Days 89 and 90 Wednesday and Thursday, 24th and 25th August
When you haven’t got a telly, you have to rely on other yachties providing your entertainment. And they come up trumps every time: this time a yacht crashing into the small yacht they’re supposed to be mooring next to, and the skipper explaining to anyone who’ll listen that the wind just caught him and pushed him over. Nothing to do with the fact that he turned too late. Another skipper is hoisting his wife up the mast with no safety line, of course.
A charming man delivers the oil to the boat, asking about the make and I tell him all about how Malcolm made the boat himself from the basic Verl mouldings. Find the ‘laverie’ (launderette) near our hotel for tomorrow and Friday nights, Hotel des Halles. Get pretty soaked on the way back to the boat in a thunderstorm – haven’t had one of those so far on this trip. Malcolm changes the engine oil – a long and unpleasant task – whilst I sort out what to take home and what to leave for when we come back by car in October to winterise the boat. We’ve only got small carry-on bags for the flight on Saturday, so will take home all the sheets, towels, clothes, books, charts, etc. etc. on our next visit.
Eat up what’s left in the fridge for supper with a packet of Smash(!) which will be out of date next season and a tin of baked beans. Hardly cordon bleu! Go back to the Ville Close for a stroll and enjoy listening to a singing group, with a very slow French rendition of ‘What shall we do with the drunken sailor?’ called ‘Au pecheur’ in French.
Thursday dawns and final preps made for our lift-out at 11 am. Tentatively make our way to the other side of the channel to find the slipway, within a large partially used naval dockyard, only to see a tractor and submerged trailer in the water. There’s a man waving at us to move forward and the tractor driver is indicating which way to proceed with a luminous baton so we’re straight on the trailer. Not quite the boat lift we’ve been used to at Coates Marine in Whitby. However it works, we descend a ladder and are offered a lift in the van, following Lady Hamilton back to the yard along the road. Quite a surreal experience.
Emmanuelle Beaumont is just as charming as Malcolm said she was. Nothing is too much trouble. The boat is cleaned with a high pressure hose and looks like new. The antifoul is cleaner than in Whitby – though a chap nearby shows us several boxes of mussels which have come off his boat! Frank, the Technical Director, has put a flight of steps next to the boat – I feel like a princess.
Back at the hotel we can’t have our room until 2 pm so take our picnic into the lovely wooded area inside the Ville Close . There’s a young chap playing the violin and Irish dancing – utterly brilliant. Plan to have crepes for lunch tomorrow and oysters and ‘Moules frites’ for Malcolm and fish of the day for moi in the evening,all in the Ville Close. And the odd glass of wine, of course!
Friday will be our last chance to mop out the bilges, clean the fridge and the heads, take off the spray hood, the dodgers, the lifebouys and the fender socks and stow them below. After three months on board, it feels very emotional to be leaving her and in a strange port. The boat next door to Lady H is called ‘Friendship’ so we hope she won’t miss us too much.
So it’s ‘Au revoir’ from us until our next adventure.