Aviles to Cudillero

 

The next morning Mike’s bike was still there, but so were the police! They had taken exception to Mike having parked his bike chained to the railings along the waterfront. After a short and friendly discussion, Mike moved the bike back across the road and we settled down to a breakfast of scrambled eggs. Mike and Julie had to be at Santander for the ferry so they left us after breakfast and we set off for Cudillero, the failed destination from the previous day. The wind was initially calm but increased rapidly to 25 kts, but with less swell than before so the entry to Cudillero proved relatively easy. That was when the fun started. We were expecting mooring buoys, as that was what the pilot book described, but not the bewildering forest of coloured globes that we encountered. It appeared (later) that they were laid in two lines buoying mooring ropes that were attached to the harbour bed, but to us it was just total confusion. To crown it all, the 25kt wind was blowing across this line of buoys, making it almost impossible to stop the boat and hold her steady so that Bert and Jac could hook us on. After a couple of attempts, and at the expense of the “Jolly Hooker” that broke at the first use, we managed to get the bow line on and picked up the stern line with a boat hook, as we drifted backwards and forwards. Having settled in, we were then able to watch other boats arriving and experiencing similar problems. It must be one of those perverse quirks of human nature as we all, from time to time, struggle with mooring a boat, but it is great fun to watch other people in similar difficulties, just as long as they don’t hit you in the process! At Santander we had managed to rig a system to hoist the inflated tender onto the gantry at the stern of the boat and we spent the afternoon refining the system while, in my case, consuming far too much beer! We then took the tender around the harbour before taking it over to look around the town. Cudillero turned out to be a very pretty fishing village with a narrow street running up the hill from the town. There were lots of eating houses and we found one in a back street that did great tapas and after a good meal we took the tender back to the boat for a good night’s sleep.

Gijon to Aviles

There was some kind of festival happening in Gijon with the revellers still making a huge racket when we were waking in the morning. Bert tried to find a shop selling fresh bread but nothing was opening until 10am so we decided to get going and make our way to Cudillero. This was a small, and allegedly very pretty, old fishing port less than 40 miles along the coast from Gijon, but on leaving the port we found a fairly hefty 3 metre swell had developed from the strong winds of the previous day. Apart from being quite uncomfortable, we anticipated difficulties getting into Cudillero as the entrance was narrow, relatively shallow and would require a 90 degree turn across the swell to enter. Having dodged around a tanker taking on its pilot as we left Gijon, we quickly decided that discretion was the better part of valour and we re-planned to go to Aviles.

This was a disappointment as we had arranged to meet 2 old friends, Mike and Julie Moody who had been on a motorcycle tour of Portugal and Spain and were returning to Santander along the coast. A quick phone call changed the rendezvous and we made our way to Aviles. Reeds Almanac, the bible of all the coastal stuff had very little information about Aviles. The pilotage book was a little more forthcoming but quite depressing as it described a bleak industrial town with little to recommend it. Making our way into the river, that is exactly what we found. Mercifully we were sheltered from the swell, but the river was lined with big ship moorings, piles of coal and was a total contrast to most of the attractive harbours that we had visited.

We found the visitors berths near the town and moored up waiting for Mike and Julie to arrive. They found us with no difficulty and we decided to walk into town for dinner. “Quel surprise!” as they say in France. The town of Aviles was a very pretty old place with lots of life, teeming with people and a great selection of bars and restaurants (no mention of that in the books).

After a good wander around we found a great restaurant with some space and had a very good meal. After stopping for an ice cream on the way back to the boat we helped out some people who were struggling to get their launching trailer up a ramp. Mike and Julie had not been able to find an hotel so they stayed with us on the boat, although Mike was so nervous that someone might pinch his bike that he slept in the cockpit. It must have been uncomfortable as he is 6 feet plus and the benches are barely 5 feet long!

Santander to Gijon-Attempt 2

In fine weather and light winds we dragged up the anchor at 0730 and, with a suitable salute to the yacht club, once again motored down the river on the same route as we had attempted the previous day. We were able to raise the sails for 2 or 3 hours which gave us a bit of help but otherwise we had to rely on the engine to do all the work. The coast was almost entirely devoid of any other marine traffic, which seemed very strange after the constant stream of fishing boats and sailing yachts around the French coast. After 83 miles and over 13 hours of motoring we arrived at Gijon. The marina was very close to the old town, a great bonus after the distance of the Santander marina and the staff were both welcoming and accommodating. We went ashore to a local bar where the local custom seemed to be to pour drinks from a bottle held high above the head into a glass held down by the ankles. This baffled us and still does! It turned out that the bottles contained Asturias cider, but why this strange long range pouring technique was required we didn’t determine. One theory was that it put an automatic brake on the amount anyone could drink as when the alcohol took effect, it would be impossible to hit the glass. However, there must be another reason. We saw this cider pouring technique all along the Asturias coast.

