Rum Sodomy and the Lash

sailing around the world on our yacht, Ruby Rose

Month: July 2014

Ups, Downs and Dolphins

We arrived in Ile d’Yeu mid afternoon on Sunday and, in the warm, calm conditions, moored up to our allocated pontoon with textbook perfect technique. I even managed that trick where you lasso a cleat with a line without having to leap off the boat. Brilliant! If I can manage that and keep hold of my cup of tea at the same time, we’re laughing. Once we were all tied up, paid up and had washed up, we went for a wander into town. We walked around the narrow side streets full of white houses and shops but empty of actual people, figuring we had to come across the main drag at some point. Never happened. So, defeated, we found a bar along the harbour front, had a couple of drinks before moving a whole 10 metres to the restaurant next door (to be fair, we weren’t exactly overwhelmed with options) and ordered some moules frites and yet more wine. It may have been the alcohol, it may have been because we’d been out sailing all day and were knackered, it may have been because the food was genuinely amazing, but we devoured those mussels like it was our last meal on earth, pausing only for the occasional appreciative grunt, before staggering home.

The Islands rocky coast

Ile d’Yeu’s rocky coast

The next day was a Monday (for those who need these things pointed out to you) and we were delighted to discover that the town was far more lively on a weekday than it had been the evening before. The small streets were crammed with people, most of whom were either on a bike, wheeling a bike, or, probably, on their way to one of the many bicycle hire shops. We joined in the fun, happy for an excuse to bring out our Bromptons which we purchased only last month. Kaitlyn and Matt preferred a walk, so while they took in the beaches to the east of town, Nick and I pedalled west towards the tip of the island, before following the coast around to the south to check out a crumbling old castle perched on the rocky shores. We had to go off road in order to reach the castle, but out guide book assured us it was well worth it. I’ve seen more impressive castles in my time, but the surrounding scenery was lovely, and it was good exercise at least. Once we’d taken a few snaps and got our breath back, we then cut through the centre of the island to arrive back in town via the more residential areas. We were also thrilled to find a small supermarket, not least because it had been at least a few hours since Nick had had his last peanut puff fix (a local delicacy, usually found in the crisps aisle), and he was starting to get the shakes. We had limited space in our bike basket so had to make some tough decisions: wine or salad, beer or vegetables, crisps or something for dinner? The basil plant definitely did not fit, but Nick wasn’t about to sacrifice that- he perched it on top of the mound of booze and confectionary and we rode back to the marina with the basil plant leading the way.

Wind-swept but happy!

Wind-swept but happy!

We were quite surprised at how taken we were with Ile d’Yeu. The evening of our arrival left us underwhelmed, but having the opportunity to explore the coast and smaller villages of the island allowed us to appreciate the natural beauty of the place and the charming architecture which reminded us of Ile de Ré. The island is flat and mostly sandy, unlike Belle Ile which looks more like something out of Jurassic Park, and we were struck by the geological and architectural differences between two islands that are only 50 miles apart. It felt like a completely different part of the world.

Coastal view of Ile d'Yeu

Coastal view of Ile d’Yeu

We left on Tuesday morning, which was a day where things started well- sunny, pain au chocolats… I don’t require much else for a good beginning to a day- but it gradually went down hill. We left the marina first thing and enjoyed some downwind sailing with our favourite toy, the parasailor (see photo). A pod of dolphins also came to join in the fun which was just awesome. We’ve had dolphins swim alongside us before, but I don’t think it will ever fail to amaze me. They leaped around our bow and alongside the boat, weaving in and out, up and down, rolling and turning to show us their pale bellies. I don’t know what gratification they receive by swimming alongside us, except perhaps the pure joy of showing off their aquatic prowess- although another couple of swimming lessons, and I reckon Kaitlyn could give them a run for their money.

The Parasailor, perfect for sailing downwind.

The Parasailor, perfect for sailing downwind.

 

Dolphins!

Dolphins!

More dolphins!

More dolphins!

Anyway, that was obviously exciting and invigorating, but then the sun disappeared behind a cloud, the wind picked up steadily throughout the afternoon and the rolling waves just got bigger and bigger. At least we were sailing with the wind and waves, not against them as we were in the Channel. It turned cold and uncomfortable, and I went down below to warm up and rest late in the afternoon. That’s when things turned interesting.

