I am my father’s son.
I do like the finer things in life. Too bad we see these things so late in life. When the Buddha referred to enlightenment, he probably meant just that, old enough to be over youthful self-centeredness to now have the vision to see those things around us as they truly are and to appreciate and be grateful for what we received from others. To recognize the things we may have distained in youth: duty, honor and respect are in actuality, the core of our being.
I suppose my thoughts have been directed this way because we are docked in the old basin in Honfleur, a day before the 6th of June, D-day. Even though it was 71 years ago, there are more American flags flying here then I have ever seen in all my travels in Europe over the past 40 years. I think because along the Normandy coast, these people, or their parents, great grandparents, actually witnessed Americans dying to liberate them.
It’s more personal, not an afterthought like in the rest of Europe where they take such things for granted.
OK so let’s talk about the last few days before my editor cuts me off.
But indulge me and let be start at the end.
All’s Well that Ends Well.
I‘m wearing my blue pinstripe suit for the first time since leaving New York. It feels good to be dressed. Oh, I’m wearing it with a sweater and tee shirt, so it is casual, but still, I feel good. Being alone, I have fewer occasions to dress well. I like dressing for Julie, as she does for me. And just like clothes, she would appreciate this restaurant as much as I do.
I have just had one of the best dinners I have had in a long time, certainly since Spain and Italy, at La Gambetta in Honfleur, France. As I sat there, watching the meticulous setting of the tables, the level of service, savored the marvelously prepared dishes, I thought of my father.
My father first came to France sometime in the mid-1960’s. I think. At least that’s when I was first aware of it. My parents were from the generation that kids didn’t have a need to know everything. But mom always talked about how much father loved France, clearly the food, and the wine, as he did bring home a case of wine from the Chateau du Bost, and women.??
Maybe it is as simple as the sense of well being and caring one gets form being in a restaurant that only has a single seating all evening. The focus is on the diners at hand, not what the future may hold. This is the norm in most of europe and everywhere in France, Spain and Italy. I understand more Dutch then French, yet the French always treat me well.
30 hours earlier, we had just finished docking. Adjusting the lines took another hour. Being on too short a finger pier is always challenging, as is the fact that our beam of 16’ is really wide for Europe. We may be the fattest boat in the harbor. But we had come through one lock, one bridge and a night on anchor unscathed, so I was ready to celebrate.
It wasn’t till we were firmly docked, as I took my celebratory shower, I luxuriated in the sense of another job well done. The first phase of the summer cruise was over. Dauntless and I were on the continent. We had dealt with the boat yard, we had dealt with the bottom paint, we had started the installation of the Wallas heater, and the bus heater. The lazerette was clean and organized. The Electroscan had been replaced by the Purasan and the Maretron system was not only giving me the correct data, it was even talking to Coastal Explorer. I had gotten the water maker up and running with the new auxiliary pump and new switch system. Life was good.
Larry and Karla were enounced in their cozy hotel room in Honfleur. They deserved it, as I had worked those two like a rented mule these last three weeks. Dauntless was never cleaner, nor brighter than the day we bought her. It was wonderful to have old friends, Larry I met on T-3 in 1973, and I was grateful to have another 4 hands to help with all the jobs to be done. All our visitors for the rest of the summer will benefit.
Yesterday, I had also finally gotten the tides and currents right. We hauled anchor at 05:00, currents were changing at 06:00 and we needed that full 6 hours of favorable current to get to Honfleur (just south of Le Harve) at a reasonable time.
We made such good time, 7 to 9 knots, that an hour out of the mouth of the Seine, I could reduce the rpms to 1200 and still made 6 knots to arrive at the lock for Honfleur with time to spare.
We had had 7 to 10 knots winds on our nose all day, but less than 10 knots, even with a current that is against the wind, meant the waves were only 1 to 2 feet. Best seas we have had for the previous three weeks. Our 10 hour trip took 8.
And quite different than the debacle of the day before, where we did 48 miles in the first 6 hours, then took 3 hours to go the final 6 miles, and then it got worse.