Sipping coffee in the cockpit this morning I feel like a drugged patient in a hospital bed, the morning after having had a leg amputated. I keep looking in disbelief for the missing limb. Our mast lies inelegantly in three robust cross braces above the deck, dripping with stays, shrouds and miscellaneous lines. It is comfortable and so are we, although things just don’t feel quite right.
I had hoped Vladimir Putin would finish building higher bridges on the Volga-Balt Canal in anticipation of our passage but it was not to be. So down came our 20m mast and we now motor for 2,000 miles to Rostov-on-Don with our mast protruding fore and aft. I will need to drive carefully.
Yesterday was long, tiring and worrying, although the whole process went smoothly in the end. Anatoly drove Crane Number 83, a floating behemoth more than capable of lifting our whole boat. The stabilising weight above the hook alone weighed more than a ton and I had been concerned that Anatoly and Crane Number 83 might lack the necessary surgical delicacy. The crane clutch was an impetuous piece of machinery and the mast moved in 3 foot snatches. Wake from passing shipping had us rolling at very inopportune times. But we managed.
Today we are doing bugger all. Captain’s orders. Tomorrow we’re off into the first lock, en route Cherepovets to collect Dirk for the next bit. Soon we will join the Volga River and I am excited.
[I have contact details for Anatoly and Crane Number 83, for those who follow us in future years].