16th February 2021
Portimão Marina, Portugal
For every end there is a beginning and after every beginning there has to be an end. Rain and wind is replaced by sun and calm, winter gives way to spring, and stability is replaced by instability. Even in these difficult days of Covid, change happens relentlessly and change is good.
For days Ruffian had been battered by wind, the decks had been washed by rain and we did everything we could to hide from it. Every time we ventured out, as we were at the furthest point from Ruffian and with no shelter in sight the heavens poured on us forcing us to run for home, dry wet clothes and wait for our release. Finally change was on its way, the wind stopped, the clouds parted, the sun finally warmed our bones and freed us from our Ruffian imprisonment.
As we relished our new found freedom we found that the seasons were also changing. The oranges which had been ripening and swelling on the tress were now in the market. They covered every stall, appeared on every sign and bulged in the bags of everyone we saw.
Walking the market Fiona relished (excuse the pun) the thought making of chuckneys*, marmalades and candy, while Iain simply salivated and egged her on. The choice of picking the produce however fell to Iain. Perusing the stalls in the market, he picked the prettiest Oranges, those adorned by leaves and framed by branches, whereby Fiona then interjected this this wasn’t a beauty parade and he was buying oranges and not trees.
With our new purchases we cycled home and Iain was full of joy. At every opportunity he bonged the inflatable bollards that control the traffic, skidded on the cobbles that were still wet with rain and splashed in the puddles like a child. The change in the weather and the change of the seasons, along with the thought of sugar filled sweet treats had lifted our moods to new highs.
Before the conversion to marmalade could begin, we had more cycling to do, more vitamin D to absorb and more beaches to explore. Settling on the beach on silky smooth sand we could feel our bones strengthening as the cliffs towered above us as and the waves crashed around us, we did however feel a little unease. This unease didn’t come from the Covid restrictions and the restrictive signs, it came from the experience of sitting under cliffs, while being showered by sandstone and the signs warning of unstable rockfall. The cliffs are constantly changing and falling and we were right under them!
On the cycle home Iain was still in high spirits and continued his ‘bonging game’ as we neared home and the impending marmalade session, instead of bonging his inflatable bollard he thought he’d sweep one with his knee. It was at this moment that he found out the bollards by the marina had changed structure. The soft inflatable ones had been cunningly replaced by hard concrete filled stell ones, and the obvious resulted! Damn that change.
Waking to a 2am alarm a big change was in the offing for Pip Hare as her jaunt around the world in her IMOCA was about to end. With gales battering the Biscay and battling ghastly conditions the first of the online feeds started to come. We had a WhatsApp feed from the shore team on the rib, a YouTube professional feed from the Vendee globe and a Zoom feed from all and sundry located around the UK. As she crossed the line, flares were set off on the boat, champagne corks popped in homes and relief blanketed Ruffian knowing that she was safe. In a moment Pip’s world had changed from one of solitude to crowds, from sordid living conditions to luxury (well a shower and a bed) and from having a single focus to being pulled in a million directions. We’re so proud of Pip and feel lucky to have been on the boat every day**.
The change in the weather also bought a change to the activities on Ruffian. We could finally paddleboard without fear of being blown away and with this prospect Fiona ventured out on an excursion with all the boarders in the marina. Confidently she stuck out, paddling with power and chatting to those around her. Quite quickly however her confidence was overtaken by her capability. Chatting away to Robyn from Asterie and feeling she was a little too far away instead of slowing down she simply walked backwards on the board quickly ran out of runway and changed from a confident dry, warm Fiona to a splashing gasping freezing cold Fiona.
With changes happening everywhere we look; the one constant has once again been Covid. The Covid lockdown continues, but as always on Ruffian we’ll find the fun we can have, continue ticking the jobs off the list and hope that there will be a change soon.
*Yes this is how you spell ‘chuckney’, or at least that’s what Iain said after he’d labelled up 22 jars of ‘chuckney’ from years gone by.
** Through the wonders of Sat Comms and WhatsApp.
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