Sunday, 13 May 2012

Mistral madness

"It's dusty, all dusty here," my table companion says. I know. This wind, this wicked mistral, is insane.  My computer will hate me, but I need signal. There's none on the boat. There are seven of us sitting at the row of tables outside the shut-up Josephine cafe, staring at our screens, shivering, each willing more wifi to come our way.

Down on the pontoon, it's a crazy house, the lighter boats dancing around in their pens, masts tipped like crooked pencils, halyards angrily knocking against masts. I haven't seen Scurvy today. She's ship's kitten on the Canadian boat alongside us. D.W. Crow is a sturdy little North Atlantic vessel, also de-masted, but in this instance by her owners' choice. Bob, Martha and Scurvy are heading up the canals, bound for the Black Sea.

We are four now on Enki. We picked up David and Melinda Gunn from Avignon on Friday.

They're friends we met in a marina on the Queensland coast towards the end of our first season cruising. They've parked their lovely wooden yacht Sassoon in a marina in Malaysia, and are going to sail with us in the Med for as long as it works. At the moment, it's working just fine, though you'd hardly call this sailing. Today, Dave and Alex fixed the life raft to the deck (as always, Murphy made an appearance), and Dave seems to have fixed the leak in the fresh water system.  Bravo!

Melinda is custom-manufacturing a mosquito net to cover the companionway. Before the mistral came, we wondered if we'd get out of here alive - the invasion of gigantic mosquitoes at dusk has been terrifying since the weather has turned warm. Melinda has made a similar net for Sassoon. She says she likes to sew. I'm not complaining.

My role, as ever, is somewhat undefined, since my practical skills really don't amount to much outside the galley. I tell myself that my on-line RYA yachtmaster course is bound to bear fruit one day, but every problem involving tidal calculations in secondary ports sends me straight back to the agony of sixth form mathematics.

My brain hurts after two or three hours wrangling with charts, almanac and Portland plotter, but then I look up at Melinda in the cockpit with her nifty needle, and hear Dave and Alex hitting a submerged aluminium brace through the teak with the electric drill, and I stay put.

I am by nature a swot. I will make a place for myself here at the nav station, if it kills me..

PS to my beautiful children, and my own mother - thanks so much for your messages today. Guess who forgot to factor Mother's Day into her calculations? Never too late to catch the celebratory tide....


  1. you are not a swot!!

    'an insignificant student who is ridiculed as being affected or boringly studious.'

    about to start mucking about with some copper and welding too (alex!) i'm going to get to you guys some time from the 7th of july, croatia??
    love poppa

    1. Croatia sounds a lot better than Port Napoleon! Coming your way, by hook or by crook, Pops. xxx