Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Dragging the chain

Who's in a hurry to go sailing? Not me. Too cold for a Sydney softie. A demented icy-fingered wind has been raging through the boatyard since our arrival, making a mockery of sporting intentions. In town this morning for the weekly market, I spotted hands of wisteria falling over a wall, about to burst into flower. At home, the wisteria comes out around the time of Freddy's birthday in mid-September. Season for season, that makes it still early to be out on the water, I figured, conveniently forgetting the plan is to live on the boat year round.

A new Rocna anchor was delivered yesterday - 40 kg of galvanised steel for us to throw onto the ocean floor.  That should hold.  The anchor is a big ticket item. I struggle to think of the small ones. We've  made a decision on the dinghy and life raft. Batteries are next. At the start of the season, it's as much about availability as price. "Life's a game," Alex says, hanging up on Frank in Antibes. In November Frank was competitive on battery price; now he's not. Alex is a born trader, energised by commerce.

French customs on the other hand are reliably deadening. Four boxes of our personal effects and spare parts are stopped in their tracks in Marseilles.  A familiar story. By rights it should have a happy ending, but there's so often a twist in the tail with les douanes.

In the yard, Alex is snapping at heels, and commitments are being made. The ubiquitous Berry family starts work again tomorrow on Enki's mechanical and other moving parts, and Paul the electrician promises he'll be on the boat this weekend (he's a refugee from Queensland). We've booked Enki in for anti-fouling - yes, someone else is going to paint her bottom. Alex's decision. Call it spinal maintenance.

Markus the rigger is ready to go too. Tomorrow we'll clean up the mast which has been in the shed all winter. We're treating Enki to new standing rigging i.e. all the stuff that holds up her mast. She's been around the world once on the existing rig. It may be good enough to go the distance again, but then again, it may not. We're playing it safe. House policy.

Today, as I mentioned, was market day in Port Saint Louis du Rhone. There's nothing not to like about fresh produce in France, but it does pay to be awake when you are buying. We were at the market early, before many of the stallholders had finished setting up. The fishmonger was not yet ready for customers so I went around to the butcher's van and bought two steaks for dinner, the best he had. The meat looked a little different from what I'm used to, but often food does in France, and usually it tastes better too. Only after he'd cut and wrapped my meat did I glance up at the sign behind him. Even if I couldn't read French, my stomach would have somersaulted. I'd clearly bought meat from a horse butcher. 

I can't eat horse meat. I don't know why. It's irrational. I eat pig, and pigs are intelligent animals. I'm not especially an especially squeamish carnivore. I love calf's liver. I've eaten sheep brains (standard fare in my New Zealand childhood). I like tongue - I ordered it recently at a tapas bar in Sydney, and the taste brought back good memories of my mother's tongue press. But do they grow horses for slaughter anyway? Like cows and sheep and goats? Or do they kill their working animals, like laying hens which are passed their best? I can't imagine it, but then again, there's a lot I can't imagine, which is why it's a good thing for homebodies like me to travel often and for long periods. I'm not sure I need to eat horsemeat to broaden my mind but buying it got me thinking. I went back to the fishmonger. 

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