Unpacking a Home

Life ashore is very different!

I mean hugely different, much more so than I had expected. In my naivety I thought I could fairly seamlessly make the transition from a simple life afloat to a simple life ashore, but no.

Life ashore is anything but simple 

I have felt bombarded by things that need done, attended to, responded to, people to see, places to go, things to sort out. Like a never-ending tidal wave that has to be surfed, it just keeps coming.

Of course there’s a clue to survival there;

 IT IS NEVER ENDING. 

There is no point in even beginning to entertain the idea that it can all be done.

After feeling truly out of my depth and totally overwhelmed and getting pretty ill again as a result, I am waking up to reality and attempting to be in a calmer, slower, more simple place, despite what may go on around me.

Getting the balancing act going has been tough. We went in at the deep end; less than a week after stepping ashore the children started school and two days later they had their 14th birthday/coming home party.

made by me!

25 teenage children rampaging round the house eating us out of house and home was not my idea of simple. Nevertheless we survived, they all thought it was magnificent and Rufus and Anya were well and truly re-acquainted with their pals; a good thing.

And another, twins equals two cakes!!

Three cheers for the parents please, hip hip……..

On the whole unpacking the house was actually fairly straight forward as we were simply putting stuff back where it had been before. Even though we had done an enormous clear out before we went we still managed to fill a whole car with stuff for the charity shop. I guess we have learned to live with less.

To the charity shop

A part of me would like to have cleared even more, but it’s hard. Even although I really only want things that are useful, beautiful or sentimental we have a lot of them. Nevertheless our home is a lot less crowed than it was before which is great.

We still haven’t done it all but the house is functioning and I think we needed a rest; a few pictures on the wall might be nice though!

There are some compensations though, Mother Nature at her best.

I’ve missed the simple way of life; living with what we needed plus a few luxuries. Our main concerns were weather, food, water and fuel.

COMING SOON, if you can bear it.

More of these things and how we are navigating our way through a shore based life

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Google Buzz
  • Reddit
  • RSS
Posted in Home | 6 Comments

Rowan’s Last Leg Home

At last I find a moment to fill in the last leg home.

Arran behind

Entering the first lock

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My dear friend Annie and her two children met us at Ardrishaig. Annie was almost hoarse with shouting; she had been waving madly and screaming at the boat in front until she realised it was not us!

Relaxing in the Argyll sunshine

It was a great welcome back to Scotland, and even more so as her friend was back home preparing lunch. We had a lovely lazy afternoon sitting in the garden, later showering and then enjoying another round of lazing around and food. Rufus and Anya stayed for a sleep (read awake) over.

Molly on the stern rope

Somehow Annie managed to round them all up and off so we left as planned for our trip through the Crinan Canal. The first couple of locks proved arduous, because we didn’t quite understand the system but after some instructions from the lock-keeper we developed a routine which saw us safely all the way through.

Opening the sluices

Apparently you have to wait till the water equalises before you even attempt to move the gates and then it’s really a case of leaning into them until they start to move.

Now that’s the way to do it!

We also had the good fortune to go with a boat making use of the “assisted passage” so there was more help from lock-keepers than is normal. This other yacht is making a circumnavigation of the UK this year and next, what a great adventure. We might even see them over the winter as they will be laying-up around Oban.

Water pouring over a gate

Midway along the canal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At Crinan Ashley and Anya briefly chatted to our friend Twig who was just leaving the sea-lock with the boat he skippers, and then we had drinks aboard with Annie’s sailing friend Stanley and crew who had come down in his yacht from Ardfern.

As is traditional after a Crinan Canal passage we retired to the pub for a drink and something to eat.

Heilin Coo watching us eat

The next day we left mid afternoon to try and catch the tide to Oban.

We failed.

We got to the Doris Mor (a narrow stretch which at full spring tide pelt can reach 8 knots) a little early and although it was neaps and not in full flood it was a rather arduous and lengthy motor against the tide, silly us, too eager to get home.

Luckily our lovely little engine did us proud all day, thank goodness, as there was almost no wind. There was however regular anxious glancing at the exhaust to check water was coming out and it always was.

What a home-coming we had. Not only did Argyll and the West welcome us home with the most glorious day, brilliant sunshine and warmth. We were also met at Dunstaffnage by a gang of pals, one of whom (thank you Margaret), took a video of us coming in. A party ensued which was fantastic; a great way to be welcomed back, so thank you to everyone who made it down. We stayed up very late, or should I say early, which meant a slow start the next morning.

Anya’s friend Jack arrived and whisked Anya off into town while the rest of us tried to decide what essentials to take home.

My sister Morag arrived mid afternoon with her two gorgeous, yummy scrummy toddlers, who were very entertaining as they explored the boat. Our friend Michael arrived later with his two sons who are great pals of Rufus’s and he was taken off to their place for tea, and then stayed the night.

After copious cups of tea we eventually did it………………………. we left the Rowan and headed home where we have now been for about a month. I intend to write another blog about the settling in to life ashore thing we’re engaged in; it deserves one.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Google Buzz
  • Reddit
  • RSS
Posted in UK | 1 Comment

Home and cut-off

The move from Rowan to home has begun. It’s quite amazing what you can fit in 28 feet afloat.

Well we are home and find ourselves less connected than the whole year away. We are carless, internetless and landlineless at the moment so have had to come the 3/4 hr walk to the nearest cafe.