 

Nick poked his head down the gangway and told me to put some shoes and a jacket on, I had to take the helm. There was a large, grey, scary-looking customs ship not far from us who had just done a lap around us (Nick waved politely, hoping they’d just go away), before obviously deciding that we looked sufficiently suspicious to justify an onboard search. They launched their rib which sped towards us with four tough-looking customs officials with radios, guns, and other intimidating but unidentifiable objects attached to their crisp uniforms. I took the wheel, Nick sat down next to Matt and Kaitlyn, and suddenly we had three large men looming over us in the cockpit, Nick, Matt and Kaitlyn looking for all the world like they’d been dragged into the principal’s office. One of the uniformed men made a joke in French, and we all laughed hysterically, nervous as hell and not sure what to expect. He frowned then, perhaps picking up that three quarters of his audience didn’t have a clue what he just said, and asked if we spoke French. Nick was quick to answer, “Oui! Bonjour!” and was ushered downstairs while Matt, Kaitlyn and I remained in the cockpit with the most kindly-looking of the three, who attempted to make some small talk before we all descended into awkward, nervous silence. From my helming position I couldn’t see what was happening below, but it seemed to be taking a bloody long time. Nick told me later that they went through our passports with a fine toothed comb, asking dozens of questions and filling in paperwork before they finally relaxed and started chatting about rugby, music and boats. The moment I relaxed was when Nick moved back into view, camera in hand, and started taking photos of the custom officials holding their handcuffs up in a menacing manner. After that, obviously satisfied that we weren’t smuggling refugees across their border, or drug dealers, or undesirable in any other way, they jumped back in their rib, waved goodbye, and sped back to whence they came.

 

We were only just outside La Rochelle marina by this time and the wind had continued to increase. We were directed to a berth which would have been no major challenge ordinarily, but we just, well, fucked up basically. The wind was pushing our boat away from the pontoon and because it was being such a pain to manoeuvre, Nick was using the bow thruster a lot, which eventually decided it just needed a little rest; a fuse blew and it simply stopped working. This is a big deal- we find close quarters manoeuvring difficult at the best of times because of the size and shape of our boat. To lose control of the bow in such high winds was nothing short of disastrous. To make things so much worse, I threw the wrong line to the marina official who was helping us moor up. I won’t go into details, mainly because it laborious and boring to most people, but it meant that instead of securely attaching the middle of the boat to the pontoon, we were pushed sideways and into the sharp edge of the finger pontoon opposite, gouging out a significant amount of gelcoat and fibreglass. Nick and I looked at each other in horror, and not an insignificant amount of guilt on my part. Eventually, thanks to the owners of the crafts nearby who rushed to our rescue, we were able to berth the boat, but everyone was feeling pretty shit about the whole thing. Now Nick has several day’s work ahead of him to repair the gash. Feeling deflated and utterly exhausted, we couldn’t even bring ourselves to go to the bar for a drink. Instead, we cooked some pasta, emptied out the snack cupboard (yes, we have such a thing) and watched The Hobbit.

Island Hopping

After 3 nights in Belle Ile we sailed south this morning, leaving bright and early at 6am. This is not by choice, but we’re dictated by the weather and if we left our departure until Monday, which was our original plan, we would have missed a window of fair weather with which to sail the 50 miles south to Ile d’Yeu. If we waited until Tuesday, we would have put ourselves under too much pressure to get to La Rochelle by Thursday for Matt and Kaitlyn’s flight on Friday. See how much planning goes into even the simplest of decisions?!

 

We left Concarneau last Wednesday in the calmest possible weather. We put the sails up, turned the engine off and practically came to a screeching halt; there was absolutely no wind at all. There were, however, plenty of sailing yachts out enjoying the sunshine so evidently this didn’t put anyone off.

 

It was only a few hours sail to Ile de Griox, our overnight stop, and I spent that time sitting in the sunshine on the coachroof attempting to paint my nails: a clumsy procedure at the best of times, you can imagine the result on a moving boat. When I went to show off my turquoise toenails to Nick, he exclaimed, “Christ, what did you do, lob the nail polish at your feet from standing height?!” I have to admit, he had a point.

