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Roaring Girl
The adventures of the yacht Roaring Girl wandering the seas.
Bathroom done
26/07/2009

And here it is completed (or very nearly). Pip has done a huge amount of work, painting nearly every wall in the house, organising plumbers, electricians, carpeting and generally running herself ragged. Sarah finished the contract in Merton, had a few days grace and then went into hospital for surgery. Which went very well, and adds an impressive four new scars to her already criss-crossed stomach.

Places and people
Property plutocrats?
26/07/2009

Well! We succumbed to the collapse of the property market and bought a house. The aim is to let it out rather than live in it, though in fact we will be there over this winter, and let it afterwards.
Depending on the market and our own finances, we might even buy another one in the autumn - it beats putting into a bank to do nothing!
This house needs of quite a bit of work. Above is the bathroom before Pip stripped it out ...

Places and people
Getting ready to move again
Sarah
25/07/2009, Ipswich

Woo hoo! We have left South London after a long contract with LB Merton. Lots of lovely people, lots of interesting things to do, and many many thanks for a fab send-off. But right now, it's time to move on.
We've had two immediate adventures. yesterday Sarah had her gall bladder out. A large stone, which had put her in A&E at least twice was removed. We'd hoped this could wait till after the summer, but the lovely consultant told us not to go sailing off shore until it was done. Pip was very clear about not being left singlehanded off the coast of Corsica while I was airlifted to some Italian hospital So here I am (and making the most of the hospital's free wifi while I'm at it!)
Secondly, we have succumbed to the property market. To let out, rather than live in, we should add. The aim is to stay in the house till I'm fit to travel in a couple of weeks. Then come back in October and base ourselves in it and get it ready to let - and leave the country for a really long season next March. So we're in the strange land of buying stuff. Furniture! Carpets! Garden tools! A cooker! Oops - we've bought two of those in the last 6 years, remember?
The picture is of the lovely Morden Hall Park, one of the many fab open spaces in Merton - though not one of the Council's I must admit, as it belongs to the National Trust. I've cycled through these wetlands most mornings during winter and spring, with ice so solid it didn't crack under my wheels to blazing hot mornings bustling with birdsong and leaping fish.
We've had various smaller trips. Sailing with Fiona and Melanie on Nethunuus, and visiting their lovely cottage in Cornwall. We've been to Norfolk several times, and Pip has walked more chunks of the Thames Path.
We're heading back to Roaring Girl in a couple of weeks and will be keeping this up to date with our latest adventures.

Musings
Preparing for summer
12/04/2009, Still in Toulon

We are getting ready to go in July. The star attraction in this pic is our new summer cover, made for ease of putting up and getting down. (It won't replace our splendid Force 10 wedding present one when we're in port, but that takes a little while to manipulate so isn't very useful at anchor.) This is modelled on Pip's prototype she worked on last summer, and put together by our clever friend Jan in Ipswich. It's got a few modifications to come, not least putting the right length batten in the stern end so it's not on the wonk. But lots of brill ideas are incorporated, including the Velcro-removal side panels for shade, and the little tabs for tying on solar panels to get the most of the sun when at anchor. It will be very easy to roll up and put away when we want to get going, the wind gets up or we simply fancy the extra UV.
There are other hints of activity in this picture. The water filter is the last piece to re-stow after Pip's heroic struggles with our water system. The shower had faded to a dribble when we were here in February, and she spent a day and half dismantling everything. It now works a treat and we have retreated from crusty-dom! The filter itself is an idea we pinched from a boat on the pontoons at Valencia; it's a standard high-end permanent installation. We've put connectors either side of it, and put it between the dockside tap and our water inlet when we fill up. We often still filter it out of the tap but this is a real help to keeping the nasties away.
The red-lidded drum is the new home for the chain/rope rose for our stern anchor. We are told that this is the way to get cheap moorings in Italy (where marinas are notoriously exorbitant). Instead, get into fishing harbours with an anchor to keep you off the dock. We can't go in stern-to, as we can't get to the dock that way (dinghy, solar panels ....), so instead need to rig an effective way of running an anchor off the transom. Our very helpful guardien, Antoine, is organising a stern roller and fairlead to our requirements. This barrel will hold the rode. Lou Heikell gave us encouraging advice at the CA's Med Section seminar in February. Still - it will be nerve-wracking the first time. We'll let you know how it goes.
The big black object to port under the sprayhood (also being replaced this spring), is the new kayak. Long-promised, we finally bought it at the Earl's Court boat show, and aim to try it out as soon as we're in warmer water. Roll on, summer!


