We left the island of Kefalonia to sail to the Greek mainland. Along the way we anchored for one night on the island’s southeast corner, and continued in the morning towards the town of Mesolongi. We made landfall at dusk. Mesolongi is situated at the mouth of the Patras Bay, and surrounded by extensive salt marshes and lagoons. A narrow, dredged channel leads into the town bay, about a mile and a half inland. There are peculiar houses built on stilts on both sides of it, and many small wooden piers. Numerous bird species inhabit the wetlands, even pink flamingos, of which we saw a great big flock with our binoculars as we motored along the channel.
What a great time we had back in the homeland! Six weeks of celebrations – Christmas, New Year, meeting many of our old friends, neighbours and many members of our family. Those six weeks were packed with activity and socializing! It could have been overwhelming, after all, we had spent the preceding six months exclusively in each other’s company. But it felt great! Either we managed to infect our close ones with our cruising zen, or people just happened to be in their hibernating mode.
The pretty fortress town of Willemstad was now behind us, as we were nearing our last opening bridge in the inland waters of Holland. We had gotten pretty good at this – once again our timing was perfect, the bridge opened and we just motored through without stopping. A few hours later we reached the last locks at Stellendam, and just like that, we were out in the North Sea again. The sun went down, and we could see the bright lights of Hoek van Holland’s large port behind us, to the north.
I have read Stephen Hawking’s Brief History of Time. I know the universe started with a Big Bang, and as soon as it’ll be done expanding it’ll shrink again, and another Big Bang will follow. The same theory seems to apply to boat projects. Last year it wreaked havoc on our little boat, and we had to sweat for days and weeks on end to get everything back together. But in the end we had a much better boat than we started with. I’m really hoping that this spring we can pull it off again – on our new boat! During the Easter holidays we finally had time, and tolerable weather – it’s a rare thing for the two to happen at the same time during the Finnish spring – to delve into the boat matters and to take a better look at our projects.
Spring is late this year. Really, really late. Not a bud in a tree, not a green blade of grass.
Our sailboat’s spring refit is running late too. We’ve been held up by very cold weather. We’ve been dodging hale storms and taken a beating from angry northerly gusts. And today, just as we thought the worst would be behind us as it’s almost May, we’re having this great big snow storm. Everything is covered in snow – insolent, inpolite, unenvited snow!
Actually, in Finland the saying goes “Well planned is half done”. As our boat is currently covered in ice and snow, there isn’t much work we can begin – but we sure can plan. As it happens, I’m very good at planning. So good in fact, that I have turned it into a way of making a living – I prefer not to talk about a career, because careers are something that successful and ambitious people have, and I’m just an ordinary person who likes to make plans. I like it so much I hardly ever stop planning. Sometimes I even make plans while sleeping, which is the best way of putting that time into some use, if you ask me.
Such a sad, wretched sight – a sailboat out of the water!