Staying healthy while sailing the world is as important as keeping the boat in good condition. Over the past ten years, we’ve been fortunate to remain in good health, although battling the effects of a moderately sedentary lifestyle in this cold northern climate was a challenge. Every couple of years, prescription glasses and dentistry creep into the annual budget, but we’ve been careful not to break bones, lose fingers, poison ourselves with ciguatera, get sick from any one of a thousand types of maladies or suffer from too many careless on-board mishaps. Below: Skipper ripped off his thumbnail in Norway in 2018 – ouch!
The best medicine we’ve found over the past ten years is fresh sea-air, exercise and sunshine. Just the thought of sailing along, soaking up the sun’s vitamin D and swimming around in warm water makes me feel healthier. But there’s always a chance something could go wrong. We’ve recently renewed our travel insurance and although it doesn’t cover COVID, it will cover us for any unforeseen medical emergencies. That’s the drawback with any insurance; you have to have an accident or catastrophe to reap the benefits.
The good news is that we’ve had our second COVID jab and we’re ready to depart the UK. Countries in Europe are easing travel restrictions for those with full vaccinations so it should make travel a little safer and more straightforward. The NHS is encouraging people to self-test so we’ve grabbed a pack each of the free COVID self-tests to have on board.
Life as we knew it is slowly returning here in the UK and it seems that wearing masks and completing track and trace forms is becoming second nature. The vaccine rollout appears to be well-organised with over half the population of 68 million having had at least one vaccination. Last week we popped across to the Spice Island Inn in Old Portsmouth to catch up with friends from Southsea for a drink. It was great to be able to relax and enjoy a laugh. Oh, and ‘hugging’ is officially allowed in the UK!
While walking to Old Portsmouth, we watched the HMS Queen Elizabeth warship enter Portsmouth Harbour along with hundreds of others. The Royal Navy’s Flagship vessel, affectionately known as ‘Big Lizzie’, cost over £3 billion.
Looking back on the past four years since Blue Heeler sailed across the North Atlantic to arrive at Baltimore on the south coast of Ireland, I’m so glad we decided to sail to this region and spend time north of 50 degrees latitude. We’ve met some great people, and experienced so much – we’ll take with us fond memories of traveling through the canals of the Netherlands; sailing in the sweet water of the Baltic visiting the cities of Helsinki, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Oslo, Riga, Talin; Christmas in Flensburg, Germany; across the cold North Sea to the windy northern isles of Shetland and Orkney; to the remote and unique isles of beautiful Scotland, plus the experience of sailing Ireland’s wild Atlantic coast. A train-trip through Germany, France, Austria, Czech Republic, Bratislava, Hungary, and Switzerland was an opportunity not to be missed – something we may not be able to do at present. All our travel around these northern European countries wouldn’t have been possible had BREXIT happened a couple of years earlier. Now we may only enter Schengen countries for 90 days for every 180 days, but at least we had a chance to enjoy the Freedom of Movement before the UK slammed this door shut. Below is our route over the past four years:
With that in mind, our plans are sketchy for the coming summer months and at this stage we plan to sail south – France, Spain and Portugal – into the Mediterranean. I’ve wanted to visit Spain since I learned Spanish back in 2004 – not sure how much I’ll remember though and I’m sure it’ll get mangled with the bit of French I’ve learned.
It’s a good feeling to know we will be on the move again. Soon.
Until next time…