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Marina life

Here on board Cirrus we are pretty much self-sufficient and carry everything we need with us for day to day living. Food and water we carry and stock up with when we need to, we carry gas for cooking, diesel for heating and for making the engine go, sails to suit most conditions, all the clothes we need and I even have a pair of nice fluffy slippers for padding around inside the cabin when the weather is like it is now, not as warm as it might be. We also have gadgets with us to enable us to send and receive emails, check various websites for weather information and keep the blog up to date. All electrical equipment on board has to run on 12 volts, powered from two large batteries which are charged both from the engine, when it runs, and from the wind-powered generator which lives atop its own mast at the stern. If other voltages are needed then we carry various devices for converting up or down and the usual assortment of plugs to cope with universal non-standardisation. In fact we want for little, it has to be said, but it is having all this that enables us to anchor in remote locations far away from modern facilities. Electrical power on board does need to be regarded as a limited resource, however, and must be used with care most of the time. It is never taken for granted.

As we move around the coast, anchoring out is not always possible so we find ourselves coming into marinas where, for a fee, we are provided with another set of facilities, toilets and showers, fresh water (through a hose pipe), and usually these days electrical power as well. Most marinas charge by the night and the cost of this will vary depending on the location (and whatever the market will stand). Generally marina berths in the UK cost less as you move further north but there are exceptions to this rule and again there may be ‘add-ons’ to the basic charge. Electrical power often comes as an extra but with marinas being, by their very nature, quite sheltered from the wind our ability to make our own electricity from the windmill on the stern is usually seriously impaired so when we stay for more than a few days we may have to pay whatever it costs. Usually this will be a fixed amount irrespective of use, so it can be expensive if all we need is to charge up a phone battery.

Lowestoft is the first marina we have stayed at for a while where electricity and free wifi access to the internet is included in the nightly charge, all this for less than we paid, for example, for a basic night in Woodbridge. The effect on us since we arrived here has been a bit like having new toys to play with. When our waterproofed orange lead is plugged in to the socket on the pontoon beside us then things start to come out of lockers that we can only use when we have mains power. The boat gets a good vacuum clean, for example. And then there is the breadmaker. Just like on Desert Island Discs we have allowed ourselves one luxury item to take with us and this is it. There is, of course, no smell more tantalising than that of bread just when it emerges from the oven and begins to cool. We know this and we know the effect this smell will have on those on board boats all around us.

So we have the breadmaker.

Late one afternoon a large motor yacht rumbled in to the marina looking for a berthing space. We lay alongside a long pontoon which could (just) accommodate his 55 foot length provided we were prepared to shuffle Cirrus along a little. But this presented a small problem. Our mains lead was plugged into a socket quite close to us and if we moved along we might have to disconnect it then re-attach it again closer to our new position. Normally this would not be a problem but at this very moment it so happened that we were using the breadmaker and to disconnect would interrupt the program, almost certainly causing the loaf to fail. Explaining this to the motor yacht owner and the marina manager was met with some amusement although, being nice understanding people, they did agree that the bread was far too important to put at risk. As it happened our dilemma soon attracted a small crowd of volunteers who graciously assisted with ropes and paid out more of the all important power cable so we could take up our new position. Perhaps I should go round offering them all a slice to show my gratitude for their assistance, after all they will get the fresh bread smell soon enough.

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