And the fog rolled in

It has been a long day of fiddling, getting my boat back up to racing spec and noting all the wear and tear that our head long charge across the Atlantic has caused.

Frustratingly the kind of day where one simple task seems to take 1000 complicated steps, mostly due to the consequences of leaving the boat damp over Christmas.

Dusting everything off and firing it up again, I am finding tiny things that are not quite perfect; mostly caused by corrosion; the boat owner’s nemesis.

One such problem was with my autopilot system. I fired up the computer and that worked fine, but when I plugged in the trusty ram that had taken me all the way on leg two of the transat, there was no action.

I tried the second and then the third ram but still no life.

The first tool to reach for in these circumstances is always going to be the multimeter; even on a boat as basic and tiny as the mini, a multimeter is an essential piece of kit and goes everywhere with you. A failure in the electrical system could mean no pilot, no lights, no navigation system, no communication; and though as a practical sailor I am confident I could carry on without the help of all things electrical, it does rather remove your competitive edge.

My multimeter appeared from the plastic box that has been its home for the past few months and flatly refused to power up. A new battery did not help matters, it had got wet and that was game over for this piece of kit.

And so a small job of plugging in the pilots turned into a marathon, a van safari to the closest DIY store, getting lost of course in French rush hour traffic on the way.

By the time I returned to the boat a thick fog had rolled up the estuary and was sitting heavy over the submarine base. It was getting late in the evening so the cloud took on an eeery green light made all the more spooky by the ominous form of the Submarine silos looming over me in the murk.

I was alone on my boat, water from the fog dripping off the shrouds and rigging. I dropped a tool and the small clatter from my boat, travelled into the open submarine silo opposite, transforming to a large boom which bounced around off the walls and came back at me.

The submarine base is an amazing place to be, the constant activity creates a buzz such as I have never experienced before. The Figaros have been out training over the last week, Banque Populaire sits resplendent in the middle of the marina; 40’s are being lifted in and out, weighed and of course the minis buzz around it all, often being towed behind other boats and always active.

It would be a nice idea to set up a camera for the day doing time lapse photography of the base. It would be fascinating to watch.

But despite the buzz, yesterday I was reminded of the sinister purpose of the huge buildings around us. The silos were built by the Germans when they occupied Lorient during the Second World War to house their submarines.

They are ugly and functional and indestructible.

How lucky we are to live in safer happier times now and particularly in the mini class 19 nations sail, compete and share a genuine lover of our sport together.


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