Galley Wench Tales

Exploring the world through the people we meet
and the food they eat.

3-wheeled motor cycle with a boat sidecar towing a tiny trailer
Life on the road for several months in Australia (aka Oz) will be a bit different!
Thanks, Rich Kallerud, for finding the perfect pix to show what we’ve got planned!
This was our New Zealand budget
for a road trip vehicle….
This is what we ended up road-trippingwith in New Zealand.

Soon – this van camper-conversion will be “home” for us on the road, in Australia.  Photo from Seonkook.

After ~19,000 nautical miles, the time is approaching to shift from keels to wheels — a common transition for cruisers still feeling wanderlust and wanting to see the world less wet.

Journey, our Pearson 365 ketch sailboat and “home” since September 2012, is now officially listed for sale, though not exactly show-room ready.  While exceptionally mechanically sound, part of her much-needed beauty treatment is making her inviting for her new owner (whoever that might be).  

That means in addition to basic cleaning, sanding, vanishing, painting etc., figuring out what to do with everything not physically not part of the boat.  

Downsizing – again!!!

One bonus?  Our new bed will not be shaped like a pie slice!  We’ll have more than 1 1/2 feet for our 4 feet.  Yay!
Photo from Seonkook.

Everything aboard, we need to decide

  • what stays for the new owners (not much)
  • what comes with us on the van (much less still)
  • what’s sold (less still)
  • what’s shipped back to the USA (almost nothing – we don’t know where home will be next or when, it’s expensive, and we don’t want to abuse the good graces of Wayne’s folks garage space)
  • what’s given away to charity, other cruisers or whoever else finds it worthwhile (a bit)
  • what’s thrown away (a lot, embarrassingly, most likely including my dead, former and once resurrected Mac)

For Wayne, almost the only part that makes it hard is my foot-dragging.  He is a good minimalist.  I am not.  

We’re downsizing from a sailboat with about 150 feet of living space (and a LOT of storage) to a van about 1/8 of that, with decent storage for its size.  However, that’s not saying much, for our home for the next 3-10 months, carrying most of our remaining worldly possessions.

Our new closet is on the left, followed by our tiny new ‘fridge.  On the right is our new stove and hand-pump sink,
with kitchen storage underneath.  Photo courtesy Seonkook.

I cannot deny being stricken (again) by a sense of panic as we go through this process.  

It takes some time for me to visualize how it all will work.  

Letting go also means letting go of everyday conveniences (ample fridge, hot showers, a toilet), little pleasures (our SodaStream machine, my kayak, my favorite long dive fins), mementos (including most of my clothes – some favorites will have to go😦), failures (various dead and unused computer and electronic equipment), and dreams (reference books, SCUBA gear).

It took us 4 weeks to find our new “mobile” home.  

Our ideal was:  Toyota Hiace (reliable and repairable everywhere) van, built-in fridge, cooktop, sink, cabinets, roo bar, poptop, less than 250Ks “mileage,” couch that converts to fold-out bed, air conditioning, sound engine… all for >$10K AUD at a price we felt we could resell for close to what we paid.

The market in Oz is hot for affordable van-camper conversions.  Twice we made offers, foolishly held only with the good intentions of a handshake.   Both times the seller found an easier quicker sale before the deed was done.  Several vans sold before we could see them.  

Then we got lucky.

Sunny & Seonkook, from their travel blog,  Impressive travelers!  We bought their van.

We were the favorite out of 20 prospective buyers on the van we bought, a well-kept 1982 Toyota Hiace poptop factory van conversion, with 186K “miles”.  For whatever reason, sellers Sunny and Seonkook (“Kook”) chose us to see it first (maybe it was our constant checking of Gumtree [much like Craigslist in the USA and TradeMe in New Zealand] for new listings, and promptly letting prospective sellers know we were motivated and ready to pay cash).  They knew – even stated with justifiable confidence in their ad –  “See this will you buy it.”  

Wayne making sure we had enough cash to buy our van.  We had to pull our ATM daily limit, daily, several days to have enough.

We’d just reluctantly coughed up $1,100 AUD for an outboard motor replacement, and were a little short of the sale price.  Miraculously, Sunny and Kook were willing to hold their van for for us, and even pulled their Gumtree ad once we committed.

Front row seats on our upcoming adventure.  Sunny described this vehicle as “classic.”  With a manual choke and
no power steering, it is.   Photo courtesy Seonkook.

We did compromise on air conditioning (there is none – which we expect we will regret touring scorching Western Australia), and there were other vans with 4-wheel drive (but less room inside), newer, or for less money.  Like boats, though, everything is a compromise, and we believe you know you’ve found what you’re looking for when you stop looking.

Overall, we’re very happy with our choice, and enjoyed meeting Sunny and Kook so much, we hosted them for dinner aboard.  They’ve done some amazing travels!  Check out their blog – though Google translate doesn’t translate much from Korean!  You can still enjoy their photos and have fun guessing where they are.  Oh, and all the van photos on this page came from Kook – no point in re-inventing the wheel! 

My next “galley,” as seen from the back of the van.  Photo courtesy Seonkook.

Location Location

We’re in Pittwater, New South Wales, Australia (S33.39.433 E151.18.051), about an hour’s drive (in light traffic) and four hour’s sail (in good conditions) from Sydney.   

Up Next
After Journey’s spa treatment is completed, we’ll hit the road.  There will still be catch-up blogs from our cruising, as well as blogging about our road trips, like we did in New Zealand, New Caledonia and elsewhere.  We’re targeting a week (or so) out, certainly less than two.  We’re not quite sure where we’ll go, though we’ll likely start with Oz’s legendary  Great Ocean Road.  We’re not sure for how long we’ll travel here, our guesstimate is 3-6 months, with some out of country trips to re-fresh our visa and making that much-promised trip to see our folks.  After that, we’re even less sure – just know we need to go back to work, somewhere, preferably not the USA for another 4 years or so.