Gijon

The weather forecast for the day was for increasing winds to Force 7 so we decided to stay put. Another customs official arrived but he was content when he saw the copy of the form from the Santander customs visit. There must have been some important event on as, commencing mid-morning, a series of aircraft came over and treated us to an air display. The first was a Eurofighter, Typhoon whose tight manoeuvring and powerful engines made an impression on both aural and visual senses. We were then treated to a formation display by Casa Jet Trainers from the military flying school at Salamanca. The finale came from a low flying transport aircraft. Bert, who had gone back to bed, slept through the lot. In the afternoon the promised strong winds arrived with heavy rain. We went looking for a yacht chandlers but only found a small shop selling some useful items. I managed to find a mooring warp shock absorber, as the swell coming into the harbour was causing the boat to buck around alarmingly and putting great strain on the lines. We then found a nice little restaurant in the back streets where we had a lovely meal sheltered under an awning from the rain, which had returned, and we even had a decent internet connection!

Santander to Gijon-Attempt One

With Synergy now stocked with food we anticipated a run down the north Spanish coast to Gijon. This stretch of coastline differs dramatically from France in that there are few marinas so some of the passages we expected to make would require relatively large distances and long days. This first leg would be over 80 miles so we wanted an early start. The day dawned to low cloud and poor visibility but we considered it suitable for our needs so we slipped out of the marina in the growing light and motored down the almost deserted river past the awaking city. Once out in the open water things looked much worse. The weather was as we had seen it in the marina, but it started to drizzle and we found ourselves smashing into 3 metre swells which reduced the boat speed down to 4 knots. At that rate Gijon would be a round 20 hours away and a very uncomfortable day was in prospect. It took little time to make the decision to turn back and we again motored past Santander and attempted to find a berth in the town marina, hoping to avoid a long drag up the river to our previous berth. However, there was “no room at the inn” but a helpful chap in a rib said that we could anchor off the town promenade near the yacht club. In now heavy rain we did just that and, soaked to the skin, we successfully anchored, erected the conservatory including the sides to keep the rain out and settled down to a day of waiting for the weather to clear. The rain stopped and the weather cleared in the afternoon so Bert and I inflated the tender and motored over to the yacht club to see if we could use the showers. The pilot book reads, “Dinghy can be left at the yacht club in great security where guests are welcome.” This isn’t what we found. The yacht club reception was polished wood with cabinets stacked with illuminated silver trophies, obviously a club with great provenance. The receptionist was adamant, “Transito si; servicios no!” Meaning, “You can walk through the building but you can’t use the toilets.” I don’t know if it was just us, but that wasn’t what I would call a welcome! We took the tender back to Synergy and spent the afternoon quietly muttering abuse in the direction of the yacht club and, still smelly, fell into bed for a good night’s sleep.

Biscay Crossing-La Rochelle to Santander

This was the big day and the weather looked good for the next few days so it was time to go. Jac had been particularly nervous about this leg of the trip as the other members of the crew on her Day Skipper course had been ribbing her about the Biscay crossing so we were particularly happy to have Bert and his vast sailing experience on board.

We refuelled the boat, filled the jerry cans and left La Rochelle at 10am anticipating a crossing of between 35 and 40 hours. The plan was simple: clear La Rochelle then follow a straight line to Santander. Leaving the shelter of the Ile D’Oleron we hit a confused Atlantic swell that left us bucking and rocking for some time until we cleared the land and settled into the routine of looking out for fishing buoys and other traffic. The rough ride made Jac a little seasick but she recovered when the sea settled. We lost sight of France at 1320 and then took an hourly fix which we plotted on the chart in case the electronic kit failed. The crossing was then almost entirely uneventful. We encountered several pods of dolphins one of which stayed with us for a while but very little other sea life was to be seen. We had hoped to see whales as this was a known area for them and we crossed an area that was 3000 metres deep, but saw nothing whaley!

When we worked out that we were in Spanish waters I swapped the French courtesy flag for the Basque flag, knowing that in the Basque country they are very sensitive about boats flying their flag. We then determined that Santander is not in the Basque country so I swapped the Basque flag for the Spanish one. Much bucking around on the foredeck to achieve the final aim. Jac took the customary photographs of the “changing flags ceremony!”

