Living the dream? Life on a catamaran in the South Pacific

Who is in your family?

Clayton (Dad), Margaret (Mum), Faith (11), Laura (9)

Paint me a word picture of what your community looks like.

Our community is constantly changing on the outside but always the same on the inside. You’d have to say we are “stable vagrants”.

Where do you live?

We often jokingly like to say that we live “wherever the wind takes us,” but our movements are always planned. From August to early November we were in Vanuatu then we sailed back to Australia and have been in Bundaberg for a few weeks and are presently at Mooloolaba on the Sunshine Coast. We plan to leave to head back to Vanuatu in May to stay for 18 months.

What would you normally be doing on a Wednesday?

Once breakfast is over, schoolwork begins for the girls and Mum. This can take a few hours or all day depending on how much motivation is needed! In the midst of all this there are phone calls and emails and reading and Internet surfing to do research for boat supplies and all the normal every day life things like cleaning and food prep.

If school work is finished, and there is still daylight left in the day, we would most likely all hop into the dinghy and go onshore and become part of the real world for a while. The kids would get to run around and play while the adults tried to pretend that the kids didn’t exist, even though they were climbing up a tree whose limbs are way too small to take their weight.

What’s one thing from the Bible that’s stuck in your brain at the moment?

“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5).

During our time in Vanuatu this year there were a number of physical “tribulations” and this scripture verse was a help to us in those times.

Describe one of your Bible reading failures and what you learnt.

Like most people we get caught up with the things and the worries of this world and lose track of God’s will.  The world is like the ocean and we as Christians are like a yacht. A yacht is no good sitting on the land doing nothing; it needs to be in the ocean doing its work. But a yacht is of no use if the ocean comes inside it and it starts to sink. So too, Christians can lose track of God’s will and let too much of the world inside. That’s why we have to take heed of Romans 12:1-12:

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Tell me something difficult about living on a catamaran.

From a female perspective it’s difficult to occasionally be on the boat on your own and do all the physical work that is required: filling and lugging 20 litre gerry cans of water from the land into the dinghy, onto the boat and then into the tanks, and pulling the dinghy up out of the water on the davit system every night.

We live on a boat, and so seasickness can be a problem when we are doing ocean work. My best tactic for conquering seasickness is to just keep on eating. I know it sounds strange and sometimes you have to argue with your body and tell it to mind its own business and just eat anyway.

The size of the boat doesn’t really come into the issue in our family as none of us are claustrophobic. Although, sometimes when people are being disagreeable the boat seems smaller than what it actually is and the land is beckoning.

Tell me something you love about where you live/work and wish that we had/did in Australia.

The people of Vanuatu are friendly people who genuinely want to make a relationship with you. One of the first things that we noticed when we came back to Australia was that you would walk down the street and hardly no-one would even look at you, let alone say hello.

Have you seen anyone come to Christ? Tell me about that.

Our daughter Faith just recently, independently of us, made the precious decision to follow Christ. It was lovely to see first hand the transforming power of Jesus. It was also very significant that she made the decision at such an early age, such wisdom on a young persons shoulders is great to see.

After all these years, why are you still a Christian?

Because the miracles that God has done in our lives has reinforced the faith and hope we have for eternal salvation.