Tuesday, 26 March 2019

My boat is launched!

Monday 25th
My nautical life has not been very distinguished! I have owned 3 boats in total. The first two were crazy and I wrote about number 2 in my "life blog". The first.... let us draw a veil over that! It was called a Mini-sail and I used to tow it down to the south coast (the UK, that is!) and float around Poole Harbour and various estuaries. Basically, it was a glorified surf-board with a sail. On account of not having a jib, I could never get close to the wind and often ended up "in irons" with the tiller pulled up hard against my chest. As I said, let's not talk about the Mini-sail, I wanted to tell you about my latest attempt at walking and floating to Medinyà.
While the plans for my bridge are being finalised (I wish that was true, it is still a fantasy), I decided that I would cross the mighty River Ter by water, so I bought an inflatable boat from Amazon for €35 and I also bought a life-jacket because I reckoned that maybe I would be alone in the event of needing a rescue. The life-jacket was about the same price as the boat!
Yesterday, I went to church at Madremanya, tonight I have my regular meeting with the PSC, the political group which I mentioned previously. And tomorrow and Wednesday, I want to watch the Volta Catalunya which comes through Celrà on Wednesday. That left a convenient window of opportunity to try out my boat! So I packed everything onto the smaller of my two sack-trolleys and headed off to the river. 

The weather has been more like summer during the past few days and today was sunny with a clear blue sky.
When I reached the river at the end of a long drive-way (you can see it in the second of the 2 photos above), I stopped and chatted with three guys who were clearing trees which were encroaching on power cables crossing the river. The river was barely flowing at all, the scene was balmy. I had joked earlier with a friend that maybe I should have launched it with a bottle of Cava (taking care not to break the bottle!) But it was 11am so a little too early for alcohol!
Two of the men came down to the river edge and helped me launch the boat and I jumped in! It is not a very stable form of transport but as soon as I remembered that I had to face the opposite direction (!), I started to row. This was chaotic! Every missed stroke caused the boat to swivel violently in that direction, it had no momentum of its own. I nearly lost one of the oars because it was screwed in the centre and that was coming loose. Maybe that explained why sometimes the oar was not catching the water.
I made it across to the river to a convenient little beach about 50m up-stream but that was not where I wanted to be. Because I had already been in the woods on the opposite side, I knew that the ideal landing spot was directly across the river but the bank was too steep to land. From the beach, I headed up through the undergrowth but it was thick with nettles and I was wearing plastic waterproof shoes and shorts. I grabbed a large stick and set about making a path up to the top of the incline, hoping that, at the top, I would break out into the path which I knew was there. It was not to be. As soon as I reached the top, I could see a further 5m of undergrowth and, in any case, this was not something I felt that I should clear. I headed back down to my boat and paddled across the river. It was idyllic! I will go further next time, this was just a trial run.
The shame is that, on the Medinyà side, there is no access to the river, so in the longer term, maybe I can talk to the Town Hall. The obvious place to cross is by the power pylons because the undergrowth is kept clear all the time and there is easy access to the path, but the bank on the Medinyà side is too steep to land.
The last photo shows where I dream of having a bridge, I have to go out now but tomorrow, I will draw the bridge in Photoshop and also add a Spanish commentary.

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