In a French Hospital

I even got to ride in an ambulance!

The Emergency Room entrance in the hospital in Concarneau
The Emergency Room entrance in the hospital in Concarneau. I got a kick out of the hours of operation.

But I get ahead of the story.

I had an abscess on my cheek.  It didn’t seem that large, at least when it started.

I kept on thinking it would cure itself, well, at least it has some other times.

But this one kept on getting larger and larger.  Sadly, it got to the size of a lemon, a large lemon.

View from the Ambulance
View from the Ambulance

At that point, I did what anyone would do, I took a selfie and emailed my dermatologist, a wonderful doctor at Mount Sinai. When I trust; I trust.

He responded promptly and told me to go get it lanced and get antibiotics.  Good idea.

My room for my procedure
My room for my procedure

Now, the only downside of a cruising life is that one loses track of the days of the week.  It turned out it was Saturday.  So no doctors are working, I would have to go to the emergency room of the local hospital.

My labels
My labels

The marina office gave me the directions: a 10-minute walk, a two-minute little ferry ride and another 10-minute walk.  No bad.

I arrived just after 09:00, good because they did not open until 9:00 a.m.  Umm, French know when not to get sick.

The hospital on Monday
The hospital on Monday

There was only one other patient waiting and the nurse on duty spoke to me in very good English within a minute of my arrival.  I pointed to the lemon on my cheek.  They had a basic form to fill out, name, address and phone number.  That’s it.  There was a little section on my normal doctor, but I was told to leave that blank.  I was taken into an examination room.  There, a doctor’s assistant took a look, felt it, asked me some questions as to how long and any pain and called someone.

Only a few minutes later, I was back with the first nurse and she told me that they had made an appointment for me at 2:00 p.m. at the “big” hospital in Quimper, about 30 miles away.  It was Saturday and thus this local hospital in Concarneau had no surgeon.

Quimper
Quimper

I was given a sheet of labels with my name and number.  I just had to give each person I saw a label.  I thought I was also told that the accountant was not work on the weekend, so I needed to return Monday to see her about payment.  That was fine with me.

So, as I thought about this development, I figured that my not dealing with this problem during the week had cost me maybe a hundred Euro taxi ride.

My coffee in Quimper
My Cafe Noisette in Quimper

But, it was not to be.  My wonderful nurse, then told me that, while they had no responsibility to get me to the big hospital, their ambulance was heading that way in a few minutes, with a litter patient in the back, so I could ride “shotgun”.

I was so happy. My first ride in an ambulance.  Though no siren, I suppose you can’t have everything!

The ambulance driver, a wiry woman, was very good, though she spoke little English.  But like everyone I met, she really wanted to take care of me.  Was the window open OK? I could open or close it as I liked.

Then since I got to the big hospital so soon, I read my book and was quite happy knowing this thing I had been living with for almost a month and feeling like a freak for the last two weeks would soon be taken care of.

So, just after 2:00 p.m., the doctor shows up who is going to do my “surgery”.  I could tell he was the doctor because he just looked it.  Small, compact man, certainly handsome, wearing jeans and a long sleeved shirt.  Like everyone I’d met, he just came across as both caring and so professional.

I could not NOT trust these people and this system.  From the first moment earlier that morning, I had no doubt that I would be taken care of well and promptly.

So after an examination, he put a patch on my cheek that was an anesthetic and told me it needed 20 minutes.  So then about 25 minutes later, I was taken to a room that seemed to serve as both an examination room and an office.  A really cute moment was when his assistant reminded the doctor he should ask me my “level of pain” (Yes, the same 1 to 10 scale, but without the smiley faces). He asked and I said one, no real pain.

They laid me down, put a bib over my neck and chest and his assistant appeared with a little tray of instruments and they got to work.

It felt like it took an hour to drain the thing, but it was more like a few minutes.  I felt no pain, but I do have an active imagination so I become tense when I think I should feel pain.  Again, his assistant noticed that and put her hand on my leg which did help to calm my nerves.

Maybe twenty minutes later I was walking out with a few prescriptions.  I asked for a taxi to take me to the train station where I figured I could get a bus back to Concarneau.  While waiting for the taxi, I started walking and by the time the taxi came I was walking down the road, having figured out town was just a 15-minute walk.

The 40-minute bus ride cost only 2 Euros ($2.20) and that was my only cost so far.

