Pretty in Pink

Chapter 10-  July 11, 2005

Debryn Writing

At sea.

“LOOK!  THERE’S DOG POOP!” Kaizen hollers seemingly every 10 feet so that not only do we hear him, but so do all the people walking on the other side of the sidewalk.   We quickly say, “Yes, yes, we see it.  Now, shush shush…”  It’s quite shocking how the French simply do not pick up after their dogs.  It seems that one out of three people have a dog.  We often have to walk with our eyes on the sidewalk to make sure we don’t step in any messes.  Our last visited museum had three signs at the front gate of an ice cream cone, a cigarette and a dog.  The first two signs were crossed through, indicating they were not allowed.  The dog sign was not.  Go figure.  It’s frighteningly close to the Taiwanese bringing their dogs into the restaurants.


The French have been surprisingly friendly even with our lack of the language.  Even the English-speaking French wonder how we get around without the language.  Menus are usually the most difficult for us as we have no clue what is listed.  We stay clear of the tare-tare of course, not wishing to consume anything raw.  We still forget that they put a raw egg in the middle of a beautifully baked pizza.  Frites, (French fries) come with practically every dish you order.  We have treated ourselves to ice cream practically every night much to Kaizen’s delight.  It is also a good motivator for him.  “If you don’t finish your vegetables you won’t get any ice cream tonight…”  Cleaning his plate is a very time-consuming chore.  It’s no wonder that as a kid I was left all alone at the table so many times after a meal to finish my food.


I believe we have had more walks together in this last month and a half than we ever have.  Since each town is new to us, we usually scope it out with an initial trip to the grocery store (usually a good walk away!) and haul back a 6-pack of water (mind you, that’s 12 L that Sam’s carrying) and another 3 more bags of  heavy groceries (they get heavier as we go).  We finally bought a luggage cart a week ago which has relieved us of our very sore arms and back pain.  Kaizen often asks me, “Do your arms feel like breaking?”, repeating it several times on the walk back.  As you can see he has already picked up on my mutterings.  Boo enjoys pushing the empty cart to the store, which keeps him well occupied rather than the, “Can you carry me?  Pleeeeese???”.  A good long stick found along the road occupies him on the way home. 


We’ve had beautiful weather for most of France so far.  Days are sunny and hot and evenings are cool.  I’ve seen no air conditioners in homes as all of them are made out of cement; with tall, narrow and screenless windows.  We sometimes have flies and bees on our boat but rarely mosquitoes—only on the warm still evenings.  I brought along Boos mosquito net that he used as an infant and drape that from his lamps and window when needed.  It does the job as we don’t have any screens on our hatches.  The French who live near the water are all very outdoorsy and love their water.  We have seen kids as young as Kaizen on kayaks and dinghies sailing around the ports.  The French seem to be very healthy as they love their sun, ride their bikes everywhere, walk a lot and don’t have huge portions of food like the US.


Bungee jumping, not so sure.

All right!

Passing ship.

My main job as far as ‘crew’ is to take all the fenders off and on the boat and ready all the lines for docking and departing.  Often when we come into a marina, someone is on the dock to catch our lines so I have not had to scamper off the boat hurriedly to tie off.  The first few times on my own were rather nerve-racking for me (and perhaps Sam too).  If no one is there to catch our lines, we must time it just right so that I can jump onto the pontoon (floating dock next to the boat—mind you, it gives when you jump on it so if you’re far from it when you jump, it almost seems as if you might fall into the water…), rush forward, tie off and get the back line and tie that off before we either blow into another boat or blow too far off the pontoon.  Another adjustment is the various cleats I have to tie off onto.  Some are rings, some are cleats and some are things in-between the two (I know, I know, these descriptions must be excruciatingly painful to you seasoned sailors).  I have fortunately been taught several knots that I can use to tie off so I am finally feeling more confident about doing the lines on my own—much to Sam’s relief, I’m sure.  Boo stays tethered in the cockpit, unless he’s down below watching his videos.  Just as we’re approaching the dock is usually the time that he starts yelling over and over, “Mommy!  Mommy!  Mommy!”  They know just how to time it, don’t they?

"Some are rings, some are cleats."

Watching DVDs.

