No ! not the last post as in the last post that i write here, merely the last post of 2017.
Several readers have commented that i haven’t been posting much recently, in fact i haven’t posted at all during December mainly because my autumn and winter sailing plans all fell apart partially because of other more urgent work and secondly because my back problems have got worse again. I have only been to the boat a couple of times this month and while there only done the necasary housework, yesterday i had planned to go out and anchor out for christmas but when i took an early look out of the hatch i could hardly see 10 yards and by the time that had cleared i had lost the tide so i spent the day doing the essential jobs and then having a walk around Topsham and the marshes.
I thought then that what i would do is a post about the whole year and not just the sailing although that has been good and the first stage of my UK trip has gone well although naturally not to plan : when does it ever ?
At home spring began with a small success in that the previous autumn and winter i had the foresight to plant a lot of spring bulbs in the areas of the gardens that i am trying to develop as more natural woodland style areas. Secondarily i also experimented again with planting up a dozen or so containers that i could move around. The container garden idea had been my first experiment with gardening in the micro-garden space of our previous home and which i transferred here initially as a small scale vegetable growing project.
As of today that project has come full-circle again with around 30 containers all planted and 2 new areas of the garden completely re-modelled and planted with a much more complex multi-layered planting scheme which should, for the first time, give me garden colour up until around the middle of next year. The first bulbs (of maybe a thousand) are already coming through.
In March i also made my sailing getaway with the aim of getting the Liberty out of the Tamar and further west to do a short shakedown cruise of the west-country before starting the longer trip eastwards along the south coast. What actually happened is that i spent 2 days cowering in a sheltered anchorage while the first of a series of gales boomed overhead and i had to abandon that first attempt at a getaway. I spent the better part of 3 days wrapped up in a sleeping bag watching as the shoreline danced around the boat and listenning to an endlesss series of ‘gales all areas’ on the radio.
The gales continued for the next couple of weeks until there was a short break when conditions eased and i made a bold and committed dash down the river, out of the sound in a ferocious wind against spring tide and then had a somewhat ‘energetic’ sail across to Fowey and got in there just as the western horizon went dark grey again. For a while i stayed alongside a pontoon in Fowey with no other boats on the river at all except for the working boats at the china clay works and then with more gales forecast cruised up to Golant and hid in the river there. It was in the Fowey river above Golant that i really discovered the Liberty’s ability to dry out level on a firm bottom and the fun of splashing along the shallow creeks while the tide ebbed.
By easter the front garden had exploded into colour, i planted just 2 of my deep beds with simple vegetable crops rather than doing a high maintainence scheme as i planned to be away sailing as much as possible. At Easter Jax joined me down at Golant and we cruised further west making a new base at Mylor and then cruised on to the Helford river.
In early summer my sailing plans changed several times, for a brief period it looked as though i would continue my cruise by going west around the Lizard to Penzance, maybe going out to the Scilly’s for our summer holiday and then sailing up the north Cornwall coast to maybe over-winter in Bideford maybe. Meanwhile what i actually did was spend more time exploring and enjoying the rivers and creeks above Falmouth. Falmouth river/Ruan creek became my regular go-to destination and overnight anchorage because the highly annoying Truro harbourmaster couldn’t try and claim harbour dues off me. I was also able to dry out there and avoided a lift out by doing my summer scrub on the hard sand.
In the summer we should have spent a solid 2 weeks just sailing but several things happened that made me completely change my plans. The main problem was an extended period of severe back pain that just wouldn’t resolve and i felt less than confident to cope with what promised to be some bouncy and dynamic sailing if we had continued. Added to that and compounding the problem was that i hadn’t managed to resolve the deck work such that i could work from the cockpit….being stiff and awkward meant that i couldn’t ‘move with the boat’ especially in trying to maintain balance on the coachroof while trying to reef or heave the anchor out of gloopy mud.
So…..no summer cruise but instead we headed off , first to the Lake district for a few nights staying in a camping pod, nice site by the way, and then drove cross country to the east coast just as the weather caved on the west coast.
Regular readers will know how much we enjoyed Norfolk even without a boat to play with !, i really want to sail in that area and for a while contemplated skipping most of the south coast (which i know well) and doing a fast delivery trip right around to the Wash. It might have worked in September when we would have another break except that i would have first had to get the Liberty back from Falmouth, sail quicly all the way east and then miss out on most of the east coast rivers just to get there. Another serious option i considered was to lift the boat in Falmouth and hire the same driver that brought the boat from Chichester to tow the boat over to the east coast.