 

Our Ile de Groix anchorage

Our Ile de Groix anchorage

We arrived in Ile de Griox and slowly motored around the small rocky island looking for an anchorage. We were aiming for what looked to be a very pleasant bay with a sandy beach and some white washed french houses, but when we arrived it was heaving with our nemesis: lobster pots. Not good. So we carried on and found the boat party around the next corner; we could see the dozens of white masts gently swaying in the light breeze and as we rounded the corner the reason for the popularity of the anchorage became clear on account of the gorgeous beach nearby. As we approached, Nick, monocular pressed against his eye, annouced with a certain glee that it appeared to be a nudist beach judging from all the bare skin on display. Obviously this completed the picturesque view, and we all settled down for an afternoon and evening of yet more reading, beer drinking and sleeping. Occassionally somebody would mention that perhaps we ought to go for a swim, or row the dingy ashore and take in the delights of the island, but our laziness had reached truly epic proportions and we just couldn’t bring ourselves to summon the required energy.

 

The next day was an early start so we could get to Belle Ile for lunch. Nick and I had fond memories of this island from last year’s cruise, and we were keen to return. We stayed in a colourful village called Sauzon, which is spread along the banks of a small drying river. The further upstream you go, the more it dries out, so most boats are moored in the entrance where there is always water. However, we were keen to dry the boat out, mostly as an interesting exercise since we hadn’t done it before, and Nick wanted to get to the hull to give our rudders a good scrub. So we continued upstream, put out two anchors so we wouldn’t swing around when the tide turns, and settled in for three relaxing days.

Sauzon, our home for the past 3 nights.

Sauzon, our home for the past 3 nights.

 

Low water in Sauzon

Low water in Sauzon

We celebrated Nick’s birthday while we were in Sauzon with a meal out, and although it was excellent it was also hugely expensive, so most of our meals were eaten on board. We also managed to get a bit of exercise, to everyone’s surprise. The coastal walks are truly spectacular and there’s plenty of cycling paths, both of which we enjoyed exploring. We also spent a memorable afternoon in the clear, frigid water off the back of the boat teaching Kaitlyn how to swim, although I do believe she may have played down her abilities slightly. For years she’s claimed that she cannot swim, but she jumped into the water with confidence, didn’t sink, and managed to move in the direction she wanted with a reasonable amount of coordination. That’s swimming, as far as I’m concerned.

 

The dramatic coastal walking path

The dramatic coastal walking path

 

We’ve only been in France for 5 days and it’s not just the cheap wine and plentiful pastries that are keeping us happy. It’s also the French approach to sailing. One of the differences we’ve observed between the attitude towards sailing in France compared to that of the UK is that it’s not only extremely popular, it’s also a sport for everybody. The snobbery that we encounter regularly in the British sailing communities simply doesn’t exist here in France. Everybody who lives near the coast sails, and it truly is an activity for the whole family. It’s a common sight to see a dozen or so children being towed out to open water in their tiny sailing dingies, like a row of ducklings. The older children have their lessons on a sailing yacht; we spent hours in Concarneau watching them practice mooring up, taking turns at heming or managing the lines. They’d tie up, swtich places, cast off and come back around to do it all over again. The cruising community is also a pleasing mix of different people: you see as many families with young children sailing around as you do retirees, as well as everything in between. There’s such a wonderful, inclusive attitude towards sailing here, unlike in the UK where it’s considered to be something of an elitist sport, and it’s one of the many reasons we’re loving our time sailing in France.

 

 

Bonjour France!

After a 40 hour passage, we arrived in Concarneau as dawn was breaking on Tuesday morning. I was unceremoniously pulled from my warm, comfortable bed at 5:30am as we motored towards the marina and sleepily observed the approach of land from the cockpit, wrapped up against the early morning chill in my favourite blanket. We radioed the harbourmaster to request permission to enter but they were sensibly asleep, and so we invited ourselves in, found a berth on the visitor’s pontoon and moored up quickly and easily. The passage across the channel and around the coast of Brittany had been challenging at times, especially for our guests Matt and Kaitlyn who had been sailing only once before, so we stood around congratulating each other on a job well done before returning to our beds for some much needed sleep.

 

We met Matt and Kaitlyn on the same trip to India where Nick and I first met, and I think it’s fair to say that our own developing relationship paled in comparison to the bromance that quickly blossomed between the two boys. It was love at first sight. Or, perhaps more accurately, at first fart joke. So we knew that the four of us travelled well together (always a tough one when inviting friends to come and stay) and they took up our invitation for a 2 week sailing holiday with us without hesitation.

