‘Lockdown’ in the River Deben

‘Lockdown’ in the River Deben

As a national ‘lockdown’ looked increasingly likely, Steve drove to Suffolk on 14 March, 2020 to check on ‘Cachalot’, just in case we’d have to leave her for another few months.

Sure enough, on 23 March, 2020 the edict arrived for everything to stop . . . and we were locked away in our Derbyshire hillside for four months. So, what was the plan? ‘Cachalot’, safely surviving the winter under her covers, would have to remain in ‘social isolation’, rather than join the East Coast summer cruise, cancelled along with everything else. Covid19 rules meant we weren’t allowed to travel to Suffolk, so Steve utilised his joinery skills in an unplanned project for the house – replacing Victorian plaster coving in the front room and hallway. He found that joinery with plaster on a 3.5m high ceiling was even more challenging, and potentially dangerous, than replanking a 30’ wooden boat!

He’s also been doing some woodwork, of course, and repaired the workshop roof and windows, originally built on decking high above the house, in 2007, when ‘Cachalot’ first became a project. At the end of July, 2020 we put the batteries back in the campervan and returned to Woodbridge. We’d already got several invites for ‘socially distanced’ supper and/or drinks. The weather was truly scorching! Shorts, sunhats and suncream essential with 35 degrees in the shade. We enjoyed swimming in the river to cool down . . . and Steve scrubbed the topsides while we were moored on Billy’s buoy at Ramsholt. The Tidemill barbecue was put to good use for entertaining, but Bev had forgotten to pack the gin, so there was ice, tonic and lemon but Steve missed the vital ingredient!

We wondered when we’d be able to lay ‘Cachalot’ up for winter . . . it seemed very likely that another full lockdown would be imposed. Scanning the forecasts, we looked in vain for a few days without rain or strong winds. As a second lockdown became more and more likely, we decided to take a chance on 29 October and drove down in the Adria and Landrover. The following day Derbyshire Dales was put into Tier 2, then the second full lockdown was announced for 5 November. We’d made the trip with a couple of days to spare! With sails stowed, spars brought on deck, engine winterised, bilge pumps checked and all the other stowing and ‘laying up’ jobs complete, Simon and Ricarda drove over from their new home in Cambridge to help put the winter cover on. Just in time, everything was ready and we towed ‘Cachalette’ back to Derbyshire with a van full of sails for winter storage at home.

On 12 April, 2021, the Covid19 restrictions were relaxed to allow overnight stays . . . we took advantage of the freedom to travel, and set off for Woodbridge for a very quick check on the boat. The boat was lovely and cosy with the heater on, but got seriously cold overnight – prompting a promise to Steve of a new sleeping bag before our next trip. The purpose of this trip was just to get away (now we’re allowed to) and make plans for what needs doing for ‘fitting out’. We travelled down again on 26 May. The weather was glorious, the winter cover came off and we were pleased to share our berth for a few days with the lovely Albert Strange yawl ‘Nirvana’ . . . definitely raising the tone of the Tidemill!

‘Cachalot’ shares her berth with ‘Nirvana’, 2021