It seems our dongle which worked almost everywhere in the Med has been defeated by the West Coast and we are unable to pick up any signals. We’ve walked all over the house and every accessible part of the garden, all to no avail.

Anyway, that’s the situation so if anyone needs to get a hold of us please use our mobiles for now.

At some point I’ll bring our actual sailing adventure to a conclusion but at the moment I’m up to my ears in unpacking and boxes. We have already filled several boxes for the charity shop, STUFF we now know we definitely do not need.

 

 

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Google Buzz
  • Reddit
  • RSS
Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

4 miles to go!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Heading for home

Almost there, sun shining it’s heavenly, what a place to live!

Dunstaffange Marina by 8.30pm tonight, come on down.

 

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Google Buzz
  • Reddit
  • RSS
Posted in UK | 3 Comments

Catch up photos for Dartmouth and Newlyn

Approaching Dartmouth at dawn

 

 

 

Dartmouth old inner harbour

Ali on board

 

Ali’s Mum Caroline onboard

Dart river trip to Totnes

Totnes high street

Drying out in Newlyn

Newlyn harbour

Old town Newlyn

Found time to fool around with felt.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Google Buzz
  • Reddit
  • RSS
Posted in UK | Leave a comment

By the skin of our teeth we’re nearly home!

I’m writing this from the middle of the Irish Sea; somewhere I wasn’t prepared to come a week ago.

It wasn’t all bad, we had gluten/dairy free trifle

Our trip round Land’s End, across the Bristol Channel up to Fishguard in Wales turned out, for me, to be the worst we’ve done all year, and left me a little traumatised and frightened about going to sea again.

I’ve been pondering why now, why that particular adventure, we’ve had some wild ones before, what was different about this one?

I don’t know for sure but suspect it’s the combination of tiredness, tides and troubled engine.

Lyra and crew who we watched the Olympic Opening Ceremony with left Sunday morning and heading east we left in the afternoon heading west.

 

Lyra leaving

The forecast looked good for a straight run all the way however first it meant a big tacking session to get round Land’s End.

After a long haul out to Wolf Rock we tacked and were on course for Wales, then disaster………the engine alarm came on and we discovered that again no water was coming out of the back. Ash fiddled away with it for an hour or so to no avail before heading to bed. With wind and tide in our favour we decided to push on. Throughout he night we averaged 6 knots which is fantastic for us. The slowest we sailed was 3.5 knots for a while the next morning but the wind then came round more on to our beam and we scudded along.

We calculated we would reach the Welsh headlands of St. Ann’s, St. David’s and hopefully Strumble Head with the tide, which is important as there are some pretty strong races there. We also realised, with horror that we would arrive in the dark!

Pounding along

So we have tidal races, darkness, a harbour we don’t know AND no engine.

Being rather cautious and not fancying the 7-8 knot tides we took the longer route outside some of the Islands. I’m glad we did as the wind freshened to a force 7 on the beam ( the middle of the boat), with full sail and the tide with us we sped along maintaining over 8 knots for some time and even hitting 10 at one point. Over the next two hours our average speed was 7 1/2 knots, a record.

Proof of speed

This all happened as we passed Grassholm island where we met a smell……….. the binoculars explained it all, the whole rock was teeming with birds. It’s home to thousands of gannets and boy do you know it.

Grassholm the smelly island

I was on watch now and sitting alone at the helm in a force 7 contemplating how on earth we would negotiate out way into an unknown harbour, in the dark with no engine started to get to me.

We’d phoned the harbour master who was 65 miles away and not particularly interested. He said there was no-one who could assist us and that it was basically lunacy to come to the west coast of Wales in a fin keel ( most boats have bilge keels so they can dry out in the tidal harbours.

He did however say that there was a buoy we could pick up which would we okay until Tuesday when he reckoned the depth would be insufficient for us. The spring tides were coming. This turned out not to be true, we did our tidal curve calculations and stayed.

GREAT A BUOY, BUT HOW DO WE FIND IT IN THE DARK UNDER SAIL AND IF WE CAN’T HOW DO WE THEN GET TO THE ANCHORING AREA????????

Winds change once inside harbour walls and things are never quite as you expect them to be so we were facing a potentially very difficult situation.

My mind raced around all the possibilities that needed thought through. We all needed to know exactly what our jobs were and how and when to do them. I went in to “military precision mode”.

It was now getting dark, the wind had dropped and we were only managing 1.8 to 2.2 knots against the tide around Strumble Head, not nice. It was pretty bouncy and more than a little alarming as we were slowly being nudged towards the headland.

Desperate to get there but critically aware of the potential danger we had to choose to take a longer route and stay outside the shallows after the headland; it’s horrible having to point the boat away from where you want to be, but we safety comes first. This did give us a little more speed which helped.

We were all shattered and I could hardly focus on the chart-plotter which was worrying. I guess my anxiety level now escalated, partly through genuine concern about the reality of our situation but also because I was aware that pushing myself like this has a price and has past led to a relapse on my part and I hate that; aching and pains and crushing exhaustion. Rufus also pointed out that we had now done 3 nights at sea in a week, no wonder we were all shattered.

Knowing I needed 100% concentration led to a rather tense exchange with the children. I basically read the riot act and instilled in them the absolute need for them to do exactly what they were asked , exactly when they were asked with no questions or answering back.

