The Shape of Things to Come.

Where did July go?  No, more precisely, where did the summer go?? In the blink of an eye, I moved from frolicking in the waves of the Greek Aegean sea to snuggling in the coziness of a woolly sweater to keep the first autumn chill at bay. Whilst the winter months crawled along with the monotony of a snail’s pace, summer evaporated into thin air, as fleetingly evanescent as a puff of powder.  Poofff… gone.  Only the sweet fragrance of happy memories lingering…  And here we are at the onset of September, my suitcases again packed and ready for another 6-month stint of teaching English in Vietnam.

The secret?  I was busy, too busy!  All my plans for quick last-minute get-togethers with friends before my inevitable return to the Far East melted away under the heat of the summer sun and the excitement of plotting a new adventure for 2020.  One thing is certain: it will involve a boat with – thank goodness – a motor, not sails.  I still have to find my sea legs and learn port from starboard, let alone get to grips with hoisting sails, so we stick to the easier but rather more expensive and less environmentally friendly option.  Not quite a luxury yacht either, just a 30-footer with enough room to accommodate two people not tripping over each other.  I need my own space, I insist! A proper shower room and a modest kitchen with a few mod-cons and a ‘Cooking at Sea Cookery’ book courtesy of my son and his girlfriend.  Sleeping arrangements to be decided with convenience in mind.

The exact travel route remains momentarily rather vague and at the mercy of whimsical British politicians contemplating the fate of Brexit.  Another delay looms on the horizon…  Will we be free to roam the European canals and seas at our leisure or be restricted to the three months granted under a Schengen visa?  Or will we shun continental Europe altogether and explore canals and rivers closer to home?  Of course, I could be smug here and wave my second passport that keeps me within Europe, but I have vowed to stay true to my adopted British nationality and apply for a Shengen visa…  I might as well as my partner in crime has yet to delve into his family history to unearth this all important Irish or other European ancestor…  The pool of ‘pure’ Brits is shrinking by the day!!  Very soon we’ll all have dual nationality…

But we have acquired the vessel!! Tempted by life at sea, or on the water at least, on our brief stopover in La Rochelle a few months ago, a little seed was planted… Probably more in the imagination of my travel companion, who has a fair few sailing and cruising experiences under his belt – admittedly mainly as a passenger about thirty years ago-, but the mere mention of anything remotely resembling ‘adventure’ doesn’t take long to win me over. Six months traversing the waterways with the minimum of boating experience between the two of us sounds too much of a dare to resist. Reaching Base Camp Everest may prove to be the lesser challenge, after all hiking is my forte; yachting and power boating is virgin territory with a rule book and language alien to me.

However, with the optimism of the novice comes the impatience of the rookie. Cautionary tales would have urged us not to rush and to do a little research before jumping in without looking, but when we found a boat of the right size, in the right price bracket and with acceptable provenance it seemed fortune was smiling down on us. It was June, with a whole summer ahead of us to try out the waves, laze on the rivers and learn the ropes and knots of yachting… To speed things up, we decided to forego a survey and instead put money aside for inevitable repairs, and we were swayed to accept a further price reduction in lieu of a sea trial before purchase. Keen to sample a slice of the yachting life before my return to the Far East, the deed was done and money handed over. By end July, we were the proud owners of Pegasus… For now the name remains unchanged, until a more apt epithet tickles our fancy… A few have sprung to mind, none have yet made the cut…

We set a date for the boat to be transferred from the Essex marina – home turf of the previous owner – to a more suitable one in Southern England. As neither of us have any boating qualifications (yet!!), we engage Carol, the local marine engineer, to do the skippering. ‘Maybe just take the boat for a spin nearby first,’ she advises, as Pegasus has been a little landlocked the last few months and could do with stretching her wings before taking on more challenging sea trips. As August emerges, we drive up to inspect our purchase and take proper possession and plan to spend the next day giving the boat a trial run on the River Crouch and then, weather permitting, making the journey to Portsmouth…

Pegasus runs like clockwork, humming and purring to her heart’s content, until pssssss…. A disturbing fizzing noise fills the air and Carol’s ears. ‘Doesn’t sound too good,’ she shakes her head as she uncovers the engine to have a closer look… A water pump gave up the ghost and needs to be replaced before the boat is ready to traverse the seas. Not a major setback, but it means the boat will stay put in Essex for a little longer until repairs have been completed and the weather is again favourable. This time we leave it up to Carol to brave the journey on her own.