Life on Roaring Girl
Easter at Home
12/04/2009, Toulon

Home for Easter! A long overdue week off, loving life afloat, sorting out various jobs and getting that shower working again.
We are hauling RG out of the water on Tuesday. It's getting expensive to be afloat now, so rather than keep her in the water for a possible long weekend in May, we're heading across the Petit Rade to a boatyard where she can be in (relatively) cheaper dry dock for the three remaining months we expect to be earning.
Today we went up Mount Faron, one of the several hills surrounding Toulon. We walked to the bottom of the cable car, to be honest. Then we had a nice ramble around the heavily managed park/classified site at the top, enjoying what we could see. As you can tell, it's been a pretty murky, rainy sort of Easter even here in Provence. (Good Friday was magnificent and it may get better tomorrow).
This is the view across the Petit Rade. The straight line breakwater to your left marks the barrier from the Grand Rade, which is then open to the sea. You can access the Petit Rade at either end. The maze of docks directly below us is only a small part of the wharfage; another huge area is out of shot to the right, all of it belonging to the Navy as well as half of what you can see.
It's not at all surprising that Toulon is the second biggest naval base in France. It is very defensible (as both the French and English have found out at various times) from sea and land, with good fresh water. Its hinterland is arid scrub, however, which makes it less safe under siege than Portsmouth or even Cartegena.
One way or another we'll have spent quite a bit of time here (though not as much as Roaring Girl herself!) But because it's been very bitty we haven't really made friends or got a lot of connections with the town, which is a shame


Places and people
Very sad news
30/03/2009, Wales

Our dear friend Polly Kitzinger was badly injured in a car crash, not far from her home in Brecon, on 30 March. At the time of writing (12 April) she is still in a deep coma but her condition is stable. If any readers who know Polly want to keep up with her news, you can find out more on www.welove.polly.org. That's also the place to send any messages of support, photos and memories.
Polly sailed with us for a long time, particularly introducing Sarah to many adventures in the early days with Hushwing. Most recently, she sailed across Biscay with us in July 2006 - her third time across, but the first for us. The picture shows the four Roaring Girl crew (including Fiona who was with us too) at our excited arrival in A Coruna.
Getting there was made more interesting than it might have been by our lack of an engine. The propeller headed for the seabed about 120 miles from Spain. When we got to the Coruna entrance, Polly helmed magnificently as we picked our way through to safety. That champagne was well deserved.
We hope for the very best for Polly and remember her company, skill and humour with such love and respect. Our thoughts and love are with her partner Lizzie, her sister Jenny and many other friends and family.


Places and people
And the lion!
01/02/2009, London

She was followed by this lion - the two men jumped from pole to pole, stood on it's hind legs and performed amazing acrobatics for about 10 minutes.
We spent Xmas in Toulon, at home on Roaring Girl. We did take pix, but due to various lash-ups, haven't got them now. Mother Xmas abseiled off the town hall and distributed chocolates to the crowds watching tumblers and buskers around the Navigator's statue on the waterfront.
Much of the time, we have been based in London, with a long-running contract with one borough and several other pieces of work going on. This is keeping us shore-based far longer than usual, but it makes sense to earn the money while we can in these difficult times. Since last September, when we started work again, the job of a regeneration consultant has changed dramatically!
We expect to continue working to July, then take off for the west coast of Italy and associated islands. We won't get long, as Sarah has to have some medical treatment in October. So we'll get back to the UK, base ourselves in Ipswich and work through the duller months, but we're set on a March start to cruising in 2010.