After we’ve tied up and the engine is cut, Kaizen can unhook his tether and then hook it onto the jackstay (a line that is runs from the bow to the stern on either side of the boat) and make his way down the boat to where I am.  So far we’ve only been able to hand him lines when we’re on the dock as he doesn’t know how to tie off yet.  I’m sure he’ll pick it up fast.  When under way, he handles himself well on the boat, even when the waves are rolling, or the boat is heeled.  He also doesn’t bump into things quite as often as Sam and I do.  His cars, Buzz Lightyear and Woody (from Toy Story), Mulan and Shane (from Mulan) and any other toys from any videos he’s watched keep him occupied.  He would rather watch a video, of course, so we try to limit the movies to sailing days.  Our little portable DVD player has come in extremely handy.  It has a DC plug that we can use while we sail.  We often have shore power when we dock so I can use my hairdryer too, which runs on AC power.  Sam has gotten all the plug adapters and inverters so we can use our computer, charge our cameras and cell phone, and run my iPod.  We even have a handheld vacuum that has come in very handy.


Water is limited especially since we all shower onboard.  Most ports have had shower facilities but they charge another 1-2 € per shower, on top of our daily docking fee.  Showering onboard is like showering in the Chungking Mansions in Hong Kong (a backpacker’s hostel for those of you not as inclined to ‘rough it’)—the shower and sink use the same nozzle.  It extends for the shower.  I’m the type who likes to stand in a hot shower for 30 minutes so this is still a constant adjustment for me.  Fortunately, in most ports we have not had to tie off onto someone else’s boat (if there’s lack of space) and we can tie up right to the pontoon, where both water and power are available. 


I’ve found the best way to do laundry is every 4-5 days (A sure delight to you Laura, right? haha) and with two buckets filled from the shore spigot—one for soapy water and the other for rinsing.  I do this all in the cockpit and have maybe 6 trips to the spigot.  This last time I finally hauled my sudsy clothes and rinsed them right at the spigot on the pontoon.  After all, everyone eventually sees all our clothes anyway as they hang out all over our boat, drying for the entire day.  Wringing out the clothes is perhaps the most tiresome part.  When was the last time you wrung out a pair of jeans?  Or a fleece jacket?  No easy chore! Whenever I call for Sam to help me, Boo usually says, “No, no, I can do it, I can do it…”  He is usually alongside me washing his stuffed animals or toys or simply playing with the laundry.  We’ve discovered various things to do with clothespins.  They make great garages/houses for Kaizen’s toys.  He’s hung a few from his hair too, saying that they keep his hair out of his eyes—yes, he spends a lot of time with a girl… 

Laundry time.

While we were enjoying an evening stroll through the Old Town, Vieux Port in La Rochelle we stopped to watch one of the street performers.  A large crowed soon gathered in anticipation of what looked to be a circus style clown act.   As the act got underway, the performer suddenly walked over to us and rapidly said something in French.  We looked at him blankly and muttered “no par le voux Francais” as quietly as we could not wanting to stick out as the obvious tourists in front of the crowd.  This seemed to thrill the performer as he shouted something further in French and quickly snagged Sam taking him out to the center of the square.  On his way Sam threw me his copy of the Financial Times which he had been reading, not knowing whether he would need his hands free.  The entertainer continued to chortle in French and in broken English told Sam he would tell him what to do.  Sam, showing all the enthusiasm of a fly caught in a web,                followed him and was soon dressed in a bright fuchsia tu-tu and a wig of the same color.  The entertainer then insisted on “Claudia” (Sam) performing various dances and pirouettes to the hearty cheers of the audience.  The fact that Sam didn’t understand a lick of French seemed to delight them all the more as the performer doubtless was saying scandalous things about “Claudia” in French. 


The entertainer was actually very good, juggling all sorts of balls and even torches lit with fire.  Sam, or should I say “Claudia”, played the role of his ridiculous assistant throughout the entire show, occasionally handing him a prop for juggling or performing a little jig.  Once while the performer was demonstrating how Sam should sway his hips dramatically from side to side then hand the torch to him, Sam hammed it up pretending to light up the performer’s hind end with the lit torch.  This brought much laughter from the audience and a silly squeal from the performer (who loved to whistle and make funny sounds throughout his performance).  It was a riveting (as Sam would say) performance that I wish all of you could have witnessed.  I’m sure “Claudia” would be the first to agree. haha


Le Femme, Claudia.

Atlantic Sunset.

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