Saturday, 23 August 2008

One year on

1015 16 August 2008
A year ago today we were struggling to fit our whittled down possessions into my Nissan Almera before eventually setting off at 10pm towards Dover, dizzy with the thought that we were finally leaving. A year on we are sitting on deck, being blown about to buggery in a freak summer gale, me tapping away and Timmy engrossed in Practical Boat Owner. I would say that a year's worth of experience has meant we now take the odd gale in our stride – and I guess, to a point, we do. But a year's worth of experience has also taught us that you can never be complacent, not for a moment – and in this case, we have been.

The weather has been scorchio every day for so long and our lack of internet access has meant that we have been a bit lax about checking the weather forecast. The skies felt a little odd last night and the air was tinged with smoke from a forest fire somewhere to the south. I slept on cushions on deck so I could feel the breeze on my skin and bask in the near-full moonlight. But I also wanted to keep one eye open as things just felt a bit weird. As the sun came up over the mountains, the wind picked up, the barometer had dropped and now we are in the throes of 25-30 knots southerlies which we are not remotely well placed for. The clouds are building, as is the wind, we cannot get a weather forecast but it definitely has the look of conditions that are going to get worse before they get better.

Our anchor windlass is out of action for the moment so we have two lazy lines and two mooring lines going back to a solitary concrete jetty. The lee shore (the shoreline we would be blown onto if our mooring didn't hold) is not much more than a boat length away and is rocky. We are moored bows-to so getting away in a hurry is not an option. So we are completely reliant on the lazy lines and hoping they hold. The engine is being warmed up, just in case and there is always something comforting about the hum of the engine when conditions are like this.

And a year ago today, my biggest concern was how to get an over-filled roof box to close.

0745 18 August 2008
Conditions didn’t get worse and all was well. Now sitting on deck with tears pricking my eyes as white rays of sunlight breach the mountain tops, spilling over to transform the bay from the cool, monochrome, sleepy place it was a few minutes ago. With the instant hit of blazing heat and perfect hot white light, the ancient rocks and scrubby plant life has burst into colour – man and machine wake up as the church bells chime from Kotor old town.

I was up at 0630 this morning, doing yoga on deck for the first time in ages. Our new mattress, courtesy of a friend’s dad (see Debts of Gratitude) has meant that I now sleep in when I get the chance so miss the absolute beauty of the dawn. I must get up earlier!

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