Places and people
New Year in central London
01/02/2009, London

Well, it's been a while. This is written in April but starts on 1 February, when we celebrated Chinese New Year in Trafalgar Square. This dragon was stunning.


Places and people
Back home!
02/11/2008, Toulon

We are both back for a long weekend, which is great. Despite a strong easterly and overcast skies, occasionally opening for a sharp downpour, it's lovely to be home for a while. Roaring Girl is in good shape, with what we need aboard, and quite safe.
We were so busy when we came in before that this is an opportunity to explore the city and get to know it a bit better, which is fun too. And, although the people of Toulon are complaining (it even snowed on the hills north of town last week!), it is much warmer than London.
Several friends have commented we're out of date on the blog. It's hard keeping it up to date when the key events are - went to office, came home! We've had a few excitements - taking Sarah's mother on the London Eye for example. Hence this spectacular view up the Thames. And Sarah has been sailing twice on Nethunuus, out of Gosport.
Keep in touch anyway, folks, and we'll try to be better at staying current with our adventures.

Life on Roaring Girl
Aliens!
13/09/2008, Southampton Boat Show

For Pip's birthday, we went to the Boat Show. This entry is actually written on 1 November, back in Toulon, and looking back at SIBS feels like a different world; the economy looked rough then, and the euro very strong. Now, of course, everything is in meltdown. We are very glad we are not in debt anywhere, and lucky enough to be able to find work. Last summer was excellent practice for living very cheaply even when everything around us was astronomically expensive - a skill we will all need to hone over the coming years.
In the meantime, some things we needed were cheaper bought at the Boat Show, in sterling. Spare oil filters, new anode, some flat fenders. And some great rope for replacing our spinnaker halyards.
A Kiwi company was using these aliens to promote their product. We can't remember what they're selling , but they have a map of NZ on the back. They were everywhere, adding a certain peculiar frisson to the event!

Places and people
The last anchorage
25/08/2008, Iles Porquerolles

We anchored here again after a very quiet few days in Port Man waiting out a mistral. In this bay, the RIB comes round selling expensive ice-creams; we allowed ourselves the ?'?8; the only money we spent between St Tropez on 20 August and arriving in Toulon on 26 August.
It was a glorious sunset for our last anchorage of the year.
From here, we went into Toulon and found a snug berth on the biggest pontoon in the Darse Vieille. It's all bows or stern to, with good stout lines (two per boat) to keep you off the quay. The Petit Rade (the inner end of the big bay that makes Toulon such a superb harbour) is still very naval, with both big grey boats and zippy black RIBs, full of men with guns. We arrived flying (as usual and amongst other things) an NZ flag and a big rainbow flag, which here is often used as a peace sign. Remember the Rainbow Warrior, mes amis!
For several days, we were watched closely, the RIB-fulls coming close under our stern and looking at us for minutes at a time. Then we took the flags down, as part of the winter prep, and they lost interest.
So Roaring Girl is securely wrapped up, with guardiennage for when we're not here. Pip is going to and fro, in between working on her silversmithing, while Sarah makes a temporary return to office-life.


Life on Roaring Girl
Thar she blows!
21/08/2008, On passage to Port Man

The excitement! We saw sperm whales in Kaikoura (see the blog pages for 9 January this year), but now we saw another one. Of our own, so to speak - of course such a majestic creature belongs to no one.
She was cruising gently on the surface off the Bay of Cavalaire, not far from the shore. We hastily veered away; she was longer than Roaring Girl, but watched in awe until she dived, showing the classic fluke against the Provencal blue sky as she vanished.
We had not realised such big whales came through the Straits and into the Med, but apparently there are quite a few about, especially in a big pelagic sanctuary that stretches from hereabouts to Italy and south of Corsica.

Life on Roaring Girl

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