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So what happened next?

In spring 2005 we left our beloved Greece for the last time, and sailed Hosanna to France, where she was sold.


There followed a busy couple or so years in which we built (with the help of several willing welders, none under sixty) our geriatric boat, Faraway, designed for two elderly sailors to cruise the inland waters of Europe, and tackle short sea crossings in good weather.

This involved being on site early at Brooke Marine for a full day’s work. Not bad for a couple approaching their eighties as slowly as possible.

Our electrician at the time said: “I thought you were quite mad, but after a month or two I changed my mind.”

After a year’s work there was a bed, a sink, and a rudimentary cooker, so we moved aboard in March 2007. What were we waiting for? We were still in the hangar, so protected from the elements, but not from the pesky seagulls, also living there. Washing facilities were provided (in the daytime) by the gate warden, who promised to inform any authority who might wonder about an elderly couple of idiots sleeping in an unfinished boat in a hangar with no mod. Con: that we were merely the night watch.


Faraway was launched on April 25th 2007, with still a bit of work to be done, but we were content as it was almost exactly a year since the laying of the keel. For the next few months afloat in the Marina we continued to progress the comforts on board, learning and discovering the quirks and characteristics of a new boat, as you must. Boats are human, after all, Bill says.

Happily in the water at last.


2008 was a year that contained both good and bad events. The bad one was that Bill was diagnosed with AMD, and began treatment with injections straight into the eye to save his sight. The good event was that in June we left harbour at 4.30 in the morning and crossed the channel to Gravelines, arriving (as you must) at high tide to carry us up the Chanel Maritime and through the lock gates, berthing thankfully just before dark.

This was the start of a cruise through the canals of France, in the hope of progressing down the Rhone, turn left into the Mediterranean, and coast hopping back to Greece. Yes, you pretty much can, with just two sea passages that need extra care and planning.
In the event we had several happy years cruising the canals of Northern France, exploring the Nord Pas de Calais and Picardie.
As Bill had to return to UK every couple of months for his eye injections, we could not go too far from the channel ports. Greece became an improbable destination. We settled for enjoying Flanders, and wrote another book about cruising in inland waters.


In 2011 the children decided it was time we came home. Fortunately we had come to the same conclusion ourselves, and were glad of their help in Calais to ready the boat for sea.

We took them to one of our favourite restaurants, a mediaeval Flemish Inn called the Breughel in Bergues, where at weekends on a roaring fire they cook sucking pig, and costumed wenches serve foaming jugs of beer or wine.

The children accorded us the dignity of making this last voyage on our own.
Then it was a question of waiting, during what turned out to be an unsettled and windy summer, with one gale following another week after week.

At last in June we had a weather window, and left Calais harbour at 1130. As we came through the pierheads out into the open sea Bill said “Damn, I can’t see the next buoy; you’ll have to take charge.”

Skippering the crossing of one of the busiest sea lanes in the world at the age of 82 had not been on my bucket list, but hey ho.

The auto pilot played up, so we made several wide circles until it settled down. Seasoned seagoers would have known exactly what we were doing, but newbies might have wondered.

Half way over the electronic chart decided to have a day off, so we were back to old fashioned navigation, fairly used to that. We had cereal bars and lemonade for lunch. No wind, so naturally there was a bit of fog, and when the engines stopped from overheating rather too close to the Goodwin Sands, we thought: this is not one of our better voyages

Bill managed to recharge the batteries and restart the engines in time to get us out of trouble, and we made it safely to Ramsgate by 7 o clock French time.

The following morning we continued up the Thames estuary and into the River Medway, and stopped the night at Queenborough, where we had a Barbecue. We arrived in Rochester nicely at high tide in order to approach our allotted berth, which dried out at low water.

We did not know it at the time, but it turned out to be our last voyage. We lived aboard for the next couple of years, celebrating our Diamond Wedding in 2012.


In October 2013 we moved into a nearby flat that the children had found for us, and helped us to redecorate. Faraway was sold, and we settled, rather uncomfortably, into life ashore. Warm and safe, and with triple glazing, we are cut off from the wind and weather and the birdsong. The waterlight no longer plays on the ceiling when the sun shines. We miss the easy companionship of other cruisers, and the dockside chat, and of course the travelling.

On the plus side, Bill has written his first novel, despite his failing sight, and it was published early in 2015. The left eye did not respond to treatment, but the right eye is some use, he can’t read, discern faces, or do websites, but can use the huge screen and enormous letters devised by our grandson (11 at the time) to write with great effort and a lot of swearing. I correct the mistakes and do the editing. He still writes a column for The Blue Flag—the Journal of the Dutch Barge Association (Their website).

We welcome questions, comments or Dockside chat: contact details are found here

Bill died rather suddenly in March 2016. This is what I sent to those who could not come to the funeral.


This is for all those many people who could not attend the funeral, what with short notice, worldwide dispersal of friends and relatives, doctor’s appointments, and some of us being too old and decrepit to move far.
I thought you would like to know how it all went.
He fooled us, didn’t he. Being the indomitable, obstinate old so-and-so he was, he insisted on “Managing” up to the end, getting in and out of the bath, going to the loo, and walking as far as he could before getting too breathless, and his courage prevented us from seeing how ill he was. When we went to A&E on the morning of Friday 4th it never crossed my mind that he would not be back home after a few days on oxygen. His death has been an unexpected shock; For us, dreadful; but for him; probably good, as I cling to the positive elements.
Some of the things he dreaded about old age had not yet happened. Yes, his sight was getting worse, but he was still enjoying the Rugby even if he couldn’t see where the ball was; I watched the 6 Nations final on Saturday evening and thought how he would have loved that Grand slam win.
He was still enjoying his food, though eating a lot less.
We all had a great birthday lunch for me a week before he left us. Shelley had to go back to the Caribbean three days later, (St Patrick’s day lasts a week in Montserrat and is a very busy time for Fly Montserrat, everyone comes back to the island to celebrate with bands, food, festivals and dancing, and getting extremely drunk. They are African Caribbean but convinced they are Irish.)
Had he come home they would have had to arrange a home oxygen service for him, probably entailing a wheelchair and carers as well. He would have hated it. He was still in control of all bodily functions.
Best of all, that brilliant mind was still working up to the end—we were all there with him (except the Caribbean contingent,) on Sunday afternoon, just a few hours before he died, and he knew us all and spoke lovingly to us. The lack of oxygen (though they were pumping it in as hard as they could—it just wasn’t getting to his lungs) was confusing him a little, and he wasn’t too sure where he was. “My cap,” he said “Where’s my cap?” (His battered old Breton cap he was so fond of,) “Must have my cap if we’re going to cross the Atlantic—“

For the funeral (Shelley and Nigel flew back for it) we put his cap on the coffin with the Blue Ensign and a wreath in the shape of a compass rose.

We sent him off with “Sailing by,” and the Skye Boat song, Allegri’s Miserere, and Eternal Father, and a bit from the Dream of Gerontius that he was fond of.

In May last year we all went up to his birthplace, Lowestoft, where the Lowestoft Lifeboat scattered his ashes offshore as he wished

Bill's obituary in The Times, June 20th 2016:

So no more cruising.

I took over Bill’s column in “Blue Flag” (The Journal of the Dutch Barge Association,) and enjoy doing that. I also joined the FaceBook group “Women on Barges”, a closed and international group, very lively and supportive, I can thoroughly recommend it. I am still writing for the Maritime Press.