On Saturday 2 July the crew finally let slip the lines, stowed my fenders and we pottered across the notorious Chichester Bar without incident, turning West towards Portsmouth. I wasn’t very aware of the Second Mate on deck for most of this first passage; between you and me I think she was carefully studying the interior of the guest cabin. It was a fast and busy sail into Royal Clarence Marina in Gosport, a place I’d come to think of as home over the last eighteen months, but not being my own berth, as I was now only a visitor, Skipper found it a little tricky to tuck me in, just grazing the sandbank near the entrance channel, and I found myself right up against the walkway to land – a little more public than I’m used to, but after all I did have a clean bottom to show off. The Mates took the opportunity to stretch their legs and restock the fridge (about the only storage with any space left) at Waitrose – how civilised.
Yes, at last, it really is me here, l’escale, with a moment of the Mate’s time to finally start bringing you up to date with my busy doings. Today is Wednesday 19 July 2016, and I am at anchor in Pyefleet Channel, North of Mersea Island, near Brightlingsea in Essex, on the East Coast of England. The sun is shining and the wind is a good Force 4. My crew struggled to get me to settle at anchor here, but I’m now happy with their third attempt as they await high water at around 1300 local time to take me into Brightlingsea Harbour to provision and spend some time on shore while I get some peace and quiet.
So, what’s been happening since my Skipper and Mate moved on board permanently (of which more later) on Friday 1 July?
Well, during June I was on the hard in Itchenor, Chichester Harbour having my bottom cleaned and repainted with shiny new antifouling by the nice boys at the old Northshore yard and my crew. The crew arrived with the last of their house stuff and the Second Mate and loaded it all into me on the Thursday evening, and early on a grey damp Friday morning Toby my tractor friend came back and pushed me back into the water…oh it feels good to be in my element again. It was very windy as I lay alongside the pontoon all day, while my people sorted themselves out, stowing enough of their stuff that we could sail safely. I had some company briefly as the local dinghy fleets tore past me, some a little close for a first acquaintance, but they were having such a good time, and I basked in warm sunshine in the afternoon.
PS: My editor has apparently taken liberties with the time travel machine in order to catch up. He thinks it’ll make more sense this way.