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Friday, 1st July 2016 – Summer, What Summer?

The awful weather continues. It is cold, grey & miserable. Will we be going over to the boat in a week’s time? Who knows? Kim has certainly lost all interest in the boat; Wendy is still determined to get some use out of her before we put her on the market.

If you wonder where Kate and Emjaytoo’s Facebook pages have gone, well Kim has closed them down. There is certainly no point in Kate having one and not much point Emjaytoo having one either.

Maybe the weather will be better next weekend.

Saturday, 9th July 2016 – Murder On The High Seas.

Well, it very nearly was!

Apart from nearly murdering a whole family of pigeons, this was actually a very successful weekend. We had high hopes of making a trip to Zierikzee or Tholen and so had booked an early Friday morning Shuttle out and a late Saturday evening one home. The trip over went really well, we got to the terminal on time, in spite of it being half an hour earlier than usual, and Kim got his bacon roll and coffee for breakfast.

After stopping in the village for some provisions we were on board Emjaytoo by 10:30. The first job we had to do was hoist our newly acquired EU courtesy flag.

We had decided that we must try and show that we’re not Brexiteers. It is so embarrassing as most of Europe think we are a laughing stock. The German couple opposite us were quite chatty and only confirmed what all of Wendy’s Non-British European friends have been saying. In fact the lady gave Wendy a copy of “Der Spiegel” magazine, which contains some very interesting insights into how we are viewed as a nation and the potentially wide-reaching consequences of the Brexit vote.

Unfortunately the weather was not looking very enticing – quite strong winds, grey sky and the odd smattering of rain. More importantly, Kim thought our birds nest was occupied! So we decided to stay put and went off for a walk. It was a pleasant walk and we met some lovely (according to Wendy) sheep!

On the way back the weather brightened up and the wind eased (or so we thought). After we had eaten, around 19:00, we decided that perhaps the nest wasn’t occupied and decided to have a quick dash up to Bastiaan de Langeplaat to overnight there. The weather was forecast to be a lot better on Saturday and with a late shuttle crossing, the plan was that we could have a good day’s sailing before heading back to the marina.

As we motored up towards Bastiaan we encountered apparent winds of 20 knots and we could soon see “Mrs Bird” hanging on for dear life! Her dogged determination meant only one thing: she was sitting on a clutch of eggs. She couldn’t have had chicks up there as during the afternoon, we would have seen “dad” or “mum” flying in with food for them. By the time we got to Bastiaan she was still hanging on, so we decided we would have to motor straight back in the morning.

Arriving quite late at Bastiaan made for an interesting arrival as there was only one space left in the lagoon and it came down to the wire with a smaller Belgian boat who was entering the lagoon from the other end. No doubt remembering his battles years ago with Germans in supermarket car parks in Italy, Kim went hell for leather towards the space, terrifying the poor Belgian into submission! In fairness he was a lot smaller than us and did not need the depth of water but it was still a close run thing. At least the (very!) close proximity made for very simple conversation.

It was nice to be out of the marina and very quiet. In the morning the weather was gorgeous – a fresh breeze and a lovely blue sky.

However, we were on our way by 08:00 as Kim had spent all night fretting about Mrs Bird and wanted to get her back to the marina. There was a moment of terror en route when we could no longer see her, but not long after we got back she reappeared – as did the errant Mr Bird who was hopefully bringing her something to eat after her adventure!

A note as to why we could or couldn’t see the bird – we were looking up at the underside of a nest built in amongst the antennas etc at the top of a mast 40 feet up in the air!

Our trip back down under engine (as we didn’t want to upset Mrs Bird with noisy, flappy sails) was pretty uneventful but the entry back into our berth, with an 8 knot crosswind, was textbook stuff. Everything went perfectly first time at both ends of the boat, which was extremely pleasing. By this time the Kortgene micro climate was in top gear – a scorcher! Kim went off for a shower and after a cup of coffee in the cockpit we cleared away and left the marina about 12:00. We had decided to head back early with the intention of calling into our favourite wine merchant in Calais to stock up before having dinner somewhere with a view to getting on an earlier crossing. Again everything went smoothly and although we were booked on a 20:20 crossing, we actually got a crossing at about 18:50 and were indoors not long after 19:30.

The only slight thing was, that halfway home Kim realised that he had left the ensign out! This is the first time we have ever left the boat without taking the ensign in. When we will next be over is uncertain. Our new German friends who said goodbye to us as we left might spot it and take it down, but it doesn’t really matter.

