The final count down

Pantagruel, Micha and Jo

54°28.30’N 9°50.05’E Eckernfoerde, Germany

The sun finally came out in Eckie town (Panta’s home harbour), along with the sandpaper, varnish and thankfully another half a dozen pairs of helping hands from Eric, Fabian with Lottie the dog, Nicole, Stefan, Martina and Rieke – thanks guys! With these forces combined we managed to strip back the wood on the bulwarks, hatches and stern to a deep red mahogany and apply multiple layers of fresh varnish to make Panta gleam once more.

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The first guests turned up, bringing with them a drone, a film crew and some more nice weather. This meant we could put the tools away for a few days and relax a bit after transforming the boat from this

to this…

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The last month has been a challenge, an inevitability with departure day drawing ever closer and the end of the to-do list still not in sight. Micha is quite used to being in this situation, but for me it was sometimes overwhelming, especially as I often felt powerless to change things.

On the positive side however, I can say I am much more familiar with power tools, have connected the odd electrical cable and have become somewhat of an expert on screws (I’m particularly fond of the ‘lentil head’ variety). I also started German lessons with a local student in the hope of improving our channels of communication and helping fulfil my need to connect with others.

An important consideration for us over the last few weeks has been to ensure we have everything we could possibly need (in the next 3 years) onboard, from sails to match all wind conditions, to spare parts for the engine and even for the toilet! Worse still is finding a place for it all… Can you believe that I had to throw away some clothes to make room for our spare main sail under our bed?! During these moments, or those spent tuning the rigging or installing a permanent fixture for the dingy on the deck, the reality of our long journey really began to sink in.

With time running out, all plans of a farewell party were scuppered, but we did manage a final goodbye weekend with Micha’s family and enjoyed a few afternoon sails in between installing a new GPS radio, activating our AIS, troubleshooting our still-not-working Radar, cleaning the bathrooms, vacuum packing the freshly washed bed sheets (many thanks to Nadja Sinzel), replacing the toilet and installing a water filter for the new electronic valve, connecting the stern light and spare GPS antenna, organising our medical and emergency kits, installing the BBQ, fixing the stern hatches… you get the picture…

During our last few days in the country we got the gas check, charter license and boat out of the water once more for the insurance surveyor. I flew home to watch one of my oldest friends get married, and Micha paid a final visit to Dortmund to collect the Scottish charts we’d left behind. Now it’s time to reunite in the Kiel Canal to begin our double handed trip across the north sea – a realistic contender for roughest passage we will experience in the whole 3 years…

You can follow our progress using our new tracker here https://share.garmin.com/Pantagruel

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