The Good Ship Floats Again

It's that time of year when I start thinking, ‘I’m never going out on that boat ever again.’ But sailing is what Tom loves to do. He’s just replaced the stern gland with a stuffing box (no, don’t ask me, I haven’t a clue) and generally fussing over her so, reluctantly, I decide to give her once last chance.

The launch gets off to an inauspicious start; we arise bright and early and go down to the estuary. The plan is that we will board the boat, still on its trailer, on dry land then The Pirate King and his Merry Crew, the folks who run the river here, will tow us, by JCB, deposit us in the middle of the channel and wait until we’re happy that the boat isn’t about to fill up with water again. But no, we arrive at the appointed hour to find that The Pirate King & Co. have arisen even brighter and earlier and dumped the boat in the river on a rising tide. Furthermore, the inflatable’s on board. Berludy great. Tom goes off to have words with The Pirate King whilst I wait on the shore gazing balefully at the boat. It starts to rain.

Just when I am feeling very pissed-off indeed, there is an engine roar and a JCB trundles over the horizon.
‘Get in,’ shouts Tom, pointing at the business end of the JCB. And so it is that after a bit of a struggle, we arrive at the boat, standing in the bucket of a JCB. Nice. My happiness levels lift a bit when we reach our mooring in one piece, although I am slightly miffed when I spoil my 100% record by failing to pick up the mooring buoy. By the time we’ve had a cup of tea and found the stash of chocolate and ginger biscuit, I concede that it’s not all bad; here we are in a loop of a beautiful, peaceful, estuary away from the madding crowd and prying eyes – how bad is that?

Back ashore we deflate the dinghy, Tom packs it up and I try to do helpful things with the tailgate whilst Tom shoves the dinghy bag and all its contents in the back of the car. Alas, we have a Laurel and Hardy moment, when Tom turns round suddenly and thwacks me across the face with the set of oars.
‘No marks!’ he announces. The pain suggests otherwise and, looking in the passenger mirror, I find two fat stripes either side of my left eye, reminiscent of David Bowie in his ‘Aladdin Sane’ period. Tom seems terribly hurt when his cheerful ‘Do we need anything at Tesco?’ receives a short, angry reply. Still, at least the boat is on the water and safe on her mooring. Back home, the weather forecaster tells us that heavy rain and strong gales will reach the west Wales coast this evening.
‘I think I’ll just make sure those mooring lines are ok,’says Tom.
Ah, sailing days are here again!

And finally...
Cardiff Half Marathon Training
Runner's World SmartCoach programme, Week 2 = 18 miles.
Weight loss = 1lb.

The image is 'The Sea', a print by Tom Tomos


Flowerpot said…
oh Chris this brings back so many memories. I'm right there with you. Men and their boats eh?!!
Fennie said…
You and Milla should join forces - the one to keep us dog-free and the other boat free (and, if you ask me, marathon running free as well, though the weight loss I suppose is an incentive. I'm past it I tell myself, sinking deeper into the sofa). Is there anyone else here who might manage to put us off any other rashness, I wonder?
Cait O'Connor said…
Love 'The Sea'

Just been catching up here and having a good chuckle - great writing Chris.
I am afraid I laughed out aloud at your being assaulted by the oars which just goes to show what a hard-hearted Hannah I am.
But, seriously, I am filled with envy at your ownership of a boat - I just love them and have spent many happy holidays messing about on the water in all sorts of boats and barges.
Jude said…
So many memories..don't let me start!!It's always better when you can look back on them..
good luck with the running
Helen Ginger said…
I do hope your face stripes are gone by you won't take offense when I say your post had me howling. I'm still laughing as I type this. I know absolutely nothing about boats. And I'm thinking now maybe I don't want to know anything.

Straight From Hel
ChrisH said…
Fp, yep, she says through gritted teeth, men and their boats... and their poor long-suffering wives.

