The Domestic Side of Life

Chapter 5-  June 9, 2005

Debryn Writing


Got Wellingtons!

Chapter 5.    The Domestic Side of Life

“Aargh…”, roars Boo as he pretends he’s a pirate.  We are now in St. Malo, NW France (better known as Brittany) and there is a walled city which used to be occupied by pirates.  We have already purchased our Jolly Roger flag (skull & cross bones flag, signifying that there are kids aboard).  And will put it up when we leave here.  Kaizen has already watched Peter Pan many times to have a pretty good imitation of a pirate.  He won a toy sword at a booth in the Guernsey port (English Channel Island) so he is quite pleased to be able to pull that out and ‘battle’ with his Daddy.  Kaizen has done great on the boat even having another man aboard for 12 days straight (who promptly took over his room after just 4 days on the boat).  Bryan Walker, a RYA instructor and yacht deliverer, was on board with us for our first initial week and a half to refresh our sailing skills and teach us new stuff.  Even after many years of experience Bryan says that you there are always things to learn about sailing.


“Aargh…”, I roar as yet again I hit my head on some part of the boat as I maneuver up and down the steps of the boat, or thru the galley to our cabin.  Though I know things are where they are, I am always reminded that I cut it too close yet again.  Poor Sam has even more bending over than I.  Boo, of course, just runs from one cabin to the other.  19 days later and I am still getting used to the constant movement of the boat.  Whenever I take a shower (in port, on land) and close my eyes I feel like I’m still swaying and often find myself trying to catch myself from falling.  Even sitting in restaurants I feel myself tense up to make sure I don’t lose my balance.  We are always trying to hold on to something or shift our weight to keep our balance.


Boo in the aft cabin.


For those of you who don’t know, we began our sailing adventure on April 1st when we purchased a 37 foot Hallberg Rassy made in Sweden.  The previous owner kept it in excellent condition and ended up buying an even bigger one.  Obviously the boat was purchased in England so we moved aboard on May 18.  We plan to spend  4-5 months sailing this year from England to Gibraltar (Spain). 


We arrived in England on May 17 from Taiwan.  Not only did we have the cold, brisk, dry weather to contend with, we had jetlag, oodles of stuff to unpack and stow away somewhere on the boat, and provisions to stock up on.  Sam immediately adjusted to driving the rental car on the left side of the road as well as use stick shift.  He figured out the roundabouts fantastically well while I tried to recover from feeling dizzy.  The roundabouts are frankly a much better system especially for those of us more inclined to go the wrong direction.  This way we can just go around and around until we’re sure when to exit—haha.  The boat still had many details that Sam tirelessly worked through with the Yacht broker, electrical man, surveyor, detailer, various Chandleries (where you buy overpriced boat stuff…as it’s the only place to buy it…) and I’m sure many others I don’t even know what their job title is.  


We made numerous trips to Tesco (a superstore) as they had everything there from household items, clothes, to groceries and a cafe.  Fortunately one was located just 10 minutes from the boat.  I’m still figuring out how to cook on a two burner stove with a top loading fridge that is only 1 ½ foot in diameter and 2 feet deep.  The freezer is literally 2 ½ ice cube trays big.  I’ve already had to defrost the thing since the door couldn’t close (it’s only held closed by two elastic straps) as I jammed it too full of meat.  I’ve already banged my head countless times while cooking and washing dishes as I’ve gotten too close to the shelves…haha.  We have two sinks fortunately but as water is very limited I seem to be washing and rinsing with just a drizzle.

First Meal,  Indian takeout from Tesco.

  Sam is definitely the navigator and chart plotter as he spends hours sifting thru the weather charts, navigation charts, tide tables, various almanacs and books I have no clue what they are about.  We have some pretty neat radar/GPS stuff on board but it’s probably best that with me being such a button-pusher, I don’t foul up our route.  So I usually stay clear of that unless instructed otherwise.  Then I need very specific directions.  It’s very tempting for me but I already managed to delete something once and fortunately Sam knew how to get it back.  Imagine me trying to figure out all that math…we’d never leave a port!


