It’s a lot of work…

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It is amazing how much work it takes to turn Coral from a grubby lump of fiberglass sitting on its props in the boatyard into the living thing of beauty that I love. I think it was Elliot who said that while memory made life worthwhile it was forgetting that made it possible. Now I am sitting at anchor in Plymouth Sound, with a good supper and bottle of beer inside me, having just watched the sun go down in a completely clear sky, followed by the lights flicking up one by one on the waterfront and on the buoys and other marine markers. I am anchored in Jennycliff Bay just next to a green starboard hand marker that shows the easterly extreme of the deep shipping channel. It flashes green every five seconds. All is well.

But I awoke this morning, rather cold, to a cabin in complete chaos. Scarcely anything was in the right place, the second bunk was just a heap of bedding and bags of clothes, and the pilot berth was still full of bags of victuals. Why do things get in a muddle? because there are always more places where they shouldn’t be than where they should be.

I had carried everything down to the pontoon at the boatyard and heaved them onboard, finishing quite late at night. Through the morning I had worked to stow everything, which often meant moving things from one wrong place to another wrong place in order to get access to a locker. Its as if there has to be more chaos along the way to finding order. Eventually the pile disappeared, leaving just one or two things yet to find a home.

Then I set to work on the deep lockers in the cockpit: how to get two spare containers for diesel and two for fresh water stowed safely so I can still access the heavy anchor that lives deep in the bottom of the locker? I take everything out of both lockers, re-coil ropes that have come undone, and eventually manage to find a place for everything. Then there are the sails to get out of the bags and properly rigged,which means getting my bosun’s chair and climbing gear out to go halfway up the mast to sort out the rigging.

At times I am close to tears–there is too much mess, too much to do, and I am too tired; then moments later I get a glimpse of the delights of being aboard and I am strangely happy. I let go the lines and motor down river and into the Sound,and gradually get back into the rhythm of sailing. I find a quiet place to anchor. Night falls, I light the Tilley lamp, set up the anchor light, walk round the deck, tie back the halliards so they don’t bang against the mast in the night and check everything is in order before I climb early into my bunk.

Postscript: Some time after posting this blog, I was running around the deck sorting things when my internal Zen Master said very quietly, “Of course, is this really is a pilgrimage then all this is part of the process. Everything is an opportunity for mindfulness, a kind of karma yoga.”

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Comments

  1. stephenreneaux@aol.com says:

    Hi Peter,

    Great letter!

    Melanie says if there’s an ‘ought’ in something that one is thinking of doing or is asked to do, you should think carefully. I WANT to be able to help you to prepare Coral, there’s certainly no ‘ought’, it’s as much a part of the voyage as the sailing. Time is pressing on and still we wait. No grandchild yet, no garage sale yet and Melanie is in hospital for an investigation and no news yet. But things happen in time and these instances, eventually. I empathise with your feelings completely in what you’ve been doing with Coral. Joanna Macey’s line ‘don’t even think of doing it alone’ has come into my mind on several occasions since I first read it, sharing in the preparation of Coral is one of those. Some things are necessary to do alone and we gain strength from it, but you know all too well of the benefits of collaboration!

    I did sail at the weekend on pilot cutter Amelie Rose, we headed West out of Poole and with fair winds and were in Weymouth in very good time. The sail back on Sunday turned into quite a challenge with a relatively under strength crew for the building wind and the fact that we had every stitch of canvas flying. The breeze really picked up off St.Albans, around the time that lunch was being served, needless to say, not all of us finished our lunch as we were pulling down jib topsail, topsail and staysail from the huge rig!

    Is there anything I can do from Brockenhurst to help? I’ll let you know as soon as I hear about the baby.

    Best wishes to you and Elizabeth.

  2. Malcolm Parlett says:

    Peter, thanks for evoking so many live and warm memories of Coral: I could imagine the scene so well, with you fluctuating between thunderous impatience, executive clarity, hourly planning, and your loving and refined attention to detail – not to mention your gentlemanly care for anyone else with you on the boat, and your stamina.

    Thank you also for your exquisite ordering in words to capture the making of muddles; the disciplines of putting away, folding and coiling; and the balance between ordering and staying carefree enough to enjoy the gifts – in this case, of being a land animal in close proximity to an environment in which we could only survive an hour or two (at most) without the cheating marvel of the boat.

    All the very best for your journeying, inner and outer, and for a safe return,

    With love,

    Malcolm

  3. david manzi-fe says:

    Hello Peter, that’s such an evocative piece of writing, was being a fly on the wall watching you! Blessed be, David

  4. One of my favourite posts. I am on the boat with you..even the smell of the lockers comes straight back. Sarah.

  5. Christine Bone says:

    Good luck Peter, will be thinking of you, with love Christine x

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