Holland to Ardfern - bulletin one
Crew: Broontroosers, alone.
Visualise the scenario:
Location - boatyard in Elburg, Holland
Scene - large outdoor yard, with some 100 biggish boats sitting out of the water on cradles.
Action - at least half the boats have ladders propped against them, and perched on the ladders or on the boats are many solitary males, sanding, painting or performing mysterious rituals with various tools and bits of wood. The absorbed concentration in the task at hand is occasionally broken by furious squabbling over the possession of a ladder, enacted in many languages.
Analysis - the scene is strangely reminiscent of a nesting colony of large birds, each with his territory and possessions. From time to time a renegade bird steals another's possession and furious squawking displays of aggression break out.
Don, alias Cap'n Broontroosers, painting his fine boat 'Deneys Reitz' is an active participant in the ritual, as the following exchange will illustrate:
German yachtie; "Gotterdammerung!! Das ist meiner ladder, geben sie mir es back, verdamt thief!"
Don, "Sod off! Das ist nicht ihre bloody ladder, es ist ein ladder von der bootyard"
An animated Anglo-German exchange commences, reminiscent of many such encounters on the battlefields of Spanish beaches - resolving in agreement to collaborate by pinching two stepladders from a couple of Frenchies and share the big ladder. Hunting in a pair, the intrepid Anglo-German allies soon accumulate several ladders from nests that have been temporarily abandoned by their owners. Moral: Make peace, not war, especially if you wish to steal things in an underhand manner!
So, the die is cast, the boat is painted, the scrotum-tightening, eye-watering boatyard and engineering bills paid, the toilet pumps replaced, the bloody Pink Pig pressure tank ripped out and cast on the scrap heap, to be replaced by a similar blue version. Bit worried about the state of the anchor winch, though. Still, it worked after a good belt with the rubber hammer........
Navigator Titsoot Tottie - not a participant in male painting rituals, which she reckons is an entertainment only fit for boys - has bought the charts - North Sea crossing, Holland to English East Coast ( Don's request for a crossing from Calais to Dover 'cos that's only 20 miles is spurned) - North East England - Scottish East Coast to the Moray Firth and Inverness - Caledonian Canal to The West and the terrifying prospect of the Hebrides - that is the substance of this year's death-defying adventure. We are stocked with ample wine, beer, Beecham's 'Resolve', food, fuel, water, tonic and gin and ready to go!
Many brave souls have asked to join us - pray for them, they know not what they do!