Pantagruel, Micha and Jo
54º63.13’ N 009º93.06’ E, Arnis, Germany
Finally my time in India was up and any remaining scraps of paper covered in scribbled calculations were tossed in the bin. We arrived at the boatyard late one evening after a 500km drive. Panta loomed above us in the darkness, like a dinosaur, standing on the land with the masts down she looked bigger than normal, and I acknowledged that we would soon be sanding and coating her entire hull multiple times in layers of epoxy and paint.
During our first day reunited after 5 months apart, Micha spent 3 hours reciting to me the contents of dozens of to do lists he’d compiled (deck work, electrics, navigation equipment, safety equipment, inside work, engine work, wood work, painting etc). I fell asleep just thinking about it.
However as the days went by and we started crossing items off the list, it began to feel like we had a good grip on things. This, along with our morale, was greatly helped by the energy of many helpers who very kindly came to lend their hands, often turning up just when we needed them and to whom we are immensely grateful!
There were two Werners who came, one a welding specialist who welded parts of the rig and the other a boat builder who put our teak deck back together. Tina, Julia and Manu turned up just when we needed all hands on deck to paint the hull with layers of stubborn epoxy and then anti fouling, just in time to enable us to get everything below the waterline finished before going back into the water. Willy came to tackle the engine, Fabian the hydraulic systems, steering, water system, as well as back in December with Thomas to help get the boat out of the water. David helped a lot with everything, from woodwork to engine work and finally Nadja and Carla came to help sort out the chaos below deck an prepare the masts for going back on.
On the topic of thanks, we’d also like to mention the support of the boatyard which has been a real safe haven for this old boat for decades. The owners Peter and Petra are a big support and motivation having running their business in a style which suits our needs. They always have the right equipment or people around to help, knowledge and advise with whatever we need. Having spent many years cruising themselves, they’ve proved quite inspirational figures for us.
I was relieved to find I enjoyed the work more than I’d expected, finding working outside with my hands a refreshing change to calculating at a desk and it was fulfilling to see results at the end of the day… my hands themselves are unrecognisable, encrusted in antifouling, blistered from sanding and eroded by the acidic epoxy.
For Micha the work is more routine and he’s accustomed to having to-do lists far longer than can be completed. For him the boat has always been a vessel where he can develop and realise his own ideas, and he’s still surprised and pleased when he finds small ways to improve a boat that has been around for almost 100 years. Though there are moments when Micha has to bite his tongue (and patiently explain something to me the zillionth time) and I have to swallow my pride (and admit that he might know best…occasionally… ), our working relationship tackling these tasks has (dare I say) until now flowed in relative harmony, which came as a relief to us both….
I also took my chance to visit the UK for the third week in almost 2 years, and feel like using this last paragraph to reflect. My visits home these days are filled with hen dos, weddings and baby showers and it gives me a good feeling to see my friends so happy and that things are settling into place in their lives. As I made my way around the country visiting people this time, the reality sank in that I might not see many of them again for 3 years (by which time many of the children would be 4 years old!). Yet the more time I spend elsewhere, the less I feel like I have a place to slot into at home. One thing is for certain however, that having such a great base of amazing supportive people really renews my energy to continue to roam further afield.