The first few bandage changes and having to continue to drain the thing were pretty disgusting, but sometimes a man has to do what a man has to do (but I try to avoid that).

Today, almost a week later, I’m almost back to new. Well, maybe not new, but back to normal.

And tomorrow we leave for Spain.

My time in France has been pretty much as expected: wonderful wine, beautiful women and food, what can I say about the food, the French could cook a tree and it would be tasty.

But most of all, wonderful, helpful people in virtually every person I’ve encountered.  IF I ever have to go to the hospital again, I may just return here.

Oh, by the way, on Monday morning, planning on leaving for our current stop in La Rochelle, I walked back to the hospital in Concarneau to see the accountant lady.

Upon entering the emergency room again, the nurse (yes, I actually do think they are real nurses) remembered me from two days earlier and when I told her I had come back to pay, she told me there must be some misunderstanding.  I didn’t have to pay anything.  On that, I thanked her and walked back to Dauntless to cast off.

My one disappointment in the whole affair, I still have my chipmunk cheeks!

 

 

Dauntless Comes Alive

It’s hard to describe how a boat comes alive.

Sunset over the English Channel
Sunrise over the English Channel

31 hours into our passage to France, our second night out. it’s now 01:00 on the 15th of July 2016.  I’ve just relieved the “boys”, who had their first watch without me for the last 4 hours.  I had planned on sleeping another two hours, but I awoke and knowing the English Channel transit lanes were only an hour away, I figured I may as well get up.

Sunrise over the English Channel
Sunrise over the English Channel

Besides, nothing untoward had yet happened, and like the experienced manager taking the young prospect out of the game on a positive note, not letting mistakes happen as they fatigue.

Last night I had been alone, the boys sick as dogs. No, probably sicker.

Dauntless in Camarat
Dauntless in Camaret, France. Our first stop on the continent for 2016

I like the night, slicing through the water, the white mustache at the bow. There is a coziness the envelops the boat making us even more with nature.

We ran yesterday for 24 hours with the paravanes deployed.  We needed them.  The weather has been exactly as forecast, with strong NW winds 18 to 25 gusts to 32 for the first 12 hours after leaving Ireland.  That caused for some rough seas, 6 to 12 feet.

The next 12 hours were a bit better, with winds decreasing to 15 to 18, gusting to 25 and they were more northwesterly. Then finally, yesterday evening they had died to 5 to 9 knots, so the seas quieted to just a few feet.

Now, as forecast the winds are westerly at about 8 knots. Not bad, not bad at all.

Paravanes worked well.  I had changed the rigging a bit more since Scotland last month.  They now run 17 feet below the water line and they are considerably more effective than last year.

The hardest part has been saying goodbye to so many dear friends and nice people in Waterford and New Ross.  I think I’ll be back though, at least after we put a few miles on as we circle the globe.  But I’m sure after a number of years and many miles, I’ll be ready for northern Europe yet again.

Maretron Data for the Trip
Maretron Data for the Trip The first 24 hours were rough

Just south of Waterford, we passed an old friend, Fastnet Sound.  They dredge the channel just south of the Barrow Bridge, which has a tendency to silt up in the spot where the rivers Suir and Barrow meet.  They then dock for the night across the river in Waterford.

They took a picture with showed up on Marine Traffic showing us leaving, with me on the foredeck taking picture of them.  You can see that picture at Dauntless taken by Fastnet Sound leaving Waterford on the River Suir.

Well, it’s now Sunday, 48 hours after our arrival in Camaret France.

It’s taken me this long to recover. I must be getting old.  I slept Friday night for 12 hours, having only slept for about three the two days previously.

Dauntless as ever performed flawlessly and this time, this passage, so did the captain.  No incidents, accidents, or other shenanigans, yours truly has been known for.

Coming up France.  French boaters may be a mess, but the food is divine!

Here are two videos of the crossing.  Sorry nothing spectacular.

 

 

 

My Father’s Son

I am my father’s son.

Dauntless in the Vieux Basin Honfleur, France
Dauntless in the Vieux Basin Honfleur, France

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.

A Perfectly Set table
A Perfectly Set table

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.

Dauntless In Honfleur
Dauntless In Honfleur

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.

 

A Two Hour Cruise Took Five

The Sill at Port St. Peter, Guernsey
The Sill at Port St. Peter, Guernsey, from the Inside

And it was a wild ride!