In the night we encountered several groups of fishing boats and the AIS proved invaluable as we could see their heading and speed and avoid them. Other than these small diversions there was little to see but lots of water! The wind stayed almost calm and we motored almost all the way. Dark lasted from around 2300 until 0630 on 20 July and the sea became so calm in the morning that we could have been crossing a lake. During the early morning a pod of dolphins started chasing tuna and some very large fish were leaping from the water in an attempt to escape. At around 1200 we spotted the mountains behind Santander and finally moored up in the Marina de Deportivo up the river from the town at 1630. I think we must have had one of the easiest Biscay crossings ever but we burned a lot of fuel doing it.

Les Sables d’Olonne to La Rochelle.

This was the day that we had been anticipating for some time as La Rochelle was to be the jumping off point for our crossing across the corner of the Bay of Biscay to Spain. This proved to be another gentle sunny day with winds of no more than force 3 and even those disappeared when we entered the lee of the Ile de Re. However, the sails did give us a bit up a push for a while. The route took us under the Ile de Re Bridge, which looked enormous as we approached, but seemed to get smaller as we got closer. The optical illusion when looking up at it left us wondering if Synergy’s mast would clear it in spite of knowing that we had at least 15 metres clearance. We moored up in the Port des Minimes, a vast, very well run, but sterile marina. They even charged a Euro for 7 minutes hot water for a shower. Skinflints! We then slept like logs, anticipating a few days sightseeing. Sailing really is tiring!!

14 Jul 15

La Rochelle

We had thought long and hard about the Biscay crossing. Synergy’s insurance policy stated that we should have 3 crew on board to cross the Bay of Biscay, but I phoned the company for clarification as we were only crossing one corner, not the whole Bay. The company said that it would be ok for the two of us to go alone, but we had already asked if Bert Daniels would join us to make up the 3 persons. He now said that he would be available from 18 July, so we decided to take a few days sightseeing while we waited for him to arrive.

14 Jul 15 turned out to Bastille Day so we took a water taxi from the marina to the centre of La Rochelle so that we could witness the festivities. The boat took us through the impressive twin towers guarding the entrance to the old port. The water front was buzzing with people and a street market with a stage set for a rock concert near the Chain Tower which had once stretched chains across the harbour entrance to deter English privateers. Jac and I went for a walk around the Old Town and a fair proportion of the New Town as well, as my navigation skills let me down and I got us lost. However, we did see the impassive limestone-built La Rochelle railway station for which Jac will be eternally grateful. The bar that we stopped in to recover from our trudge around town turned out to be only a few hundred yards from where we had started so we made our way back to a restaurant near the old port and finished the day with that famous French dish, steak and chips, before taking the water taxi back to the marina. Sitting on the boat just before bed, we were treated to the Bastille Day firework display somewhere in the Old Town.

15 Jul 15

Having decided to wait at La Rochelle for Bert to join us, we took the opportunity to do some sightseeing and collect some bits that we needed for the boat. In a fit of enthusiasm we dug the bikes out of their stowages, unfolded them to much screaming and cursing and cycled into La Rochelle for more sightseeing and lunch. There was a certain amount of trepidation on Jac’s part as she had not ridden a bike for many years, apart from one occasion at Levington when she had had an unfortunate encounter with a hedge. However, we both got the hang of it although Jac’s saddle clamp would not stay locked and she kept sliding lower and lower until it looked like she was doing an impression of Peter Fonda in “Easy Rider” to much hilarity to those around. On the return from La Rochelle, we stopped at a chandlery to collect two 20 litre fuel cans and some comfort seats, moveable seats that could be used in the cockpit to ease the pounding on one’s derriere. We needed the fuel drums for the Biscay crossing; Synergy has a 130 litre fuel tank, but if we had to use the engine all the way to Santander then we would run out of fuel some way short of Spain. The extra 40 litres combined with the 10 litre reserve drum that we always carried would give us at least another 8 hours engine running time, more than enough to make the crossing on engine alone.