Fennie, glad to be of service... now about the running, you are not past it so get off the sofa. I'll even provide the Peach Loops.

Cait, thank you and thank you!

Rosie, well you can come up and mess about on this one any time you like (although I think you'll find the 'messing about' bit a little thin on the ground - it's more 'seat of your pants' stuff out here!).

Jude, yes, looking back is good... being there - not so hot!

Helen, yes, my gorgeosity is quite restored thank you, (although I now have a slighty hint of the Suzi Quatro since my hairdresser got a bit carried away yesterday - lord knows who I'll be channelling next). And, good thinking - keep away from boats!
Edward said…
If it wasn't a boat it would be a motorbike, or a lawnmower, or a recording studio. You can take the boy out of the playroom, but ....

Anyway, great post - very funny (if it's alright to laugh at you getting whacked upside the head!)

Hope your running is going better than mine!
Debs said…
I love the sound of you doing "...helpful things with the tailgate".

Well done with the running and the weight loss. I've just finished a packet of cheesy wotsits, so can't say the same about my weight!
Pondside said…
Edward's right - if it isn't a boat it's a car or a tractor or a plane. The Great Dane has the hulk of a 1957 TR-3 in the our garage, taking up space and annoying me when I try to find something useful I've stored in the garage.
Do you say the same thing about boats over your way as we do here?....A hole in the ocean into which you pour money.
Preseli Mags said…
You survived! Actually when it all goes well it's fabulous isn't it? I learned all my swear words from my Dad during childhood sailing trips which is why I can now swear like an ex-merchant seaman. (Actually I learned all the really bad ones from my mother shouting back at my father. Happy days.)
JJ Beattie said…
Oh my, I'm so in awe. I just couldn't do it Chris...
elizabethm said…
We have just begun to wonder whether we should go sailing again next year and here is a salutary reminder as to why not. Mind you I don't sail in the UK at all on principle - the principle that when it is wet and cold and grey I won't have any fun!
It is a harsh audience you have here, chortling away at your getting hit in the face! Ouch! Glad you are back to non Bowie style gorgeousness.
Pipany said…
Oh gawd Chris, hope all goes well nautically speaking for you both this year. A bit more sun would help...maybe? xx
ChrisH said…
Edward, true, I'm glad it's not motorbikes, but at least we wouldn't drown on a lawnmower. The running is going well at the moment but there's a lonnnnng way to go.

Debs, the trouble is I don't know what else to do when Tom's lugging a huge bag... but I won't stand so close next time! I won't demand a cheesy wotsit off you they smell too much like hot feet.

Pondside, I'm pleased to say I have no idea what a TR3 is but clearly you do - and it's in your garage! Yep, we say sailing's like standing in a shower tearing up £5 notes... except with the pig-boat it's more like £20 notes.

Mags, when does it go well? No, you're right, I do have a good time - about 1% of the time.

JJ, neither can I!

Elizabethm, well, like childbirth, it might be better for you! Thank you!

Pip, more sun, less wind - that'll do nicely!
mountainear said…
I think, only think, that I could just about contemplate a boat in the Ionian. Our grey cold shores are not enticing.

Full marks for being brave and supportive.
Brown Dog said…
Oh, Gosh, Chris - I have a very clear vision of the Pig Boat in my head, but I'm hoping it's not accurate. Why oh why do we end up married to men with these mad obsessions? At least mine goes cycling on his own, I suppose, which has its compensations. Do you think they have any idea what it costs us to support them in these ventures? Gorgeous painting, though. This is a man who obviously loves the sea.

(Thank you for your kind, kind comment on mine. Those frogs in the compost bag are still alive, you know - at least one is. And re: the regurgitated toad, I didn't ask. I kind of wanted to hang on to my breakfast.)
Cottage Garden said…
Chris, your post really made me chuckle; just the pick-me-up I needed, even though you got whacked across the face - sorry!

