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0045 - Winter is over.

For the last few weeks we've(I've) been busy getting the boat ready as we can for whatever's about to happen - cleaning, sanding, and oiling everything on deck, and now, we're down to our last few jobs...

Chloe has been no help, at all - just watching the work from her lofty perch, barely able to mask her frustration of not being the focus of attention...but the work must go on.

I had been working in a factory, but that work has now ended. Working started out fine, but as time moved on the hours got reduced. It would appear that had I started working there sooner I could have benefited from having had more hours. Perhaps if we're still in this neck of the woods later in the year I may go back, but we'll see what happens, money is money - and never say never!

Anyways - It's just about time to get out of here before we overstay our welcome here in the harbour. I mean, we did just turn up one day, completely unannounced. Long stays are normally, as I understand it, booked in advance, but the folks here in Berwick-upon-tweed have been very kind to us, and we can't extend our gratitude enough - on one occasion they even provided transport to get Phoebe to the vet, so in my book - these people are aces!

So what's been happening over the winter?

In all fairness, not all that much really, the crew are presently all accounted for, although at one stage I wasn't so sure Phoebe was going to see her 17th birthday.

Phoebe was very poorly indeed...and although she's somewhat 'better-ish' now, she is unlikely to gain back most of the weight she lost and will be on special food for the remainder of her life, but her new food does smell really nice, and she seems to enjoy it - and as long as she's eating it - that's all that matters.

A very long time ago Phoebe got real fussy with her food and eventually, a brand of food was tolerated - it just so happened to be the most expensive in the supermarket - So, when the vet recommended she get some new 'specialist' food it came as no surprise that it was, of all the specialist cat foods available, the most expensive. But, I can assure you, it was purchased without hesitation...and to my surprise, she loves it - I had expected an uphill battle on the food front, but for once, it was easy.

At 17 (85-ish in cat years), her health is def starting to fail - but she is still with us and very much in charge. It's funny, even though she's a bit skinny and wobbly at times, she can and does put Chloe in her place when her youthful cheekiness gets a bit too fresh for her liking...and will chase her above and below decks, with the kind of gusto you just wouldn't expect from an elderly who knows, she may have years left in the tank or maybe somewhat less...

Other than that, we had a few minor repairs. Our freshwater tank decided to develop a serious leak - the annoying thing is you don't notice the leak until you notice the tank was empty a little quicker than usual, before you know what's going on you have 50 gallons of water in the bilges...a few leaks developed in a few deck fittings - but all have been replaced and resealed...

Last year we wintered just North of here in Eyemouth, and it was just as cold, but we never saw any ice like this...

Having the boat surrounded by ice was an interesting experience that I hadn't planned on, and luckily it wasn't thick enough to really be an issue - but with it being quite so cold, even the crew refused to set paw outside for a while.

In fact, all winter long they did very little - and Chloe especially liked nothing more than snoozing away the evening irrespective of whether I had things to do or not...

At one point, we did have a bit of nasty weather and I did wake one morning to find the boat tethered to the pontoon with only two of the four lines that had been set, the others having chaffed through during the night and I hadn't even heard a thing.

More ropes were fished out from a locker, the boat was again made fast to the pontoon and things were fine again, but as a precaution, the Harbour Master loaned us a super-strong rope as a backup.

Disappointingly, a number of things we had hoped would take place over the winter were frustratingly just out of reach, getting our genoa serviced was one such notable frustration - and new canvas was another, but I think we're gonna be alright - I had a good look over the genoa and popped a few hundred poorly-placed stitches where I thought necessary and added 'some', well okay, quite a few, reinforcing patches on a few weak spots, doesn't look that great, but meh - should be fine.

And when we get to someplace quiet, in the drier weather I'll just break down the canvas and stitch the heck out of it to make it last - the end result may not be pretty, but it's just going to have to do. ;)

I had planned on taking on a few small projects over the winter but there just wasn't time to get anything started, plus the fact that all the shops were shut didn't help much either, and also paying a lot of bills didn't leave much in the budget for new projects. *a tiny violin plays in the distance*

Def not complaining, it's just how it is just now - pandemic and all the associated jazz...perhaps next winter will be a bit different...perhaps not...who knows...

So what's going to happen over the Summer?

Well, there's no straightforward answer to that as I really don't know - but we do have to leave this place. So, as far as I know, it's North up into Scotland again, and I suppose we'll be going up into Edinburgh at some point with a stop or two along the way...and then who knows...maybe keep going North back up into the Highlands?

Balnakeil Bay, 2020

The girls quite liked the North last year, it's very quiet up there with lots of little places to drop the anchor and live quite simply, the only problem with the North is the midgies, they can be quite intense, they are tiny by travel in clouds of thousands...

The sea up North is beautiful though, somehow quite different from the rest of the UK, it can be quite rough, but when it's nice - it sure is nice...

I'm aware that's not revealing very much about what we're going to be doing, but there really isn't too much to reveal as of yet.

I mean, I've got a few ideas but nothing concrete - which doesn't marry terribly well with the fact that we'll be leaving here soon - really going to have to figure out some sort of plan, but North or at least Initially North seems logical (to me)...

Balnakeil Bay, 2020

We are, however, going to try to film a bit more this year and maybe put together the odd episode to go along with the blog, just to show a bit more of what we get up to.

The YouTube channel has become a dumping ground for random videos from the blog which isn't very good for anyone discovering us there - the videos, as they are, don't really tell any kind of story, and I think that's reflected in the fact that we only have 4

I make no promises on the production value, but we'll see how that goes...

We're going to use our last few days here to take care of as much as possible, top-up supplies as best we can then try to figure out where we're gonna haunt next...and having had a look at the weather I think it's looking pretty clear, not too much wind - but hey, as long as there's no rain - I hate leaving in the rain.

So our next blog post will definitely see us in a new place, hopefully, somewhere we haven't been before!


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