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Destination retirement

Quickly, before the events of the last few days slips into memory, I must make a record so that they are not forgotten. Never again will we pass this way and just as starting one’s first job is an event that sticks in the mind, so equally is the end of that job, the end of all paid work. But for those who have yet to come this way let me warn you that it may not be what you expect, it may feel more like a beginning than an end. You just have to decide what it is that is beginning.

But first we have to thank so many who have wished us on our way, for all the wonderful greetings and comments we have been pouring over on cards and messages we received and for the retirement gifts given to send us on our way. Thank you, thank you, thank you, we’ll miss you all.

And thank you to those of you who wished us on our way out of Central London, especially to Alison and Nathalie, our neighbours on Loch Invar for the colder months of this last winter and who were our official ‘waver-offers’ on the day Cirrus Cat left fresh water and emerged from the marina lock out into the salty brown waters of the Thames. The general sentiment from you all seems to be envy but you may have felt differently had you been on board as we motored down river later in light rain, fully clothed in our warmest hats and gloves with darkness closing in and miles yet to go.

The passage was not without its excitement, however. Woolwich Reach on the Thames is perhaps best known for its free car ferry crossing the river many times each day rather than its wildlife. But nobody told the two small porpoises we saw frolicking in the water just by the ferry…. yes, porpoises in the Thames! No pictures, I’m afraid (a porpoise doesn’t exactly hang around with a smile on its face waiting for the camera flash), so you’ll just have to believe they were there, but they certainly put a smile on Kate’s face that lasted for miles.

By 9pm we were turning into the Swale, the thread of water that separates the Isle of Sheppey residents from the rest of Britain, the rising tide sucking us in till the water shoaled and the anchor plopped to the sea bed. With the engine off, finally, the quietness surrounded us and took us into its shell so we could sleep at last, almost alone in peace with just the birds for company.

So today we awoke for the first day of our new life. The air was completely still and so was the water when it paused between the tide rushing out and returning again, Cirrus floating effortlessly between the two. The sky was cloudy and the light had an unreal silvery sheen to it, obscuring the air/water divide in the distance. We emerged slowly from the cabin, savouring the silence, keeping our own movements quiet in response.

Later we were boarded by noisy pirates in the guise of friends larking about and joining us out on the water. Here are just two of them caught in the act of boarding.

We plan to spend the Bank Holiday weekend here just drifting about at anchor or maybe sailing a little further west towards Queenborough in a few days time when we run out of food on board. The weather has been kind all day, just the lightest of winds with the sun warming the boat nicely and giving us a chance to take stock and make the mental adjustment from our life on a stationary boat to our new life of travel.

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