On the Outside Looking In. We wait for the water to rise above the sill.
On the Outside Looking In. We wait for the water to rise above the sill.

Day 08 St. Helier, Jersey to Port St. Peter, Guernsey

Originally, I had planned the route in a most course fashion, just looking at the distance between the islands of Jersey and Guernsey and seeing the number “10” in my mind.  10 nm no problem; two hours.

So we set out, bright and relatively early.  Only minutes into the cruise, the first bugaboo rears its ugly head. Anyone see the issue yet?  Maybe you just read the previous blog?  Here let me remind you, my own words from the previous blog:

Just before landfall, the winds turned westerly and north westerly at 25 knots.  That combined with the much longer fetch, we immediately saw waves a few feet higher. All of sudden we were getting 6 foot waves on the port stern quarter.  That angle of incidence does make the roll more than usual, and we had one roll of 15°.  But not much more than a curiosity, as the port was in sight.

The Maretron Data for the First Hour of our Trip.
The Maretron Data for the First Hour of our Trip.

Ah yes, now, as we left port, the winds and seas were unchanged.  But we were now going the opposite direction.  For the first hour, the current was with us, but the winds were against, so we those nasty, steep, short period waves.  The surfing safari we had the day before, now became the ride on the wild mouse.  I cannot begin to tell you the number of times I actually left my feet. As I stood behind the wheel, trying to get the right combination of speed and course to reduce the pitching.  A wave actually hit the anchor, we were going 1000 rpms, but I reduced it to idle after that.  The Maretron data (ignore the speed thru water, as I have not been able to calibrate it) shows in that first hour the boat pitching.  It’s hard to see in these pictures, but it clearly shows a series of three waves where the rhythm was such that the normal pitch up, had been 2° suddenly increases to 5° and then culminates in a 8° pitch up.  Let me tell you, at 8 degrees, I’m thinking not of boat, but of an airplane, and that we should rotate now, and gear up.

I slow down even more, just above idle. After an hour, we go to the western most point of Jersey and could change course to NNW.  Now the seas were 6 to 10 feet, but they were on the beam and the paravanes take care of business pretty well.  As you watch the video, it may seem like a lot of rolling, 4 to 6 ° in each direction, an occasional 8° roll, BUT compared to pre-paravane days, that’s nothing, as in in the past, I simply would not have been able to take this course or I’d have had to alter course by 60°.

The extent of the pitch was new however.  I had only had pitching like that once before, in Long Island Sound.  In those days, seemingly eons ago (OK only 18 months), I had tried to temper the ride by reducing speed, but I never quite reduced it enough.   On that occasion I had the rpm’s down to 1400, the waves were 8 to 12 feet and Dauntless would go down the face of one wave, and as we pitched upward the top of the next wave would get sheared off in the wind and go flying over the fly bridge, not even hitting the pilot house!

Earlier that morning, I had come through the Cape Cod Canal, having spent the night anchored off of Plymouth, Mass.  I must have been about a half hour behind the only other boat I saw on the water that day, another Krogen.  But as we turned west into Rhode Island Sound (an extension of Long Island Sound) I lost track of him. I finally pulled into the bay to go up the Narragansett River and “Coral Bay” was already anchored there.  I recognized the boat, because we had also been in the same anchorage in Maine and Steve had come by to talk.  We talked again after this ordeal, but neither one of us had the strength to get the dingy down to visit. Poor Dauntless, another day in where she was ridden hard and put away wet.

So all these memories are flooding back as we slog off the coast of Jersey.  Therefore I knew now to reduce the rpms to idle if necessary.  An hour and half after we had left the dock, we finally turn NNW for Guernsey, I realized that from here it was 10 miles, but not even to the Port of St. Peter our destination, but to some point south of the island.

Thus, my anticipated two hours trip became 5 hours.

The French sailboat Anfre, with Christian and Matin, stopped by Dauntless.  They had left after us and had taken four hours.  We had a great visit though and they have helped me plan the next two days to Honfleur to better plan on the currents.  Also using Coastal Explorer, I have finally figured out how to better use the current tables.

Tomorrow, we have an 8 knot current to deal with off the Cape of La Hague, check out the current gauge, Argoss-WE 500-1355.  Clearly, our departure time is predicated on that, but remember the sill.  Our harbor must also be open to get out.