“What, jump in the water if you say so…….”, always have to have the last word!

“Exactly that. If I tell you to jump in the water then you jump in, you do not stop to ask why or to argue about it you just do it, because that will be exactly what the situation demands”

That sobered up two previously lippy twin teens I can tell you.

I know it was probably pretty horrible to see your Mum so tense and to be shouted at to shut up and not to say a word at all, nothing, nada, but that’s how it is on a boat when you need 100% concentration and cooperation.

As we neared the outer mole Ashley pumped the dingy up, fast, as the wind had picked up again and we were whizzing into the harbour now. The outboard was installed incase we need to use it to punt us around then Ashley pulled out chain incase we had to anchor and got a rope ready for the mooring.

Ashley and the kids then dropped the main we wanted to use the jib only as we could furl it in and out as needed, more flexible.

Rufus was assigned as Ashley’s aide; they took up their post on the foredeck complete with boat hook and the big powerful torch to look for the buoy. Anya stayed in the cockpit with me as chief jib furler and to keep and eye on the depth gage. I took the helm.

We inched in with a little pocket-handkerchief of a jib, torch on searching searching for the elusive buoy.

Just as we decided to give up and anchor we spotted it. We had switched the engine at the last-minute and used that to punt us to the buoy which we picked up first time, well done Rufus and Ashley. Anya did an amazing job furling the jib and as quickly as we could we turned off the engine, whose alarm was screaming by now, “I’m too hot”.

Huge relief all round.

I know a few sailors who would have poured themselves an enormous dram at that stage, but all we wanted was bed.

Some dear friends of ours live in Fishguard having moved here there just before we set off on this voyage. Ben has sailing and the sea in his blood so was most sympathetic about our adventure and achievement of the pervious 30 odd hours, very supportive and affirming.

Rufus taking friends ashore in Fishguard

Actually after he pointed out what a big trip we had made I took a closer look at their map of the UK and it suddenly hit me what a biggy it was, two massive headlands as well as crossing an exposed open expanse of sea with no engine for back-up, need I say more?

Ben and their son Alasdair came to Rowan the next morning bearing gluten-free chocolate cake and the offer of hot showers, washing machine and dinner.

We were scooped up in a bubble of love, care and attention which was exactly what we needed. At one point the night before we all agreed we never wanted to go to sea again. The care of friends, hot showers and good food soothed.

Fishguard friends!

We ended up staying the night too, so just as well we had all brought our pj’s in the dirty washing, which by this time had been washed and dried for us.

The next day Rufus and Anya settled into the couch with Alasdair and spent the day ensconced in films  and the X-box while we adults did a wee tour of the local area. We also stocked up at the green grocer where lots of local fruit and veg abound, and visited the deli where we were sampled and bought some lovely local cheeses, including a blue goats cheese which I adored.

As a side note I’d just like to say that having had various tests since coming back to the UK I have had confirmation that there are various nasties I have to deal with in my digestive system as well as a few other things going on health-wise, BUT and this is a big BUT for me, I am not allergic or intolerant to dairy or gluten or eggs after all. The reaction to these has all been symptoms of other issues. I can’t tell you what a relief it is to be finally getting some answers, and to be able to eat cheese, though I can’t go mad as the problems won’t be tackled till I’m home.

I’m starting on the blue goat’s cheese and yogurt, yum!

Sugar free/dairy free ice-cream

Not content with those delights we also visited a famous ice-cream shop in St. David’s where, would you believe it, they had soya, sugar-free raspberry ice-cream, right up my street thank you, and delicious too.

House in St. Davids, Wales

St. Davids is a delightful little town with a huge cathedral I am often moved to tears in the sanctuary of a church and this was no exception, enhanced I think, by the choir practice going on.

I had a pre-planned telephone date so returned to Rowan for that while the rest of the crew opted for another night ashore. In fact I stayed the whole of the next day and night too, sleeping, resting and relaxing, I do so enjoy my own, quiet company and my lovely family enjoyed what they love, the delights of shore life.

Oh I forgot to mention that after finding out that the local engineer was off all week due to family illness Ashley had another go at the engine. He blew through lots of pipes and by some miracle the engine ran and water came out of the back, problem solved, or so we thought, read on…………

Nasty weather kept us in Fishguard till Saturday morning, and a good thing too. I think we all needed the rest and recuperation. Ben, Debra and Alasdair looked after us well so by friday evening and our last fair-well supper together we were ready to go to sea again.

Rainbow in Fishguard

They came down to wave us off waving like mad from the fort as we blew our fog horn in salute and thanks to a our lovely family friends, we miss you.

Our plan was to sail as far north as we thought we could manage, definitely one over night perhaps two, in which case we hoped to make it all the way to Scotland, but guess what?

After hammering away for a day and night the engine decided to overheat at 2am. Ashley did all the blowing he’d done before but to no avail so we had no choice but to switch off AGAIN.

Dolphins in the Irish Sea

We made slow progress tacking back and forth in a bumpy lumpy sea eventually limping into Bangor in Northern Ireland around 9am. Again we used the engine at the very last minute to get us into a berth.

Luckily we landed on our feet, Bangor has a lovely marina, with superb hot showers and a laundry. Ashley sorted out all our washing, we stocked up with fresh stuff again and an engineer came down in the afternoon.

Gluten, dairy and sugar free blueberry muffins, a woman needs treats you know.

