Well, here we are in Whitehaven…still. I’m not complaining though. There are plenty of horror stories of other cruisers around the world either trapped in foreign countries, or worse, their world has been turned upside down due to a premature death of a loved one caused by COVID19. With the worldwide death toll speeding towards half a million people, and with almost nine million confirmed cases, this virus will certainly be around for some time yet. It’s now compulsory to wear masks on public transport in the UK, but I’ve got no plans to be that close to people for now. So I’ll continue to wash my hands and keep my distance.
Rules have eased in the UK at the end of month three – we are now at Level 3; some supermarkets have relaxed queuing and there’s certainly more people out enjoying the fine weather. Supermarket shelves are well stocked; there’s even flour and yeast available now. I suspect the millions of people who panic-bought toilet rolls, flour and yeast now have buyer’s remorse.
Most people around Whitehaven don’t wear masks and the harbour foreshore can get busy with people sunning themselves, being mindful to keep their distance – mostly. Fisher-folk keen to get a nibble space themselves equally along the west and north piers at Whitehaven Harbour whilst enjoying the slow summer sunsets.
Ironically summer is typically the season where we isolate ourselves at a quiet anchorage ,and all we can do is look out across the sea towards Scotland. But we’ve got no option but to wait it out sharing one toilet with boat-owners who can now come to the marina to check on their boats. Oh, to be out sailing…
Scotland have gone into Phase 2 of their re-opening, and announced that Phase 3 will allow overnighting at anchorages (with suitable permissions), however, there’s no date set for Phase 3. Ireland still requires two weeks in isolation, although the information is sketchy regarding travel between UK, Northern Ireland and Ireland. It’s not like we need to leave, but Skipper is getting a little toey with all this hanging around. The Faroes are around 500nm north and starting to ease restrictions so that’s an option.
It’s looking less likely that we’ll reach the European continent this season and more than likely hole up again this winter on the south coast of England. Well, that’s the plan today. In the meantime, we keep as busy as we can.
One job that always gets put off is varnishing. It’s not easy to apply seven coats of varnish when you live aboard – too easy to accidentally touch newly applied painting. There isn’t a lot of varnishing to be done, but we do have some chips and scuffs, and UV destroyed areas that need attention. We both worked on sanding the entry, but only one of us can varnish. I’m using Epifanes polyurethane two component clear varnish which should bring the wood back to life and protect it for a few more years. On my next exciting instalment, I’ll post some pics of the finished job!
And then there was the time we created a job for ourselves. A few weeks ago, my pushbike ended up in the harbour after a gust of wind blew it off the jetty (don’t ask!). Since the dunking, squeaks and stiffness has materialised despite a subsequent dousing of fresh water and lubricant after the dip. Wayne helped me strip the bike down completely – goose neck, steering stem, gears, cogs, pedals, etc. We had to clean and regrease all ball bearings to remove any trace of damaging salt water. In the end I had to replace my rear wheel as the old rear hub couldn’t be repaired or replaced. I even had to take apart my Shimano combination pedals after they seized and stopped spinning (filled with wee ball bearings). Fortunately, Haven Cycles opposite Aldi had a couple of red-rimmed and dusty 26” MTB wheels (front/rear) hanging in the rafters which I took off his hands. My multi-coloured bike is built from parts around the world!
Bike riding is the only escape for us at the moment and there’s good bike paths and quiet roads throughout Cumbria. I’d love to ride across to Newcastle on the east coast, but camping is prohibited overnight and the police are out in force. To control the influx of people, public loos around Cumbria are closed for the time being (fun fact; Whitehaven has no public toilets – zero).
And just like that after a lacklustre start to the year we have reached the summer solstice – the longest day of the (longest) year in the Northern Hemisphere. Hopefully we can expect things to ease soon, but not at the expense of a few lives.
For that we can wait a little longer.