21st January 2021
Portimão Marina, Portugal
In our new reality of COVID-19, every nation, every municipality, every parish and every community has its own version of lockdown. Some lockdowns are lockdowns in name only, some lockdowns take away freedoms, remove liberties and negate choices. In just one week we have experienced lockdowns from the country, municipality, parish and community.
Without any of Boris’s bumbling or Boris’s bluster and devoid of any obscure Latin quotes the President of Portugal gave everyone a good telling off and told them that a nationwide lockdown was happening. We were interested as to what this lockdown would really mean as cafes were open, schools were open, shops were open, so basically everyone was being told to ‘be sensible’.
Taking to the Brompton’s to explore the lockdown (the stay-at-home mandate allowed daily exercise) the streets were devoid of cars and all the people who’d normally be in those cars were now busy walking on beaches, sipping coffee outside cafes and generally having a delightful time. With empty roads we swept past orange groves heavy with fruit, along highways with their silky-smooth tarmac and finally through promenading couples absorbing the last of the suns rays as it set under a cloudless sky. This was a lockdown that we could manage.
Although lockdown had stopped many things it hadn’t stopped us ticking off jobs on our winter list. Ever since we started sailing Ruffian, just before we push the engine start switch, there has always been fear that we’d be greeted with deafening silence as the complicated electronics would stop simple electricity getting to the simple engine. Monkey Otter* had offered us a solution to this, simply fit a hotwire button to the starter motor.
Like all jobs on Ruffian nothing was simple and like every job on Ruffian it involved every locker being emptied to get tools out. Unsupervised Iain set out to make a bracket for the button using some super sharp hole saws. Within seconds the hole saw had drawn first blood, grabbing the workpiece and slicing Iain’s finger. Knowing that he’d get told off for not heeding Fiona’s warnings he silently snuck below, dressed his finger and carried on without a word.
Word of his misdemeanour only escaped as the hole saw (doing a different job) once again claimed second blood. With his thumb now oozing red stuff all over the dock, all over rags and most importantly all over his shiny bracket he had to call on Fiona’s medical expertise to patch him up and confess his incompetence. The incompetence however was short lived as the bracket was fitted the start button wired and finally the was engine started bypassing all the complicated electronics.
As we’d been busy with boat jobs occurrences were happening outside the confines of the marina. The lockdown was suddenly being taken seriously. The coffee that people had been supping could no longer be supped, those lazy promenades were being frowned upon and it looked like carefree days might be behind us. Even with this backdrop the beach was still welcoming, the sun still shone and the sunsets were spectacular.
If we were going to be locked down then we thought that setting ourselves some goals would be good. Iain took the easy option of deciding to run a half marathon while Fiona took the brave, and some would say foolhardy, decision to start sea swimming. Set on her new resolution she donned a shortie wetsuit and strode off to the frigid sea. Heroically she walked in, slipped along, angelically did her laps and returned with brimming with self-righteousness (or endorphins). Iain however was warm!
As the days passed and the boat jobs go ticked off the President continued telling the populace off for not ‘being sensible’. Lockdown changed form time and time again and each time the change made the lockdown stricter. Where once people had strolled and sat they were stopped by signs and tape; where once cars had driven and parked they were stopped by barricades and diversions; where once beaches had given us exercise and distraction we now had to stay off their expanse and out of the water; where we had once been carefree in our wanderings loudspeakers now told us to stay at home.
Only time will tell what this lockdown will bring, and if we’ll be having the national, municipal, parish or community version of it. In the meantime the boat jobs will continue to call to be completed.
*A really cool family of 4 cruising a Sigma 33 from Shetland.
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