Michael Glover of Marine Engine Services was wonderful. A lovely chatty bloke who immediately instilled confidence as he worked his way around the engine explaining all the things that could be up.

With Ashley’s help he eventually narrowed it down to possible blockage in the sea cock value. Since we weren’t up for having the boat lifted out he took apart what he could and in true engineer style, wiggled a screw driver around and he presto the flow of water improved.

After hearing about all our exploits and the current niggles with the engine he was firstly amazed we’d had such little trouble all year and secondly suggested that this old motor is spiraling downwards and needs some serious tlc over the winter. It’s not “fixed” but if we are careful and don’t thrash it we should make it home.

Still time for a round of crazy golf in Bangor

Everyone was tired, we hadn’t had much sleep, what with two night’s at sea, the engine anxiety and a very bumpy and uncomfortable motion. I hit a wall about lunch time and spent most of the rest of the day lying in bed, boring but necessary.

Rather than get up at 3am we opted for a good night’s sleep and to leave on the afternoon tide, it would mean another night at sea, but we’d get to Scotland, at last.

Sunset over Northern Ireland

Well we’re nearly there. Courtesy of our dongle and close proximity to land I am typing this as we pass between Arran and the Mull of Kintyre. The jolly old Cal Mac ferry has just passed, the sun is shining, blue skies and puffy white clouds, green everywhere, this must be home.

Sailing past Arran

Our aim is to get to Ardrishaig today, head through the Crinan Canal tomorrow then up to Dunstaffnage Marina on Friday or Sat, it all depends on the tides and weather.

 

 

 

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Google Buzz
  • Reddit
  • RSS
Posted in UK | 6 Comments

Dartmouth, Friends and the Olympics

(Still no photos I’m afraid, we have to save our internet access for the weather forecasts).

After arriving so early in to Dartmouth I went back to bed for some more sleep, Ashley pottered and the children did their usual; lay in bed for hours appearing like sleepy dormice mid morning.

Later that day our friend Ali, her Mum Caroline and little boy Aleks arrived. We met Ali when we lived in Jersey many moons ago, and we all have sailing in common. Caroline  had sailed for many years though not recently so she enjoyed bobbing about with us.

Olya, another friend, we met in Scotland but who moved back here a year ago, turned up with her daughter a good friend of Anya’s and they immediately disappeared to do teen girl things, which involved, make-up, new lipstick and nail varnish.

Olya popped off for a swim in the sea while the rest of us enjoyed Pasties for lunch , copious amounts of tea and lots of chatting, catching up and reminiscing; a most enjoyable day.

On Wednesday the sun was still shining and hot, so dressed as for the Med Ashley, Anya and I enjoyed a river trip up to Totnes to see Olya. We had a little wander around then The Two A’s caught the bus back. I stayed to share tea, cake and lovely conversation with Olya. I’ve missed having my good women friends to do this with. The cafe was vegetarian and had a sugar-free gluten-free cake, how good is that?

It was Totnes after all, home of the Transition Town Movement so not surprising to find that sort of place. Though there wasn’t as much other evidence of Transition as we had expected. There are edible flower beds around town upon which you can nibble as and when you like and we browsed in the book shop full of fascinating titles. I got a book about Perennial plants in readiness for reacquainting myself with my garden.

The What’s On board in the book shop was quite overwhelming with its array of amazing and interesting activities to do in around the town. Totnes certainly is a thriving place. There are hardly any of the normal big chain high street shops, most are individual owned, how very refreshing, and they have at least two green grocers.

After a fond farewell I caught the bus back to Dartmouth enjoying the rolling hills and fields on the way, it’s a long time since I’ve seen this sort of countryside and I have to admit it brought a tear or two to my eyes.

I’m thinking that whilst I love the sea I have missed being rooted on the earth and looking forward to returning to solid ground. I think it’s a reflection of my improving health that I am looking forward to walking “the circuit” as I call it. A circular walk from our house along the lane past the standing stone and cairns, passed fields of sheep and cows and the old castle, down towards the shore, then back along the coast and up home through the woods.

We left Dartmouth on Thursday heading west and south. We hadn’t decided for sure where we would go, wanting to keep our options open and maybe consider two night at sea, going round Lands’ End and up to Wales.

The day started well with the wind behind and a gentle rolling motion, the sort that rocks you to sleep rather than jolts you awake. However as the evening wore on the wind direction changed and increased as it came round to the north. We reefed down around 10pm and then spent a very bumpy night at sea. By 6.30am when I came back on deck shaken and stirred and definitely not rested Ashley had managed to get round the Lizard to a few miles south of Penzance.

We had to tack a few times to make it and with the wind blowing steady force 7 according to our indicator, it was wet and horrible. To make matters worse about a mile off the engine buzzers started going  and we discovered there was no cooling water coming out of the exhaust.

A quick scrabble ensued and we discovered a leak in the pipe. Thankfully some water was getting round the engine but it was all then pumping out into the bilge. So pumping out the engine bilge by hand we arrived into Newlyn fishing harbour, just south of Penzance, very wet and glad to make port. Lands End waits for another day.

Ashley set-off to find a hose and came back amazed. Just off the pontoon there was a hose and pipe connectors shop so he was back in a jiffy with the part. It’s all fixed now and it has had a good run so all appears well. We certainly hope so as this afternoon we plan to leave for Fishguard, going round Lands End in daylight and then over the Bristol Channel by night.

