And so it begins
09 September 2020
This has been in our blood for a long time, and after years of planning, we finally did it. We spent years researching, viewing, and ultimately deciding on what boat we wanted to do this trip. Finally, we settled on the 90s version of the Moody 44. A center cockpit boat with a layout that suited long term cruising, and a solid build and finish. We named her Swift and surveyed/finalized the sale in November 2019. We had our eye on a spring departure, and madly renovated, packed and rented out home. We had a great farewell send-off from Victoria, and so it all started!
We arrived in the UK March 4 and spent the first couple of weeks commuting back and forth between the boat and our aunt's house while we waited for the engine install to be completed. Happily, we got to visit some sights and family during that time. We all followed the news closely theorizing that Italy and then Spain had been hit with the virus due to circumstances that somehow the UK would avoid. Wishful thinking? Tensions were high in the UK as everyone wondered if the government should be doing more to prepare.
The supermarkets were hit with panic buying and toilet paper, pasta, and baked beans turned out to be the most important survival items on everyone's list. We found ourselves trying to stock an empty boat from empty store shelves but we managed to scrounge enough stuff to get started.
A few weeks later, we moved onboard. The kids set up their cabins and got cozy. We got into the boat jobs we had on the list. Unfortunately the wind was too strong to attempt the narrow lock that keeps the 24 foot tides from emptying the marina every 12 hours so we spent the first few days organizing and stowing all of our gear. Our shake down sail happened on a Monday. The new engine ran great. We got the main and genoa out in the blustery conditions and practiced tacking and gybing. Running slightly off the wind heading back to the marina we got the boat flying along over 9 knots which was exciting and exceeded expectations. Swift indeed.
The Tuesday after was scheduled as our second cruise. The wind was dying and we would finally be able to do a proper seatrial of the new engine. Unfortunately, we awoke to find that the UK government had decided that they had let the coronavirus get too far out of hand requiring them to shut the country down. While undoubtedly the decision was the right one and in retrospect should have been made earlier, it was bitter pill to swallow. Our lovely boat went from Swift to anything but as we put down some extra fenders and tied up for what we naively hoped was two weeks but of coursed ended up a much longer wait.
We sat in Gillingham Kent England and going nowhere. The marina was shut down and everyone had gone home. A month after moving on board and we had traveled nowhere. Who would have imagined that we would find ourselves in these circumstances? The boat was great and was all we had hoped she would be. We were lucky compared to others- we were comfortable, warm and safe, and thankfully have enough bandwidth and data to watch Netflix. To the marina's credit they were very supportive even entrusting us with our own locked bathroom block. Reportedly some marinas had kicked out the live aboard residents and certainly most had shut down any kind of boat work. In contrast we were able to keep a low profile and plug away with boat jobs which was somewhat a silver lining because they took a bit longer than we anticipated anyway. We saw very few people but those that we did see were very kind gifting the kids extra Easter chocolate, loaning us extra bikes, and gifting us coffee and cake. Under the lockdown rules, we were allowed to go on outings for food and for 1 hr of exercise per day. These outings became excursions on foot or on bike to explore our surrounding area.
But a sailboat was meant to be sailed, and we were really just living in a small space tied to a dock. When would we be set free?
Instagram for updates: @sailing.swift