A few minutes’ conversation is all it takes to draw us into each other’s plans; to create a community of concern when anyone has a problem; to make reckless invitations to visit and promises to keep in touch, to spill out personal history known only to our closest friends and relatives ashore. Jerry L.Mashaw, Seasoned by Salt.
4:00 a.m. The wind has picked up and the gling-gling of our halyard (the rope which raises the main sail) against the mast wakes me. The noise has woken up Patrice as well and he gets out of bed to go up on deck and tighten it with the winch. After the gling-gling disappears, I now hear the creak and groan of our mooring lines loud and clear. I try to shut the noise out of my ears and tell myself, “go back to sleep, go back to sleep...zzzzzz.”
On a visitor’s pontoon, boats come and go frequently and every arrival (and departure) is an event to witness, an opportunity to lend a hand and get to know someone new. However, the arrival of this particular boat has caused more than the usual sensation, especially with the French on the pontoon. Its name Is Penn Duick III and is one of six boats owned and raced by the most famous French sailor of all time, Eric Tabarly. For Patrice this is HUGE for he has considered Tabarly, who has now passed away, to be his own personal hero and mentor since he was a boy.
10:00. I leave the mattresses with Patrice who is doing engine maintenance and has to wait for someone to come from the ship chandlery and take two loads of laundry over to the marina’s laundromat.
10:05 a.m Unbeknownst to me, someone gets there first and nabs both washing machines.
10:10 a.m. I arrive at the laundromat--drat! Machines in use. I’ll have to wait 45 minutes until they’re free. I radio back to Patrice on the walkie-talkie to let him know that this will take longer than planned--no surprise, everything takes longer living on a boat--and use the time to catch up on e-mail and chat with Catherine, the Englishwoman who beat me to the machines. She’s nice, so I forgive her and resolve to get here earlier next time.
It turns out that one of the crew onboard this 57 foot mega yacht (a Southerly for those who might be interested) had improperly tied up a mooring line and when the boat moved forward unexpectedly, the anchor, which was poised on the bow (front) of the boat, hit the skipper, who was standing on the pontoon, in the chest. No CPR needed, but an ambulance is called as broken ribs are suspected. Thankfully it turns out to be just bruising. Whew!
8:30 p.m. The Englishmen have gone on shore for dinner and further divertissements* and we have finished our meal. The wind has picked up again and is pushing us onto the boat next door. As this boat is currently uninhabited, Patrice goes up to see what he can do. From below, I hear a funny noise and then some shouting. Someone coming back on the pontoon took a mis-step straight into the water! Thankfully Patrice was there to help him back on the pontoon. The poor chap is absolutely fine, just wet and embarrassed, so he’ll be grateful if I don’t mention his name or nationality here.
10:00 p.m. We’re tucked in bed after watching an episode of NCIS, our current favorite series on DVD. I hear the creak and groan of our mooring lines and as Taka Trois gently rocks us with the incoming tide, I tell myself, “just go to sleep....zzzzzz.”
*We learn the next morning that one of our ‘three men in a boat’, who looked rather worse for wear sporting various cuts and bruises on his face, was forced to play the role of knight in shining armor and rescued a damsel in distress in the bar where they wound up in later that night. It’s good to know that pontoon K has such gallant gentlemen in residence.