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  • Writer's pictureMark

Entry No. 3

8th April 2020

When I sailed around the UK three years ago Chichester Harbour won my heart. It was great to be back again. Having received a warm welcome and indeed permission to stay and move around at will, we settled in for a few days. The Harbour Master’s office was officially closed although they had someone there in case of emergencies and they kindly said it was ok for me to arrange to have my recently serviced liferaft delivered to them. A liferaft usually needs servicing once every three years. It is yet another thing on a boat that sits alongside life rings, an Epirb (distress beacon) flares (no, not the 70’s fashion wear) and lifejackets which you have to buy and maintain but hope never to use. Because the courier company temporarily lost the liferaft after it was serviced, we left Burnham without it. It was finally tracked down and delivered to the Harbour Master’s office and after a short ride in the dinghy to the office we collected it and got it onboard. Altor is now all present, correct and ready for anything. 

We spent a few calm and peaceful nights at East Head anchorage, just inside the Harbour entrance. We took our daily exercise ashore, I flew the drone and I also did something a little bit strange!

Thanks to Asha and also to my friend Amy, I have been getting into meditation. I have practiced it in my own little ways over the years but now I am actually setting aside specific time to meditate and I have to say that I love it. Anyone who is cynical shouldn’t worry about the part you may perceive as being slightly strange or spiritual. It need only be ten minutes so just make some time and give it a go. Even if nothing about it resonates with you, you will have achieved something and that something is to sit still, pause for thought and not actually do anything. How many opportunities do you actually get to do that? Virus isolation and lazy focker syndrome aside, I bet it’s not many! 

I’m interested in mind over matter and I often try things like picking up hot plates or bread straight out of the oven and I tell myself that it won’t burn, it won’t be too hot and that I don’t need to react immediately to my own fear. Mind over matter. Sometimes it works in a zen like way and other times I’ve chucked things on the floor, ended up with burnt fingers and sworn like someone with Tourettes being marched to the gallows. 

I am making progress but clearly I’m not ready to mix it with the red hot coal walkers just yet so I thought I’d try the other end of the scale. What I did was to go to the beach and strip down to my shorts. I told myself that the water would be cold but to exercise a mind over matter discipline and walk in without flinching, sit down and meditate or just try to breath through the experience. 

And what an experience it was. I sat down, shoulders under and told myself that the cold I was feeling was actually comfort and even if it was cold, it didn’t matter. I was grateful to be able to feel cold and grateful to know that I would soon be warm again! I think I did get into a meditative state of sorts because I estimated I had lasted about six minutes but it was in fact ten before I got out. 

I do consider it a victory of mind over matter but once out I dressed very quickly and ran up and down the beach to get my blood pumping. My intention was to do it when the water was at it's coldest and then any such endeavors in the future should be easier and I hope they will be!

Overall it was incredibly invigorating and I felt positively charged and tingly for the rest of the day but don’t worry, I’m not about to get all spiritually weird and holier-than-thou about it. In this unreal world I like to think I am a realist and although it was a great experience, there was a downside!  Of course there was a downside. Life is a constant balance of ups and downs for everyone which means it can’t ALL be good ALL the time. I refuse to subscribe to the general teachings of social media where, it seems to me, the name of the game is to portray your life through ridiculously rose tinted spectacles as a never ending party of perfection.  Come on, we know that’s not really how it is. Sorry but here comes a rant! On social media there are a million pictures of beautiful girls smiling sweetly and looking like a line up of Stepford wives.  I’m sure many of them are just as sweet as they look but where have the natural looking girls without filters applied gone? I guess it must appeal to the masses but give me a non filtered girl next door with a natural smile any day. Bumps, scrapes, age related patina on the bodywork and anything else showing character is more than welcome but that kind of honesty is very rare on social media. Then there are the endless pictures of seemingly angelic kids on happy family days out. I’ve seen them and some of them are angelic and happy but some have seemingly been spawned by the devil himself and in retrospect I’m sure their fathers wish they’d of clamped their own nuts in a vice at puberty thus avoiding such trouble and misery but no one puts that on facebook either! 

And finally there’s the non manly men with bulging fit for nothing muscles posing in the gym hiding the fact that any man skills have long since evolved away from their grasp in favor of skin creams and waxing and the only decent sausage in their possession will be the one stuffed roughly in their gob in the canteen afterwards 😳. That certainly won’t be on facebook but may be found on other more specialist web sites, apparently! Come on!  Lets all be men again, spend time in the garage but not lifting weights and be proud of that hairy back, sack and crack and show it to the WORLD!!!! 

Err, maybe I’ve got a bit carried away there…. 🤭

Where was I? 

Oh yes, the sausage thing brings me nicely onto the non-rose tinted spectacle side of my cold water immersion. The downside of the experience was felt by mini Mark. Poor little fella. Like a cute new strawberry ravished by an unseasonably late frost he had received a setback.  He did get up again but well after the count of ten and as the blood flow returned the poor little fella felt like he was being pounded with a hammer. I had to carry him off to a warm dark corner and whisper sweet words of support and encouragement until we were back on the same team again. I will go into the water again but I’ve learned a valuable lesson and until he can master mind over matter for himself I will have to take better care.

On Saturday we took the dinghy into Emsworth for supplies. It was certainly strange for us because the last time we were in a shop was ten days previous and things were relatively normal but this time people really were serious about keeping their distance and it was also the first time we had encountered the one in, one out rule. It’s all got a bit scary on land hasn't it!

The town of Emsworth is a firm favourite of mine but I felt more than a tinge of sadness as I looked through the window of the Coal Exchange Pub which was a favourite of mine during my last visit. What is this world without pubs? It’s a strange and lesser place for sure but we’ll get back to that place of wonder soon won’t we?????? Please......  

This cruising lifestyle is truly wonderful. I absolutely love it but it can also feel quite strange. The whole thing is about adventure and every day is new and exciting but there are also times when you feel sad about leaving a place and this was definitely how we felt about leaving Chichester Harbour. However, in order to move forward we have to leave behind and on Sunday morning we sailed out of the Harbour and into the Solent. We had a beautiful sail in lovely sunshine but it was almost eerie because the Solent which is usually busy with both pleasure boats and commercial traffic was almost empty. One big container ship and two Isle of Wight ferries were the only signs of life out there. We drifted quietly with the tide and finally anchored in Osborne Bay where we had decided to shelter from a southerly gale that was due overnight. It was a lovely place to hunker down but strangely deserted and reminiscent of those apocalyptic films we have all seen and yet onboard Altor all was calm and all was good.

In the morning we had a visitor.

To be continued…..

Come one, mind over matter

East Head


On a pontoon near Emsworth. Dinghy in from here.

Fishing boat

Needing some love, but still pretty


No service today...

You need a hat on this white sandy beach

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