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44 Life Aboard By Marianne BartraM


Marianne lives aboard the MV TreSHniSH on the river dart with her husband nigel


W


hat the…? Startled out of sleep at 4.30 am. I appear to be vomiting blood. Or Cabernet Sauvignon. If Cabernet Sauvignon,


understandable. (Hub always buys the cheap stuff). If blood, potential medical emergency. Sigh. Not again. Hard to tell though as what I call our “ pretend lights” of 24 volts are about as bright as a dying glowworm. I am eyeing the amount being erupted and measuring it against what I gave per session in my blood donating years. About a quarter so far. I started to laugh when I remembered Hub calling 111 during my last drama and being asked “ Is your wife bleeding from anywhere?” to which he replied, offended, “Yes. The Isle of Wight, actually.” I wonder exactly where he would place himself on the autistic spectrum? So I rang 999 to be bounced and jostled to hospital where I endured all the usual hoo-hah as in “swallow this camera “, “just a small scratch” and an operation finally resulting in - after a mere ten years - a diagnosis. (Angio - dysplasia if you’re interested). But what, you ask, has this to do with life


afloat? It’s this. I am taken to task for not calling out the RNLI to convey me ashore to the pontoon where the ambulance awaits (we are moored mid-river.) Well, I don’t know. I feel they should be a last resort when you have done all you can and are fast running out of options. Our dory is stable and Hub undaunted by dramas due to, he states, never having watched a soap opera in his life. (Such lies - he peers over the top of the Telegraph). However, as long as we insist on living on a boat we have to be tough but never complacent or the river will certainly bite you on the part hanging out the back of your vulgar hospital gown!


Back on board after five days. It hadn’t bothered me


over-much. What really annoyed me was missing the final of “ Strictly come Dancing”. When I asked Hub who won, he said, “ A man.” I also missed the final of “The Apprentice”. When I asked Hub who won, he said “Some blonde”. Fuming. The other thing that got to me somewhat was the fact that I was locked via double- glazing away from the weather. It had been raining hard but I hadn’t seen or heard it - it turned cold but I didn’t see my breath due to the central heating and I


It will be hard to adjust to shore living I think. We are too tuned in to the elements


felt hot, smothered, suffocated and too still… It will be hard to adjust to shore living I think. We are too tuned in to the elements. I nearly had a relapse. Hub came to visit with a case he’d packed for me. I opened it gingerly, fully expecting to find a blackened saucepan, a chirping wag-tail (accidentally trapped), a copy of Gwynne’s Latin for my edification and delight and one of his socks. But no! He had thought of everything - even bringing along the mildew in its lid! I then naturally assumed that he’d been taken aside and told I hadn’t long to live and was attempting to make up for years of shocking neglect. I’m like that. I eyed him in such suspicion that he accused me of peering at him as though he was a coiled snake. I noticed a greasy slick over the contents. He admitted that it had taken half a can of WD40 to release the zip which he had found to be bright green and stuck fast. Oh God.


It was brilliant to be back on board though. I realised I had completely taken for granted the ferries and riverboats -I was gazing out of the porthole (mildly surprised to be alive) watching the expertise of the skippers of the Dart Explorer, Dartmouth Princess, Cardiff Castle, the picnic boat, the Dittisham ferry, the Sandpiper, upper and lower ferries, the castle step ferries - they’re the most knowledgeable and experienced mariners on the Dart. What they don’t know about the river is not there to be known. It seems to be that of all the local heroes I have mentioned, I appear to have saved the best until last. Tourists are safe in their hands and they bring what you see alive by their knowledge of this amazing place. Has to be the best value ever for your money or I’ll get Hub to buy his own round. (Not ever going to happen.). Need exercise? Try the River Dart Workout. All you need to do is own a dory, which has an outboard


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