Last night though tired, we actually watched the open ceremony of the Olympics. How, you may ask?

We we got chatting to the family on the yacht next door and it turned out they have a TV on board, which the previous owner had installed. We all piled on and enjoyed the spectacle, Rowan Atkinson getting our biggest thumbs up.

Though somewhat challenging, this UK trip is gradually preparing us for home. We’re immersed in our own culture, not all of it good, but we are certainly enjoying visiting friends along the way and seeing these new places. Fishguard is home to Ben, Debra and Alasdair friends who moved from Scotland a year ago, just before we set-off on this trip.

After that we plan to go over night to Dublin for a few days then overnight again to the north of Ireland and then we will day hop up to Oban.

The weather is changing again, but some southerly winds are forecast so if we are lucky we will be blown up the Irish sea, let’s hope so, please keep your fingers crossed, and for all you Scotties, we’ll see you very soooooooon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Google Buzz
  • Reddit
  • RSS
Posted in UK | Leave a comment

More Engine Excitement!

(No photos till we have more internet access)

As well as having our engine fixed in Poole, summer arrived, the sun came out and began to shine like it normally does in a South Coast summer, we also saw a big firework display over the harbour and Ashley and Rufus enjoyed a Porsche rally.

Having decided to sell his Mercedes 300 SL, Ashley now hankering after Porsche for his next toy!

On Saturday we set off for Dartmouth.

Guess what?

Our engine died half way out of Poole harbour. It could hardly have picked a worse time. The place was awash with dingy races and various assorted craft commercial and pleasure out for the weekend, and enjoying the sun.

Luckily the wind was in our favour to sail back. By some miracle all the dinghies passed behind or in front and we didn’t actually have to change course or negotiate anything, except coming in along side under sail.

The harbour quay was almost empty, all the trip boats being out. We dropped the main then used the jib to power us towards the wall, furled it and used the way we had left to gently come along side. Easy peasy!

We hadn’t been there long before we were asked to move, apparently a tall ship was coming in and had booked the spot. We explained out predicament and were able to move up the quay a little. The tall ship never did arrive.

Life on Poole town quay ensued with a stream of holiday makers passing by commenting and questioning, peering and prying. It’s a busy place and with the sun streaming down the place was alive as was the sea. There’s a bridge round the corner that only opens every two hours so as the time approached crowds of mostly motor boats gathered waiting to get through and then our came a convoy from the other side.

Mike, the engineer turned up the next day ( Sunday) bled and fiddled a little and it started up ok. Ashley had tried all that but for some reason it hadn’t worked. Anyway it was easy to fix and for that we are grateful.

This interlude in Poole enabled us to buy some elements of the school uniforms Rufus and Anya will soon need. They are stashed on board ready for a few weeks time; reality is slowly dawning!

On Monday, third time lucky we set-off for Dartmouth and after a fairly easy and uneventful sail we got there. Actually the tide pushed us along so well we hit 8 knots at one point which meant we arrived off the entrance in the dark. Ashley decided to hang around for a while and after waking me at first light around 4.30 we set-off towards the entrance and into Dartmouth harbour.

What a charming, delightful place it is to arrive at by sea, we are very lucky to have had this opportunity.

After a few attempts we managed to berth on the town quay pontoon. The tide kept pushing us off, but eventually with another approach it actually nudged us in at 6am, phew!

 

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Google Buzz
  • Reddit
  • RSS
Posted in UK | Leave a comment

Back in Britain

Ashley neglected to mention that arriving into Brighton was slightly tricky with the wind from behind and bigger waves set up as they hit the shallower seas by the coast. This along with the back wash off the marina wall caused a choppy and rolly sea to navigate the narrow dredged channel. We totally get why they say not to attempt it in a southerly gale, too right, it would be impossible.

Our cockpit tent in full use again, just like the winter in Greece!

It was very weird being in such familiar territory, not only back in the UK but Brighton too, where we lived for years. Also hearing English spoken is strange and being able to read and understand everything is odd too.

AND the WEATHER!!!!!!!!!!!!

How disappointing, we had not reckoned on all this rain, cold and wind. It’s harsh coming from sweltering heat to this; summer to winter in one swoop. We’ve had to dig out shoes and winter woolies, duvets, blankets and even the fan heater reared it’s head one evening. That said we do appreciate that we have had a summer.

Posie of flowers from Christina’s garden

Luckily lots of friends came to visit us and our spirits soared. It was wonderful to see so many of you and to feel so loved and supported. We entertained and were entertained and all week, joy!

Brunch at Gavin and Rebecca’s

Anya ran around Brighton with a pal, shopping and eating rubbish, Rufus managed a session in the Warhammer shop, Ashley learned how to make ice-cream and I was able to chat and chat to my pals.

Outrageous cakes in Choccywoccydoodah’s in Brighton

The other side of all this is the set-back. We feel like it’s winter in Greece all over again, waiting, waiting waiting for a window in the weather when we can make a dash for somewhere else. So blinking frustrating and also it will mean we have to push on like mad when we get the chance and probably do a lot more big hops than we planned.

Time to bake a gluten free,sugar free lemon cake, not quite in the Coccywoccy league, but good all the same.

