A Birthday at Sea

happy birthday  

I absolutely love my birthday. I don't particularly enjoy getting older, but I certainly love celebrating. We've been at sea for several of my birthdays … November always seems like a good time to be on the move for the change of the seasons. This year is no different. Here we are on our way to South Africa and I'm turning a year older. No worries though. I'm a master at getting the most out of my birthday.

I always remind David well in advance (starting in October usually), that my birthday is coming up. It's not like he'd forget, but why chance it? Since we left before my birthday, we planned that our gourmet lunch at Bois Cheri would be a preliminary birthday celebration, a good way to get into the birthday spirit. I also suggested a few extra treats for myself since we don't often exchange gifts. I've got a new Mauritius tea mug and a t-shirt … after all, my birthday only comes once a year.

Once we're at sea, I count the days like a little kid. Then, it's finally the day. David greets me with a Happy Birthday song when I wake up for my midnight to 0300 watch. Sometimes he makes a card if we're not seasick and he takes care of cooking for the day. I make sure to stock the ingredients for my special birthday meal and there's usually a dessert involved.

There's limited merrymaking on the actual day, but that's okay because this is where the celebration becomes virtual. I have every intention of extending my birthday festivities to the other end of the passage in Durban, South Africa. Why wouldn't I? Virtual celebrations aboard are quite imaginative. We sit in the cockpit and I start describing a perfect day in Durban. The key is the imagery that we can conjure up while we're imagining what the day will be like … from a sunny, warm day walking hand in hand along a beach to what we might have for dinner or how good a glass of cold, bubbling champagne will taste after a couple of weeks at sea. Maybe we'll go to a park or on a safari … the possibilities are endless and so are our imaginations.

I guess the key is knowing that my birthday celebration isn't just a one-day affair. In my mind, November was created just so I'd have an entire month to celebrate.

Speaking of celebrations, don't forget to check out Days and Ways to Celebrate 2015 … a whole year of celebrations to ponder and plan for.


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Many people don't make a big deal about their birthdays. I do. I love my birthday. It's MY day. It only comes once a year and I like to make the most of it. I remember a conversation with a woman who was so disappointed because her husband forgot her birthday. That could never happen aboard Nine of Cups. I start reminding David of the momentous occasion a month in advance. There's no fear of being disappointed here. So what's my idea of a perfect birthday? Aha...now we're getting right down to it. A perfect birthday has many facets, anticipation being one of them. There are not usually gifts involved...at least in the traditional sense. No diamonds or furs. Also no boat parts, blenders or toasters. We found some beautiful shells on the beach once and David fashioned them into a necklace for me. That was a good gift. Flowers? Yes, but not too many. A single rose bought spontaneously from a street vendor and presented with much ceremony did the trick in Ecuador one year.

Parties are not involved either ... although champagne might be. Last year we had just arrived in Bundaberg on my birthday and I was anxious to do a little land travel. We rented a car for the day, chose a national park not too far away, packed a picnic and spent the day walking and taking photos. I saw my first kookaburra, my first goanna and a huge python on the path. We stopped for ice cream cones along the way. We puttered around in some shops and window-shopped, but didn't buy anything. We had dinner at a little, inexpensive Indian restaurant in downtown Bundaberg. It was a pretty perfect day. Just me and my best mate...and my camera.

So...this year, the big day loomed and I was at a loss as to what I wanted to do. I get to choose the gift...no matter what activity or trip it might be. David was geared up for anything and even got the use of the marina's courtesy van for the weekend! That was major. We could go anywhere. I thought and thought about the perfect day. We didn't want to overnight anywhere nor spend the whole day driving nor spend a lot of money. David came up with the winning suggestion. A return to Bruny Island by car. I wanted to see and photograph the very rare Bruny Island white wallaby for my birthday.

I know we're going there by boat, but being on the boat sometimes has its drawbacks. It's very weather-dependent. If we're in an area and the weather turns (which happens all the time in Tassie), we need to be on the boat, not looking for white wallabies. Plus we're limited in our explorations by how far we can walk. So a whole day on Bruny Island driving the roads that criss-cross it sounded like a wonderful outing.

It was rainy on my birthday morning and we decided to postpone the Bruny Island trip till Friday. We had the courtesy van and did some errands in Hobart. We shared a small scallop pie for lunch (good, but dear!).

David prepared the birthday dinner, his specialty: white pizza. And what goes with pizza? champagne, of course... and blackberry shortcake with fresh whipped cream for dessert.

Tomorrow's forecast is a bit more sun...we'll head to Bruny Island to find my white wallaby.