‘At least she hasn’t sunk yet!!’ Simon declares when the boat finally, four weeks late, arrives in her ‘home’ marina where she will stay until the start of our venture next spring. Of course, there will be plenty of short journeys to and from marinas on the south coast, and even jaunts to the Isle of Wight, as Simon will spend the winter months getting to grips with skippering essentials and qualifications. I, on the other hand, will do what I do best: teaching English in far flung countries, … as well as learning the ropes of knotting those knots I need to master for mooring the boat.. Just the vocabulary is worth a degree course in itself…

In the meantime, we have definitely been sold on the marina lifestyle: this permanent holiday feeling in the company of like-minded people. Meaning… the adventurous types, not the ones with deep pockets…

Roll on Spring 2020, wherever the wind and Brexit may blow us…

21 thoughts on “The Shape of Things to Come.

    1. lievelee Post author

      Oh this will be one awesome trip, full of unexpected hurdles I suspect, but the more adventurous because of it!! I am definitely not a water person yet, but maybe after six months it will grow on me. I have already stipulated we shouldn’t ever venture too far from any coasts, unless absolutely necessary – I prefer to keep land in sight..

      I also love teaching English and it is still a must for me. I have taught in three countries up to now and Vietnam is definitely my favourite so far. Easier for women than India; more open than China… but just as corrupt as both. Still, I am learning to go with the flow..

      Lieve

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  1. CarolCooks2

    Oh, what adventures, Lieve…I used to sail in my long distant youth however hubby cannot swim let alone have any wish to spend too long on a boat so all I have is just memories of times past for me…Enjoy Vietnam

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    1. lievelee Post author

      This will be my first foray into the world of boating and I am looking forward to it, with lots of anticipation as well as a healthy measure of trepidation… In the meantime, I shall indeed enjoy Vietnam.

      Lieve

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  2. lexklein

    What an adventuresome soul you are! I secretly wish I could do something similar, and I even grew up boating, but I don’t think this is in the cards for me … at least not anytime soon. I will greatly enjoy following you, though!

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    1. lievelee Post author

      I do like a bit of adventure, but this boating one is probably the most adventurous one because there is so much to learn before we set off. Definitely outside my comfort zone… That is part of the attraction though!

      Lieve

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  3. Gilda Baxter

    Lieve, you are an adventurous lady!! We used to have a power boat…many years ago, but we never travelled very far and just stayed around Poole and Bournemouth where we live. Your travel plans sound fantastic. We are thinking of visiting Vietnam in January/February 2020, I hope our paths will cross, where are you going to be based? I will be reading all your blog posts on Southeast Asia 🙂

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    1. lievelee Post author

      I will be in Vietnam until end March, and am based in Quang Ngai, which is not too far from Danang in Central Vietnam. If a meet is possible, I would love it, but it is not always that easy to get time off… But I can try.

      Lieve

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    1. lievelee Post author

      Thank you Neil. I agree, Vietnam is lucky to have me… First day back at work today and it was awesome!! I certainly missed being in the classroom – keeps me young and on my toes..

      Lieve

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    1. lievelee Post author

      Thanks Alison. Yes, it is a very exciting adventure awaiting me. In the meantime, I shall have to get some rope and start practising those knots. I love taking photographs in the marinas; the play of light and reflections on the water are quite irresistible.
      Lieve

      Lieve

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  4. Green Global Trek

    How exciting to be poised for undefined adventure. Congrats on taking the plunge and buying the vessel. I was worried there when you were given a discount for not testing it out. Sounds like somewhat of a red flag. So am glad to read that it was nothing too major and that you will have the time to master knotting before you need to put that skill into play.

    Love the views of the sunset over the harbor.

    Look forward to reading about your boating adventures.

    Peta & ben

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    1. lievelee Post author

      Yes, the discount was indeed a bit tricky. We had a sea trial booked, but it proved difficult to find a date that was mutually convenient for the owner and us and the first date we had agreed was cancelled at short notice. As the owner had already purchased a new boat, and therefore was paying double marina costs, he was really keen for the sale to go ahead quickly, hence the discount rather than postponing the sale. It made me a little nervous too… But there is always a risk involved when buying secondhand… Part of the adventure, according to my boating friend!! I’ll take his word for it, the engine will be his department… I stick to the knots!!

      Lieve

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