An Elegy of the Sea

As we lay up our boats for the winter, we had our end-of-season board meeting of the sailing club. We made our resolutions for next year, in particular having repairs done to the winch and the addition of a light winch for catamarans and dinghies reserved to the club. It’s quite hard to haul a boat up the ramp by hand, and mine is a very light vessel, a little heavier now with its wooden mast, gaff and boom. We discussed getting the boat licence for those who didn’t yet have it – coastal and then offshore. It’s essential for each of us to have the capability of going on a rescue mission with the club’s Zodiac. Of course, some rescues have to be left to the professionals, but I’d be willing to risk my neck to save a life – within reason. I have already done so! The expression – Worse things happen at sea! – is so true… Also, some of us would like to graduate from dinghies and really go to sea! These are good folk. Some of us who go sailing for pleasure, and others go fishing in motor boats, and others are just lovers of the sea.

Just after the meeting, the heavy wooden beams were slotted into their housings in front of the downstairs clubhouse doors facing the sea. That should resist the winter maelstrom and waves of the sea, and the onslaught of shingle from the beach.

On getting home this afternoon, I made the door of our new garden shed, and it still needs varnishing. Otherwise it’ll be rotten before you can say Jack Robinson! The weather here in Normandy is like the south of England – wind and rain – and plenty of it! Then I made a nice cup of tea and looked at my e-mail and web sites. I was moved to find “O dark dark dark. They all go into the dark…” written by Fr Michael Gollop, an Anglican priest in Wales who has a holiday home over in the Vendée, near where I used to live. He was kind enough to link to my previous posting about laying up the boat.

Isn’t it amazing, how we try to keep the sailing season going as long as possible! The dinghies have to be laid up now, unless the more intrepid of us find a day to attempt a river cruise. Eventually, the yachts too have to be laid up for the winter. Fr Gollop quotes a lovely essay by Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch called ‘Laying up the Boat’. So true!

Who knows what next year will bring. This year, the weather was fair enough for a sail before the end of February! The water was cold, but I had my full wetsuit on. That is rare. A la volonté de Dieu!

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