If you are not cutting your carbon footprint massively now’s the time to take that on. We’ve encountered strange, unusual weather patterns every where we’ve gone; people complaining that it’s not how it used to be and it’s not predictable anymore, Climate Change?

Brighton view

It’s obvious from RIO +20 that we can’t wait for the politicians to get their acts together, they’re in the pockets of big business whose lobby is far too powerful and persuasive for power and money hungry, status seeking, old paradigm thinking people. WE need to make the changes, forge the way, TOGETHER. Join your local Transition Town movement, walk more, put on a jumper and turn down the heating, take bags when you shop, buy local, stop all this shopping that goes on, do you REALLY need whatever it is……….sorry for the wee lecture but it’s a subject close to my heart.

Painted wall in Brighton

In Brighton we had a well known and enormous supermarket near the marina, open 24 hours a day, very handy but my goodness it’s a cathedral to consumerism, eugh!

Stay away from these places, they are designed to make you spend, and even if you are disciplined enough to go in and get out with what was on your list, it can’t be good for the human soul to be in these places.

Most of what they sell is packaged and processed, high profit earning rubbish, food that makes us fat, trinkets and baubles to adorn our already over decorated homes. When we shop like that we are seduced into supporting everything that’s wrong with modern so called civilized living; the exploitation of natural resources, people and places while all the time lining the pockets of the shareholders.

Shocked at coming home?

Yes.

We have been pleasantly cushioned from the consumer mad system that predominates our culture. We see now that we have been very fortunate indeed living a life largely free from these temptations.

Why are all the green beans from Kenya or Peru when they are actually in season here, now?

I won’t go on but supermarket shopping on a UK scale is horrifying and shocking and I have to say tempting. Every time we go in we come out with things we don’t really need, more goodies to stuff our already well covered selves with.

So welcome home Rowan and crew, the UK………..mmmmm, culture shock me thinks.

Zooming along to Gosport

Anyway after waiting in Brighton for a week we set-off and managed to get as far as Gosport. Ashley’s Mum has a flat in Southampton so she came down and visited us which was really lovely. We live a long way away so it was good to catch up before the realities of school and life back home get a grip and limit our chances to see each other.

 

With Ashley’s Mum, Didi, lovely to welcome her onboard.

Apart from seeing Didi some of the crew also enjoyed the Historic dockyard in Portsmouth, a meal out or two out and a visit to the cinema.

Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth

Eventually the west wind looked like it was abating so we set-off again, with the tide intent on going over night to Devon, Dartmouth in fact to see some more friends.

With the wind against us we tacked out way round the inner side of the Isle of Wight negotiating our way past lots of lucky boats going down wind in the other direction. Luckily the tide was in our favour so our speed kept over 5/6 knots all the way.

The Needles

Eventually we began the exit through the Needles Channel in a wind against tide situation; not good.The waves were breaking on the sandbanks on each side and as the channel narrowed they were even breaking around us. It was rather alarming to say the least and Rowan did go up and crash down A LOT.

Great relief was felt all round as we passed the safe water fairway beacon. The depth increased and the swell settled down to one direction. But the wind was not changing, even sheeted in hard with all the sail up and racing along at nearly 7 knots with the tide still on our side we were heading in the wrong direction, for Alderney for goodness sake!

Ashley calculated that at this rate it would basically take forever to get anywhere. The engine had also stalled once and we were not enjoying the rough motion at all.

More cockpit confabs ensued and eventually we decided to bite the bullet and head for Poole. The tide was good for entering and bonus, there is a Bukh engineer there.

Part of the Jurassic coast near Poole, I think.

Sunset saw us motoring up the inner small boat channel, which you have to follow carefully. Earlier in the day there had been a Pan Pan on the radio for a yacht stuck on a bank in Poole harbour, we didn’t want to be the next.

So here we are in Poole. The engineer is amazed we’ve come so far with the engine as it is, there are lots of things needing tweeked or fixed, including seals on the water pump which were in the wrong way round and had been leaking. Since we’ve never had them done that’s been going on for a long time and according to the engineer Mike this is a major cause of knackering your engine as salt water is getting in where it shouldn’t. By some miracle ours is not too bad.

Guess what this buoy in Poole harbour is called?
Aunt Betty.

Although we’ve had a wee bit of a telling off from him about not changing filters and things we don’t mind because this lovely little engine has served us amazingly well and probably done the equivalent of about 5-10 years normal use.

Fireworks over Poole harbour

It’s Friday night and we are very grateful to Mike, of Purbeck Marine who is still here, at 10pm working away so we can hopefully leave tomorrow.

Engine in bits.

The weather forecast suggests the wind is going to decrease and come from the north and then the south which means we really might be able to get down to Devon or even Cornwall. Then all we have to do is get round the corner and up the Irish Sea, easy hu?

 

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Google Buzz
  • Reddit
  • RSS
Posted in UK | Leave a comment

Monaco to Blighty – another saga by Ashley!

We arrived in Monte Carlo after a casual night of motoring across flat seas so still that the moon was reflected almost as if in a lake. Despite the monotony of it after a few hours it beats bashing into a force 6!

 

Can you spot Rowan?

We headed for the main harbour pretty sure that they’d be able to squeeze a little boat in somewhere, and that the dozen super yachts anchored off was because they were too big to fit into the harbour.

Unfortunately they were full, or at least said they were. In fact they were apparently in the process of selling the harbour in a few days and so couldn’t let any other boats in – must be some dodgy tax haven law!

