Covid restrictions have prevented a practical access to my cherished ‘Hejira’ for over 18 months and she has been stranded in Baie des Anges Marina near Nice in the South of France.
To cap this complication, Brexit has imposed an imperative to return the yacht to the UK as, despite having paid VAT on the original purchase, another tranche of VAT could become due under ‘re-importation’ regulations which have surfaced since the ill-informed Brexit vote and subsequent campaign to sustain the mandate despite the blatant lies and misinformation which was peddled during the referendum campaign. I despair at the ineptitude and arrogance of those that considered a remain majority to be a foregone conclusion and at the political opportunism of the current leaders who sacrificed the future of the British people and European harmony on the altar of their personal gain and short-term political advantage.
Anyway, that aside, and pragmatically accepting that the ‘die is cast’, I am now compelled to repatriate Hejira to the UK for not only financial reasons but to correct some of the awful workmanship suffered by French contractors and at the hands of the Antibes shipyard as it went out of business while Hejira was entrapped, and circumstances became increasingly fraught.
My necessity to return to the UK to beat the VAT deadline (extended thankfully by one year because of Covid) is not unique and this has put a great deal of pressure on Marina places in the UK as a flotilla of biggish yachts are flooding ‘home’ to a limited number of berths.
Thankfully with the help and support of my friends Peter and Petra Morton, I appear to have secured a berth in Northney Marina (Chichester Harbour, Hayling Island) where I had previously moored for several enjoyable years. I am really looking forward to having my ‘baby’ so accessible within a one-hour drive of my home and in such a friendly environment. The added advantage is the access to some top-quality specialists who can hopefully correct some of the carnage inflicted by the French contractors.
So, the plan is to fly out to Nice with two friends, Peter Hoade and Richard Cracknell (both yacht owners) on Monday 9thof August, to complete the necessary formalities, check, test, prepare and victual Hejira to head off with best haste back to the UK. The passage is about 2000 miles and while it would be wonderful to just go along with whatever the weather and wind impose in terms of sail plan and speed, domestic pressures for the crew will dictate that this idyllic luxury cannot be indulged and the burning of fossil fuels will probably be necessary to some extent. Given the capricious nature of Mediterranean winds it is our plan to try to secure onshore sea breezes close inshore in the afternoons wherever possible which should enable mobile data contact and the posting of the ubiquitous blogs.
Hopefully, after this long period of silence, there will be regular updates as we negotiate the various challenges which will inevitably be presented as we make our way back to the UK. I will be seeking blog input from my fellow crew members which should help to lighten and entertain along the way. So, be prepared to receive a stream of communications over the coming weeks – you can always unsubscribe or just block the Emails but, hopefully, there will be enough of interest to maintain your connection.