I had no idea how often I’d be ‘cleaning up’.  Since we must always put things away for sailing—and even in doing so, it doesn’t necessary guarantee it won’t shift and fall out—I must make sure the dishes are cleaned right away (or stacked securely in the sink if I’m too seasick to deal with it) and all our stuff is put in it’s place.  You know me, I like piles and we can’t let them accumulate or the entire boat would be strewn with clothes, books, toys and just stuff.  Everything has its place.  Believe it or not, I know where everything on the boat is (except, of course, for the one thing that Sam wanted that I couldn’t find until I tore the whole thing apart…haha…now I know where it is…)  I can’t recall the last time I hand washed laundry and feel like I’m from the dark ages doing it and of course it is rather tiresome and hard work.  However, it is quite the norm for the “Cruiser” as I’ve seen pretty much everything hanging out to dry on the lifelines of the boat.  One thing I will try not to do is to let that accumulate.  Yes, yes, there are laundry facilities everywhere but it costs about 5 US$ for one load.  That doesn’t even count the dryer.  Restaurants are pretty outrageous too in England and France--definitely compared to Taiwan standards and certainly compared to the US.  We have enjoyed some of the local cuisine on occasion, however, like moules (mussels in France), fish and chips (England) and oodles of baguettes.  Therefore I have done a lot of cooking on the boat.  Most foods are available at the grocer but now that labels are in French, we have to guess.  Prices are easily doubled to triple what I would normally pay so it’s hard to stock up on too much as I don’t want anything to spoil.  We seem to make a lot of trips to the nearest grocery store.  We’ve done a lot of walking and bus riding to find the Carrefour or supermarkets.  One excursion led us the wrong direction and we missed the last bus by minutes.  Boo even made the 3 km walk with only once needing to be carried.  We try to make sure we know the exact times that buses run before we do that again.


It’s still hard to believe that we are in Europe, much less traveling it by a yacht.  The French have been friendly and overlook our lack of the language by simply carrying on a conversation spewing out oodles of more French.  We have only learned one, two, three, merci and bonjour—oh, and bonsieur (or however that’s spelled).  We are the only boat carrying an American flag so far that we’ve seen.  Most people are eager to know if we actually brought the boat over from the US.  High praise is always given for the Hallberg Rassy so that is a comfort to me.  We’ve had some real good sailing days (i.e. no motor sailing) and the boat has gotten rather heeled over.  If I’m sitting on the opposite side of the heel I am practically standing up.  Sometimes I think the boat is going to flip over but it’s made so it doesn’t (obviously) but I need to be reminded often of how good our boat is…Boo takes it all in stride.  He has slept thru many sails.


Unfortunately we are not yet hooked up on a fast enough speed for checking our email.  We try to find Internet cafes but they seem pretty scarce in France.  We have only found one at a reasonable price.  Please write us, however, as it is always good to learn of what is happening with our loved ones.  So far we have been to nine different ports (one being anchored in a channel) and continue thru the northern coast of France.  Let us know what news you would like to know as I feel that perhaps now I’m beginning to ramble.  Enjoy the pictures—we are the only boat with the American flag.  Thanks to Don for sifting thru all our pictures and putting this on the web for us.  We miss you all!   

June 9, Debryn


Itinerary thus far:

May 17-22 Hamble, Southampton, Stonehenge (England)

May 23 BEGIN SAILING  Hamble to Lymington (England)

May 24 Lymington return to Hamble

May 25 Hamble, England to Fécamp, France

May 27 Fécamp to Honfleur

May 28 & 29 Honfleur to Cherbourg to Guernsey (English Channel Island)

May 31 Guernsey to Il Brehat

June 1 Il Brehat to St. Malo

June 6 St. Malo to Lezardrieux

June 8 Lezardrieux to Trébeurden



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Map of Hamble to Lymington

Map of English Channel  Star is at Honfleur.  Fecamp is just north.  Map is interactive so you can move in, out and around.  

Map of Brittany   Centered on Saint Malo, France.  Map is interactive.


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