Although we didn’t get to sail, it was a very successful trip and Kim was so relieved the bird and her eggs appeared to survive their ordeal. It was important to end on a high as we had decided over the course of the weekend that this was to be our last trip out on Emjaytoo. It makes sense to put her on the market as soon as possible and offer the pre-paid berth as an extra incentive. We have had a great 10 years but it really is time now to move on. We will probably aim to go over and clear her of our stuff and officially put her on the market in a couple of weeks.

A final footnote, whilst waiting at Calais waiting to board the Shuttle, Kim got a text message from someone responding to the advert for Kate. So fingers crossed!

Sunday, 10th July 2016 – Preparing For Life After Emjaytoo.

This morning we went on the DFDS website and changed our August ferry booking from Dunkerque to Calais and added our trailer tent. We have decided to cancel our Summer Cruise on Emjaytoo and go camping in Normandy. The sooner she goes up for sale the better.

Next weekend we are hoping to take the trailer tent away on Saturday and have a night’s camping to get it ready for Normandy. This will be the beginning of life after Emjaytoo. But like sailing, it’s all weather dependent.

Sunday, 17th July 2016 – A New Direction For The Website.

This website was born out of the original blog, which we set up in April 2007 to document our ownership and adventures with Emjaytoo. Now that we have decided to sell Emjaytoo there arises the question of what happens to the website?

The website is more than just the blog, but it has been all about the boat and what we do on it. We don’t want to sign off the last blog entry with us waving goodbye to Emjaytoo. For a start we use the website to host Kim’s Petrel Way weather station and Kim’s e-mail has been “” since 2009. If we are going to have non-sailing adventures then why not keep the blog going to record those? A sort of Kim & Wendy’s journal or diary.

So, as commented on in the last blog entry, this weekend we intended to go camping and indeed we did! It was a very successful weekend. We found a little camp site near Herne Bay on the north Kent coast – Southview Camping and after Kim had cut the long grass on Saturday morning we hitched the trailer tent up and off we went. It only took about 40 minutes to get there and we arrived about 13:00. We hadn’t taken anything for lunch so we parked the trailer, put the jacks down and then headed off on the 200 metre ‘hike' to the village pub – The Prince Of Wales to see what we could get for lunch. The pub had excellent beer and both Kim & Wendy had an enormous bacon & brie sandwich.

We got back to the camp site about 14:30 and put the trailer tent up. Kim had taken all the canvas off the frame at the end of last season and getting it back on the frame was what this weekend was really all about. As it turned out, it went on really easily and we put up the annex section but didn’t bother with the awning as it is bit too much hard work just for an overnighter. The weather was really good, 25 degrees plus when we arrived and quite sunny, albeit a bit muggy. Once we were set up we then just sat back and whiled away a few hours reading, snoozing (in one person’s case) and generally doing what we do in the cockpit of the boat. The campsite was really quiet and not very busy.

Soon it was time to fire up the barbecue and crack open a couple of beers. We sat outside in shorts and bare feet until 21:30 when we finally went inside, did up the zips and had a coffee before retiring.

As is usual for us, we were up at 06:00 putting the kettle on. One of the things we have not been able to master when camping is sitting in bed with a cup of tea in the morning. There is nothing to sit up and lean against! This was a problem in our previous tent as well as the trailer tent.

It was quite warm overnight and there was no dew, so the canvas was bone dry which was great. We had a leisurely morning, but were still packed up and pulling off the site by 11:00. Our trip back home was a bit of an adventure as Kim missed a turning and couldn’t find anywhere to easily turn the car and trailer round, so we ended up at Reculver, or at least in view of it before finding a suitable place to turn round.

This is somewhere we have not been to and is quite a tourist attraction. However we didn’t have time to stop so it will definitely be somewhere to visit properly – minus the camping trailer - on a future visit. Eventually we got on the right road and were home just after 12:00.

As stated earlier, it was a very successful weekend, the weather was warm, dry and with a good bit of sunshine, we got the trailer tent sorted out, we got a list of things to make sure we have for when we go to Normandy in three weeks time, we had a nice pub lunch on Saturday, a barbecue on Saturday evening and still spent enough time at home over the weekend for Kim to get all the grass cut and Wendy to finish off some work for Monday morning.

The campsite was so relaxed and quiet with a nice pub almost next door, that we have said we will go back for a weekend again. The showers were a pit pokey, but it was all very clean and well presented.

So there we go, a blog entry that is all about life after Emjaytoo!

Sunday, 31st July 2016 – Our Last Ever Trip To Emjaytoo?

