12th April 2020
‘Altor of Down, Altor of Down this is Nimrod, Channel 16, over’.
The name is intimidating enough but the sight of a large Border Force vessel closely circling was enough to get my nerves racing!
The radio call didn’t surprise me as I had seen the vessel approaching through the window on the port side. We have four eyes on this boat but until I can build some six inch rubber stilts for my crew member we only have two eyes because Asha just can’t see out of the windows 😂.
However, the lack of view clearly doesn’t bother Asha because she was actually quite cross with me when I suggested we cut in half the 12 inch rubber rolling pin that she packed and brought with her from home. This surprised me somewhat because we never actually bake onboard but apparently it has sentimental value so the idea of cutting it in half was quickly dismissed. I wouldn’t mind but the thing is obviously so old and worn out. It isn’t even straight anymore and it’s got two big uneven lumps at one end 🤷🏻♂️
Anyway, it was lucky that I spotted the Border Force guys on their way thus avoiding the shock of a sudden call from authorities. I saw them looking at the boat name with their binoculars so I knew they were about to call us on the radio.
I said to Asha ‘Right, this is it. We might be in the sh*t here. I’m going to be honest, confident and just tell them what we are doing. I will politely say that we intend to remain on the move and that we believe isolation on the boat is the best strategy and we intend to disregard any suggestions of marina lockdown’.
My heart was racing a bit when I answered their call and received instructions as to which channel they wanted me to switch to in order for the conversation to begin.
I changed channel as requested and waited with baited breath for what was to come.
‘Altor this is Nimrod on 72, do you read, over’?
‘Nimrod, this is Altor, yes loud and clear, over’.
After about ten seconds my nerves calmed. This was the second time we had been questioned by Border Force after a brief but pleasant interrogation in Ramsgate and once again it was just a matter of “Who are you?”, “Where have you been?”, “Where are you going and how many people are onboard?” Once I gave them all the information and clarified that my crew is a ‘she’ just like every heterosexual man does immediately after referring to the other person in their life as ‘their partner’, they wished us a good and safe onward passage.
Look, I couldn’t give the smallest of shits who does what with who, what orientation, what gender, what day of the week etc, etc, but for some reason, like many other straight men I know we all seem to automatically clarify the situation once we have said the word ‘partner’. For me, it was as if I wanted to clarify to all the men onboard Nimrod that even if they were gay, I was not. That only serves to underline the deep rooted, highly misguided and delusional belief that many men have that they are the ‘special one’ and that everyone, male, female gay straight or whatever ‘would’ if they had the chance. At this point gender has no relevance at all as we puff out our chests and say ‘Well, they’re only human’!!!
Just to clarify, in case any clarification is needed here which I very much doubt, yes I am a prick and no I’m not proud of it but at 44 I don’t think I can help it anymore! Ok, back to the encounter with Border Force…..
So far we haven’t received any negativity about our isolation onboard or our onward journey and I believe that to some extent this is because we live aboard and so we are doing as instructed and not leaving our home. I know this may sound like a technicality but it is also fact.
Some say that by moving around we place a potential extra demand on emergency services but I don’t really buy into this. I’d say there is a pretty significant potential for extra demand owing to the boredom of many being forced to stay indoors. I’m sure some are taking on jobs at home that they wouldn’t normally take on, possibly involving tools or ladders and they do say most accidents happen at home. Furthermore, and I’m speculating here, maybe out of pure boredom some people are wondering what does actually happen when you stick your finger in a plug socket? In my experience you should never underestimate the potential for human stupidity. None of us are immune to it but at this level we can andshould put this down to natural selection.
So there you have it. That’s my school of thought. I will say again that if this viewpoint offends then I’m sorry but I’ve simply decided to type as I feel. What’s the point of doing a blog if it’s not my truth?
Asha and I are of course relieved that so far we have not been put under any pressure to change our plans. As I type I am being bathed in sunshine whilst sitting in the cockpit after moving from Osborne Bay to Newtown on the Isle of Wight. Newtown is a nature reserve and by coming in here we have doubled our sightings of other yachts since leaving Burnham as there are two others moored in here self isolating. It is almost silent other than the trickling of water, the soft sound of distant birds and the occasionally grunt from the family of seals thirty meters away.
This is a sweet place to be and isolation never felt so good.
Moonlit anchorage at Osborne Bay
No Man's Land Fort
Sunset in Newtown
The view from the stern cabin
Altor moored in Newtown
Lazy neighbours. All the do is fish and sleep.
Sunset in Newtown