…and Dan

croatia2005It is a long overnighter from Montenegro south to Corfu. The Albanian coast seems to go on and on, with limited opportunities to stop along the way. On our trip north we had had northerlies, and this time – of course – we had southerlies. In the Adriatic, headwinds are de rigeur for Tainui.

I don’t enjoy these overnight passages. Off watch you just don’t get tired enough to sleep easily and for me they are very tiring. Only longer passages allow you to make this essental acclimatisation.

At sunset, a long line of ominous black cloud appeared to the south and midnight found us in the middle of a spectacular electrical storm, fortunately with little wind. Lucy, on watch, loved it. Below in the cabin, thunder and lightning made sleep difficult even with Mr Ford’s background noise.After 3 hours it was all over.

In late afternoon sun the next day we anchored close inshore, in a little uninhabited bay on Corfu’s northern shore. In 4 m of water our chain could clearly be seen draped across the sandy bottom. Swims and mushroom risotto were wonderful, both of them.










At 5, Dan decided to swim ashore and climb a track to the top of the wooded shore. Lucy and I tippled and listened to Taj Mahal.

After 3 hours we began to get worried by Dan’s non-return. At sunset I packed a bag with hand-held VHF, torches, water and various other frontiersman toys and we set off to look for him. I was not hopeful of finding him before dusk gave way to moonless black. As we pulled the dinghy ashore I looked back with admiration at Tainui’s silhouette. I noticed a fishing buoy off the point behind the boat, moving erratically. This slowly transformed itself into a cold, exhausted and remorseful Dan. We hauled him aboard and his recovery was swift and our relief profound.

Dan, an experienced rock-climber, had fallen on the cliffy eastern side of the promontory and could not get back up to the ridgeline through dense scrub. So he decided to make his way round the point along the rocky shore. When that proved too difficult he decided to swim the two miles back to the boat!

Had Lucy and I set out earlier to look for Dan, or if he had returned later, we would have missed him. A long walk round the bay in the dark to find a police station, explain Dan’s absence ashore, our having failed yet to have cleared into Greece, then set up a search party would all have been difficult. I foresaw a bureaucratic nightmare and expensive fines. Still, all’s well that ends well.

Aboard,  Dan is a quick learner. He is interested, enthusiastic and a tireless worker. You only have to tell him something once. What an asset for an ageing skipper. Part way through a PhD on film, Dan can talk the hind leg off a donkey on semiotics, phenomenology, post-modernism and all those subjects I have never understood. He does have one serious flaw though – he has this taste for mindless techno music and you have to veto use of the stereo system if you want any sort of peace. To be fair, Dan also likes a vast array of other music, some of it quite good and some, just fantastic.

I will miss Dan and Lucy when they depart Tainui in Corfu this week.

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