We did manage to evade the zealous Yarmouth Harbour fee collectors and after a sumptuous full night’s sleep, we slipped our mooring at 06.45 bound for Northney Marina. Heading down the Solent under a clear blue sky and with the tide under us, we had the best ‘white sail’ sail since departing the Cote D’Azure – ironic (maybe prophetic) that we had to wait until we were 15 miles from home!
So, the 2000-mile mission to rescue Hejira from the relenting and damaging sun, avoid the £50K second VAT levy and to bring her home to where I have confidence in the quality of the workmanship to correct the butchery inflicted by the French Contractors is now completed. That it would not have been necessary, had we not exited the EU masks the other reasons for the repatriation and it only served to make the decision easier. Covid prevented access and then delayed our departure. With the VAT deadline looming, the return passage became something of a chore to beat the imminent equinoctial weather patterns and I am grateful to my crew who accepted that the mission was just that, a mission. We had intended to cross the Atlantic again last autumn and return to the UK via the Caribbean and the East Coast of America but Covid had already scuppered that plan.
The Med is wonderful and warm with a huge diversity of cultures and some fabulous places to visit, some of them unspoilt if you are prepared to seek them out. I have merely ‘scratched the surface’ so I can only comment from my own experiences. Most Mediterranean passages involve no more than one overnight sail between destinations which is appealing to those (usually partners) who are not that keen on the actual sailing experience. I have found however, that it tends to be compromised by too little or too much wind – they say you motor between storms. It should certainly be visited but the return leg back to the UK can be a torture unless it is tackled over several seasons. As a result, many British yachts are marooned there, and the new VAT regulations mean that they may never return. Another downside of the Med is that, in places, it is crowded and very expensive to moor. There are countries I wish I had spent more time exploring and may do so in the future, I only touched North Africa and the Greek islands and didn’t venture as far as Turkey or the Black Sea – maybe one day.
Since leaving Baie des Anges last month, we have logged 2057 Nautical Miles and regrettably, run the engine for 318 hours, not something to be proud of but it is what it is and it is, finally, mission accomplished.
So, to my most recent crew. Carl has bared his soul in the previous blog but, despite the unfortunate affliction that struck him down, he always, even when barely conscious, had a quip to lighten the situation and to bring a smile. He has said NEVER again but it may be like childbirth, never again until the next time… He will always be welcome.
Peter has been with the ‘mission’ from Nice and what a great character to have on board, his softly expressed, lugubrious, quirky observations always bring a smile and he never fails to be willing and reliable when the ‘chips are down’. He has an open invitation.
I would also like to thank ‘Crackers’. Although he couldn’t make this leg, I know he would have liked to and his contribution to the earlier ‘big one’ was immense and appreciated. Welcome anytime Richard!
Not forgetting Andrew and ‘Toad’ (Peter, my next door neighbour – ‘Toad’ is a Wind in the Willows reference and very apt) for doing the driving to Gatwick and back from Northney – thank you!
The degradation legacy of 18 months of neglect and persistent sunshine was mostly overcome with cleaning fluids and WD40 but some issues are more permanent and require repair or replacement. Of the damage, some has been more recently inflicted by stupidity or lack of care and mostly on my part. The Nespresso machine’s launch across the galley in the Biscay ‘blow’ to disintegrate on the floor was unnecessary and the ice machine crashing out of its cupboard to smash onto the cooker was very annoying in that the door had simply not been shut properly and in its short life, it had not fulfilled its potential. First World problems I guess, maybe I should just relax and enjoy the apricity!
Since I started the Hejira blogs, it has been a reliable formula for keeping family and friends informed, entertained and engaged. I believe that by encouraging the crew to contribute, it has enhanced morale and helped to maintain on-board harmony. It is also a cherished record of my adventures that I revisit occasionally to fondly reminisce. Where I go from here with the website and blogs remains to be seen. I am likely to potter more locally at least until the Covid situation is resolved. Would drying out on the mud at Ashlett Creek behind the Fawley Refinery oil tanker berths be as interesting to a reader as the Blues Festival in Basil’s Bar on Mustique?
So, with that thought, I will sign off – until the next time!