16 Jul 15

We decided to restock the boat for the Biscay crossing so we pedalled to the nearest Carrefour supermarket, about a mile and a half from the marina. Getting there was easy enough although it was a scorching day and we had chosen the warmest time of the day to make the journey. Mad dogs and Englishmen etc! The trip back was more eventful as we had collected the equivalent of the weekly shop for a large family so the luggage racks, our handle bars and back packs were loaded with canned food, groceries and the inevitable stocks of beer and wine. Despite these loads we seemed to make the return journey much faster than the outbound trip even though Jac was still doing her periodic Easy Rider impersonations.
In the late afternoon an old RAF friend, Chris Durbidge and his wife Maggie drove a vast distance from central France to join us and we all took the water taxi back into La Rochelle. Much credit must go to Maggie who has a terror of boats. Climbing aboard Synergy seemed to be as close to water as she wanted to get so the water taxi trip deserved the VC. We had a great meal at a little Pizza place near the port and then had to walk most of the way back as the marina water taxi had stopped and we could only get a lift for the short trip across the river.

17 Jul 15

Durbs and Maggie had stayed at a local hotel so after breakfast with them at a local café we said our goodbyes and filled the day with odd jobs around the boat. In the evening we bumped into Jim Finch who had been moored close to Synergy at Levington. He and a friend Bob had sailed his boat, “Goldfinch” in double quick time from Levington to La Rochelle where Jim intended to spend a month or so.

18 Jul 15

Bert Daniels arrived from the UK having flown to La Rochelle from Bristol. We put together a plan for the passage to Santander, had a meal then turned in for the night.

Jac’s bit

Rewind two and half years ago when I first met Chris! He had been sailing on and off since 1991 and one of his ambition’s was to buy a boat and sail to the Med. It sounded a great idea at the time – especially when you are sat in a pub and just getting to know each other. Pipe dreams at the time but now two and a half years later that dream has become a reality and we really are on our way down to the Med!

We had such fun choosing the boat! We trawled the internet and travelled all down the East coast of England then across the South coast. We even went to look at a boat in La Linea in Spain combining it with a holiday in Gibraltar (a place we both had fond memories of) and a visit to Jerez where Chris used to work. With Chris’s height (6 foot 5” tall) it was important that the boat had the headroom he needed. Apart from avoiding a constantly crooked neck it was important he didn’t add more scar tissue to his already war wounded head! (Although I did suggest we could invest in a tin helmet!) As Chris has mentioned, my requirements were slightly more frivolous – 2 steering wheels and a large table to accommodate my plans for entertaining friends and family! We then found Synergy – a Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 39i which we both fell in love with. She had the headroom that Chris needed plus 2 steering wheels, my extendable table and mood lighting – an added bonus for my party plans!

Over the next 18 months, Chris worked tirelessly on the boat spending endless hours on preparing Synergy for our trip. I will leave the technical details to Chris but needless to say that by the time we were ready to go Chris had replaced, repaired or added everything that was needed to bring the boat up to the standard required to meet our comfort and safety needs for the long journey ahead.

My main concern was in my own ability as a crew for Chris. My sailing experience to date was as a dinghy sailor (and a somewhat nervous one at that!) So Chris arranged for a sailing instructor from the East Anglian Sea School to come on-board Synergy for a week at the end of which, both Steve (Chris’s son) and I ended up with our competent crew qualification. Before he left, Norman took me on one side and told me that Chris was an extremely competent sailor and that I should learn as much as possible from him. Reflecting on these words of wisdom I had every confidence in Chris as a skipper but did he have the same faith in me as a crew? If the tables were turned would I have faith in me? I think not! For someone who had just wobbled through a competent crew course and at the last hurdle forgotten how to tie a bowline – I think not. Chris must be a brave (or stupid!) man taking me on as crew which is probably why he announced that my Christmas present for 2014 was a Day Skipper course, again with the East Anglian Sea School, to take place early in 2015 when the tidal waters around England are at their most challenging; if I survived and gained my Day Skipper ticket I would then be better equipped to help him sail across the Bay of Biscay.

I found the Day Skipper course extremely challenging. Four days intense study in the classroom learning the theory of sailing a boat and the art of navigation followed by five days sailing, two days of which were in force 7 and 8 winds. I found the whole experience very tough. I do suffer from sea sickness so I dosed myself up on seasick tablets which although prevented me from being seasick did cause me difficulties in staying awake at the most inopportune times! The 3 guys I was on the boat with, Anton, Peter and Steve despite their merciless teasing about crossing the Bay of Biscay, were absolutely great and the support they gave me kept me going right through to the final day when I came out with my Day Skipper ticket!

So here we are now! The night before the dreaded Biscay Crossing!! Over the past few weeks my confidence has grown enormously – but still I must admit to a feeling of trepidation for the passage ahead!!