I’m playing with the big boys now; I better get to sleep early!

 

 FYI The Delorme InReach turned itself off yesrterday.  The AIS information is up to date if I am in a port. Also, having trouble uploading pictures for this post.

Dauntless Summer Cruise 2015 Day 03 Scilly to France

We got up early to take advantage of the calm winds and little boat traffic.  Dauntless rolled a bit last night on the mooring ball, so I put the paravanes out.  They decreased the roll a bit, certainly dampened it, like shock absorbers on a car, but these particular fish (or birds) are made to be moving through the water for maximum effectiveness.

Cirrus South of Scilly
Cirrus South of Scilly

As we got south of the Scillies, I realized that while it was 90 nm to Plymouth, France was but 120 nm.   With fair skies and still under the influence of the Azores high, it made sense to me to press on across the channel to the continent.  I discussed our options with Karla and Larry and they concurred.  A direct route to France also meant we could avoid the Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS) off the English Channel and the area north of Brest.

So instead of turning due east for Plymouth, we set off ESE towards the north coast of France.  The port of Trebeurden is our goal, with anticipated steaming time of 22 hours.

After a few hours of beautiful weather and looking at our expected arrival time, I decided to lower the engine rpms to 1500.  Not only will that save us about a half-gallon of fuel per hour, but our ETA would have been 04:00 at the faster speed, and is now, about 05:30.  A better arrival time, as it will be light.

It’s 18:00 now and as the day progressed diurnal heating produced some stratocumulus clouds and winds from the WNW at 15 gusting to 23.  So the almost flat seas we had in the morning, gave way to wind driven waves of 3 to 5 feet hitting Dauntless on her stern starboard quarter.  We have gradually increased our rolling from plus or minus 1 to 2 degrees to +/- 4 to 6°

Still, that’s half of what it was  for the last few hours of our cruise into St. Mary’s Harbor in Scilly.

For dinner, I made a tasty dinner of hamburger and crudité.   The hamburger ground by my butcher in Waterford.  It’s hard to imagine that I spent 8 months on and off in Waterford and now won’t be back for four months.  But I did meet an Irish sailboat in St. Mary’s.  We had gotten into a discussion about the “legs” on their boat which was beached on hard sand, held vertical on its keel by said legs.  That gave me some ideas of how I could make that work on Dauntless.  Probably just 4”x4”s with a notch for the rub rail, then bolted through the hawse pipe.  A project for next winter.  They were taking her to the west coast of Ireland and will winter over in Dingle, so I promised to come visit next winter.

Unlike yesterday, time today has seemed to fly by.  And yes, I kept the patch on.

For the past two hours I have been watching the parade of ships heading for the TSS north of Brest.  I have also managed to figure out the Raymarine radar a little better and finally noticed after two years that the gain also had an adjustment for wave state.  I could keep the gain much higher, if I also adjusted the wave state.  A win win.  And to think, some say I’m a slow learner! (win-win turned out to be tie-tie, as I adjusted it not to see waves, turns out it also didn’t see fishing boats).

The Dauntless Helm with Radar, Chart & AIS Information
The Dauntless Helm with Radar, Chart & AIS Information

A beautifully flat day, azure sky and sea, with just some mare tails cirrus. As the afternoon and evening progressed, the winds started picking up slowly, but surely.  By evening, increased westerly winds had produced 3 to 5’ waves and the roll was 6° to each side.  As one of the lessons learned from the Atlantic Crossing, I now run off the tank on the windward side of the boat.  The lee side seems to remain heeled for slightly longer times, so I don’t want the engine sucking water through the vents.  Yes, I had not gotten around to moving the vents yet.  I did think about it a lot though!

Under these conditions, it’s not an issue, and possibly only an issue under heavy seas with only paravane in the water.

I had also adjusted the ComNav Autopilot to be less sensitive, so that it made fewer corrections constantly.  I will have to call them someday and discuss if my interpretation by reading between the lines of their user manual is correct.  Basically, under open ocean conditions, meaning no need to keep a rigid heading constantly, I set the sea state to very high (rough seas), so that it doesn’t try to adjust heading every second.  Under these conditions, I will hear it operate every few (3 to 6) seconds.

