|Posted by yachtmoonlight on June 27, 2009 at 10:30 AM|
We have been living on the boat for the past week and a half and today - Setting Off day - has come round so fast.
Moonlight is stocked up and ready to go. We have replaced the year's supply of sweets that fell into the sea when John missed the boat and attempted to suspend the box in mid-air in-between the boat and the pontoon, which was closely followed by our first onion overboard emergency.
I have come to terms with no longer having a hairdryer and accepted that my head will forever resemble that of a particularly woolly llama from here on. Although to be fair, this has always been the case when I have been on board the boat. Within a couple of days I look like a street urchin who has been dragged through a very thorny hedge backwards (twice) before being trampled on by a herd of stampeding gnus. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, marina facilities have a tendency to offer the worst, most ineffective hairdryers known to man or beast. They are those really naff plastic types that I thought died out in the 1980s which resemble mini vacuum cleaners and are as effective as a mouse blowing a toy trumpet at your head for drying hair. The second reason is that we don't have a proper mirror on the boat, so when I have slipped into urchin mode it is difficult to remedy the situation. We do actually have two 'mirrors' on the boat but they are made on some kind of bendy material screwed to the wall which creates inevitable lumpy bits, so where you stand to look in the mirrors dictates which Mr Man you look like.
Last Saturday we were joined on the boat by our friends Tina, Robert, Lorraine and Marco and that evening we had a fantastic time at a charity bash on Spitbank Fort.
The organiser of the event, Anna Wardley, is completing a number of 'extreme swims' to raise money for three charities including Toe in The Water, a great sailing charity which helps with the rehabilitation of injured servicemen. The do was kicked off by Anna and one of the servicemen who has sailed with Toe In The Water swimming from Southsea beach to Spitbank fort, with Anna towing a trail of rubber ducks behind her, tied to her feet!
The rubber ducks were auctioned off later in the evening and we were hoping to trail them behind the boat on our adventures, but we had to duck out (ho ho) after the bidding went above £100. John did manage to persuade Anna to part with her duck brolly in exchange for a £30 donation though, so that will have to do.
(Marco with the duck brolly!)
It was a really fun night, with much alcohol had by all, along with a great dinner if you can overlook the undercooked potatoes.
We all slept on the boat that night, which was rather cosy with six of us. I woke in the morning to the sight of Marco wandering around in his underpants and I thanked God for the gift of short-sightedness.
On Sunday, we were treated by our chums to a Sunday lunch on the lightship in Haslar Marina, washed down with a few cheeky glasses of wine. The meal was good, other than the potatoes were undercooked. While we discussed why Portsmouth appears to be unable to cook potatoes, we noticed from the staff uniforms that it was the same catering company who has provided the food for the previous night, so Tina very politely asked the waitress to inform the chef he clearly had a potato problem.
On Monday evening we had arranged for a chap called Alex to collect something he had bought from us on eBay. We invited him onto the boat and several hours later, having been joined by John, Liz and Steve from neighbouring boats, and after much beer and popcorn, Alex was relaying the story of how he accidently set off his liferaft in the saloon of his boat for the third (and funniest) time. It was a really fun evening with great people.
We spent the next few days finishing the last bits of shopping and reading ('The Suspicions of Mr Whicher', a very good read and 'Restoration' by Rose Tremain, which is possibly the finest book I have ever read).
On Thursday, I walked to a small brewery in Gosport called Oakleaf to buy a couple of pints of their fabulous draught beer (draughted into a milk carton!). As the sun went down that evening, John poured us a beer each in the cockpit and then shouted excitedly for me to come up and see a huge military boat with a helicopter on the back that was coming into the marina. In my excitement, I ran up into the cockpit and as my foot delicately nudged (!!!) one of the glasses of beer, it launched across the cockpit and smashed into lots of pieces, distributing one of the finest beers in the south generously across all the woodwork.
As John was hosing down the cockpit (with one hand, while holding his surviving beer tightly in the other in case I was on some kind of anti real ale rampage), Steve from a nearby boat wobbled down the pontoon and told us he had just drunk far too much wine and invited us to his boat to drink some more. Steve is a smashing bloke and so we thought this was a splendid plan.
Steve poured us each a large glass of red wine and after a toast to something or other, Steve started telling us a story that obviously required rigorous hand gestures, but forgetting he had a glass of wine in his hand, the first gesture sent the contents of his glass over his left side leaving the kind of stains on the fibreglass surroundings of the cockpit that you expect to find had you sacrificed a small pig in it. After much apologies and astoundment from Steve on how that could possibly have happened, he went back to his story and with the next hand gesture, sent the contents of his refilled glass over his right side and all over me. After much more apologising and kitchen towel mop-uppage, we enjoyed a couple of glasses of wine and much merry chattering without further incident.
Just as we were heading back to the boat, we saw Steve White sailing his boat Toe In The Water (named after the charity) into the marina. Steve is my sailing hero after I followed his progress in the Vendee Globe round the world sailing race and although I've seen his boat several times in the marina, I have never seen Steve, so I got very excited and ran round to the pontoon where he was mooring up, stopping by Moonlight to grab a camera, one of my sailing shirts and a permanent marker pen.
Steve was very polite, but also very modest and shy and I don't think he'd come across a random fan before, well, not one with a fluffy head, out of breath (I'm ashamed to say having not run very far), a tad slurry after two large glasses of red and with jeans covered in red wine / sacrificial pig's blood, and I think I may have scared him somewhat. He bemusedly had his photo taken with me and signed my shirt for me (not only will I forgive him for spelling my name wrong, but I'm considering changing my name so it isn't) and said that all he'd done was 'a bit of sailing'. Out of 30 boats who competed in the Vendee Globe, only about 12 finished. Steve came eighth after buying his own boat (older and not as technically advanced as the others) and with no major sponsorship (unlike the others) and named his boat after a charity. I think he's a hero, even if he doesn't realise, and it was a pleasure to meet him. And just in case anyone who knows Steve White ever reads this, please can you tell him I'm not a stalker.
It's now 10.30am on Saturday 27th June and we are waiting for friends and John's daughters to arrive to wave us off, which we plan to be at about 4pm.
I'll update the blog again when I next find internet access!