We had earmarked this weekend to clear all our stuff off Emjaytoo and clean her up ready for selling. We were pretty apprehensive about the weekend after what happened last weekend. As a result of further terrorist attacks in France, with over 80 people killed in Nice on Bastille Day and a priest beheaded near Rouen, the French were locking down their borders and subjecting everyone to tight security. Unfortunately they did not have enough border staff at Dover to do the job, so they managed to paralyse Dover and the surrounding area including the A20/M20 at Folkestone. The queues for French immigration at Dover port extended to the Ashford side of Folkestone, with people stuck in their cars for 14 hours. We had to go out a couple of times on the Saturday, to Ashford and could not use the M20 to get back. It was worse than Operation Stack.

We were thinking that if this Saturday morning turned out to be a repeat, we would not be going. We set the alarm for 04:30 and after checking the roads, left home at 06:00 for our 07:30 ferry. We drove into Dover via the Alkham Valley and there were no problems getting to the port. There were quite long queues for the French immigration, but we had allowed enough time and we just got on our ferry before it departed. So that had worked out okay – so far so good!

Due to it being high season we had not been able to get a return crossing until 20:30 on Sunday evening. Kim did wonder if it might get a bit boring and perhaps we would have been better doing it all in a day trip. When we arrived on the boat Wendy was quite tearful, well it was the end of an era! Emjaytoo has been a huge part of our lives for the last nine years and Delta Marina/Kortgene has been part of our lives for ten years. The thought of sitting in the cockpit one last time having a beer, eating a “last supper”, killing time Sunday morning, was all a bit maudlin. Again, Kim commented, it would have been better to have just come over for the day, cleared the boat and left.

Whilst we were having a coffee, Wendy was reading the Daily Mail news on her Kindle when the following news story came up:

Kim read into this, content that was not there – i.e. an attack was imminent this weekend and we were likely to be victims! He definitely over-reacted, though it must be said that Wendy was pretty unsettled by the news story as well. Suddenly, we were looking at alternative ways of getting back home. The shuttle was one option, but was that any safer? Kim suggested at one point, that the safest way was to sail Emjaytoo back home! In the end we decided that a ferry from Hoek Van Holland to Harwich was the safest bet. This ferry leaves Hoek Van Holland at about ten o’clock at night, getting into Harwich first thing in the morning. Hoek Van Holland is only about an hour and a half drive from Kortgene, so now our leisurely weekend on the boat had to be crammed into about five hours. As it turned out, this was no bad thing. It meant that Kim (and Wendy) had less time to fret about the return trip and had to get stuck in to the task at hand. It also meant less time for dwelling on the past.

By five o’clock we were pulling away from Kortgene, perhaps for the last time? It is somewhat ironic that our Emjaytoo experience started with a ferry crossing from Hoek Van Holland and now ends with the same crossing. If you’ve been following the blog from day one, you will know that we took Maggie-Jane back to England on the ferry to Harwich.

This actually turned out to be a really good move (apart from the cost!). We got to the ferry at about 20:00 and were in our cabin by 21:00. The cabin, whilst small, was very comfortable and we sat having a few beers (which we had brought with us) and talking about Emjaytoo and life in general. This was a far better environment than the cockpit or saloon on the boat. We then went down to the restaurant and had a really great meal for not much more than €30. This Stena Line ferry was really impressive, classy, not packed out, not full of plebs. Probably one of the things that made it nice was that most of the passengers were Dutch heading to England for their holidays. Also as people finished their meal in the restaurant, they left, either to go to the bar for a drink, or to go to their cabin to go to bed, adding to the feeling of space.

We had a reasonable night’s sleep and woke up in Harwich. The cabin had a small en suite shower room so we set off refreshed and by seven o’clock in the morning we were driving off the ferry.

The journey home was only two hours, although we chose to stop at Colchester for a McDonalds breakfast. Another irony was that we started our Emjaytoo experience driving up the A12 in 2007 and we finished it by driving down the A12 in 2016.

We were home by 10 o’clock which was so much better than if we had caught the ferry we were booked on – we wouldn’t have got home till nearly 10 o’clock at night. This meant that we (well Kim actually, as Wendy took advantage to do some work and make her life easier tomorrow) had all day to unpack the car and put stuff away.

We have put a question mark on this being the last trip to Emjaytoo. The only reason is that if she sells quickly, all well and good, but if not, we could be back taking down sails and the sprayhood in November. But we won’t ever stay on her again. That is now past, time to look forward to the future.

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