Our Planned Apprach to Trebeurden
Our Planned Apprach to Trebeurden

On the other hand, under truly rough, 12+ seas, I set it to totally flat conditions, so that as soon as it senses the stern coming around it acts.  Then the adjustments are almost constant, but it does a great job of steering the boat through the worst conditions.  I have tried to hand steer under such conditions and frankly the ComNav does a better job.  In the 20+ foot seas on the last day into Ireland, as I cowered on the bench in the pilot house, the ComNav reacted so well, I never saw any green water over the rails.  Maybe I should ask them about a sponsorship!

During the early evening hours we had a little excitement as we were crossing the main eastbound traffic lanes.  While not in a TSS, the ships having come around Brest in the TSS 30 miles to our west, will reenter the TSS about 30 miles to our east.  Therefore they pretty much stay in the same track.  Makes it easier for us, as one can figure out where the main traffic lane is and the direction ships will be heading.

We only encountered a few west bound ships, but an hour north of the east bound lanes, our AIS and Coastal Explorer showed the parade of ships heading east.  They were cruising at 14 to 18 knots, while we were doing 6.5 knots.  That gave me plenty of time to plan our crossing.  There was only one ship that was a factor.  It was a big Chinese ship that the AIS said it was doing dredging operations (something must have gotten lost in translation), but to me looked to be one of those floating dry docks. Massive bridge at the bow and a massive stern and almost nothing in between.

What it really Looked like
What it really Looked like

I adjusted our course to be perpendicular to his course and I could see that he adjusted his course a few degrees to starboard also.  The picture is what CE depicted. The closest anyone got was about a mile, though later on we passed a fishing boat about a quarter mile away, but I had been watching him for more than an hour so…

By midnight winds were westerly at 15 gusting to 22, seas 4 to 6 feet and roll 7°. This kept up until we reached the harbor.

Dawn was breaking as we approached.  We had to stop to get the paravanes in, while it only took a few minutes, it was disconcerting to be stopped just hundreds of feet from the large rocky outcrop.  So I was much relieved to get underway again even though Dauntless hardly drifted at all.

Previously, I had carefully plotted a course into the basin based on our pilot charts, and my C-Map and Navionics charts.

The Basin Entrance with Underwater Sill
The Basin Entrance with Underwater Sill

But the reality ended up being a bit different. Our planned path was full of moored boats. So on to Plan B, I kept our speed just above idle, about  4 knots, to minimize the damage if we hit anything.  I picked up the three green lights our pilot charts told us meant the gate was open.  But our pilot chart had also told us the gate was always open during neap tides and as I remembered seeing the waxing (light on the right) quarter moon last night, I knew it was a neap tide.

The Gate We Passed Through. D is just past the gate on the left.
The Gate We Passed Through. D is just past the gate on the left.

Creeping slowly forward, the sign board seemed to indicate 2.5 meters, but always leery that I am missing the obvious, I was still worried about the mysterious sill.  We passed over the sill into the marina basin and didn’t scrape anything, but it was an anxious moment.

A big assed catamaran was on the one available “T”.  I went past him to see if we had any options, we didn’t.  I turned around and headed for a slip just inside the gate.  The slip is short, only 20 feet, so our rear half is hanging out.

The wind was behind us, so that was a bit of a mistake, it made the docking more stressful then it needed to be, but finally, 23 hours after engine start at St. Mary’s, we were finished with engine and had landed on the “continent” for the first time by boat.

Dauntless at Dock
Dauntless at Dock
The Trebeurden Harbor from Above
The Trebeurden Harbor from Above. Dauntless is docked in the basin to the left, out of the Frame.

All’s Well that Ends Well

Closeup of Our Crossing
Closeup of Our Crossing. Those are 30 minute Heading Vectors.

 

Maretron Data for the Previous 24 hours.  The Telltale says the Highest wind was  24 Knots, but I reset that frequently.
Maretron Data for the Previous 24 hours. The Telltale says the Highest wind was 24 Knots, but I reset that frequently.

 

 

 

Dauntless’ Spring & Summer 2015 Cruise Plans

Currently Dauntless is wintering over in Waterford, Ireland, a wonderful town in the southeast of the country, full of really nice, interesting, outgoing people.  Ireland has so exceeded my expectations, it will be hard not to return next winter, but we have six months of exploring and cruising before that decision must be made.