A little crest fallen we chugged off to the west to try the other harbour in Monaco, Fontvieille, and were given a space which turned out to be better. The staff were very friendly and helpful, the setting was much to our liking and harbour was quieter at night even though there was the odd weird noise which turned out to be from the zoo half way up the cliff at the end of the harbour.

In a sleep deprived stupor Mairi, Rufus and I wandered round to the main harbour looking for a chandlery to buy a Monaco courtesy flag, to assess the quality of the ice cream, and to get a feel for the place. Sadly the place was weighed, measured and found sadly wanting in all areas.

Something to aim for.

The next day after we were all rested we set off again and although we again couldn’t get a courtesy flag our opinion of Monaco was very different. There were a number of parks and gardens we strolled through and all the beds were perfectly weeded, all the grass was the cut to the same length, and the number of lakes, fountains and shaded paths were a very welcome in the 35 degree heat. There were also public lifts and escalators to take us up to the cliff and to the bridges over the roads; which was a god send for Mairi and the rest of us would have liked the exercise but joined Mairi for the company. There was also art work mainly statues, everywhere..

With a good night’s sleep everything seemed to be oozing wealth. There was an immaculate look to everywhere, not a thing was out of place, no litter, no shabby buildings, all shops appeared to be designer ones, restaurants or chic cafes – no greasy spoons for a good old fry up, which probably accounted for the lack of overweight let alone obese people. The cars were all Astons, Rolls, Ferraris, and Lamborghinis with the odd cheap BMW, Porsche or Jag hidden down a side street. And the Ice cream shop that Rufus and I found was right up there with the best of them.

That evening Mairi and I headed off for the casino. We thought that we might not win all the costs of the year as Mairi was feeling pretty tired after a day in Monte Carlo but hopes were high. We put on our glad rags (though most Monegasque would probably just consider them rags!) and headed for the Casino tooled up and ready to play.

 

Outside the casino, during the day.

The building really looks the part, very 1880’s with liveried doormen welcoming you in as you mount the steps and enter the doors , through the ornate foyer with sweeping staircases to the side, into the grand hall, turn left into the gaming rooms were the bubble bursts.

Although the room itself looks fantastic the overall effect is cheap and tacky. The first section has a collection of fruit machines that offer the possibility of a 20,000 Euro jackpot, the next had 6 Blackjack and 4 Roulette tables crammed in the middle of the room with hardly any space round them for playing or watching, on the left of which was a long bar and on the right a Crap table. The next room had more slot machines and electronic Blackjack and Poker machines. Then the room on the right was a larger bar with the “Show”. The overall effect was to really emphasise the fact that the casino is not about gaming and a bit of fun but about exploiting the addiction of unfortunate people.

We started off in the bar and had a very dilute cocktail for 19 Euros, listened to the competent 3 piece combo playing old swing/jazz/crooner numbers and watched our fellow gamblers for a while before heading for the slot machines.

It’s many years since I used to enjoy going to casino and maybe there are all like this now. But in the good old days there would be a few fruit machines that you could put your money in, they had a list of what you were trying to get to win, you would have the possibility of getting nudges to improve your chances of winning, maybe the possibility of gambling the number of nudges perhaps some course, circuit or game you would need to complete and, of course, the chance of gambling any win you had to dizzying heights when bells would ring and the sound of money pumping out of the machine would be music to your ears.

Now, with the progress of capitalism, electronics and greed, you get a machine that instead of putting money in you feed a paper chit into a slot, the machine is called something like Zeus and the Titans or Revenge of the Sith with a flashing banner saying many more games available (not that you know what the game is that you are playing) there is no indication of what you are trying to do. The decisions you need to make are whether to the push of the button for 1, 2, 5, 10 or 50 bets (multiples of 2 cents) per spin and how many lines you are playing (up to 20 but I never did quite figure out where they all were).

You then press the start button and the reels spin. When they stop you either win or loose but never know why other than some symbols on the reels start to flash and your credits increase until the flashing stops. Some times the machine says you win but your credits increase less than the amount they decreased when you pressed the spin button. Then when you wanted to try a different machine you pressed the print ticket button and took your piece of paper to the next machine.

We were quickly bored of these machines so headed for the tables.

It was now about 10.30 and we had to wait for a while to get a seat at one of the tables (as we didn’t want to play the 25 Euro minimum Blackjack table) and only half of the tables were open. Eventually we both managed to squeeze into one of the 5 spaces there were round one of the Roulette tables, changed some cash and started to play for our year off!

After about an hour we counted our winnings (minus 30%) and decided to head back to the bar to regroup and see if the cocktails were any better. One the way into we noticed two Star Wars slot machines that boasted just under ½ million Euros jackpot so we agreed that after a drink and a rest from the tiring time we’d had loosing, we’d win the jackpot before heading back to the tables.

The drinks were still poor, the band was still competent but the bar had filled up and the people-watching was greatly improved with Mairi managed to give me a few pointers on this fascinating new art form/entertainment.

I’m not sure if it’s the water but there seems to be something in Monte Carlo that stunts the growth of the men (vertically not horizontally) but has the opposite effect on women. I can’t believe that the ratio of short overweight men who had women on their arms who were taller, thinner and younger than they were can be normal.