The summer trip also coincided with me thinking and writing a lot more about my longer term sailing plans in that i could see the value in having either a slightly larger and more offshore-capable boat or a smaller one that could live at home and thus reduce my sailing costs to very little while not actually sailing. The end of the summer trip then was taken up by looking at a series of boats on the east coast and the south coast.
Of all the boats we saw while we were away none of them ‘spoke’ to us in any way : the ‘ideal’ Dehler seemed flimsy, sporty and uncomfortable, the big GK29 was like a deep dark hole and stank of old sails ! it was only the small and scruffy Sadler 25 (not the bilger above) that appealed to us in any way. What i realised though is that to sail long term i need less investment in the boat and much lower costs of gear and storage and that eventually took me down the route to buying the Devon Dayboat as a longer term project.
I haven’t posted much about the project so far although i have started the refit : i should have been doing the major work in a few weeks time but 3 other more essential jobs will delay that until the spring at least.
In late summer i changed direction completely, putting boats aside for a while and instead concentrated on getting some weight off and some degree of fitness back on. Having been very fit as a climber and sailor at various times i was quite shocked to find how heavy and unfit i had become but equally i know quite a lot about fitness and exercise so i ‘only’ had to do the actual work and not flail around trying to learn it all from scratch. So far its been a mixed success : i dumped a lot of excess weight quickly and that has now stabilised at a much better number and my exercise capacity has gone up and up. Right now i am taking a short break and intend to ‘pick up the bar’ again just in the new year. As i sit here today i can see one result of my work ie a full woodshed of scavenged and retrieved firewood from my ‘rucking’.
Then in late summer, once the schools were back and we had our break we did have 10 days of cruising along the eastern section of the west-country from the Tamar to the Exe : i had already brought the boat back from Falmouth in 2 days of fast sailing in an increasing westerly and had her ashore for some jobs back at my home yard.
At first it looked as though we were going to have a fine weather cruise with maybe a cross-channel trip out to Guernsey but then after one nice day the weather turned into brisk and wet westerly’s again so the best we could do was sprint from river to shelter and river again ending up at Topsham on the Exe.
Our summer cruise ended dried out again in a mud berth at Trouts in Topsham which immediately became our autumn and winter base as there then seemed little opportunity to either get back to the Tamar againts the brisk to strong westerly’s or to do the longer and more difficult trip across Lyme bay which really needs the right tidal timing and better conditions for what is after all not an offshore boat.
My plan for the autumn was to get all of the heavy garden work done and then get some time away on the Exe. I have always enjoyed sailing when there are less and less boats on the water and in years past have sailed more in the spring and autumn than in the summer. As it turned out i did far more garden work and far less sailing as i guess the garden is literally under my nose and the boat is now 50 miles away.
I did get away a couple of times though and had one very good time out on the river with some good sailing and spectacular sunsets.
As i write (on christmas day) my focus is very much at home as we have finally had to take on the potentially worst part of the cottage : the bathroom. During the time we have owned the cottage we have gradually had to deal with what we call the ‘Don-isms’ …basically all the appallingly bad and unsafe DIY that a previous owner put in…from dodgy plumbing and very dodgy electrics to now dealing with a completely weird bathroom bodge-up. Because Jax has had a lot on her plate mainly with a very elderly and now unwell father in hospital for the second time, i have taken on the job of trying to design and plan the new bathroom. The main problem is that the room itself is in the centre of the cottage with no outside window and the installation has been done badly to say the least so its a total rip-out and rebuild. The plumber is booked in for a solid 10 days and i have already set-to on the beginning of the ripping out but each stage of that so far has had me doing new drawings and plans nearly every day. For the last couple of weeks it feels as though my second home has been the local bathroom shop where i have been trying to convert what i would like to do into what can actually be done.
At the moment we still but only just have a barely functional shower and a toilet (sani-flow) which is on its last legs. We know that when Don did that installation he got the plumbing so wrong that it was pumping raw black-water into the kitchen sink drain downstairs. The actual pump is immediately behind our bed therefore very noisy if either of us flush it and night but what’s more its a completely un-necasary way of doing things. Hopefully in a few weeks we will have an entirely new bathroom with an actual working shower and normal toilet.
In the latter part of the year i have been concentrating on other stuff : i have mentioned Dr Jordan Petersen in an earlier post and late this year i started on the self-authoring programmes and took the online psychometric ‘big 5’ traits test that i will be talking about in my first post of next year.
The first of next years spring flowers are just pushing through….which is i think where i started out.