Dauntless in Waterford November 2014
Dauntless in Waterford November 2014

As of now, I am subject to the 90 days out of 180 days Schengen Visa requirements.  Worst case, this means I can only be in the Schengen area for 90 days and I would then plan those 90 days to be 1 June to 1 Sept.   There is a possibility that the Schengen area countries will offer a 180 day Visa in the near future.  That clearly would solve my issues and I could stay in the Schengen area for April, May and September.

Ireland, Scotland, the U.K. and the Channel Islands are all out of the Schengen area.

So worst case, only 90 days,is once I leave Ireland in the spring, stopping in France and Belgium only for a week or so, before retreating to the Channel Islands.  Then by the end of May, start heading east, first into Holland, then Germany ending up in Gdansk by mid-July, starting our Baltic explorations as described below.

Spring and Summer 2015 Cruise Plan

When Where What
March Waterford, Ireland Prepare Dauntless for the cruising season
Early April Depart for France/Belgium Channel Islands, enter French Canals, Dunkerque-Escaut, in NE France or go to Belgium direct
April, May France/Belgium or Channel Islands Explore NE France & Belgium Canals, subject to our Air Draft of 4.5m
June Head NE, Belgium, Holland and Germany Find the most interesting route to the Kiel Canal, the Baltic adventure begins
End of July Germany and Poland Eastern Germany and Poland, Gdansk last two weeks of July
August Baltic Republics Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Finland. Russia?
September The Baltic or the North Sea Finland, Sweden, Baltic Republics, Russia???
October Winter Haven? Returning to Ireland ,Scotland or the Orkney’s

 

Could This Be Heaven?

Sunday Morning Sunrise Savannah Georgia
Sunday Morning Sunrise Savannah Georgia

But once you start to think it is; it won’t be.  It’s also the title of one of my most favorite songs, “Could This Be Heaven?” by Original Mirrors.  Released in 1980, I heard it for the first time in 1982 while in Germany. I taped it from SWF3, Südwestfunk drei, still one of the best rock stations of all time.  They played a wonderful mix of American, English and European songs in the style of the original album FM stations of NYC in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s.

But I digress, being in the car, listening to certain songs, is almost like having a time machine. I am transported instantly to the time and place where that particular song had an impact.  In this case, it’s 1983, I’m driving between my home near Pirmasens to Baden Baden and I am taking these very small roads through the Alsace of France (which is really German, just look at the town names).  I loved this route, little traffic, little hassle at the border and some great roads, through beautiful forests and medieval towns.  But the best part was the driving, flat out for the most part, especially once I got off of B10.

In France, there was a particular spot that I knew well, as it was quite technical.  The road had a little rise, that caused the car to almost get airborne, but it also curved right in the middle.  So one had to set up the car knowing where you were going to come down.  And while the car did not get airborne, it was so light on the suspension that it was only going to go where you pointed it when it took off.

Every time I hear, Could This Be Heaven?” I am brought to that place, and the joy I felt when I took ti perfectly.  I had Canadian friends at the Canadian Air Base at Baden Baden, so for a while I was taking this trip monthly.  It was heaven.

But then, so why did I leave?

Three years earlier, I was listening to another song, not as dramatic, nor as catchy, but for me, somehow it epitomized my year.  I had fallen hard for a married woman, but she was a good catholic and wasn’t going to change anything, even though she wasn’t very happy.  I remember walking on the flight line at Ramstein to say goodbye and the tune on SWF3 was “American Music” by Prism.

“American music you can hear it all over the world. Right now somewhere this minute there’s a radio playin on And it’s playing that rhythm and blues…”

I was the one leaving, having to return to the U.S. It took me quite a while to get over her, and this pretty upbeat song, always brought a sadness and even now, 34 years later, I still get wistful.

This brings me back to the point of this story.  As Brad pointed out in his comment, in Quantum Mechanics, you can know a time or a place, but not both.  Once you decide you are deliriously happy, Fate will intervene.  I’ve had too many deliriously happy months that took years to recover from.  The pain was so out of proportion to the actual loss.  Shirley, the woman mentioned above was a friend, a genuine nice person and so very faithful,much to my chagrin.  The sense of loss I experienced was so out of proportion to the actual loss.

So now on Dauntless, I am living the life that I have planned.  I’m content knowing that I am not deliriously happy.

Now, if only I had a cat.