A beautiful sunrise greets the dawn of another day in Brunsbuttel, and over the past few weeks I have grown to like this charming little place with its kind and courteous folk. I have become a feature in the little McDonalds, for my daily hour of free Internet, and a chance to write to you, my friends. Those lovely people have often graced me with free coffee as I struggle to make myself understood…
Today I feel like a prisoner being led to the gallows, such is the gnawing fear that eats away at me, because in a few hours time I will be leaving this little place and attempting to take on the mighty Kiel Canal.
Ordinarily this would present no major problems; however, nothing could be further than normality right now, for I have no idea whether or not ‘Free’ will make the end of the canal. I have no idea of how the propeller will hold up, or if it is damaged. There are so many variables with so little leeway.
Give me a battle on the sea at anytime, where I can pit my sailing skill against my noble foe. Let me even claw off a lee shore… but the nature of this problem sets my heart palpitating with fear. I just don’t know if I will make it. For the first time in my life I am depending totally on luck.
The Kiel Canal is merciless, due to the fact that I am sharing it with huge freighters. If I break down, the authorities will give me a hefty fine, and a tow to yet another place where I cannot check the underwater damage.
Why can’t I check the underwater damage? Yes, that is the obvious question, and in normal circumstances the correct thing to do. However, here the water is dark and freezing cold. Any diver going down needs specialised equipment, all very costly and more than I have left. The only chance I have is reaching the British Forces Kiel Yacht club on the Kieler Bucht, after the canal, where they may be able to lend me the equipment so I can do it myself. I learned to dive when I studied Oceanography back in Plymouth all those years ago, so I have a chance, albeit a slim one.
So on the day of my fifty-six year, the only gift I need it to make it through…