Wednesday, 9 May 2012

The Transition

Our Eco-Lawn of Micro-Clover.
The first two years in our new hometown of Vannes were filled with what we called our “transition activities”.  The first major task was buying a small semi-detached house in town with a handkerchief-sized garden and getting it ready for repeated abandonment and eventual renting.  Any plant that showed the slightest sign of dependency issues got whacked.  We ripped out the old roses in the front yard and put down decorative stone.  We churned up the lawn in the backyard and planted an eco-mixture of slow-growing grass and micro-clover.  We stored a limited selection of our professional and dress clothes in the attic and gave the rest to the Emmaus Association.  I cancelled my subscription to the Economist, whose relentless weekly arrival had become a source of stress in my life, and subscribed to two monthly sailing magazines instead.  We prepared a large room in the garage (that we took to calling “the baby’s room”) to store sails and various boat parts. 

Winter Training:  Gale force winds, 3-4 m seas.
Our most important transition activity was joining a local sailing association, and getting our coastal and offshore boating licenses, as well as our marine VHF radio licenses.  With our association, we logged more than 120 days at sea in two years, covering more than 5000 nautical miles on 22 different types of boats.  Our navigation zone was “from Guinness to Cerveza” , Ireland to Spain.  But most often, we sailed along the south coast of Brittany with its technical Morbihan Gulf, the protected Quiberon Bay, and a string of wild and beautiful islands from Ouessant in the northwest to the island of Noirmoutier in the Loire Atlantic region to the south east.

Sailing on so many different boats with different skippers was an invaluable education, and occasionally when we crewed on new boats, we would spend our time fixing things using tricks we’d learned from other skippers on other boats.  While many skippers tried to convince us not to buy our own boat and to keep sailing with them instead, we were eager to embark on our own sailing projects on our own time schedule.  We were tired of the constant out-and-back routine of sailing around home port.  We wanted to vagabond !  

But first, we needed a boat.