It’s been two months since my last post, and I’m sorry! I intended to write as soon as we returned from our trip down the Cornish coast, to tell you all about Fowey and the last leg home, but when we got home things started looking a little bleak and though the bleakness sped on by, my desire to express it remained absent. Picking up the computer to chart our progress seemed such fun while we were away, but now we were home it would involve all sorts of observations that weren’t immediately pleasant to make.
Fowey was wonderful, just so you know. Expensive (£24.50 a night mooring and nowhere to anchor) but lovely. We arrived in the evening, and we treated ourself to a meal and a pint at the King of Prussia, the pink pub where we were to pinch internet for the rest of our stay. In the morning we heard a strange deep rumbling, ignored it, and turned back to our hugs and pillows. When we finally woke, a city had parked at the next set of moorings.
That enormous ship, the Silver something, only hung around until four that day, ferrying their chubby tourist couples in droves to the town and back. What a peculiar way to see Cornwall, we thought. Ah well. We weren’t able or willing to leave Fowey for a couple of days so we made the most of its touristy charm ourselves, walking one day to St Catherine’s Castle and the next around Polruan, Lanteglos and back via the Bodinnick Ferry. We met up with my mum again, explored some art galleries, ate well, found a great wildlife photography exhibition, and even had a chance to retension the shrouds which had worked loose in the abusive winds that had brought us there.
One evening a dinghy race provided entertainment while we chomped locally caught fish on deck. We “eeked” as one of their party collided with a neighbouring yacht and yabbered with the race officials as they came by to shield us from the same fate. More scary than enthusiastic dinghy sailors was the idea of huge container ships that the harbourmaster had told us tended to reverse exactly where we were stopped. Sure enough, later that night we watched in thrilled amazement as one rotated in the dark before Gwen, missing us by only a carefully driven 15 or 20 metres. It seemed incredibly close given the enormity of the thing.
Finally the sea state became bearable and a westerly was predicted to appear, so we left our pricey buoy in the early early morning. Alas, predictions are not always correct and we found ourselves within sight of Fowey sitting stock still in an absence of wind. The GPS informed us we were travelling backwards. An hour passed, and we decided we had to get home somehow, so the engine was started for a long and noisy motorsail. Hours later, after a brief rainy pause in Cawsand bay we thought “what the hell”, and came all the way home to Southdown, sliding in between new neighbours with much less drama than on our departure.
At some point before we left Fowey Richard had got it into his head that this sailing had not been good enough. Somehow Gwen’s gaff rig was too much for the two of us, and we had been too tired for the whole trip, and oh, if only she was a junk rig like his old boat. I dismissed this as one of many passing fantasies, but by the time we settled back in Southdown he was having sleepless nights thinking about how it could be achieved – moving one mast and turning Gwen in to ketch, another mast near the aft cabin hatch. At our rate of pay and spare time to toil this would take almost as long again as the renovation that has consumed our last three years.
I couldn’t understand it. I had just had the trip of a lifetime – it had been hard and yes, at times I hadn’t been entirely sure if I was cut out for the long sails, but it had worked, I’d made it. I wanted to feel proud. I wanted him to notice that he had built a working boat and that I had learned to sail in our damn boat and to appreciate that we’d had an amazing holiday and now – what? It wasn’t good enough? I wasn’t very happy for a long while. Gradually we agreed together that we just needed to not be in such a rush, that we could get used to certain things, that longer rests were needed without a self-steering system. Gwen could do it and so could we. But still, the magic of the holiday had been broken and autumn was approaching.
It’s funny what can get you out of a fug.
I was soon desperately upset trying to find a better paid job so that I could save up for what we hope will be next year’s escape. One well paid job was cancelled at the last minute, and then a string of interviewers met other people with more experience. Failure after failure came back, or didn’t come back, to me. And at the back of my mind – what was the point anyway? Would any of it ever be good enough for Rich? At the start of October it got to a stage where the misery was all too much and *ping*, I hit the moment of “fuck this”.
Spurred into defiance by the release of this moment, I stopped looking for work. I started concentrating instead on my own pursuits; painted crap paintings, joined a creative writing class I couldn’t afford, began “The Artist’s Way”, and spent spare days creating or plotting creation with friends. Somehow, in between, bits of admin and English teaching work started coming my way – not enough to save much, but enough to get by, and I started to enjoy and even look forward to the season’s change. Pleasure’s all about perspective, and it seemed that now was a time to turn my gaze away from the boat to concentrate on myself. As far as I can tell a month later, I was right.
Rich has found some non-Gwen fun of his own and frequently takes long morning trips in his kayak to be among the waders and other sea birds that he loves. Some weekends he goes dinghy sailing with some local lunatics while I slog up at the Canteen. He is also working hard, too hard, all week, and making bits and pieces for the boat on weekends. I am working on a short musical and a card selling idea and a daft video project and whole host of other crap. And yes, we may be in real trouble in the new year when we’ll both be out of work – him for a long-awaited operation on his dodgy arm and me because the English will dry up and the cafe will be shut. But we’ll deal with that when it comes. For now, we are enjoying what we can and taking pleasure from being out in the air and water, outside of last year’s hideous shed, and that is enough. Gwen sits in front of the cafe at the marina and we sleep snugly within her, giggling at each other’s news while a log-burner keeps the approaching winter outside.