Our departure from Rostov was interrupted for an hour while Maxine and I dived over the side and groped in chilly water with the propeller, which had become fouled by a mooring line. In the water poor visibility and a 1 knot current added to this adventure. Luckily we were able to get a bow line back ashore before the current got to the boat, so that Tainui sat safely while in the water our core temperatures slowly dropped.
Away at last, we tippled our way 35 km downstream towards Azov at the mouth of the Don. For much of this trip the girls did serious things with their telephones. Some of us (one of us) may have been a little too enthusiastic during this happy hour but his crew faithfully conned the boat all the way.
We have received sad news from home about dear Betty Wynhausen, who has moved to her final, snug anchorage after a miserable battle with a pancreatic malignancy. Her razor sharp mind, her humour and her generosity of spirit are irreplaceable. I can says she has been farewelled royally by Tainui, here on the lower reaches of the River Don.
Just before Azov we turned north into a broad estuary and tied up at Obukhovka Shipyard, where the mast is finally to be set up once more. There, one of us spilled a glass of home brew beer from Rostov, provoking a major search for our cockpit sponge. That sponge is fat, brown and a much loved old thing. What stories it could tell, Rosie says. It lives in one of the cockpit lockers and, like a wise old woman, says nothing but absorbs everything. It knows Maxine particularly well although I confess that on this occasion at least, she was not the cause of the spill.
At the moment we have fresh westerly winds and rain, which will make the mast exercise interesting tomorrow. Then we move down to Azov for the tedious departure formalities, the problems of which I have been forewarned about. We will need to engage a Ukrainian agent for our arrival in Kerch’ (yes, the apostrophe is meant to be there), 200 miles across the shallow Sea of Azov. These westerlies would make for a slow and uncomfortable bash into the steep, short chop for which the sea is famous. But that worry is for another day.