15 March 2014

Can Wallabies Be Litter Box Trained?

Wallaby spotted on Kawau Island. So cute! They were introduced in 1870 by the Governor of New Zealand, Sir George Grey, along with other exotic animals. Sadly, they are now considered to be a pest which negatively impacts on native flora and fauna and the Department of Conservation and other landowners are trying to manage their population. You can help by adopting a wallaby and having it live on your boat!

I’ve been trying to convince Scott for a while now that we absolutely need a cute little dog on our boat, but sadly I haven’t been very successful yet. Every time I bring the subject up, he gets all Mr. Spock logical on me with seemingly rational arguments such as the fact that there are lots of countries you can’t easily bring a dog into. But his biggest argument is that you have to cart your dog on to shore to do their business. His favorite refrain is, “Are you going to get in the dinghy when it is pouring down rain and blowing a gale and take the dog to shore? Hah, I didn’t think so! There won’t be any dogs on our boat because I’m sure as heck not going to get stuck rowing the mutt to shore every day.”

Fortunately, I’ve found an even better idea for a liveaboard pet – a wallaby! I figure if I can litter box train one, then Scott can’t possibly say no to having one on board. And because they can stand on their hind legs, when we get to a new port we can put clothes on our little wallaby and pass him off as a human crew member. Animal immigration problem solved! And the icing on the cake is the fact that wallabies can jump and they have a built in tool pouch. Something wrong up the mast? Get your wallaby to jump up there and fix it with the tools they carry around in their handy pouch. Much, much easier than getting a clumsy human to climb up there.

Last time we were at Mansion House Bay in Kawau Island, we caught a glimpse of the wallabies that live there. We’ve been there many times previously, but have never seen them before. It was amazing! They look so cute and their fur seems so soft and I just wanted to grab one and cuddle it. Unfortunately, they’re fast little buggers and they jumped away before I had a chance to say hi and ask them if they know how to use a litter box. Scott seemed really interested in the wallabies, so once I solve the litter box issues, I’m pretty sure he can’t possibly say no to having one on board.

I’m really grateful we had some wallaby sightings, because, frankly I was getting really tired of Mansion House Bay. We have spent far too much time there hiding out from various blows and desperately trying to escape. I can hear you saying, “Are you nuts? Mansion House is a beautiful, iconic New Zealand spot. I would love to go there!” And, yes, if you haven’t been there before, by all means you should head up there and spend a couple of days exploring the nature reserve and the Mansion House grounds. But, if you’ve ended up spending around eight days in a row there trying to escape (with only a quick run to Gulf Harbour to reprovision), then you’ve probably seen it all and done it all. But of course, every cloud has a silver lining and for us, it was when we caught a glimpse of the wallabies on the island.

I’m really grateful for things like wallaby sightings, because without these amazing moments, I think the setbacks we’ve had with the weather so far might do my head in. We counted up how many days so far this summer that we’ve spent hiding out from a blow (either in a marina or at an anchorage) and the number is quite depressing. Intellectually, I know that the weather really does dictate what you can do and where you can go. And, I know people end up waiting weeks for the right weather window to make a passage. But we’re just doing coastal cruising, so I never expected that the weather would have such an impact on us. If the wind isn’t blowing a near-gale or gale, then it is blowing from the completely wrong direction to go where we want to get to. And, then there is the swell – it either is way too high for our tiny boat and/or crashing into us beam on. And on those days when you can’t stand the weather or the boat anymore a cute little wallaby to cuddle sure would make all the difference.

So if you have any experience training wallabies to use a litter box and jump up to the top of the mast, please let me know. Also, feel free to email Scott and tell him that having a dog or a wallaby or even a cat on board would be a great idea! I’m sure he’ll listen to you!

Anyway, here is what our week up in Kawau looked like. Other than the wallabies, not too exciting.

Scott thinks that the wallaby fences are proof that they can't jump high enough to get to the top of our mast. Personally, I think they are just smart creatures who can read the signs and choose not to jump over the fences.

Monday, 17 February 2014

After making a run from Great Barrier to Kawau the previous night and getting in around 11:30 pm, we had anchored down near the Kawau Yacht Club. It is a big anchorage, which we know well, and we figured it would be easiest to park the boat there in the dark. But it turned out to be a bit roly-poly, so we decided to move the boat over to the more protected Mansion House Bay in the morning. The only other big event of the day was having a solar shower. Scott helps me wash my hair because the solar shower can be a bit fiddly to use. Honestly, I never thought it would come to this…I can’t wash my hair without my husband’s help. That’s living on a boat for you.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

We ran out of eggs and cheese. These are two essential staples in our diet and we ended up getting stuck with eating things out of cans we’ve been avoiding so far. And they tasted terrible. {Note to self: never, never, never try to make a pasta dish out of cream of mushroom soup and canned chicken again.} Fortunately, wallabies were sighted!

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

We ran out of water in our bladder. Not our actual human bladders, but the water bladder under the settee that we use instead of a water tank. Hmmm….no funnel to get the water from the jerry can into the water bladder. But, no worries, Scott cleverly cut up a tonic water bottle and turned it into a funnel. Problem solved. More wallaby sightings.

Thursday 19 February – Monday, 24 February 2014

Nothing too exciting happened. And when nothing too exciting happens, you spend a lot of time looking at the other boats which are also stuck in the anchorage. Scott was particularly interested in an older couple living on a boat even smaller than ours. They seem to be a really fit duo – she even drops and raises the anchor herself by hand while he watches from the cockpit. Scott spent the rest of the day trying to convince me that if an old lady can manage the anchor, I can too. I ignored him and daydreamed about wallabies instead. Sadly, no more wallaby sightings.

Eventually, we got a brief break in the weather so we made a quick run to Gulf Harbour to reprovision – more diesel, water and food. And then it was back up to Kawau to wait for another break to be able to head up north which finally came on Monday. We said goodbye to Mansion House Bay and the wallabies and made our escape.


Total nautical miles = 32 (to Gulf Harbour and back)
Number of wallabies sighted = 3
Number of days in Mansion House Bay = too many

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  1. You forgot to let us know you were in Gulf Harbour. Next time, let's get a coffee! As for the Wallaby, dog, cat, etc, sorry, I'm with Scott on these issues. However, a chicken would give you eggs. How did you fare in Cyclone Lusi?

    1. It was a very quick visit and didn't work out which was very unfortunate as Scott wants to meet you guys. We'll need to catch up soon.


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