 

They travelled down from London on Saturday and we celebrated the beginning of our holiday the traditional way- in the pub. The boys hadn’t seen each other for a whole week, so there was a flurry of excitable giggling, nipple tweaking and the usual puerile humour. Eventually they wore themselves out and we were able to plan our passage across the channel to France.

Making our way across the River Dart by dingy

Making our way across the River Dart by dingy

View of Dartmouth from the river

View of Dartmouth from the river

We left the next evening, having decided that it may be easier to get the night passage out the way first. We still weren’t sure of where we might make landfall; this would depend on weather and how everyone was coping with the long passage. As we sailed out of Dartmouth and the English coast slowly receded behind us, the wind and swell picked up to a level that was a little uncomfortable. During the day, it’s easy enough to deal with a heeling and rolling boat, but when you’re trying to sleep it becomes extremely arduous. Nick and Matt took the first watch, but Nick didn’t end up going to bed until 5am because of the need to be extremely vigilant whilst transiting the busy shipping lanes. However, by then the wind had dropped, the sea state had calmed considerably and the boys were able to enjoy a few hours sleep.

 

The next day we motor sailed because of the light winds, but it was sunny and warm, and we were all feeling pretty mellow and relaxed. We took the decision early on in they day that we would continue south for a second night passage, arriving into Concarneau the next morning. I think it’s fair to say that nobody was particularly looking forward to a second night at sea, fearing a repeat of the lumpy conditions of the night before, but it turned out to be the most pleasant night crossing I’ve ever done: it was still and calm, and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky; the stars were absolutely phenomenal, the milky way clearly stretching over our heads in a massive arc. After living in London for the last 5 years, I’d almost forgotten what stars look like. We even saw some dolphins as the sun started to rise. And, to top it all off, everyone slept well while they were off watch. Perfect!

 

We spent 24 hours in Concarneau; the only reason we went there to begin with was because it is a port of entry, and as an Australian I need my passport stamped when I enter a new country. However, as with our experience last year, nobody seems to care. My passport wasn’t even checked. In fact, I snoozed through the whole experience while Nick dealt with the officials in the office.

The streets of the old town, Concarneau

The streets of the old town, Concarneau

Everyone was pretty shattered that day. We managed to rouse ourselves for a very french lunch of baguettes, charcuterie, cheese and fruit before yet another nap. But we rallied once again to go out for dinner; food is the ultimate motivator. We decided to explore the old town, which was actually a small fortified island in the middle of the marina, connected by a footbridge to the promenade. We were greeted with medieval streets full of shops, bars and restaurants, one of which tempted us inside with their talk of moules frites on the menu. And so we celebrated our successful passage to southern Brittany in true french style, with wine, mussels and the internal organs of some unknown animal which I enthusiastically chowed down thinking it was ham. Nick didn’t feel it necessary to enlighten me until we were licking our ice-cream cones on our way back to the boat afterwards. What a gentleman.

The big decisions: what to have for dinner?

The big decisions: what to have for dinner?

So now we’re en route to Ile de Groix, where we plan to anchor for the night before continuing onto what was our favourite destination last year, Belle Ile. The weather is gorgeously warm and we have a fridge full of cold beer, wine and french food: life is good!

Recovery Time

We’re in recovery mode.

 

It’s been a long and, at times, difficult week. We knew beating into the wind for a few days would be a slog, but I fear we rather underestimated how bloody tiring it was going to be. At the start of the week we had rather romantic notions of sailing Conyer to the West Country in one hit, but we just couldn’t bring ourselves to do it to be honest. Those of you who think sailing is nothing more than sipping cocktails in the sun are sorely mistaken! (Well, not yet. In a couple of weeks, perhaps.) This sailing thing ain’t easy sometimes, and as I looked up the trains from London to Dartmouth for our friends who are joining us tomorrow and saw that travelling by rail takes a mere 3 hours- as opposed to 3 days by boat- I simply sank my head into my hands. And then fell asleep, because we’ve been in a permanent state of exhaustion all week.

 

The Dart River, Dartmouth on one side, Kingswear on the other. Gorgeous.

The Dart River, Dartmouth on one side, Kingswear on the other. Gorgeous.

