Have I really escaped from the ratrace?
Living the Dream
As one approaches the end of one's working life, there is an obvious need to acclimatise oneself to not working five days a week, and to find out what it will be to have no deadlines, no weekends, no alarm calls or train timetables. We never had that chance to break ourselves in gently to retirement for me and career break for Siobhan, as we had already set ourselves a romantic timetable for sailing departure from Plymouth on 16 June 2006. In keeping with working in the rat race, we did not allow ourselves two or three weeks to rest before setting off, as Siobhán was working full time until 9 June and I was working until 13 June.
Our chosen date for departure was 16 June, but it should not be left undescribed as just another insignificant date, as it holds many special memories for us. We were married five years ago on 15 June 2001 and sailed across Plymouth Sound on our honeymoon on 16 June 2001, albeit on a Brittany Ferry bound for Roscoff. From there we drove through the French and Spanish countryside to Gibraltar, where we sailed to Morocco, Spain and back. It therefore seemed fitting and romantic for us to sail off across the Sound on our second honeymoon on the same day. But all the best laid plans of mice and men were doomed to fail, as we had to offload our land-tied goods before sailing. Nevertheless, we sailed on Saturday 17 June 2006 on a beautiful sunny day and filled our day with sailing and rejoiced in our independence, safely and westward to Helford River, where we anchored our polished ark to the river bed and enjoyed our own company, for the sake of enjoying our own company. The voyage had begun.
We then indulged ourselves by spending two idyllic days pottering around the boat, which included an unexpected invitation to wine and snacks on C-Moon from James and Elspeth, our intrepid voyager neighbours from Plymouth Yacht Haven, who had started their adventure four weeks before us. It was so calming to meet with two kindred spirits and pass a quiet interlude of gentle conversation and laughter about our separate dreams and adventures. As so often happens, their voyage was taking them east and ours west, but we know somehow that we will meet again.
Into every dream a little rain must fall and we had already realised this, because no matter how meticulously one plans or adopts a gung-ho attitude, the sea will give you a tiny slap and let you know who is in charge. So when we sailed out of the anchorage on the high tide and headed south for the Lizard, with full main and genoa on a beam reach at over six knots, we knew that payback time would arrive as soon as we turned west towards the Scillies. Despite respecting the sea and leaving Lizard lighthouse four miles to the north, we immediately felt the braking effect of the westerly winds on the nose and when the promised south-westerlies did not materialise, we resigned ourselves to a long slog into the swell. Attempting to sail close-hauled produced some great sailing, but took us too far off our desired track and we eventually crept into the anchorage in St Mary's Pool long after our ETA. With cold and bruised bodies and weary brains we welcomed our 'luxurious' stateroom, where we slept the sleep of the righteous, knowing that we had achieved our first step towards the 'Dream'.
For those who have read the first instalment of our ambition, you will already know that this wonderful craft of ours is capable of making its own water and so enables one to have a warm shower, whenever one wishes. As one needs to run the engine to power the water-maker, that in turn heats the water. Paradise!!! Only those who have washed in a thimble full of sea-water and rinsed in half that amount of fresh will appreciate the sheer luxury of hot water and copious amounts of it. Just prior to our departure, Drummond, the previous owner, had kindly assisted us by purging the water-making system and we had delighted in this highly scientific but simple method of producing fresh water by reverse osmosis. Political note: Why do we have hosepipe bans and water shortages in this rain-drenched island surrounded by water, when this system is there for us to milk its rewards?
For those of you who have seen films about the Royal Navy and know of the need for discipline on board any ships, yachts or boats, which go to sea, you will accept why there is a reason for such discipline. We have accepted the discipline and have adopted a regime aboard for charging the batteries and making water regularly. We do so for an hour at noon and at 1800 hours.
However, today, all was not shipshape and Bristol fashion. In fact, the water-maker would not work and the batteries were not charging. My diagnosis was that something common to them both was awry. In fact moving the companionway steps from their normal position revealed the alternator/water-maker pump belt in a state of rest, no longer taut, and definitely doing nothing it should be doing. Further investigation revealed that not one but both of the front mounting bolts holding the water-maker pump securely to its frame had sheared and the pump was happily jiggling up and down, which it isn't supposed to do. No problem! Just replace the bolts and away we go. Six hours later, having removed the alternator bolts, flywheel, alternator frame bolts and finally the four bolts holding the base plate to the frame of the boat, I was almost in a position to lift the water-maker pump and the alternator on its holding plate out of the space in the hull, to which it had been allotted. Yes. You guessed! Smaller than the hole through which I wanted to pull it. They say that sailing worldwide is tantamount to repairing your yacht in exotic places. Tied to a buoy in St Mary's Pool in Force 6 with four-foot swell wearing winter warmers, long socks and snugs is not exotic. It can only get better. Luckily, the north-west winds, which are promised for the week, prevent us from moving towards Ireland, so we're pleased that we had something to do with our time.
Further to the above, with the help of Clinton Perry, a local man from the Scillies, the water-maker pump is removed, revealing three sheared off bolts, but obviously in the process of vibration with only one bolt holding it in place, the pulley wheel has been damaged and neither Yanmar or Aquafresh can identify the type of pulley. I'm certain that everything will be sorted by next week. Whose in a rush anyway? My motto has always been, 'there is no such thing as a problem, as all problems can be solved' (eventually). The sun is now shining and we're now off to the island to stretch our legs.
Lawry and Siobhán Nunn, 22 June 2006