Monday, May 05, 2008

About to leave Badalona

Our 2008 voyage is about to begin. On Wednesday Sam flies out to Barcelona where he'll meet up with his old friend Robin. Their plan is to set off from Badalona towards the end of this week with a short hop to Blanes, just to check that everything works OK, engine runs, rigging holds up etc., then another run up to L'Estartit which is almost on the Spain/France border. Then a long passage heading north-east to the entrance to the Rhone, just west of Marseille - around 110 miles.

At the moment Windguru shows moderate north-easterlies in Barcelona on Friday and Saturday, which is very unhelpful, but at least at that point they should be heading north. Further north there is less wind and the direction looks a bit random, so a lot of motoring is likely.

Sam has been worrying, planning and emailing a lot. Kalessin will be stored at Navy Service at Port St Louis (above) - lifted out of the water, because it's cheaper, and also good for her to dry out for a bit They should lower the mast on 16 May if all goes well, and Sam has to remove and label all the standing (wire) rigging, and all the bits and pieces like the VHF aerial and masthead lights - the radar scanner and reflector stay on the mast, but have to be wrapped up. Sam's been consulting Big Nige who runs Rig Magic at Suffolk Yacht Harbour - we're very fortunate to have one of Britain's top rigging experts in our home port. So we now have complex diagrams for the order of removing and tensioning the rigging.

The mast will be stored at Port St Louis for a while until the mast shipping company happen to be passing that way to collect a yacht. Then they either drop it off in Calais, or if it's more convenient they may bring it back to the UK, store it here, and take it back to France later... sound ridiculous but apparently it may be easier for them.

We have decided rather reluctantly that our end point in France, having gone through the canals, will be Calais. We really, really wanted to go to St Valery sur Somme, having missed it several times over the past few years, but its transport connections are pants, while Calais is perfect of course if we need to leave the boat there and get back to the UK.

Finally, Ben and I are now all set for the canals leg. My contract with Aviva ends on 25 July and we have booked our train tickets via Eurostar and TGV to Marseille on 29 July. A huge thank you to the brilliant site of the Man in Seat 61 which gave us all the information we need. Sam was so inspired he is now coming back from Marseille on 17 May by train and travelling out again on 22 July. We'll let you know how it all goes.

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