Last night we motored into the stunning Dart river in the gentle yellow sunlight of early evening, wearing only short sleeves and shorts, our wet weather gear back in its cupboard where it belongs, and we were met with the spectacular sight of Dartmouth’s pastel houses spilling down the hillside to meet the narrow river full of boats of all kinds- ferries, dingies, motoboats, sailing yachts, fishing boats. And we realised all that hard work was worth it. There’s a sense of achievement that, frankly, just isn’t the same as when you board a train and then spend a few hours alternating between staring blindly out the window and leafing through a trashy magazine. I mean, where’s the challenge in that?! I know the English Channel isn’t exactly the Southern Ocean, but we’re still young and naive. For us, it was challenge enough for now. I’m sure by the time we’ve returned here via the rest of the world, we’ll look back on this week fondly.

 

So, to bring everyone up to speed, for those who are hankering after the finer details of mine and Nick’s week so far (hello Mother!), the last time we touched base was in Dover. We woke to an overcast and windy day, Westerlies again, and agreed that our time was probably better spent exploring Dover castle and having a pub lunch. Nick left to find the shower block, but returned moments later to announce that the plan had changed: we were leaving. Our neighbour from the night before, a Dutchman called Yap (yep), had intercepted Nick and declared that he was heading to Eastbourne in a few hours with his wife and two teenage children. In the spirit of “what you can do, I can do better”, Nick immediately decided that we, too, were leaving today, sod the weather. A couple of hours later Nick and I stood in our wet weather gear, waving goodbye to Yap who, while maneuvering out of his berth, collided with our stern despite the efforts of 4 people fending off, leaving us with a scratch in our gelcoat as a souvenir of our Dover stopover. We took a certain smug satisfaction in that, and I wondered if I should ask for my bottle of wine back.

 

That day, Tuesday, was rubbish. The wind was right on the nose, the sea state was lumpy making the boat slam and I spent most of the day wiping sea spray off my face. We couldn’t even face the palaver of making a cup of tea or getting the crisps out of the cupboard in those conditions- things were getting serious. After a very long day of sitting in miserable silence, making far less progress that we were hoping, we decided to stay the night at Eastbourne marina. Nick made a truly stupendous sausage and bean casserole which we inhaled while staring blearily at the tidal charts, forcing our sluggish brains to make the necessary calculations to form a passage plan for the next day which would hopefully have us making progress above walking pace. Then we crashed.

 

Wednesday was an improvement. The sea state had calmed and the winds, still Westerly, were lighter. The sun was shining and we were happy. Nick even made a proper lunch: burgers! Nothing makes me happier than burgers. Later in the day, we got the sails up and belatedly realised that we’d failed to check our possessions were stowed properly that morning when the contents of the entire boat went crashing across the floor. We’re still a little rusty.

 

We possibly could have continued through the night because the sky was clear and we were making good progress, but the tide was starting to turn and we decided that, instead of punching tide and making only a few knots, we’d anchor in the Isle of Wight to get our head down for 6 hours and rise early the next day to sail the 105 remaining miles to our destination.

 

Thursday therefore started at 3am.  That’s early. Did anyone know that this time of year, dawn is actually  breaking at 3:30am? I didn’t. Sunrise was shaping up to be a real stunner, but once we were away from Southampton’s shipping lane and set on course, I stumbled right back to bed leaving Nick to enjoy it by himself.

 

We were in high spirits on Thursday, despite getting up at such a ridiculous hour. The winds had swung around and were now coming from the east- to anyone a little rusty on the basic geography of England’s southern coast, and/or hasn’t been paying attention to what I’ve been saying (can hardly blame you; I am going on a bit), this meant the wind was coming from directly behind us. However, now that we finally had a comfortable point of sail, the winds had dropped off completely, meaning we still had to run the engine all day. Never mind, the sun was not only shining, it was meltingly hot, and we were soon stripped down to the bare essentials. The crotch straps of the life jackets ensured underwear was, to Nick’s consternation, classified a bare essential in this instance, but still. I’ve been living in the UK long enough to appreciate that just being able to bare your arms and legs is a cause for celebration.

 

As mentioned, that evening we arrived in beautiful Dartmouth, was directed to a mooring, and we’d barely cleated our lines off before hailing the water taxi. He asked where we wanted to go. Our answer was immediate: “The pub!”

