By Cheree Bowdidge - aboard "Inflight" the family yacht
(Cheree is the daughter of Mark Bowdidge)

... A Kid's Point of view

Part 1

“Quick Tarsha, let’s jump in the dinghy and go exploring.” Grabbing our gear, we jumped in and hoisted our sails. We were off, seeking another adventure.

My name is Cheree Bowdidge, currently 17 years old and this story is a record, in brief, of my 11 years of an adventurous childhood aboard “Inflight”, our 42 ft catamaran—from my point of view.  

Natasha adn I. I was 6 years old and this was the very first fish I ever caught.

When Mum and Dad said we would be moving onto a yacht and cruising, I had mixed feelings of leaving my friends, but looking forward to new and exciting adventures at the same time. I thought I could imagine what it would be like, but I was 6 years old, and had no idea what I was in for. I also imagined it being a slightly lonely life, but in-fact it was quite the opposite. Even if you wanted to have a quiet Christmas or New Years away from the crowd of the marinas, in a quiet anchorage…think again!

Top view of Inflight, Indonesia.

I remember Christmases, Easters and New Years were of the most social times, everybody that was in that anchorage got together, and if you can imagine My Big Fat Greek Wedding all packed onto one Catamaran, this is how I remember my life on our yacht! For New Years Eve, my sister and I wanted to see the fireworks… and that we did, we had front line view of the fireworks on the esplanade from our yacht, once again surrounded by friends. Even friends we just met that day!

Another great day at the Great Barrier Reef - Dad caught 2 Tuna.

In addition, I remember the cyclones! Over the years, nine in all past over or near us, as we had our boat tied in the mangroves in preparation for their arrival. One cyclone in particular had the feeling of our yacht being sucked out of the mud, as it was low tide and we were beached surrounded by mangroves. It went from deafening winds to silence, and when we looked up in the sky we could see the stars above us in the clear eye of the cyclone. I remember feeling completely excited about it all, although everyone else was a little concerned. We never had a problem with our boat, however when we went into town to go shopping, we could not believe the mess the cyclone had left in town.

Natasha and I going girl shopping.

In addition, I’m sorry but I have to mention this, I had to do it, so you have to hear about it ... my correspondence schooling. This is for the parents who are contemplating taking their children on a yacht and out of the normal schooling curriculum. Believe it or not, it’s actually fantastic ... you only have to work half a day! My sister and I could easily keep ahead of schedule as well as maintaining good grades, the only problem with correspondence schooling on a yacht was the Health and Physical Education tasks, which required a little imagination. The work isn’t hard, in fact the teachers are very helpful, sending out extra library books we didn’t order for personal reading, and wanting letters on all our adventures. However, the work becomes a little time consuming once you reach year 11 and 12, as my sister did year 11 while we were travelling overseas. The great thing about correspondence schooling is the fact that it prepares you for the difficult tasks ahead. When we moved back ashore, my sister won many academic and swimming awards during her year 12, due to the many years of correspondence and our life on a yacht.

Natasha and I feeding these wild birds at Horseshoe Bay, Queensland.

I have so many funny memories, all of which can’t be listed. However, one of them was the first time we sailed out to the Great Barrier Reef to go snorkelling. This happened to be my first encounter with sharks. After snorkelling for half an hour, and seeing the breathtaking sea life and amazing colours of the reef, we were swimming over the edge which dropped off into the abyss. We happened to notice something moving in the depths…getting ever so closer. When we realised it was six or more sharks, the race was on for the dinghy. Dad had no trouble throwing me into the dinghy, I was the youngest. However, I was laying there in hysterics watching the rest of the family trying to clamber into the dinghy all at once. It was so funny to see, and in the end everyone broke up laughing so hard, no one could get in anyway.

You never know what you are going to catch. Mum caught six Mackeral in two hours.

I remember the first time I sailed my very own small sailing dinghy with my sister, which my parents had built for us, which to us at the time, seemed like being handed our first set of car keys! So, when my dad pushed the dinghy off and told us to go for a sail in our newly built dinghy, everything was going great. We were flying through the waves, the wind in our sails, and the sun on our faces, everything was fun … until we started going too fast. We were still nervous about being in charge of our new dinghy and didn’t know what to do. The dinghy started to lean over so far from the wind pushing us, and we were going so fast, we didn’t think to simply take down the sails!

Natasha and I on the front of Inflight at Airlie Beach.

As we flew down the channel, we saw a cruise ship coming toward us up the channel. We started to freak out, so as we tried to get out of the channel, while seemingly hitting every single pylon on the way! As the tears and screaming started, we heard Dad yell out to us “take down the sails…” why hadn’t we thought of that before??? As amusing as the situation was, when we saw Dad laughing at us, we were quite angry, as we were thinking he didn’t care that we were all going to die!!!!!

We needed a break from sailing, fishing, cragging and exploring. A nice quiet anchorage to relax for a few days.

Travelling up and down the Australian coastline and the trip to the tip of Australia, I remember we went ashore and the race was on.  Who in the family could make it to the tip of Australia first? I remember my sister was a faster runner than I was, and she wanted to be the first. But, just before she got there, my Dad grabbed her and let me win the race. I was the first in my family! He inevitably had to make her last of course!!!! I remember sitting at the tip and feeling so excited about the trip ahead! If I had a choice between living on a yacht and going overseas or, living on shore and seeing the same kids’ day in day out, I choose the sea in a shot! It’s a great life!

Tarsh and I having a water fight at the back of our yacht.

However, this was only the beginning, the real adventure started when I was turning 13 and my parents decided, “To hell with this, we’re off to Singapore for a new adventure!” It was 12 months outside Australian waters, filled with excitement and adventure, it was most certainly the most unforgettable and amazing experience I ever had!!! I say that because, many families would probably be unsure of whether to take their kids with them on ocean trips, but I was turning 13 and I had the best experience of my life. Sure, it was scary at times, but it was all a part of the adventure, and what an adventure it was!

On to: Part 2 of "Life on the Ocean Wave"


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