No, I’m not pregnant… but it is time to raid the ‘piggybank’ again! Spring is always the most expensive time of year for the live-aboard sailor. Last year it was the never-ending starter-motor affair which was finally ordered from those lovely Lancastrians from DFJ Automotive in Preston, fair England, (https://www.DFJAuto.com) who went the extra mile to marinise and rush it to Sweden for me. This year the main expense has been the ordering of a replacement for my beloved Walker Bay sailing tender, seen below in the Greek Islands many hedonistic years ago.
As you may or may not remember, last year I was hammered by a short but violent storm in the north of the Gulf of Bothnia just south of Piteå. (Please see the following: https://vikingway.wordpress.com/2014/07/29/stormy-monday-65˚07-4n-21˚31-9e/) resulting in the loss of my ‘baby’, which had to be cut loose after turning itself into a sea anchor; further damage to Free was avoided, but at great cost and sentimentality. I purchased with the help of my friend, Kjell-Arne, an Optimist sailing dinghy as a replacement, but alas, the wooden construction makes it impossible to act as a viable substitute to the rigid plastic hull of the Walker Bay.
The only other possible option would have been an inflatable rib-type affair, which I believe are incredibly expensive for what they are, and must have an engine to really be of any value. Also they have an aversion to sharp objects! (and who hasn’t?) No it had to be a new Walker Bay, but how? Sweden is a difficult place to find such a creature; or it was, until an Australian gentleman named Tim Shuwalow appeared on the internet! His new business imports them, much to my relief and delight. Well done, fine Sir, and have a ‘plug’ on me! http://www.walkerbay.se/
Tim was extremely helpful in rushing the boat to me, and went the extra mile by driving up from Stockholm and delivering it personally. I am very grateful for this and wish him and his company every success in the future. There is an added joy to messing around in a small sailing dinghy. I am often amazed to find out how many modern sailors on large cruising yachts have never sailed these tiny craft. My father had me out in one when I was eight years old, in tricky, British tidal waters; a real baptism! It was cold and often painful, but a true foundation for the future and integral to the fact that I am still alive.
As I potter away, preparing my new arrival for some local sea trials around Borka, I can indeed reflect on the fact that Free and me, and Baby makes three!