Thursday, 11 February 2016

Of Picking Up Again

As promised, I said I would see you in Iceland.  That was my route home from the USA.  I have wanted to see Iceland for real for many years and I am delighted I can now claim to have been, even if that only amounted to spending a total of just three hours in Reykjavik Airport.  It did mean, though, that I could explore their gift shop, one of the more interesting of the species, as well as buy a pot of Skyr (an Icelandic set yogurt) from the café, which tastes deliciously creamy but does not really enhance an iPhone when tipped over on to said appliance.  I would have liked to have bought some of their winter clothes with beautiful designs, but I think that will have to wait until I can make a proper visit specifically to the island when I can sample non-airport prices.    And who knew there was such a thing as Icelandic chocolate?  Although I was there during the hours of darkness I did not get to see an aurora borealis, although I did see one on a news report that apparently happened that night.  Having not encountered any postcards in Colorado's shops to send to P I sent him one from Reykjavik.  They consisted of views that were far more interesting than our little town in the Rockies, although I know that not too far away there were views that were equally, albeit differently, spectacular.  I hope P enjoys his postcard of Northern Lights.

Mannequins, Icelandic style. 

When the gate opened for the flight back to Gatwick I assumed we would queue and get on the aeroplane as in almost every other flight I have taken.  I forgot that when we used this same gate to travel to Denver the passengers were herded on to a bus and driven to the plane.  The Gatwick-bound 757 was in a far corner of the airfield.  That just seemed weird.

Now after twenty hours of travelling I am home.  As usual, though, while I was away I could not help worrying about my unattended boat.  I'm good at worrying.  There are the usual things that everyone worries about, security and stuff like that, but for me, I was just hoping my home would be where I left it.  I had read some articles online about severe weather, gales fierce enough to carry women's names and so on.  I had tied an extra rope from the boat to the bank before I left, but had I left enough slack in the four mooring ropes, or had I left too much?  The water authority often lets water in and out of the system.  After heavy rain the water level here invariably falls, sometimes leaving a boat sitting in the mud of the river bed.  There is never any prior warning, it just happens and we get on with it.  If my ropes are too short the boat can be left hanging.  If too long the boat can crash about in fierce winds and may break loose.  The question then is what happens when the river level rises?  If it rises too much the boat may become trapped under the staging of the jetty and forced to keel over and maybe go under.  Fortunately none of these disasters befell me - this time.  Unfortunately, it did happen to one of the smaller boats moored nearby.  The river level dropped three feet and, as it rose again, the farmer noticed one of the boats (not a live aboard) jammed under the staging.  He and two other burley men tried to free it, but it was jammed solid. As the river level rose the boat took on water and is now lying half submerged and awaiting rescue.  The mooring ropes that were attached are the only things that have stopped it disappearing completely under water.  Although very relieved it wasn't my boat I am sorry for the owner.  I sent him a message as soon as I saw it.  He was working 200 miles away and cannot get back before the weekend.  The outboard will need looking at having been submerged for who knows how many days.  Fortunately he has the skills to deal with it.  He has been taking engines to pieces and rebuilding them since he was a teenager and he installed my refurbished engine before I bought the boat ... you know, the engine I've been having so much trouble with - did I just say that out loud?

A neighbour''s cruiser left hanging by a thread (or two).

During the recent storms the farmer did keep an eye on all the boats moored to his bank.  He had to slacken the ropes on the dustcart driver's floating shed.  Mine were apparently okay, but the poor old cruiser ...

So, after a fortnight's wandering and exploring some hitherto unexplored airports I am back in The Fens.  I've had a great time visiting family and experienced incredible generosity.  Now it is time to pick up where I left off.  I tried to time my sleeping as I approached my departure date to fit more closely with the destination time.  That strategy has served me well before and seems to have been okay this time too.  I had a music workshop to run in one of my regular schools just hours after arriving back in the UK.  I thought I had timed my return to give myself a day clear before I hit the boards again, but like an idiot, I didn't account for the seven-hour time difference.  I don't feel jet -lagged and have managed to sleep at night more or less as I was before my trip.  Today is a day for domestic stuff as well as getting back into a practice routine for the Marshlander gig I have coming up at Norwich Arts Centre in a couple of weeks.  I have a ceilidh on Saturday with one of the "other" bands.  That should be straightforward enough, hopefully.  I don't even have to provide the p.a.

Tomorrow, though, I have a BSS inspection.  Every four years boat owners have to have their vessels inspected by a qualified person to make sure the services on the boat are safe.  The Boat Safety Scheme certificate is a requirement of most, if not all insurance companies.  I think I'm ready for this inspection but who knows what the inspector's eyes and meters will reveal?    I have heard that they have to find something wrong, however small.  Wish me luck.

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