Google+ Badge

Monday, 10 June 2013

Bending on the mains'l on Hearts of oak

Summer has finally arrived in Cumbria, in fact we've had almost one week of glorious weather and we are making the final preparations to leave. We have walked the lanes where the cow parsley is in profusion and the fields are abundant with buttercups. The blackthorn is awash with it's snow-white blossoms and everything is lush in this late rush of spring, a month late. In fact in these glory days as we trip the light fantastic at 7am across the fields, buy eggs from the local farm, and pop £2 in the honesty box we wonder why we should be leaving such a beautiful part of the world.

Of course it's not always this idyllic, bird song, and the lazy cattle, in the early warmth of the morning. More often than not it's grey, or its raining, or its windy and uninspiring, but this week you wonder, just for a moment if Englands such a bad place. Of course it's not, especially on weeks like these but we have charted our course, let go the quay and are ready to sail away.

In fact we're almost done with casting off the trappings of this life, we're almost there with the sifting of the stuff that we will leave behind, give away or take with us and we went sailing.

We went sailing on Hearts of Oak. Well not exactly sailing. There was a job to be done, a shakedown cruise. After a winter, a long winter of refurbishments it was time to bend the mainsail, thats a nautical way of saying putting the sails back on to the old girl. This was carried out with a degree of pondering and hilarity as we wrestled with bits of rope and canvas until finally we had something that resembled a gaff rigged cutter called Hearts of oak.

Luckily there was the barest whisper of a breeze and a flat calm sea to achieve this. Gordon seemed to know more or less how the bits of rope and canvas got tied to the gaff and mast and we just threw in the odd comment to confuse each other but eventually she started to look like the ship we remembered from last season. We then motored out into the bay for an hour or two looking for a vesper and managed to turn the engine off for about ten minutes before we agreed that there was really no wind.

It didn't matter though, it was good to be back on the briney. The sun shone on a beautiful June sunday and we sailed her back to the drying out mooring, picked up the mooring and rowed ashore.

For a few hours we forgot about moving, about work, about anything except sailing. That's why we want to do this, wind or no wind, just being a part of this classic old sailboats crew with the creaks of the rigging as she wallows in the swell is enough, enough to escape the world for a few hours.

Next weekend we move out and take up residence in a cottage in the countryside with views of the mountains and the Duddon estuary. It won't be our home, but if the weather stays like this it's going to be a joy, and just one step away from the plane ride to our  new life in the Caribbean and our sailing adventure. But today on the Hearts of Oak was beautiful, not a sailing day but a reminder of why we are doing what we are doing, sailing is such a meditation, and if we can sail something like this old boat with its old systems of stiff hessian sheets and halyards and then it gives us confidence in our adventures on something a little less old.

So here we go then the last week, it's getting very close now, the next few weeks will surely fly. And then we fly.