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Preparations and Reflections

April 1st, 2009 · No Comments

“What’s that dinghy doing in the middle of nowhere? It looks just like Benny Junior’s beaten out tender” We collect it and put back on a mooring as we leave Harmony beach. I wonder if Benny will use a different knot from now on! Will he get lessons from the children on the beach he had such confidence in? Halfway up to Rodney Bay the water temperature light comes on! Engine off, sails up. Quick inspection and you can see where the cooling water has escaped from a crack in the plastic thermostat housing. Windward sail into Rodney bay and we drop anchor. Our first time under sail, I guess we should have practiced before but it all goes well.

The news from home is dominating our thoughts. Mary needs to go home to be with the family as by this time it was clear Mary’s Mum wouldn’t be with us much longer. We keep in contact with Skype and our local mobile phone. A trip to star travel in Castries and we have a flight booked for Mary to return to Scotland. Then the news that she has passed away quietly in her sleep. Mary’s away and I am left pondering. I penned this

    Passing of an era
    It is with much sadness that we announce the passing away of Mary’s Mum on Sunday March 1st. She has been getting weaker progressively over the year, so we had expected it but that doesn’t make it any less sad. She passed in dignity in her room in the home in Oban and with the company of her oldest daughter Barbara. She faded slowly in the last week and all those that made plans to see her were able to get to her bedside before she died. Mary knew she was saying her goodbye when she visited in January this year.

    One of the joys of fitting out Giselle in the spring of last year was visiting mum. The boat was at Barcaldine which was just 8 miles from Oban. She was always very pleased to see you and made a huge effort to engage in witty conversation. Occasionally stories would repeat but usually she could remember what bits she had already told you. The stories were of the hospitals she had worked in before and during the war and the whims of the various doctors. Lots of details – I wonder if I will be able to recall the details of my 20s in the 2040s! Her unit was at the forefront of plastic surgery and she was in charge of the nursing. He was in one of these hospitals that she met Campbell who was there as a patient.

    I was privileged to travel with Campbell in the year before he died in 1986. The topics of conversation can be very different in a car when you know you have time to complete a long story. He told me just small parts of his time in the war. He told of getting off the beach in the west of France only just in time – the Argyll and Sunderland Highlanders, or at least his part had not left at Dunkirk but had made their way all across France. He told of landing in Africa amidst a lot of confusion and he told of moving up the middle of Italy. I have strong memories of his funeral. At the cemetery just outside Lochgilphead his and now to be both of their graves is up against the west wall nicely protected from the wind that can be fierce on this flat piece of land. I was asked to lower cord number 4. The funeral directors, MacDonald and Coulson, had cards printed which they filled in your name and position. I still have mine. It has been in my purse since that day. I wonder who will be number 4 for Mum. I see my card is pre-printed with a Mr. Is it a tradition for this task to be a male task – perhaps Andrew will perform this task? The children have been amazing at taking up the emotional and contact tasks we have left undone because we are too far away. I will miss not being at the funeral. I hope there aren’t larger
    prices to be paid for following my sailing dream.

They gave me a long phone call on the day of the funeral which let me feel part of the occasion. The weather held off at all the right moments to allow the day to say a satisfying good bye to a loved one.

Meanwhile there was an engine to fix. We have a marinised Ford engine – a Mermaid Merlin – so spares should be easy. Off to the main dealer in Castries – 6 weeks delivery but he does put me in contact with Bro who has made an aluminium housing for the same engine in a transit minibus. Best option is to get the parts from Mermaid in UK. £100 for 3 day delivery. Tracking number reveals its route. Leaves Southampton Monday Evening, Heathrow to Barbados the next day, ready to catch the evening flight to Panama. Over night flight to Venezuela, early morning to Trinidad and Mid Morning to St Lucia to be on the Island by 14:00. Kenneth at the Rodney Bay Marina gets it released and we clear it through the customs by 16:00 the next day.

It’s great to be mobile again. The north swell from storms up by Bermuda come in on Saturday and Sunday. All I can manage is organising the files and a few items on the blog. Standing up tasks are not on. Monday I’ve had enough and I have a job needing some outside help. Bliss to be in the Marina with a large pontoon beside the boat to spread tools and no movement. Alwin of Quick and Reliable mechanical services comes as promised at 09:00 and we have the anchor windlass freed up in no time with his pullers and press back at his workshop. He is amused at his write-up in Chris Doyle’s excellent pilot book of the Windward Islands. He has worked on Chris’s Yanmar diesel engine which he described as rigged as an outboard. Not sure what that looks like!

Tom Mcluskie with his Farrier 36 Trimaran, Hei Matau, is in the marina as well. I was able to trade some Stark White Awlgrip Paint for his help on board with docking Giselle in the Marina. He is a member of the same Edinburgh yacht club as us – Port Edgar Yacht Club. He came over with the ARC and we saw him just before Xmas as we passed through Rodney Bay with Andrew. He has spent a lot of time up further North in Antigua and other places. He is going back to UK with the ARC in April/May time via Virgin Islands, Bermuda and Azores. It was great having his company for an evening drink after the maintenance tasks were stopped by lack of light.

Back outside to anchor in the comfort of cool breezes to complete more jobs and get ready for Mary’s return.. Met the crew of a Sadler 34 from Cornwall. Derek keeps the boat in Hayle. He reckons he is the only yacht between Padstow and Penzance! Tom sailed close by to say goodbye as he headed off back to Antigua.

and I was able to chat to Mal and Joan when I went ashore. They were neighbours when I was in the Marina., so although Mary was away I was never without someone to chat to.

Mary arrived back on the wettest night we have had. It bucketed it down for the whole 20mins it takes to motor in from the anchorage! Now she is back we remake our plans. New batteries we need will come next week so off to Martinique for a cheap buy on antifouling and goodies like wine and chocolate not on sale elsewhere.

By the end of the month we should be on our way to the San Blas islands in Panama. Panama Canal scheduled for the middle of April.

Tags: Atlantic Leg · Contacts for good info