My sign off last year was ‘wishing everyone a healthy and happy new year’ having just escaped France (Hejira being moored near Nice) before a crippling strike in December. How very apposite this has turned out to be!

To bring you up to date, Hejira was collected from her berth in January and taken to Antibes for some keel work. During the course of the work, the contractor went bust (I had paid half up front) and I had to accept the work being handed over to another contractor that I had not briefed or vetted. Subsequently the yard itself plunged into liquidation with Hejira in their compound so I had to dash out to Antibes, accept and pay for the work which had been done completely wrong and very poorly. I had to supervise a re-launch and rescue Hejira, sailing her back to Baie des Anges single handed in a gale. There continues to be ongoing issues as a result of the ‘botched’ job and it has been a worry having Hejira just floating unattended for all these months unable to check her over as a result of the Coronavirus crisis lockdown.

My plans to cross to the Caribbean this winter are now in tatters and the thirty plus flights booked into and out of destinations en-route are of no use. The prospects of getting refunds appear to be very bleak but I am hoping to salvage holidays using some of the flights to Lanzarote and Antigua.

I am conscious that circumstances are a lot worse for many sailors stranded around the world and finding themselves in a limbo with weather windows closing on them and with little chance of escape. I have corresponded with a couple on a Southerly stuck anchored in a bay off Panama for the last 10 weeks. Now that would test a relationship and one’s appetite for adventuring under sail!

In the meantime, I hope to do some sailing on friends’ yachts in the UK when the restrictions allow and I have the germ of an idea to travel the length of the Thames, from Cricklade to Teddington with crew mate John Coe in his 12 foot Tideway dinghy, camping overnight and just ‘getting away from it all’. If this comes together, I will blog an account (it will involve a lot of rowing – is the spelling the same whether with oars or arguing?) as it should be entertaining.

I happened upon this article in the newspaper last week and it may be of interest. It is about the Joni Mitchell album ‘Hejira’ which largely inspired the naming of the yacht:-

Hejira Album