L’Harbaudiere to Les Sables d’Olonne

Left our mooring at 0730 not long after first light so we would get to Les Sables in good time. The tide was at low water again so we watched the depth sounder very carefully as we crept down the channel and especially as we passed down the Passage de Grise, the shortcut round the island towards Les Sables. The wind was once again against us, but we suffered from a big Atlantic swell across our course, which made the trip a bit of a roller coaster ride. We had the tide with us all the way, so the plan worked and we made quite a quick trip down the coast. Les Sables turned out to be a large holiday town with 2 marinas and we went upstream to the large newer one. After no wind all day, it picked up as we came to our berth and, as luck would have it, was blowing strongly across the pontoon making the arrival tricky, but some friendly folks came to help. We later saw other coming into the marina having difficulties, including a British couple who’s conversation went something like, “ The berth is on or left……no the next one!” “Don’t you scream at me Vanessa.” It seems that most people get tense entering strange marinas! We grabbed a quick kebab at a fast food place in the town and went back to the boat, too tired to do much else.

12 Jul 15

We decided that another day off was in order so had a lazy day, explored the town and had moules mariniere for dinner. Delicious!

Port Haliguen to L’Harbaudiere

The day dawned bright and sunny again and we said goodbye to Bill and Jackie, filled up with diesel and set off across Quiberon Bay for L’Harbaudiere, another former fishing port turned marina. Initially the wind was only force 2 to 3, but picked up later in the trip as we crossed the entrance to the River Loire. Unfortunately the wind was on our bow all the time but, for once, the tide was in our favour, so we were able to make good progress, albeit burning diesel again. Bill’s warning about the fishing boats proved invaluable as we encountered a pair parallel fishing south of the Loire estuary. Not a good idea to get between them. On the way we also passed through a large ship anchorage with around 15 commercial vessels anchored awaiting their turn to be piloted up the River Loire. It makes one feel very small when you pass these steel monsters, but none were moving. We had some concerns as we approached L’Harbaudiere about the depth of water I the harbour entrance. The sums said we should have enough, but we stuck to the centre of the channel like glue. The depth sounder touched 0.2 metres or about 6 inches under the keel (I didn’t tell Jac at the time). A larger German-flagged boat that came in just before us drew 2.2 metres as opposed to our 2 metres so they must have been touching the bottom.

10 Jul 15

L’Harbaudiere turned out to be a nice little town, so we decided to stay another day, besides we were both tired out; it really is quite surprising how sitting on a boat all day wears you out! Cries of “Sympathy” do I hear? Spent our “day off” shopping, catching up on the blog and generally lazing around.

Port Tudy to Port Haliguen

The plan for the day was to sail the relatively short distance from Port Tudy on the Ile de Groix to Port Haliguen on the Quiberon peninsular. The day started cold and wet with a passing front so we were fully togged up in wet weather gear, such a contrast to the sunshine of the previous 3 days. The wind, which started at Beaufort force 3 to 4, quickly rose to force 5 to 6 which, coupled with the Atlantic swell, made a rough ride through the Passage de Teignouse. This was another stretch of water surrounded by rocks which required careful navigation to avoid running aground. After 5 hours of rock and roll we rounded the tip of the peninsular into more sheltered waters and reached Port Haliguen, which we promptly nicknamed Port Hooligan as the French pronunciation was too difficult. The contrast between Port Tudy and Port Hooligan could not have been greater; Port Tudy was a picturesque former tuna fishing port on an island whereas Port Hooligan was a vast, soulless modern marina. After touching the keel on the mud trying to get to the fuelling pontoon, we moored up on the visitor’s pontoon which was around a half mile walk from the Harbour Master’s Office and the showers. However, we did find a small chandlery which had just received delivery of a batch of “Jolly Hookers” (see 3 Jul 15) so we bought one for Synergy. We spent a quiet evening on the boat as we were both tired out from the battering that we had received through the Teignouse Passage.

8 July 15

Port Hooligan.

