The Test

Tuesday November 20th

Long ago, I decided that if I was going to live on a boat, then it had to be all the year round – otherwise it would just feel like a holiday. Admittedly, I still have family commitments so I shall be going home this week for ten days – and then again over Christmas and New Year. But the house in Woodbridge is beginning to feel like a place to visit whereas life aboard Samsara is rapidly becoming “home”.

And today I have had my first taste of what that means. It was, in a sense, a test: The forecast was 25kt winds, a real winter chill of 30C and driving sleet.

In fact, when I awoke at 0830 with the boat heeling to 30kt gusts whipping across Kirby Creek, the thermometer above the chart table registered 70C. This seemed encouraging – until I considered that it probably had something to do with the fug released by unzipping two sleeping bags, one inside the other.

But who needs to get up at 8.30 on a day like today? I climbed back in, taking with me the Kindle and Neil Hawkesford’s A Foolish Voyage.

Incidentally, this book is staying in my library along with Moitessier’s The Long Way. Even though it’s self-published and largely unknown, I think it’s up there with the great sailing books. Just like Moitessier, Hawkesford digs deep into his emotions – here is a man who spent his whole life wanting nothing more than to live on a boat and go sailing… and eventually he managed it. I can relate to that. I’ve just written a glowing review and downloaded the sequel…

In the end, of course, I did have to get up. I mean, you can’t stay in bed all day, can you? Even if there’s no parent to come barging into your bedroom with a basinful of adult responsibility… even if you’re so grown up, yourself, that you’re retired and really don’t have to do anything ever again…

So, I emerged for a second time at 10.30 – and found the cabin still wasn’t any warmer. For a moment I hankered after one of those automatic forced-air central heating systems where you poke one finger out from under the duvet, push a button and wait for the boat to reach a sensible temperature.

Of course, I could have roused myself to get up and light the charcoal stove but that seemed like a slippery slope – pretty soon I would have it running it all day as well as all evening and, while matters might yet come to that, I don’t want to start down the wimpy route until I have to.

The answer was to keep moving: Without going outside into the cold and wind, that meant rubbing down the bulkhead ready for painting (and clearing up all the dust that produced) carving a new knob for the heads door… you can imagine the kind of thing…

It got me as far as a late lunch and a second cup of tea but after sitting still for an hour finishing the book, 70C didn’t seem so homely any more. I lit the stove at 3.30.

By 9.30 I was sitting so close to it that I was beginning to singe.

By 10.30 I was a back in the two sleeping bags – now with Hawkesford’s second book A Foolish Odyssey.

Odd really, I wouldn’t swap places with anyone…




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