Time For Reflection
The events of Summer 2014 have already been filed away in my cabinet of happy memories. It’s a depository that in recent years has received only short and infrequent entries, many of them are treasured but they’ve been thin on the ground.
This most recent file is huge though, these past six months have been an almost non-stop roller coaster ride of living, it’s a ride that’s taken me far far away from the place it started, it’s a ride that’s re-charged my life and it’s a ride that’s only just started.
After the years of work, the years of dreaming, it still seems surreal that I’m writing this ’at home’ aboard ‘Gleda’ as she tugs gently on her mooring lines whilst floating in a beautiful little creek in a place I’ve considered special for decades.
When ‘Gleda’ was still landlocked I’d frequently fantasise about the day when she’d finally be afloat, the day when I’d be overwhelmed by a tsunami of satisfaction and pride, the day when I could finally sit back and say “I’ve bloody well done it”…….. It never happened, from the day that ‘Gleda’ came out of the barn I’ve been so mentally and physically engaged with the seemingly never ending task list that there was never any time to let events permeate through to my inner conciousness. There were brief flashes, in particular when she was moved from the boatyard into the mud basin, perhaps it was the stress of seeing all those years of work hanging precariously from the jib of a crane, but once she was sat safely in the smelly brown mud of the Tamar river I suddenly realised that she was at last unshackled from the imprisoning land and that from that day forward water and wind would give her freedom. There was no tsunami of satisfaction and pride, just long awaited tears of happiness.
There have been so many memorable days these past months, most notably the ‘launch’ party at Weir Quay where strangers became friends, the first time ‘Gleda’ floated, the day the masts were stepped, the first time I moved her under her own power, the day we passed under the Tamar Bridges and out into Plymouth Sound, the first sail, hosting friends aboard in Fowey, sailing into Falmouth with my parents waving from Pendennis point, sharing the waters of Falmouth Bay with the Tall Ships and ‘Amatasi’, having James and Hanneke aboard. We’ve made new friends and met many interesting people. We’ve been overwhelmed by the generosity and kindness shown to us, special mention must be made of my brother Andy who sent help from afar, Jake who sailed from Alderney and worked so hard to get ‘Gleda’ assembled and who is now standing by to help me sail her South, Mike of ‘Tempus Fugit’ whose cheery hospitality we so appreciated, and of course Ben, Alex and Binky who have not only given us this beautiful place to stay while we wait for the weather but more besides.
The photo above was taken above the creek looking towards Falmouth, you can see Pendennis Castle on the headland top left and, if you look carefully ‘Gledas’ masts bottom right.
For all I’ve mentioned above I’ve only skimmed the surface of our experiences so maybe it’s not that surprising that even now, after a couple of weeks of relative peace moored up here it all still seems surreal. There’s also the little matter of crossing Biscay and getting to Portugal that’s keeping me from fully relaxing. I know that we’ve left it late, my totally inaccurate estimate of the time it would take to get ’Gleda’ sailing is the primary cause, but it is what it is and I’m gradually getting better at focusing on things that are within my power to change rather than wasting time and energy on those I can’t.
Getting to Portugal would be a grand way to end this momentous year and I’m determined to make it happen, but those of you who know of my experiences on ‘Mor Gwas’ will perhaps understand the mixed emotions I have as I prepare to face some long subdued demons. There is really only one unchanged player in this re-write though and it’s the sea, everything else is completely different and much improved. I’m older, wiser and far less reckless. I now have the carved wooden nameplate from ’Mor Gwas’ fixed near the nav station on ’Gleda’, it reminds me of the good times I had with her and the pain I felt at losing her, getting it right this time will lay a ghost that’s haunted me ever since. On a lighter note wintering in Lagos would give us a well deserved period of relaxation, a chance to recover and re-group ready to enjoy our first year of proper cruising.
So, after the first weather window blew shut last week and without any sign of another one opening anytime soon, Jake decided to head back with Gail last Friday and catch a flight home. Gail is staying up country for now planning to fly down to the Algarve when we arrive. It’s hard being separated but now the weather has turned I know she would find life aboard ’Gleda’ a struggle and I don’t want her to start hating the boat. So I’ve kept myself busy with odd jobs, caught up with sleep and generally tried to stay relaxed whilst at the same time keeping an eye on the weather prospects. I’ve enjoyed some good walks and reacquainted myself with old haunts but now I’m keen to move on. Recent days have seen a succession of lows tracking down the Eastern side of the UK creating strong to gale force SW winds here in Cornwall. The early hours of Monday morning saw torrential rain and F9 gusts which even brought down a large tree branch on the opposite side of the relatively sheltered creek where ’Gleda’ is moored. At least the severity of the weather removes any doubt about staying put, the tough decision will come when things ease and the odds have to be weighed. As I write this (Wednesday 8th) the forecasts seem to indicate a possible window on Sunday and into the first part of next week, Jake’s on standby, we’re both watching closely, but right now it’s anyone’s guess.
I crossed Biscay in December many years ago, double handed in a 34ft junk rigged schooner, we had a fast no drama passage, so to some extent the month doesn’t matter. That said the Winter months have far fewer ’windows’ and they can slam shut rapidly leaving you nowhere to go. So for now I’ll keep making my occasional trips to the ‘Victory’ in St Mawes where I’ll sup my pint of Doom Bar whilst studying the grib files and forecasts and if the Universe is kind we’ll be heading South soon. No more predictions, like me you’ll just have to wait and see.
The photo below shows how tucked away we are, again ‘Gleda’s masts are just visible through the trees bottom right with the beautiful church of St Just in Roseland in the background.