Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Making amends

"Did you read the blog yet?" I asked Alex. For weeks, he's hardly opened a computer, which is something of a change from the months before we left home when he was rarely away from the screen. "Was I too negative?" I wanted to know. He thinks not. But I feel as though the past few posts have been depressingly bleak, that my pain thresh-hold has been exposed as low, and I am here to make amends, of a kind.

I want to show you how comfortable Enki is, for a start. This is a corner of the main saloon. We have a large, leafed table and each night we set it with mats and napkins, pepper grinder and a citronella candle (we're eating inside because the mozzies keep us in nightly terror).

Our aft cabin is luxurious by most cruising yacht standards, with a big bed, a chair and another bed, great storage, ample head room and natural light coming in from both sides, aft and overhead.  The bookshelf contains my trophy books, the set of Virginia Woolf diaries I've mentioned too often to be cool, and other books which, for better or for worse, I chose to bring with me, mostly to hang onto a sense of who I was, or may have been, or may still be.....who knows. I've always been a reader, and though there's no shortage of stuff on Kindle, it'll be a long time before you can buy e-books editions of Katherine Mansfield's letters to John Middleton Murry, or Freya Stark's travel writing.

Sure, there are some uncomfortable places to be on the boat, and Alex seems good at finding them all. This afternoon he's been in the aft lazarettes (lockers set into the stern deck), unpacking and re-packing. He's spent far too many cramped hours in the engine compartment, with Dave, trying to work out why our water pressure is on the blink. The latest twist in this gripping mystery focuses on the size of the accumulator (I won't bother to explain).

Dave re-wiring (again) the water pump
I've left the best to the end. This afternoon, as a coda to a day of small successes, we launched our new dinghy - which we have named Claudia, of course.

Dave overhauled our inherited 5hp outboard and it started without a murmur. As soon as we eased the dinghy out beyond the marina pontoons I felt my spirits lift. I was ridiculously excited, to be honest. It doesn't take much water for me to get excited, but I do like the water to be moving around me. We made a reconnaissance of the channel leading from Port Napoleon into the Gulf of Fos.  It's not wide, nor did it appear to be very deep. Mid-week fishermen were standing in water up to their knees disturbingly close to the channel markers. But it's what there is, so we'll have to be hawk-eyed when Enki finally makes her way out into the sea beyond.

Not everyone in Port Napoleon is having a horrible time
I did squeal yesterday. All those disappointments, coming one on top of the other, hurt. But it's going to be fun. We know that. We also know that, coming from where we do, we expect levels of service which don't exist in other places - many other places, actually. We'll have to modify our expectations further as we travel east, I am sure. There's a saying, isn't there? When in Rome....Yes, but Rome did burn, and while I shouldn't extrapolate too freely from our experiences in the south of France, we often feel as though we've washed up in a holiday world where what we've come to think of as economic and commercial reality is brushed off as unpleasant, and distasteful. Here, where there's always a line of boats waiting to be lifted into the water, perhaps people can be forgiven for thinking that there will never be an end to the long lunch. 

Sylvain wants me to like his davits - but they don't cut the mustard

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