Saturday 17th & Sunday 18th November 2018
The forecast for our journey through the Bay of Biscay, up the Coast of France and into the English Channel is looking well, bumpy. High winds and big waves forecast. I have absolutely no idea if I will get sick or not.
Every crossing we have ever made has been pretty benign so I have no idea if I have the iron constitution of a true barnacle back or the pathetic, liver lilied constitution of a palsied land lubber. Ah well, we can’t afford dinner on board anyway and we certainly can’t afford to just rent it for a few hours. Wish us luck.
Before all that though check Gandalf in for the ferry and a wander round Santander.
Magnanimous in defeat the Spanish even have a memorial to the Battle of Trafalgar (21st October 1805) on the Main Street…
There is a mini wildlife reserve on the peninsula with seals, sea lions and penguins.
Whilst they are, I’m sure, well looked after and that being able to see them close up helps us recognise how important it is to protect them in the wild, my thoughts on captive animals are conflicted.
I rationalise my feeling by convincing myself that those in captivity have some kind of issues that mean they cannot be released in to the wild. You know, like a damaged tail so they can’t hunt effectively. However, I can’t help but think that their swimming round and round is the aquatic version of pacing up and down a prison cell.
Speaking of confinement, it’s time to board the boat.
And time to find out if we (I) get sea sick. The signs are not good…
The first sign of the “weather” to come is when we visit the small food shop on board and the lady serving proudly shows us how she has removed much of the stock because she had been told to expect most of it to fall down in the night.
After a bite to eat, which I hope not to live to regret, we ask another member of staff on the information desk about the impending weather. She gives a rueful smile and tells us about the expected 9 metre (30 feet!) waves due to start, “Any time now.” Apparently it should all be over by about 9am. Excellent, just 12 hours to go then.
When we tell her we have a cabin right at the front of the ship she stifles a smirk and wishes us the very best of luck.
Now Mrs (aye aye Captain) P chose our cabin for this 24 hour crossing. I’m pretty sure that in a former life Mrs P was a Buccaneer, Pirate, Powder Monkey or some such nautically inclined person.
Cabins selected are always at the front. Preferably the middle and, if no ships wheel is provided that’s ok, because she always brings her own. Such cabins are renowned for encountering the most motion in heavy weather.
By the time we get to our cabin the boat is rocking and rolling (and not in an Elvis Presley kind of way) and Mr P is starting to feel just a little queasy.
Mrs P on the other hand is in her element. She has lashed herself to her children’s inflatable ships wheel and is shouting instructions at me. If I remember correctly her words, and please remember that her words are always spoken with impeccable, Oxford educated locution;
“Shiver me timbers landlubber. Get yerself to the poop deck and batten down the hatches or you’ll be dancing the hempen jig by morning.”
A bottle of rum appears from nowhere and she starts singing;
“Oh many’s the good ship great and small Haul, haul the halyards, boys What foundered in a gale or squall…”
Now, whilst certain aspects of the above may possibly be slightly exaggerated the rest I can promise you is true.
Mr P has found that if he lies down he is ok. Mr P is wearing an altimeter. Mr P’s altimeter was showing 20 metres in our cabin, before we left port. Mr P is watching his altimeter (which admittedly only displays height in multiples of 5 metres) fluctuate from 15 metres, to 30 metres. Then 25 metres to 5 metres, and so on and on and on etc.
Mrs Salty sea dog P chooses this moment in time to decant water from our huge, full 6.25 litre bottle into her drinks bottle. She didn’t spill a drop. I felt positively hornswaggled.
Strangely, lying down, eyes closed I felt fine and found the somewhat extreme motion of the boat quite relaxing. I slept very well despite being occasionally woken by the crash of a wave on the bows and the sound of sea spray battering on the window.
By 9 am the storm is over and we settle in for the rest of the uneventful journey.
We arrive in Portsmouth at 20.15hrs on Sunday 18th November after 127 days away from home.
Less than 2 hours later we are home. It’s a weird feeling. It’s even odd to be in a house after 4 months living in Gandalf. It is though very nice to know that someone, somewhere is glad we are home…
Do keep reading after today dear reader. The blog will continue for at least another couple of weeks.
But, first we must unpack and I will need to gather my thoughts on being home. I will let you know how we get on back in ‘normal’ life.