Home is the sailor, home from the sea.
It’s the end of July 2019 and 110 days since i set out on the voyage, WABI’’’ is alongside the ‘Grid-Iron’ pontoon in Fowey harbour down near the docks and it’s raining hard.
Right now i have just lit the charcoal stove so that i can dry out after a quick and very wet ride back down the harbour in the water taxi having just been into Fowey for fresh bread, milk and such like. Last night it was gusting over 40 knots in the river where i was anchored up near Golant, today it’s heavy rain and blowing about 20 knots from the west I could make the home run now and be back in the Tamar late this afternoon but the weather looks a bit kinder tomorrow for an early start. If i get it right i should make Plymouth sound at low water slack and then run up the Tamar on the flood, they are expecting me at the yard any time this week and i might just get WABI’’’ out on the slip and give her a 2 week refit.
My partner Jackie joined me for a day and night in Falmouth which was neat but she had to back at work for the Monday morning and it was too late to do any swapping around with shifts : as you can imagine we had a lot of catching up to do since she was last aboard in Brest a few weeks ago. Jax was asking why i had sailed back to the UK now rather than continuing the voyage along the north Brittany coast and maybe leaving WABI’’’ somewhere in France for the winter.
Earlier on in the trip i had seriously thought about wintering in Port Launay/Chateaulin and travelling back to the Uk as and when i needed to……meeting up with friends from NZ in August for example. That would have worked i think because it seems to be a safe place to leave a boat that isn’t an expensive marina and we worked out the transport from there. WABI”’ is long overdue for a proper refit though as she’s been in almost continuous commission since i bought her : there’s the usual maintenance to do but also some essential repairs now which really entail having the boat on the hardstanding for a while.
I did think about arranging that in Brest, there is a slipway and careenage at the marina and several boatyards in the same area that could have lifted me out but i wouldn’t have had access to all my tools at home or my own small workshop.
I didn’t have a single compelling reason to end the France voyage at this point, rather i had several small factors which all added up to making the decision : Jax asked me if i was a bit ‘French’d out’ and that was certainly one factor, although i like the culture, the places and generally, the people, i did feel as though i’d had enough for one summer. Just before i left France i was in the small port of Camaret, a place that i really like : i was ashore sitting outside L’Espadon having an evening beer and wondering what to have for dinner. Aboard i knew i had all the usual food that comprises our summer and camping diet…all quite light and fresh : only i was thinking that what i want…..what i really really want, is a proper plate of fish n chips, and i’m sorry good French people but that isn’t something you do very well.
Added to that is the fact of it now being peak summer holidays over there and it was becoming more difficult to escape from people and other boats even in the less well known anchorages. The school holiday period in France is a bit ’silly season’ in boating with everyone that hasn’t sailed that year suddenly all out on the water and trying to work out which way to waggle the tiller and whether they can make it 4 deep alongside the marina !
I did also want to be home for when our Kiwi friends arrive and i thought that it would be a neat thing for them to see a bit of Cornwall from the water, they being sailors themselves and owners of ‘Little Boat’…..they took us out on a gusty day off Whangarei and i hope to take them for a trip at least down the Tamar. Above all though is that i feel 100 days is enough of a voyage for a small boat and i feel like i need a break ashore, not so much a case of cabin fever because i am always in a happy place aboard WABI’’’ but i might be just a little ‘sailed out’ right now.
WABI’’’ needs a more thorough refit now, in fact she needs a couple of essential repairs and i want to get both the rigs down for some work, get the motor off for a service and so on. From what Jackie tells me i can take the boat alongside and empty her out and i should then be able to go on the slip or straight in the slings and lift out into the yard. It’s a good time to do all that now because the yard is empty and it would mean that i can then think about what to do in the later summer and early autumn which is often a much nicer time on the water than the high summer.
I have a long jobs list to think about and prioritise and i have to admit that i will benefit from my Kiwi friends expertise as there are some boat problems that they are much better with than i am. The boat refit will get it’s own section as it’s a useful way of introducing another aspect of self-reliant small boat management : here though what i thought i would do is finish where i started out by talking about the 3 things i introduced right at the start : the boat, the skipper and the voyage, and say a little about each.
WABI’’’ has been my home now for 110 days, for around 80 of those it’s just been me, for the other 30 or so my partner Jackie has been with me. Remember that WABI’’’ is all of 22 feet and a bit, very lightly ballasted and not an offshore sailing machine or in any shape or form a long term cruising and liveaboard boat.
She certainly isn’t a boat that would be regarded by many as a ‘safe’ and capable offshore boat and yet here she is : rocking up and down slightly next to a pontoon in port after her second complete channel crossing and back again. She isn’t really big enough or powerful enough to be a channel-basher and she isn’t really big enough to live aboard and yet she has done both and aside from the temporary discomfort days of the passage out and the passage through the Raz de Seine i have been comfortable aboard and WABI’’’ has, quite simply ‘done the job’ once again.
At no point has she frightened me, just knocked me about a bit in lively conditions, what she has been is a great voyaging and exploring tool for the really interesting bits : up close and personal with the rocks and reefs of the Brittany coast and slipping far inland up the rivers and creeks which are more her natural home…and where she shines.
In the next post, i’m only going to post a blog once a week now that my priority is on my writing project, i’ll talk about the changes i made earlier in the year and how they worked out during the voyage…..mostly successfull is the short answer but then i can talk about ‘stage 2’ with some of those projects as well.
I guess that’s me then….i think iv’e made the transition from working part time in a very routine, almost ‘production line’ healthcare job, to fully retired and doing my own thing. Now that iv’e got the laptop onboard i’m working on the first draft of my book project, i intend to have that first draft finished by the end of October and then take it from there. I know it’s going to be lots of work and have to anticipate that it won’t be a succesfull project but writing and blogging will become my new full time job….if only a hobby one.
I have absolutely no intention of ever going back to healthcare and yes i know i said that last time !. I might look for a part time job but i would rather that me something to do with boats : one new factor in my life being that i now don’t have a car, don’t particularly want to have to run one again and that’s partially because i can afford to run either/or but not both.
One hundred and ten days felt about right for this one. I did get to south Brittany in WABI”’ which i am very pleased with although i didn’t get as far as La Trinite and the Morbihan which i had in mind as goals. With a hard push i could have got to both but would then have had to leave the boat somewhere in south Brittany and travel home from there : not impossible but more expensive to leave the boat and a long trip home and back. Also, i have to remind myself that the Morbihan will still be there next year and i’m happy that WABI”’ will get me there.
Highs and lows : i think that firstly, the Glenans were the high point followed by our time at Port Launay/Chateaulin which felt very ‘French’ without the over-manicured and over blown tourist nature of places like Pont Aven. Pont Aven was definitely the low point for obvious reasons !. We both want to go back to the Glenans archipelago out of season….i could spend a week there quite happily .
Now it’s time to think about WABI’s next voyage, as i write i am back home, it’s raining hard today : funny that in ‘holiday’ season. This week i’m trying to spend a few hours a day down at the yard slowly scraping off the old antifouling and wet sanding the entire hull. I discovered why i had such a bad speed problem coming home : a solid layer of barnacles and weed between the keels and CB slot that i hadn’t been able to get at when i did the last scrub. The engine is off and being serviced, the rudder and blade are in the shed drying out for that repair, in a couple of days once it stops raining i’ll get the rigs down and get those jobs done too.
I fully intend to get back out to sea for a late summer and autumn voyage and as with the summer voyage i’ll have to wait and see what the weather is doing when the time comes.