 

Ashore in Dartmouth

Ashore in Dartmouth

Today, Friday, we had grand plans of a lie in, but were rudely awakened by water slapping against our hulls thanks to the windy start (don’t worry, earplugs- two types!- have now been purchased). This morning was dutifully spent getting started on our long list of chores on the boat, mostly of the cleaning variety, before heading back to the town center to run some errands: bank, post office, pharmacy, chandlery, fishing tackle shop, groceries, lunch and, ahem, bakery. Twice.

 

So now we await our friends who will get the, as far as I’m concerned, absurdly timely train from London tomorrow and as soon as the forecasted thunderstorms pass we will be turning south towards the sunshine.

Heading West

It’s a warm and sunny Monday in Kent and Nick and I have finally set off for our 2 month voyage to France. Unbelievably, it’s been 6 weeks since the sale of the business finally completed and the time has absolutely flown by. Getting the flat ready to let and moving onto the boat took about 3 weeks and then we took the decision to delay our departure by a few weeks and, instead, flew to Rhodes, Greece to have a holiday. Hey, don’t look at me like that, packing a house (and a life) up is exhausting work! We’d already arranged to meet Nick’s family in Rhodes for some quality time before we dissappear into the southern French sunshine (hopefully) for a couple of months, so it didn’t take too much persuading to lengthen the vacation to a truly decadent 3 weeks.

 

We’d never spent so much time in Rhodes before. We usually go once per year for about a week during the school holidays to meet Nick’s parents and his neice and nephew, who always spend the summer out there. We’d made grand plans this time to take full advantage of all this free time on a beautiful Greek island and take day trips to neighbouring islands, explore the coast, do some of the touristy things we’d never been bothered to do before. We landed, cleaned up the house, settled in, and you know what we did then? Absolutely nothing. We quickly descended into a routine that could be described as relaxing at best, brain-numbingly lazy at worst. At first we had a variety of weak excuses at the ready any time an excursion was mentioned: oh, it’s a Sunday, nothing will be open. It’s Saturday, it will be too busy with all the Greeks enjoying their weekend at the beach. It’s too hot, we’ll make ourselves ill. Can’t today, we’ve got to go to the weekly market. In the end we just looked at each other, shook our heads and went back to our book and cup of tea.

 

When our neice and nephew arrived we were forced into action to a certain extent: when faced with the pleading of a 9 and 11 year old to go down the beach on a hot day, “Can’t be bothered” doesn’t really fly as an excuse. Nonetheless, most of our time was spent at the bar, our friend’s restaurant, or, frankly, asleep, and it was by far the most relaxing holiday we’ve ever had. And we needed it. And now we’re more than ready to finally get going.

 

Our day started off with only a few  hours sleep after our flight got into Gatwick at 2am last night. We got down to the boat and organised ourselves, preparing for a 3pm departure. The weather was sunny, winds were light but in the wrong direction, however we were prepared to motor-sail; just being on the water again was such a delight. We sat in the cockpit drinking tea and psyching ourselves up for our first ever shorthanded night sail. Unfortunately the weather soon deteriorated and the wind picked up to a rather unpleasant 25 knots on the nose, and the seas went from choppy to lumpy and Nick and I started to wonder exactly how much sleep we were likely to get tonight. We didn’t like the answer, so as we were playing chicken with the ferries around Dover, Nick made the sensible and very timely decision to make a sharp right and spend the night in the marina.

 

We haven’t done much sailing at all this year, and so I was a little nervous about how smooth our mooring was going to be in an unknown marina with such windy conditions. Nick helmed, as usual, while I ran around putting out fenders and lines. And this is where I was reminded of two very important things: a) always wear deck shoes. Toms are comfortable, but absolutely useless when leaping from a moving boat onto a narrow pontoon and I predictably ended up on my arse. b) fenders need to be attached to both sides of the boat, otherwise we end up scraping up against the boat next door. Its owner soon made himself known, and as I ran around tying up the boat, Nick found himself having to apologise profusely for our error (not that any damage was caused) to our disgruntled neighbour. However, we turned to booze, as we so often do when we’re wrong footed, and after unearthing a bottle of cheap French wine that miraculously survived last summer’s cruise and offering it as a gesture of apology, our neighbour was soon thanking us enthusiastically and wishing us a safe onward voyage. Further proof, if any was needed, that wine solves most of life’s problems.