Tag Archives: power boating

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…