Long Time Passing

First there was COVID and we could not travel to Italy. At the time Lyra was in the boatyard being polished, so we decided to give up our marina berth and leave her there on the hard. They were happy to accommodate her there and delighted we had paid them for the work. The were having to shut down themselves, due to Covid. Then 2021 had its own sliding scale of restrictions and by the time we could consider travelling it was August and too hot for us. Given the short days and more regular storms of autumn we decided to leave Lyra where she was. We thought this would save us money. Come this year we were ready to start sailing again. In a slight aside, I felt less ready than I would have wanted. Two years of not hauling myself up onto Lyra and jumping down onto the pontoon had left me much less limber. I practiced pulling myself up into Johnsey’s van and jumping back down onto the drive. I improved, but it was not elegant. Lara suggested I needed to practice jumping out of the van onto the grass as Johnsey drove slowly down the drive. I could see the value in this, but decided I would rather save injuring myself till I had to. As a result Lara agreed to accompany us to help, even though she hates the start of season cleaning.

The marina said we could have our old berth at nearly the same rates. Perfect. The boatyard kept ignoring John’s calls and putting us off in their e-mails. April turned into May and finally John booked the three of us to fly out and made reservations for two nights in a hotel in Castellemare. He e-mailed the boatyard accordingly. Silence. Two days before we were due to fly came an e-mail asking if we had authorised the removal of our navigation equipment. We had not. There followed an exchange of e-mails. Various things had been stolen, if we could go on the boat and check what was missing when we were in Italy that would be helpful. Their insurance would pay for everything. John contacted our insurance. The hotel could not put us up longer than we had booked, the season was starting. John trawled the internet and found a hotel on Ischia we could book into for a week.

There was a meeting between all interested parties. John and I took a taxi down to the boatyard. There were three people from the yard, their insurance man, our insurance man with a woman to translate, John and myself. We sat round a board table and everyone was very pleasant. Our insurance seemed pleased that their insurance had offered to pay. We set out to go and look at Lyra. They all stood and had espresso shots by the machine on the way out. I could not have swallowed it, though the smell was great. We all trailed across the hot, virtually empty yards. John spotted Lyra’s mast. She was in a remote corner, dusty with her cover gaping open, huge out of the water, her deck high above our heads. We all stood around while one of the boatyard suits went for a ladder. We waited longer while a very dusty workman brought a massive ladder and resets it alongside. After some discussion he brought it round to the rear. The translator expressed horror and announced she would not be climbing the ladder. Despite my lack of practice I was not going to stay behind to keep company with her. I left my handbag with her and followed John and the men up. There were gaping holes in Lyra’s panelling where the screens had been. The inside was dry and our books were all bagged up, our personal belongings as we had left them. I gathered hats and our walking sandals and put them into my beach basket. I felt empty and John was clearly shocked. He had done all the talking with the various men. We climbed back down. Going over the top was not much fun, but one of the men carried the basket for me. We trailed back across the yard and into the meeting room, where John and I sat with the oldest of the boatyard men and everyone else chattered round the computer in the next office. Eventually they emerged triumphant with a piece of paper. I had a strong recollection of how cheated I felt as a child when the Wizard of Oz solved all the characters problems with certificates and bullshit. It was an agreement, a catalogue of what was missing and the boatyard’s commitment to replace it. There were six copies and we were all to sign all of them. This we did, passing the papers round in a spirit of conviviality. I asked when this would happen (actually I just asked when). This put a bit of a damper on things. It was all very difficult, the war in Ukraine causing a shortage of computer chips etc, etc. Our insurers suggested if we could find a supplier we should forward this information to the boatyard. They both looked us in the eye as the woman said this. The meeting broke up in high spirits. We shook hands with everyone and John put our copy of the agreement in his bag. The two of us walked the long road back into town. Half way back we stopped to change into the walking sandals I had liberated from Lyra. It was a low point.

The high point was our week in Ischia with Lara. The hotel was on the far end of the island, gracious and relaxing. There was a turtle pool outside the lobby a lovely outdoor swimming pool, indoor spa pools and a dedicated stretch of beach. We had a proper holiday, if not the one we had anticipated.

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