I have often wondered what pleasure people get out of sailing, it always seems such hard work? But it must be nice to have a boat and be out in the fresh air, and the rain, and the wind, and the gales .....
Oh dear . . . sigh . . . maybe there will be a hurricane and it will sink . . . Love the sea - love boats from a huge distance . . .
Frances said…
Chris, again I will tell you how well you write. While reading most of this post, I kept thinking, maybe it is not so bad being single and living in a big city.

However, by the end of your boat/ship/watervessel tale, I thought, wow. Tom loves the sea and getting into that sea in a boat/ship whatever. Tom paints wonderful pictures that are inspired by the sea.

You, Chris, with or without your Bowie stripes, write wonderfully about wherever you might be.

You are always very much afloat (not the same as being a float!)

lampworkbeader said…
Chris, that man has no idea what a saint your are, still reading this has cheered me up no end. At least all I have to put up with is mountain bikes.
Anonymous said…
Sounds like a painful thwack to me! I tried a bit of sailing when I was in my teens but just couldn't get the hang of feeling comfortable on board.

CJ xx
ChrisH said…
Mountainear, the sunshine does make it more attractive... and yet we had one of most traumatic days ever at sea coming round Land's End on a bright, beautiful, sparkly day!

BD, you have it in a nutshell - Tom loves the sea and loves sailing so I'm stuck with it really! (And I'm sure Pig Boat is every bit as bad as you imagine!). So glad the frog/s is/are ok!

Jeanne, I hope you are back on your own even keel. I guess I'll still be rocking about at sea. Gulp!

WW, we have lashings of rain at the moment... it wasn't me doing a rain dance, honest!

Frances, you are very kind indeed. Tom is happiest looking at the sea or being on the sea, or painting the sea - but I get to enjoy the paintings so I do get something out of it, I suppose!

Yes, Lampie, that is me, St Chris of the Cardigan Estuary. And rather you than me on a bike - good for you!

CJ, I did see stars for a moment, but Tom tends not to stop unless there something is hanging off. I think it was more of a shock, really!
KittyB said…
Just caught up on the last few - I've been severely slacking in my blog-reading activities, why does real life have to get in the way so much? Very pesky.
So - boats, groan, green. No thanks. You are brave.
The new book - loved the bits you have published here, looking forward to it!
Calico Kate said…
Pig Boat? What a nickname for what is I am sure a gloriously beautiful boat of 'gorguosity' (your word & I can't spell it sorry!)
Think you'll need to post a pic of her!
Milla said…
boats, yuk, far too unstable, cold, wet, too much work to do, too much jargon, too many ropes and starboards. Mind you, despite the pain, you seem to have quite a jolly life (peach loops and running apart) and although it took a light maiming, at least you got out of the Tesco run!
ChrisH said…
Hi Kitty, I'm glad you like the bits of book... only another 95,000 words and I'm done (gulp!).

Kate, you should see it - it's a big-bottomed thing which rests on short stumpy bilge plates... I will try to summon up some camera skills to prove it!

Milla, yes you are wise to avoid boats for all those reasons. As for the jolly life? Well, we've had some very unjolly bits between us so it's a case of making the most of the good bits.
seashell cosmos said…
Ok,Phew....I'm not the only one laughing as I read this. You know, it may not have been funny at the moment, but I love these kind of stories. Good luck from me also on the running! :)
gaelikaa said…
Ah, the things we have to do for our partners. It doesn't bear thinking about. And you get no thanks for it either!!! But you do have the tremendous gift of finding the humour in the fact it is necessary to do so otherwise..... you'd go crazy!!
sheepish said…
This made me laugh a lot, well not the stunt with the oars but everything else. I run 4 times a week and have done for many years now so keep it up.
ChrisH said…
Seashell Cosmos - welcome and thank you!

Gaelikaa - there's worse to come... I shall have to go out on the pig boat soon - then I'll need a sense of humour!

Sheepish, hail fellow runner! I need the running to take my mind off the sailing!

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