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The end of a difficult year

Last night neither Kate nor I slept well, our minds forever running over the events of the day before. The process of ‘letting go’ was proving to be much more difficult than we had foreseen. Yesterday Kate and I took our leave from a very treasured friend, the boat that has kept us safe at sea for the past thirteen years, the floating home we have always felt comfortable in, no matter where we were, no matter what the weather was doing outside.Cirrus Cat off North Foreland

When we first made the decision to sell Cirrus Cat around the middle of last year it had seemed such an obvious thing to do, brought on as it was by the changing circumstances in our lives recounted here, We always knew that a buyer was unlikely to be found quickly, given what we are told is the shaky state of the world economy, so we sat back and waited, thinking that time would allow us to adjust to the concept of her not being ours any more, of not having a sailing boat, not having this particular sailing boat. So when the day finally came when a man called Niclas crossed over from Sweden to take a look over (and under) our pride and joy we took this in our stride, telling ourselves how lucky we are that Cirrus would be going to a good home where she will be looked after and cherished. Until, that is, the moment came when the deal was done. Everything on board had been explained – how this works, how that fits together, what this rope is for, what that piece is for – and it was time for us to leave, time for us to wave farewell not just to our boat but also to this chunk of our lives. Time to walk away. Then it began to hurt.

It had been a tiring day. We had arranged with the harbourmaster in Tarbert to use the facilities of his port to dry out in the morning so that a year’s accumulation of barnacles could be scraped or blasted from Cirrus’ hull. She would not be going far with that lot on board. Goose barnacles up to 30mm in length had made the bottoms of the keels their home and they must have been very disappointed, even aggrieved, when the pressurised jet of fresh water stripped them from their anchorage. Ordinarily I would make a point of apologising to them for my behaviour but after an hour or so crawling about beneath the boat, in the rain, soaked with spray from the pressure-washer, I had little apology left in me. While we waited with Niclas, his brother Matz and son Simon for the tide to return and float us off we chatted (thankfully in English) about their plans for their new acquisition whilst showing them around the boat, letting them explore every nook and cranny and every piece of equipment they could find. When Cirrus began to float we fired up the engine and motored to out to sea for a short test sail, which proved to be a longer one, so that Niclas could see that everything worked as intended and happily Cirrus did not let us down once, despite the winter of relative neglect, proving once again why we have kept and loved this boat for so long.

Back on our marina berth, all that remained was to pass over the Bill of Sale and shake hands with the new owner. Suddenly we found ourselves without a reason to be on board, we were on someone else’s boat! Full realisation did not come until much later, in the early hours of the following day, when it began to occur to me that I had left our boat in the hands of someone with only a novice’s knowledge of her handling. Manoeuvring a catamaran, particularly at slow speeds and in a tight space, is a black art which I have, sometimes painfully, learnt over the years we have owned her. I can say, with no disrespect to Niclas, that nobody else has that knowledge. And yet he is about to embark on a passage back to Sweden which will start with a traverse of the Crinan Canal, a narrow yet busy waterway, with hazards to negotiate on either side. The wind will try to take charge, requiring rapid actions and precise solutions. What have I done, I thought, leaving our beloved Cirrus in the hands of someone so inexperienced in her moods?

By the time morning came our tired brains had more or less sorted themselves out, and we feel happier now about what we have done. We have begun the process of letting go, of moving on, looking forward to exploring the Highlands from the land instead of from the sea. In a few months time our son Mike will have had his last chemotherapy treatment session and a difficult year will, we hope, be at an end. It will be time to start reclaiming our lives for ourselves.

Mal & Graham at the Rest

The farewell to Cirrus comes soon after saying farewell to my mother, whose funeral took place earlier this month. Fashion dictates sober dress on an occasion such as this, something that does not come easily to either my brother Graham nor myself. I feel my mother would have appreciated the effort we made and would have seen humour in that together we could easily have been mistaken for a pair of Mafiosi.

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