The day’s forecast predicted winds of up to force 7 and so it proved to be so we stayed put in Port Hooligan. Throughout the trip the marina internet connections had proved to be erratic and unreliable and it was no surprise that Port Hooligans web connection was just as bad as the rest so we went looking for a hotel or bar that had a good Wi-Fi signal. (Any excuse will do!) Having achieved that aim by walking round to the old fishing harbour and eating a crepe at a café we then thought that we ought to check out the Wi-Fi in the hotel across the road. Theirs’s was good as well! Back at the boat we got talking to a British couple whose Island Packet, “Virginia R” was moored across the pontoon from us. They invited us aboard for coffee and we spent a very enjoyable evening chin wagging on their boat. Bill and his wife Jacqueline had been sailing in Brittany for many years and were a mine of information about sailing in French waters. One particular piece of information warning us about French fishing boats fishing with nets strung between them proved to be useful just the following day. Jacqueline gave Jac a little tray from Brittany – such a lovely couple who we hope to meet up with again in our travels.

Concarneau to Port Tudy

We had to depart from Concarneau early in the morning as we needed fuel and the refuelling berth was in a shallow corner of the marina. High water was required for us to get to the diesel pump. Having refuelled, we then found a problem with the bow thruster which was not working properly making it difficult to turn the boat around. Reversing out, we spotted Bert on Kokopelli’s deck so Jac and I stood to attention and saluted as we passed by, a fitting final farewell!
We had planned to sail to L’Orient but changed our minds on the way and decided to go to Port Tudy on L’Isle de Groix. This proved to be very interesting! The documentation indicated that there were two types of berths in the harbour: pontoons …..good, or mooring buoys ……. very bad (after our experience at St Evette) (Still no Jolly Hooker). We were met at the harbour entrance by a young man in a dory who explained that there was no room on the pontoons and we would have to moor on the buoys! Disaster! Our hearts sank. We could foresee yet another half hour’s entertainment for the locals coming up with a corresponding reduction in our self-esteem and a complete reassessment on the part of foreigners as to the reputation of the British Naval tradition. On entering the harbour, our “helpful” guide led us towards a gap in the moored boats that it would have be difficult to slide a mini through, let alone a 39 ft. long 12 ft. wide yacht. We bottled out and went the long way round reversing all the way into shallow water at the back of the harbour. After a lot of faffing, while I tried to stop Synergy running aground, we were directed to raft onto a British flagged yacht and tie fore and aft to the same buoys as our neighbour. Miraculously this all went very smoothly and we breathed a sigh of relief.

Jac’s Bit.
Chris’s rafting up was amazing!! The Royal Navy would have been very proud of him!

Back to Chris……
We inflated the tender and rowed ashore where we paid our mooring fees and explored the water front, eating at a dockside restaurant, followed by a rather erratic trip back to the boat in the tender. And so to bed.

6 Jul 15

At Port Tudy

The bow thruster had been playing up since the unfortunate incident with the stray warp at Dartmouth, so I decided to get into the water and assess the damage. The water was warm, over 20°C, but I still got kitted out in my wetsuit, donned mask, snorkel and fins and dropped into the water. A quick survey revealed that the starboard rotor on the bow thruster had lost 2 of its 5 blades and was therefore complaining of the imbalance. There was nothing to be done about it at this stage, short of pulling the boat out of the water and replacing the rotor. I carried a spare, but the risk of dropping a vital component when doing the job in the water made the decision to wait until Gib an easy one.

Moored near us was a Moody-built yacht, “Paddington” which had been previously owned by friends of Jac’s. They were heading over to the French mainland. It’s a very small world!

A bit of boat cleaning was in order, so I started to scrub the decks using buckets of seawater. In the process I managed to lose my valued and valuable folding bucket overboard which immediately started to sink. Without a thought for my own safety, I jumped in after it and rescued the same before it sank out of reach. Unfortunately, I was then unable to get back on the boat as the swim ladder was folded up so I had to call on Jac, who was down below, to give me a hand.

Jac’s bit

I was down below doing some household chores when I heard a plaintiff cry from up above. I went up on deck only to find Chris splashing around in the sea still wearing his hat and glasses and clutching his bucket! When I found out that his entry into the water was not by accident but in an attempt to rescue his bucket I saw no mercy! Much to the amusement of our neighbours I kept him floundering in the sea for several minutes while I decided on the terms on which I would let down the ladder so he could come back on board.

Back to Chris

Having recovered from the unexpected immersion in the harbour we spent the evening ashore, starting in an old pub in the back streets, followed by a kebab at a waterfront café and the inevitable wandering return to the boat. (The evening was at my expense – the terms of being allowed to use my own ladder after the bucket incident!) As night fell musicians on a nearby Irish boat started playing Celtic folk songs and Irish jigs to the appreciation of an audience on all the surrounding boats. I tried to join in with an impression of River Dance on Synergy’s fore deck and only narrowly managed to avoid another ducking in the harbour. A great evening.

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