. sad for you that sailing has ceased in this crazy time! We are all good and adapting as best as we can. Took 5 Wadhurst friends (including Romaine from Aston) out over to Isle of Wight on boat last week tho had to do a ‘MayDay’ as the exhaust elbow broke and we thought we were on fire! As David said.. if we had had to abandon ship, we would have probably lined up and done a synchronised dive in a la Wadhurst style!! Luckily got towed in ok tho and was all quite an adventure with handsome firemen awaiting us as we berthed ! Keep well and lots love Gerry xx

    1. Hey Gerry, how lovely to hear from you! Your boating adventures sound a bit like ours – never a dull moment!! Glad was all OK in the end and I’m sure all your Wadhurst pals had a great time regardless :). Hope all the family are well, and that life can return to normal before too long (whatever that is). Lots of love xx

  2. It’s great to hear from you again, I often think of you both and value our time together on and off the ocean, Stay safe and keep laughing like fat spider in a gumboots 😘😎🍷🍻

    1. Hey Pembo! Great to hear from you too. I hear the Bucktins are planning an Exmouth rally next year? We didn’t enjoy the west coast much, but we certainly enjoyed your company, and who knows? If we’re around in May we may just come and muscle in on your space lol! Take care xx

  3. How wonderful to hear from you and that you are safe and in a good physical spot.

    David is in California hoping to sell FullCircle. I am home in Texas. the fires in CA have made air quality awful, but it was usually good down by the water, however, with recent wind shifts it’s becoming more polluted and yesterday D said it was a real mess.

    The US is such a mess with this upcoming election. no one knows what to believe and the feeling is T will do anything to get reelected. So it is depressing.

    We are well, wearing masks and social distancing, waiting out cooler weather so we can be outside more.

    hugs to you
    hope you are back with Toucan soon.
    cindy

    1. Hi Cindy and Dave, so glad to hear you’re both keeping well. We do worry about our friends in USA, and hope and pray that the country can get through this dreadful time of Trump and the pandemic. It’s certainly a worrying time and our hearts go out to you all. I hope you get a sale on FC soon, and that you can continue to take comfort in that wonderful family of ours. Love to you both xx

  4. Love to you both. Keep positive mentally and most importantly stay safe.

    We have missed your blogs!

    Love and best wishes,

    Sue and David Kent

    1. Hi Sue & David, lovely to hear from you. sorry it’s been such a long time between blogs – I’ll try and be more regular from now on!
      I hope life is treating you well in the UK. Like everywhere, I’m sure it’s not easy and we just hope and pray they can find a vaccine that works soon.
      We’re in a pretty good position with the virus in NSW, but because state borders are closed we haven’t been able to see Nick and Sally since we got back which is very frustrating. But then everything is frustrating right now I guess!
      Stay safe and well you two
      xx

  5. Hi Bruce, i know how you feel. My boat is up on the hard in Turkey. As i get older my available sailing time gets
    precious

    We can but hope, Les

    1. Hi Les, sadly your right we are all running out of time. We are a little hopeful that we may get back to the boat around the end of the year as this seems to be the timetable Indonesia has set. We’ll keep our fingers crossed for both of us. Stay well.

  6. Life sure has changed and sent us to Agonizing Reappraisal-ville. I’m so happy you’ve landed softly and with your peeps. We miss you so much. Stay well and chin up.

    1. Oh guys, we miss you so much too! How are things in Malaysia? I gather you have an extension on visas until the end of the year? So much uncertainty is making it very hard to feel settled and Zen hey? I guess we’re all just hanging in there…
      Let’s hope we can escape from Agonizing Reappraisal-ville and limbo land soon.
      Much love to you both
      xoxo

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