Exits Stage Right, With Gusto

Well, there’s one advantage – dammit – in not having our Captain to command our cruising. It means that relocating everything from winter quarters to the boat is rather easier, and we can get everything in one car load, rather than shuttling too and fro twice.

As the ship’s Morris Dancer is – yet again – dancing at the Oxford Folk Weekend, the initial plan is to high-tail it down to Oxford and spend the weekend in Jericho, doubtless with our friend/Morris dancer Sue in residence too. This is rapidly becoming a tradition…

Mind you, this plan is in severe jeopardy, as with all the rain the Thames has been on Red Boards (un-navigable) for weeks; we had exactly the same problem a couple of years ago (see The Best Laid Plans  and Jericho Woes).

Anyway, leaving home late Sunday morning, we were buoyed with the promise of nice weather later in the week. But until then, the unremitting dull, damp and cold weather continued unabated. It was Tuesday morning before we were remotely ready to set sail (as it were) and had said our “goodbyes” to the Marina chappies. By which time the promised nice weather now might arrive on Wednesday, but Tuesday was cold, intermittently wet, and a stonking Southerly wind was gusting around.

The marina is a large open chunk of water aligned  North-South. Song & Dance was moored on a pontoon facing West; to exit the marina required an Easterly course through a narrow channel. This meant somehow backing Song & Dance (a 58ft long sail in these circumstances) out into the middle of the marina, then turning it 180 degrees to attempt to exit the marina.

Broadside on in the middle of the open water, a gust caused the boat to heel over enough to hear crashing crockery noises from the galley, but somehow turning around and heeling the other way seemed to put everything back – at least nothing was found broken.

We finally made it out of the marina onto the cut, where it was a bit more sheltered, and hoped that things would improve…

To add insult to injury, as we approached Cropredy Lock five minutes down the cut, the wind dropped briefly and the sun came out for all of two minutes.

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