There’s a definite festive atmosphere around here at the moment!
And it’s not just because there’s mince pies in M&S and Christmas decorations lining the streets. Over the past few days, more and more ARC boats have arrived and the marina is now crammed full of boats flying their flags. The activity on the pontoon is increasing, with many new faces arriving every day. As we walk down the pontoon, we can always see lots of crews sitting around in cockpits having a laugh, or perhaps a bunch of guys with their toolkits spread out on the pontoons working on their boats. There’s usually a couple of kids running around, terrorising Molly the cat from next door or playing on their boats. An almost constant procession of delivery guys from the local supermarket push their trollies stacked with crates full of shopping, as everyone starts the provisioning process.
Everyone is smiling and happy to stop for a chat. There’s also a feeling of anticipation and excitement, as most conversations revolve around how everyone’s preparations are going. The women ask each other how they’re feeling and compare stress levels. The men choose to focus on more pragmatic matters, and pretend that all this is just a walk in the park, emotionally and psychologically speaking! But everyone is feeling the same way.
If we weren’t in full-time work mode before, we sure are now! And, inevitably, we feel that time is now slipping away from us; there are several jobs that have been pushed to the end of the week in the hope that we might actually have a spare moment then. I think that’s unlikely, but we’re just going to have to make time!
The weekend passed in a blur of being ferried from one social activity to another, with the time in-between padded out with random chores such as weighing out flour for the bread I’m hoping to make (weighing this in a moving boat is both potentially very messy and, more importantly, inaccurate: the motion gives you an incorrect reading), scrubbing the heads, cleaning the teak, and unpacking all our stores, making a list, and then putting it all back.
This final job was one of those things that sounded very sensible before I started it, but when I found myself sitting inside a floor locker, surrounded by tins, cans, jars, packets and bottles of various foodstuffs which had, only a moment ago, been neatly stacked and packed, trying to write a list of everything that was spread around me (we wrote a list when we packed it all the first time, but I- for some unfathomable reason- felt that this needed to be re-checked), I wondered if this was really the best use of my time. Indeed, it turned out to be invaluable. Comparing the stock-take I did yesterday to the list I made a month ago when we bought all this stuff, I found a most intriguing discrepancy: we were short 1 packet of Pringles and 22 (22?!) muesli bars!
So, after two hours of work, my only discovery was that we had slightly less in the way of snack food than I had thought. Those are two hours I’ll never get back! And I don’t even like Pringles, and the muesli bars we bought are manky because we decided to go for cheap rather than tasty.
Sunday was the ARC Welcome Parade. Every nationality taking part in the ARC was represented with their flag, and we formed a procession down the length of the marina, complete with a band and everything. At one point, Sandra hurried up to me, grabbed my arm, and exclaimed, “Terys [the only people who drop the ‘a’ from my name are my mother and sister, but hey, that’s cool], I have to tell you what just happened!”
“I was just walking along, looking out at the marina and all the boats with their ARC flags, listening to the music from the band and everyone around me, and I suddenly realised- I’m going to cross the Atlantic!” Her voice rose to a shriek. “I’m going to cross the fucking Atlantic ocean in a boat! It just hit me!” She’s holding onto my arm so tightly at this point that I’m starting to become concerned about my blood circulation. “I looked down at my arms and I had goosebumps- actual goosebumps! I almost burst into tears, it was such a rush of pure emotion!”
At this point she’s laughing, but there was definitely a hysterical edge to it. I told her that I’d had the same ‘moment’ a few nights before- sans goosebumps though.
It’s quite reassuring to know that I’m not the only one having a quiet (or not so quiet, as the case may be) freakout.
The parade ended with raising the flags to half-mast and a minute’s silence in recognition of the events that happened in Paris last Friday, and then back to the boat to carry on with the long list of chores.
I’ll be back within the next couple of days to keep you all updated- I know you want it!