What do you do all day?

We used to get this question a lot from non-boaties when we were cruising on Toucan. People assumed we would be bored and have nothing to do. Even now we get the same question, and ironically it’s often from yachties who are visiting the bay, who can’t imagine being confined to a small island.

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Yes, it’s different to constantly travelling and discovering new places, but I can honestly say that so far we’ve never been bored on Pulau Dayan. There’s always something to do.

A typical day for me will usually start about 6.30 am (a bit later for Bruce!). First item on the agenda is a liberal application of mozzie repellant, followed by some yoga and stretching in the beach cabana watching the sunrise and sometimes the juvenile sharks and turtles in the shallows on the back beach.

A beautiful place to start the day

Next is a cup of tea, and if we’re lucky enough to have some internet coverage, a look at the day’s news and a catch up on FB.  There’s the daily check of the meagre veggies and herbs I’m trying to grow and the endless battle to keep the grasshoppers, crabs, and mealy bugs away using a garlic and soapy water spray on the leaves.  We recently finished constructing a bench and a full enclosure to place the more vulnerable seedlings in, so I’m hoping that will slow the invaders down…

The new, improved seedling enclosure – let’s hope it works!

Inevitably, most days we need to do a beach clean-up of the plastic that washes up, from bottles to rubber thongs, toothbrushes, cigarette lighters and sadly even the occasional syringe. It breaks my heart to see the lack of care for the ocean.  Unfortunately, we have to burn the plastics as there’s no other way to dispose of them here.

We have the same regular household chores as any home, just slightly different. The bowls for rinsing the sand off your feet before entering the buildings have to be emptied and refilled with seawater, verandahs and floors need to be swept for the inevitable sand that still finds its way in, and there’s always washing and cooking to be done.  We do a major shop every 3-4 weeks in Sorong for food, fuel, and gas (a six-hour round trip in the boat) and then the boat has to be unloaded and everything packed away when we arrive back at the island. The cooking is a bit more labour-intensive than if we were in the city, as I make our own sourdough bread and toasted muesli, and we often have to make sauces and marinades from scratch. But with a functioning fridge and freezer we never go hungry.

Then, of course, there’s the snorkelling and diving, which isn’t just the time in the water but the setting up of the gear, the dismantling and rinsing of the gear and cameras, filling the dive tanks, downloading the images and editing where necessary. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining, it’s just time-consuming and often half the day is gone before we know it.  I’m loving learning how to take macro photos and it’s opened up a whole new incredible underwater world for me. Bruce likes the bigger wide-angle scenes, but sadly just as he’d recovered enough from his rib fracture to start diving again, his underwater camera housing failed which flooded his camera. It’s now been sent back to the States for replacement under warranty (another whole drama with DHL in Sorong but that’s another story), so in the meantime here are some of my recent macro shots…

Cuttlefish up close – how pretty is he?!
A pair of ringed pipefish
Denise’s pygmy seahorses – tiny, tiny beautiful little creatures
one of the many gorgeous nudibranchs in these parts – this one is Hypselodoris tryoni
A hawkfish with a mohawk
Spinecheek anemone

Our watermaker is working like a charm, but we need to run it for an hour or two every other day, and it requires some monitoring during that time. And there are always ongoing projects to complete – our most recent was preparing and installing bigger signs to keep the tourists at bay. It’s a shame we have to do it as they’re not aesthetically pleasing, but they’re a necessity to stop the regular incursions.  Mostly, they seem to be working.

There are also the odd, unexpected projects. We have hundreds of hermit crabs everywhere and we try very hard to avoid stepping on them, but last week we accidentally trod on one and crushed his shell.  The poor little guy was beside himself trying to piece his home back together, so there was nothing for it but to go on a quest to find him a new home – which proved almost as difficult as finding a rental property in Australia at present, as all the shells we found were occupied.  Then I remembered I had a jar full of small shells I’d collected over the years, so we found a few potentials and laid them out for his consideration.  Before long, he’d taken up the lease on a brand new home and is probably now the envy of all his mates.  The things we do…! Here’s a short video of his re-homing:


By midday we’re usually both a sweaty mess – the humidity is relentless and exhausting so after lunch it’s siesta time for a bit of a rest, a read, or a nap, sometimes in the hammock. And if we have the energy, we hack around on the guitars and ukulele for a bit before dinner and watch the sunset. We don’t have a TV or good enough internet to stream anything, but we can watch previously downloaded TV shows or movies on our laptop after dinner if we’re not too tired, or there’s always the option of thrashing each other at board games. However,  we still seem to adhere to the cruisers’ bedtime of 9.30-ish as by then we’re usually ready to crash.

It’s a wonderful life, albeit challenging at times, but there’s always something new to discover both underwater and above ground. We wouldn’t swap it for quids.

8 Replies to “What do you do all day?”

  1. ohh, I love the story of re-homing the hermit crab! It just shows how in tune with your environment you both are, & how life in the slow lane gifts us these magical moments.
    Could you check your little jar for duplexes, & re-home me as you did Herbert ?? I don’t promise the fancy flip he did though

    1. ahahaha! I wish it was that simple and cheap to find you a new home. Never fear my dear, I know something just right will present itself, hopefully very soon. Yes, there is much to be said for life in the slow lane, it’s precious indeed. xoxo

  2. Di, your pictures are stunning. Truly. I am sorry to hear about Bruce’s flooded housing. The feelings after discovering seawater inside a housing are gut wrenching; but, it builds character, I’m told. I imagine that your days are full, though the satisfaction rating is probably close to 100%. We’re so in awe of you guys. Can’t thank you enough for sharing your adventures!

    1. Thanks so much for your lovely comment Jim – I’m sorry we don’t blog more often but internet is pretty scarce on the island – we’re hanging out for Starlink to come to Indonesia! And we’re so happy that you’re enjoying hearing about our island life experiences. Love to you and the family. xx

  3. Another wonderful read Di. Your life seems perfect on every level & can imagine your days are full. Congratulations fur getting everything back & continuing a life of simplicity. I just love what you guys are doing. Your not missing out on anything back here.

    1. Thanks Beth. No, we don’t feel we’re missing out at all on most things, but of course we do miss family and friends xx

  4. I’m sure you wouldn’t swap it Di. TV’s overrated and sitting watching the sunset reading a good book is underrated. For us, even at home we hardly watch tv, it’s as if our time on the boat away from the internet has never left us and we find so much more enjoyment out of not being plugged into tv all the time ( the occasional show that grabs us is a treat). Caravanning has similar simplicity to boating and we love the slow pace of it. BTW your photos are amazing! What a fantastic underwater world you have there. Sorry to hear Bruce is still not 100%, sounds like a tedious injury. Hugs.

    1. Thanks Rosemary – yes, I know you guys would get it, with all the boating and caravanning you’re doing. A simple life (even when it’s not easy) is definitely the way to go, and being so connected to nature is just wonderful xx

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