Sunday, 27 January 2013

What a Difference a Day Makes!

What a Difference a Day Makes!

The Golden Cloud 27/01/2013

So you may all be wondering why I dragged out a 4 month wait between the last blog and this one. Well I’ve been terribly busy!

In September 2012, Lloyd of the boatyard offered me a chance I felt too good to refuse. Golden Cloud, no matter how much we’ve gone through, with her 5ft8 max headroom is kind of too small. Lloyd himself had a 30ft Snapdragon for sale. It came with 6ft2 headroom, a toilet, 2 double beds, and shower. Seemed too good to be true. Lloyd offered me a fantastic price and a good deal on part exchange. Added to this because of his knowledge that I couldn’t leave the boatyard without his help, he said I could buy “Ob-la-dee” in instalments but could move in straight away!.

Ob La Dee is the big red one in the river

So on a Sunny Wednesday morning, after thinking it all over, I called up Lloyd and said I’d like to go ahead with buying ObLaDee. So started an amazing series of events.

At Lunch time I went to speak to a good friend (Nathan Thomas) to tell him the news. During this conversation Dr Alun Hubbard (of BBC Frozen Planet, and Operation Iceberg fame) overheard, and wanted to give me his 10ounces of advice.

Alun himself could be seen as a familiar face, and a knowledgeable one. As my 1st year degree tutor he told me during a congratulatory meeting after getting very high results in exams “Joe you obviously don’t have enough fun, Go out get drunk more often!”, I went from a 92% average grade at this point to a 67% final grade in my degree so I obviously follow his advice intently!
Alun has owned the 47ft Sailing Research Vessel Gambo for a little while now, and was one of my first ports of call when I needed advice on getting Golden Cloud. His words in December 2011 were… “A boat is a hole in the ocean that you fill with money” and after hearing what Golden Cloud was like “You can’t polish a turd”. Spurred on by his positive tone I went ahead and brought Golden Cloud. His advice was now again coming at the operative moment.
It was however, not quite as I expected. His words were “If you want to go to Istanbul in a Yacht, take a few months out, join me in Greenland on my research vessel for the winter!”

It was an opportunity of seeing Greenland and learning a lot on boats… I couldn’t resist.

Soon I found myself on a train to Keswick in the Lake District. I was off to buy expedition clothes spending my boat upgrade kitty in the process. Later I met my parents to clear out Golden Cloud, and tell Lloyd…“For now I can’t buy your boat!”

Half packed bag full of gear!

3 days later I was in a van with Alun driving from the Cash and Carry in Aberystwyth to the Container dock in Alborg, Denmark. I manically searched the internet on my phone, in attempt to learn how to fill in a Customs Export Form in time for Dover. Between the M25 and the dock I cracked it and we were on our way.
Over weighed wheel axis!

At Dover
Next day I woke up near just outside Anderlecht, the van’s axel struggling under the load was wearing the bearings in a eery squeeling grinding sound woke me. It was now also my turn to drive. So it seemed a perfect opportunity for Alun to inform me about the issue with the Brakes… Brake hard and they jam open (not braking), you have to brake slowly, and/or engine brake (in an Automatic!)… Great for the first time driving on the wrong side of the road! We had 20 hours left to get to the container port, offload the van into the container, then get to Copenhagen Airport to fly to Greenland at 9am the next morning, I’d best get going.

With only a handful of miles to go before the German-Denmark Border (sounds corny I know!) with Alun back at the wheel it looked like our game was up…. (Continued in Next Blog)