There were also a number of groups of 3 women to 1 guy, or 5 to 10 women (all young) in skin-tight short dresses/skirts (some of whom Mairi thought should have gone in for a layered look rather than the tight look) and high heels most of whom looked a little awkward. Mairi pointed out that their heels were so high they looked like giraffes when they walked, some were also continually pulling their dresses down as they were too short.

There were the people who looked like high (or middle) class hookers – groups of 2 men and 2 women talking English (as the common language) with various accents, differing age gaps, with the men sitting back spouting forth and the women on the edge of their seats laughing excessively on cue. Then there was the odd older women botoxed/plasticised to the hilt and finally there was actually 1 woman who was overweight which made Mairi and I feel that we weren’t so out of place and may be normal after all!!

I have later been told (by friends in Brighton) that “the slutty look is trendy and it’s what young girls want to look like”. Well I guess Oban is a bit behind the time in trendy fashion but then who knows it may have caught up by the time we get back.

It was then time to head back to the job in hand so back to the tables (via the Star Wars slot machine at which in our confused dazed state we lost 10 Euros before we could figure out what the machine was doing) and start gambling seriously.

After a protracted winning streak of about 20 minutes the croupier complained that he had paid out to us on every spin of the wheel but neither we nor the other players at the table sympathised with him we were back in profit but not to the extent the casino was.

The player next to Mairi was over half way through his second 500 Euro note, the group of 3 Australian guys squeezed in at the top of the table were even more heavily down and the 2 ladies next to me didn’t look too happy either. But the most surprising thing was the person who changed 500 Euros into 2 Euro chips put the whole lot in fair sized piles all over the table to such an extent that it looked as if he’d covered every number at least 3 times individual number bets, column and row bets, line, corner and double number bets and yet by some miracle the ball managed to land on the only number that he’d somehow overlooked and he lost the lot.

We finally set a time limit of 1:30 as time had slipped by. The gambling adrenalin had made Mairi forget about her tiredness as once you leave the ornate hall and enter the gambling room and bar there is no natural light or clocks to remind you of time passing and the air conditioning is on so the temperature is perfect. We cashed in our chips, keeping one to hang on the Christmas Tree (we usually try to get something to hang on our tree to remind us of where we’ve holidayed) and went back out into the hot sticky night air.

Well I’m sure you’re all wondering how we did and I’m also sure you’ll all be delighted to hear we ended up winning, thought not quite breaking the bank. After deducting the cost of getting to and from the casino, the drinks (no food as the restaurant was way out of our bracket – so much for the cheap food and drink of old), tips for the croupiers and chips for the Tree we ended DOWN 100 Euros. Still was worth it for about 5 hours of entertainment but Mairi has decided not to bother going to another casino (but I keep telling her Las Vegas will be different) and if I ever go back to Monte Carlo I’ll try a few more doors (like the ones in the mirrored walls of the bar) in the hope of finding the not so tacky fun, crowed rooms I remember of old. But maybe it was just that in the smoke filled casinos of yesteryear one couldn’t see what it really looked liked.

After a night at anchor in a bay at Cap Ferrat and a final couple of days of swimming in the Med we headed for Antibes, our last port in the Med.

Last swim in the Med.

As we approached we Antibes a super yacht, the Katara, fell in behind us and although it had no helicopter, yacht bigger than our boat or secondary motor boat bigger than us on board it was one of the biggest we’d seen and we thought it was too way big to fit in Antibes as it was more like a Naval ship, but in she came and dwarfed everything. Apparently Katara is only the 14th largest super yacht in the world at about 410 feet, which is not even 15 times as long as us and about 125 feet shorter than Roman’s boat!!

Super yacht which had to wait and follow US in!

We had a pleasant couple of days pottering round Antibes getting Rowan ready to be taken out of the water and loaded onto the lorry for Dieppe.

Everything from above decks being stored below

Violet and vanilla ice-cream to die for.

Cakes in Paris

While the really nice and helpful Roy, from Van de Wetering, drove Rowan across France we took the train to Paris for a few days staying in the only room we could find at short notice. One room and a bathroom, dodgy electrics, too hot to sleep, too noisy to open the window, in an iffy area. Not a patch on the apartment in Rome but at least Anya liked it.

Paris is always interesting and fun and although we only had a day and a half we all enjoyed ourselves and had a meal out where the Parisian waiter was polite, amusing and happily spoke English – maybe the EU will work!

Gallerie Lafyette, the Harrods of Paris, but not so good.

Next day we caught the train to Dieppe got the boat back in the water put everything back into place (except the forestay) which seemed to have too many bits!

Going in at Dieppe

Due to the tides we had to leave the inner dock at 1 o’clock in the morning to get into the marina where the next day we finished putting on the forestay and celebrated with a large fruit de mer.

 We set off for Brighton at 11pm and had a cracking sail overnight above 5 knots all the way and often over 6 even hitting 7.2 at one stage and 14 hours later we were back in Blighty tied up in Brighton marina.

Entering Brighton marina, overcast, cold and windy, what have we done!

 

While writing this blog post on the train from Brighton to Gatwick I’ve overheard the conversation of a group of American students and now understand why America uses so much energy. In their conversation about saving energy one of them said they were told at college that “it doesn’t matter if you turn a light off in a circuit as the electricity is still running round the circuit” – What hope is there for the world?

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Google Buzz
  • Reddit
  • RSS
Posted in Ashley, France/Monaco | 3 Comments