Thursday 1 September 2011

A cruise through blues 1

I hadn’t realised when I last made the trip in 2008, that a cruise on the Costa Brava is really just a lesson in understanding the colour blue. It’s there in shades beyond alice and azure, demin and dodger, electric and iceberg, colbalt and cornflower, sapphire and true.

All my travels in OB seem to acquire a certain emotional intensity and this one, for all that I only had to cover 40 miles, was no different. Maybe it’s a mixture of the apprehensions and exasperations of trying to make headway amidst calms, ill winds and hundreds of motor craft and the fact that the little seven day saga is staged in surroundings of utter beauty and blueness. Even if you spend all day fretting over lack of forward progress, bitterly cursing the waterhogs and every evening agonising over your anchoring, the blue sea filters in, it fills you. And when you’re brimming it’s liable to come flooding out of your eyes.

Only 40 miles but a challenging 40 they turned out to be.

I launched in Sant Feliu de Guíxols, bright sunshine on the quay and thick fog just beyond the harbour wall. I’d only just touched the water but already I was a frustrated mariner.

Itching to get to sea but weather bound I went for a long boozy lunch with the unlikely excuse that it might be the last good, hot food I’d get for a while. The thick gauze lifted late afternoon taking the wind with it and I had a long, meandering 6-mile row to Palamos where, in the dark, I anchored off the town and commercial harbour.

The droning of beach-cleaning tractors, the shouts of revellers and the swell from returning fishing boats kept me just on the wrong side of slumber and set a precedent for lack of sleep and a mild irritation with all those not involved in sailing a small boat northwards.

I rowed ashore for coffee with a friend and even before we’d finished a port official came with the intention of fining OB for illegal parking. My friend is one who takes these things very seriously indeed. And just as well, for small engineless boats have all but lost their rights to those of bathers amid legislation to keep swimmers from under jet-skis and motor boats. Once you become water borne in the freewheeling way that I do the land makes you feel very unwelcome. A vague sense of persecution is one that I usually take to sea.

The official appeased, the coffee finished I rowed away just as the wind finally made up its mind what to do for the day. It would polish the sky, herd white horses over the sea and pump 18 knots onto my bow.


doryman said...

I know how it feels to go searching for peace and solitude to find even the weather is against you.
This is why I enjoy the winter months when the crowds stay home and you know the weather will be a challenge anyway.


Ben said...

You're quite right Michael, in fact I was planning on saying just that in the conclusion to these few episodes. The winter will return the coast to us.
All the best