2nd April 2020
Entry number two is a positive one. Firstly, neither of us are exhibiting any signs of the Coronovirus. This is obviously good albeit unsurprising news to us as we really haven’t been anywhere near human beings for over a week other than one man in the Ramsgate harbour office and a couple on a beach that we chatted to at a distance of about 4 meters.
What the previous sentence tells you is that we made it out of the River Crouch. In fact we left just as the local harbour authority issued a ‘recommendation’ that no leisure boats should be moving around on the River Crouch or the River Roach. I’d like to make it clear that whilst I have no intention of appearing irresponsible or to flout any guidelines, I really don’t see what problem it causes for us to be on the move. We are largely self contained and we are not leaving our home except to exercise once a day on a deserted beach! If anyone does find this approach irresponsible then I am sorry you feel that way but life goes on as indeed will this trip until such a time that a law is laid down to the contrary. If that does happen, it is my intention that we will choose our place of enforced stoppage and sail to it. However, I really feel that anchoring offshore on a boat is the best way we can isolate for the good of ourselves and others.
Whilst this is meant to be a sailing blog, I don’t really intend on talking very much about sailing for this entry. All I will say on the subject of sailing is as follows:
The trip from Burnham to Ramsgate was a proper ass kicking. The East Coast delivered its finest short sharp rough seas, strong headwinds, tide in the wrong direction and rather than it being a pleasant ‘Farewell Asha and Mark aboard Altor, have a great trip and take care’, it was more of a ‘Go on then and feck off you unfaithful b*astard. Go and sail somewhere else. See if I care you pr*ck. Oh, and take that immigrant with you’!
Thank you East Coast. I love you too!
Being in Ramsgate was a time to shelter from a gale and to check everything on the boat following our rude and rough ejection from Burnham.
On Monday morning we left Ramsgate at first light, sailed south and then west for 12 hours before dropping the anchor off the beach at Newhaven which proved to be a lovely calm anchorage in the offshore wind direction. On Tuesday we upped anchor at 7am and sailed for 9 hours west before arriving in one of my favourite spots - East Head anchorage in Chichester harbour.
I will summarise by saying that the 110 nautical miles we sailed since leaving Ramsgate were some of the finest and sweetest sailing miles I have done. A dream of bright skies, perfect breeze and calm seas. What a contrast to the first part! What I really like is that we probably ran the engine for a total of one hour, burning two litres or so of diesel and the wind provided the rest of the propulsion. That is what sailing is all about and is exactly what sailors try so hard to accomplish and yet so seldom achieve. Thank you Wind God.
On the morning after our arrival in Chichester Harbour we were questioned as to our intentions by the Harbourmaster who came alongside in the harbour launch. When I said we were live aboard cruisers we were asked ‘Do you know what is happening on land’?
‘Yes we do but our intention is to keep sailing and isolate on this boat’.
We were warmly welcomed and given advice on where we could moor in the harbour during our stay and for the last three days we have been anchored in the same spot enjoying beautiful calm weather with a white sandy beach 50 meters away and clean blue water all around. Absolutely perfect. How many other leisure boats have we seen since leaving Ramsgate? One!
Ok, so that’s the sailing update. Now on to other business.
Asha has been onboard for three weeks to the day. We have been together 24/7 since her arrival and other than five days we spent together in January, this is the sum total of our relationship. For anyone that knows me, I love my own company so this is a fairly extreme way to begin. I am happy to say that so far, so good and this is just as well because there are only two ways that Asha could possible get off the boat if either of us was fed up with the other. One is for Asha to tell the authorities that she needs to be repatriated and therefore get on a repatriation flight to Poland and the other involves wearing some concrete deck boots. I have to say that as a measure of my happiness so far, I haven’t even considered making up a new pair since the last ones ‘disappeared’.
Things are obviously going well. However, that is not to say that there haven’t been some interesting moments which I’d like to talk about now and these will make up the thrust of this blog entry.
On the trip from Burnham to Ramsgate, as previously eluded to, conditions were very uncomfortable. I have never been seasick in my life but I can say that I felt more queasy on that trip than I have ever felt on any boat ever in my life. To deal with the issue and to keep myself focused, I put my harness on and went on the foredeck to get soaked by freezing sea water, scared by the size of the waves and generally force my mind off feeling unwell. Asha’s approach was a little different. She announced feeling very unwell but under instruction she continued pulling on this, grabbing that and even carried on sailing for a while too before turning to me and saying ’I think I’m going to puuuuuuuuke’. And there it was, a lovely little test for my foul weather gear as it was bathed in something very different to and a little more lumpy than sea water! Altor didn’t escape either but credit where credit is due, I got wiped down and so did Altor once we arrived safely and relieved in Ramsgate. No harm, no foul!
This one isn’t really an interesting moment, more the realisation of one of the facts of life. I’m 44, Asha is 38. She is very much into yoga and all things flexible. I’m not so flexible and I’m also realising that there may be some truth in the disparity between the sexual peak of men and women. However, there is no problem or complaint here from either party (or so I believe). It is just a case of putting in some hard yards and so far all feedback suggests that I’m delivering an acceptable account of myself. I need carbs and a personal trainer but I’ll be fine….
I have always felt that there is a period of unease in any relationship which extends well beyond the point at which you have carnal knowledge of each other and this concerns the heavier end of toilet usage and flatulence. Aboard Altor of Down we quickly established a simple toilet etiquette that 'Executive meeting' would be the term used for needing to disappear for a longer than usual toilet break. This kind of agreement is essential on a boat because there really isn’t any way of disappearing to that far off and seldom used ensuite toilet upstairs to make noises resembling the rumbling of distant thunder or hiding behind the garden shed looking for that ‘thing you lost’ last summer 😳. You know everything that’s going on and sometimes the need arises to call the coastguard to let them know that something dangerous and large is heading out into the shipping lane. There really is no hiding place on a boat so it was great to establish such an understanding early on.
With regard to flatulence, this one is always a little harder especially if you are a prolific releaser of nauseous gas and/or you positively enjoy the sound of your own voice. For quite a while I kept things in check but slowly and predictably familiarity creeps in followed by feelings of contempt at having to keep things in. In one decisive moment all bets are off and open season is trumpeted in! Frankly I was amazed that the tunes went seemingly unheard and indeed upraised. Following several renditions that would have given the bugler from Antiques Roadshow a run for his money, I had to broach the subject. 'Don’t you hear what’s going on here Poland? Why do I feel like Great Britain in the Eurovisions? I need recognition, I need praise, I need points. Come on'! 'No, it no big deal. I not know what people make fuss about. It just farting’. (Asha doesn’t actually speak like this - her English is probably better than mine but it doesn’t stop me enjoying taking the p*ss out of her even though my grasp of Polish is limited to a couple of insults such as Gruba Foka -which means Fat Seal)! Anyway, the point here is that it became abundantly clear to me that the reason for the lack of recognition is that Asha didn’t see my efforts in any way remarkable. On the other hand her efforts, whilst delivered under the fake claim of being asleep, are positively duvet levitating albeit thankfully benign to the senses. No wonder she didn’t want to make a big deal of the tunes I was blowing. When I confronted her about this she was slightly embarrassed and said 'Maybe I should sleep up front in V berth with folding bike'. To which I replied 'That’s funny because that’s exactly what I feel I’ve been sleeping with in the stern cabin'! Brave Mark, very brave and possibly a little stupid…….Only time will tell.