It’s a warm and sunny Monday in Kent and Nick and I have finally set off for our 2 month voyage to France. Unbelievably, it’s been 6 weeks since the sale of the business finally completed and the time has absolutely flown by. Getting the flat ready to let and moving onto the boat took about 3 weeks and then we took the decision to delay our departure by a few weeks and, instead, flew to Rhodes, Greece to have a holiday. Hey, don’t look at me like that, packing a house (and a life) up is exhausting work! We’d already arranged to meet Nick’s family in Rhodes for some quality time before we dissappear into the southern French sunshine (hopefully) for a couple of months, so it didn’t take too much persuading to lengthen the vacation to a truly decadent 3 weeks.
We’d never spent so much time in Rhodes before. We usually go once per year for about a week during the school holidays to meet Nick’s parents and his neice and nephew, who always spend the summer out there. We’d made grand plans this time to take full advantage of all this free time on a beautiful Greek island and take day trips to neighbouring islands, explore the coast, do some of the touristy things we’d never been bothered to do before. We landed, cleaned up the house, settled in, and you know what we did then? Absolutely nothing. We quickly descended into a routine that could be described as relaxing at best, brain-numbingly lazy at worst. At first we had a variety of weak excuses at the ready any time an excursion was mentioned: oh, it’s a Sunday, nothing will be open. It’s Saturday, it will be too busy with all the Greeks enjoying their weekend at the beach. It’s too hot, we’ll make ourselves ill. Can’t today, we’ve got to go to the weekly market. In the end we just looked at each other, shook our heads and went back to our book and cup of tea.
When our neice and nephew arrived we were forced into action to a certain extent: when faced with the pleading of a 9 and 11 year old to go down the beach on a hot day, “Can’t be bothered” doesn’t really fly as an excuse. Nonetheless, most of our time was spent at the bar, our friend’s restaurant, or, frankly, asleep, and it was by far the most relaxing holiday we’ve ever had. And we needed it. And now we’re more than ready to finally get going.
Our day started off with only a few hours sleep after our flight got into Gatwick at 2am last night. We got down to the boat and organised ourselves, preparing for a 3pm departure. The weather was sunny, winds were light but in the wrong direction, however we were prepared to motor-sail; just being on the water again was such a delight. We sat in the cockpit drinking tea and psyching ourselves up for our first ever shorthanded night sail. Unfortunately the weather soon deteriorated and the wind picked up to a rather unpleasant 25 knots on the nose, and the seas went from choppy to lumpy and Nick and I started to wonder exactly how much sleep we were likely to get tonight. We didn’t like the answer, so as we were playing chicken with the ferries around Dover, Nick made the sensible and very timely decision to make a sharp right and spend the night in the marina.
We haven’t done much sailing at all this year, and so I was a little nervous about how smooth our mooring was going to be in an unknown marina with such windy conditions. Nick helmed, as usual, while I ran around putting out fenders and lines. And this is where I was reminded of two very important things: a) always wear deck shoes. Toms are comfortable, but absolutely useless when leaping from a moving boat onto a narrow pontoon and I predictably ended up on my arse. b) fenders need to be attached to both sides of the boat, otherwise we end up scraping up against the boat next door. Its owner soon made himself known, and as I ran around tying up the boat, Nick found himself having to apologise profusely for our error (not that any damage was caused) to our disgruntled neighbour. However, we turned to booze, as we so often do when we’re wrong footed, and after unearthing a bottle of cheap French wine that miraculously survived last summer’s cruise and offering it as a gesture of apology, our neighbour was soon thanking us enthusiastically and wishing us a safe onward voyage. Further proof, if any was needed, that wine solves most of life’s problems.