Neither of us can believe that we've been living aboard Monty B for a whole year. I still often look at her in awe - “Is that boat really ours?”. I fall further in love with her, the more I get to know her. Almost every time we paddle towards her, or step back on board, I feel a well of warmth and pride that she is part of us and is at the core of everything we do. It is still so fresh and new, despite being a year in and not exactly having taken her far.
Those first few months aboard were so beautiful but also completely bewildering. The beauty has not waned: the sunrise, the sunset, the moonrise, the starry skies, the fish jumping, the wind, the ever-changing patterns and colours on the water – it always moves me, stirs the emotions and makes the eyes soft. It is my new drug – I am more than happy just to lie on a cushion and take it all in. How can you ever tire of nature, doing its thing?
We have learnt a huge amount though with every problem comes the realisation that we have a mountain to climb. We are getting quite good at bodge jobs (I blame Tim's period of employment for this, learning from a professional improviser in the face of having few resources). Everyone on boats has to be good at bodge jobs. But we also want to become good at doing a professional job too. This winter, with Monty ashore on blocks, we will have the time and space to move beyond just trying to put things right when they go wrong. We want to give her a proper overhaul. But it remains to be seen just how much we can get done with the resources at our disposal, both in terms of cash and what materials we can get hold of here. But we have the whole winter to concentrate on the job; so by the spring, she will be looking good and hopefully, leak free (or as leak-free as any old boat can be).
Tim has become an accomplished mechanic with the engine, nurturing it so it always purrs and it got us here in one piece which is testament to the way it has been looked after. Except at this very moment, as it happens, whereby we are becalmed and without engine as it has cut out mid-trip. Tim has his head in the engine compartment, dripping with sweat, bleeding things and replacing filters while I am on the look-out for some wind. (postscript: we ran out of fuel! Schoolboy error).
Autumn is going to be spent enjoying the sunshine (rather than hiding from it) and hopefully a bit of proper wind. It would be great if a Day out on Monty B continues for another month or so. We have been invited by Pete and Imy to crew the beautiful 60 footer, Aralus, from Split in Croatia, via Venice and Sicily to Lefkas (of all places!) in the middle of September. It will be invaluable experience, learning on such an amazing yacht with a great skipper who I trust implicitly and the lovely Imy whose happy, smiley face will get me through those pukey moments.
The foreseeable future is looking bright, much brighter than we could have believed a year ago. We have learnt so much, lived so much and seen so much beauty in a single year. I could never have imagined finding anything this fulfilling. Each day is still so special and we are finding both contentment and excitement in one bucket. And most of all, our plan actually seems to be working – yes, it really is – to all of you left back there: were we really so crazy?