To Sail or not to Sail

26th July 2022

After a spell on land – eight months in fact – it’s hard to decide whether to sail again or stay ashore. To sail or not to sail?

Winter berth

It is not so much a question of whether to sail again (I have done and certainly shall do more) as whether to be a normal and proper part-time sailor, like most folk (with smaller boat for local trips) or an improper full-time liveaboard sailor (with beloved Henrietta for longer overseas travels). I am lucky I suppose to have a choice.

Life on land through the past winter and spring has been pretty good to me: a home in a fine English city, wonderful family, a few good friends, an unchallenging routine, and an expanding waistline – all this in a country that’s free of major conflict, starvation, and serious oppression – albeit with a government that embarrasses me, policies that offend me and national self-image that seems woefully and extraordinarily misguided. (Wouldn’t blogs be dull without the odd opinion?)

But such matters are of little interest to others.

Joy! I find a forgotten bottle, well traveled from South Africa

So I’ll move on to another trivial question.

Whether to continue writing this blog once more or simply keep my rambles to myself?

On the one hand blogs are self-indulgent, often a tedious rambling account of where I go, whom I meet and what I eat plus some ill-conceived opinionated drivel, and they’re rather time-consuming for both you and me.

On the other hand they may be informative, interesting and emotive. I guess it’s for the reader to judge. If you want to read, then do (and my tiny group of ‘followers’ does seem to want to); or, if you don’t want to read, then don’t (unless you really have nothing better to do).

So here we are, Henrietta and I together once more, bobbing at anchor in the Isles of Scilly – one of my favourite local destinations. I’m just back from the pub, in a good and tipsy mood, receptive to the delights of gulls and cormorants, enjoying the sounds of wind in rigging, clear blue sea and a setting sun.

St Agnes, Scilly Islands
Ever popular, Turk’s Head

It’s been a trial run from her winter berth on Exeter Canal, to see if boat and I still work ok. I reckon we both work all right, although nothing seems to be going very smoothly! I’d forgotten how uncomfortable and tricky sailing can be.

Gig-rowing more popular than ever

Boat (dear Henrietta) has Electrical Problems. They, the electrics, are, as they say, up the spout, with alarms going off as bits fail and instruments go wonky, sending an assortment of beeps and squeaks to tell me what I don’t want to know. This electric stuff was one thing that our sailing forebears didn’t have to trouble with (though the downside was they never knew exactly where they were and they had to ‘swing the lead’ to see how deep it was). On reflection I can see there were a few advantages in the sailing days before chartplotters and AIS and radar and echo sounder and GPS, and radio. Not many though.

I have muscle problems, balance irregularities and gastrointestinal woes. I.e. muscles seem to have disappeared under the winter delights of good cheese and chocolate biscuits and mashed potato. And sea legs have transposed into grade A flab and queasiness. Heaven forbid, I’ve almost been sick.

Ever-delightful companions

The bright point was setting forth and frolicking about on some of England’s hottest days ever. I didn’t need my thermal underwear.

Mupe Bay (used to be an empty anchorage)

And to finish this briefly (a few weeks later), I sailed for a few weeks along England’s gorgeous southwestern coastlines of Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and Hampshire (Isles of Scilly to Solent) fixing Henrietta’s delicate bits and redeveloping muscles and sea legs, meeting old friends, and finding new ones, and remembering how demanding and how rewarding life at sea can be. I’ve managed to avoid marinas on the south coast. (Nowadays you have to win the lottery or rob banks if you want to stay overnight in them.)

Henrietta has just been lifted out of the water so we can fix more bits. The mast has to come down too. Rigger has made suggestions tantamount to a death sentence. I have yet to decide where or when to go next. Will let you know – probably.

Work to do in boatyard, Totnes

11 thoughts on “To Sail or not to Sail”

  1. Hello Michael, as for me, I truly hope you continue your voyage as well as your blog. I have thoroughly enjoyed following you and coincidentally find myself in a similar set of circumstances. My wife Cindy and I have been cruising since 2014 when we left the US. (Speaking of dysfunctional governments!) We are currently in Tonga where our boat Cool Change has been residing for the last 30 months while we were locked out unable to return to her. Somehow we made it back even as the borders here remain closed. We have been working hard on her for almost a month dealing with those bits and pieces that have such a hard go of it under the conditions of idleness in the tropics. We splash again on Monday and plan to sail to Fiji in September where we will put our Cool Change up for sale. Like you, I wont say we will never sail again but this chapter for us is coming to a close. I will be happy when she sells, knowing that some other dreamer will be continuing her voyage.

    Best to you Michael,

    Rick Patrinellis Cool Change PS31 http://www.coolchangeadventures.com

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  2. Hey Michael!
    Good to read you again and to see, you are alright.
    Please continiue your blog, for me it was always a joy to read your english phrases as it was to talk to you a a non native english speaker – you leveled me up, at least I hope this happened ;-).
    South coast of England and the Scilly Islands are still on my list.
    Enjoy your time on and with the boat.
    All the best,
    Michael

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    1. Michael
      Most Germans I meet have fluent English , better English than many of us!
      I think ‘levelling up’ is a pretty meaningless phrase currently popular only with politicians.

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  3. Dear Michael
    I, like so many I’m sure, love reading your blogs. So please continue. Whether you continue your voyages on Henrietta is, of course, your choice.
    We are returning to Vega, now in the Seychelles, after a short visit home and will head back towards Bristol in October vis S Africa. As you know things are always breaking on boats and we have engine problems, amongst other things, to fix before we can continue on.
    I hope our paths cross again one day.
    Annie and Hugh
    SY Vega

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  4. Dear Michael
    Please do continue your blog as I always enjoy reading what you been up to even if it is in the UK or abroad
    I love the way you write and describe areas that you have visited
    Do you think you’ll go round the world again? As you say lots of choices the world is your oyster. Happy times Joycie

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  5. Please, please, please don’t stop your blog.
    Temporarily stuck on land, we do so need the mood’s uplifting your ramblings provide.
    Ken and Beatie
    SV Petra
    (We’ve met in Richard’s Bay, South Africa)

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  6. Dear Michael,

    For what it’s worth (maybe practically nothing!), I really enjoyed your well-written, thoughtful and interesting blogs.

    As far as blogs in general, I would welcome an occasional report from you about your land-based travels throughout my favorite part of England. Whether you return to a life aquatic, become a part time sailor or remain ashore is a decision only you can make! But, I think that everyone who has enjoyed your reports over the years would love to hear of the interesting places you visit regardless of whether they be by land or sea.

    Aloha, cheers 🍷

    Tony Carter ………. Sv. AOTEA

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