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LIFE ABOARD Life Aboard BY MARIANNe BARTRAM


MARIANNE LIVES ABOARD THE MV TRESHNISH ON THE RIVER DART WITH HER HUSBAND NIGEL


I


was perched in the wheelhouse peeling silvery mackerel scales off my socks


– don’t ask – and realised that we’ve been on the boat now for two years! I dread to think what I look like. You will be shocked to hear this but there are those who call us “River Rats”. I used to insist that we were “Ocean Dwellers” and actually teased people coming aboard in torn rags made stiff with epoxy resin, covered in paint and bleeding from “boat bites”. I am well served. some events have shattered


my nerves – not gale force winds surprisingly, because we soon learned that the Tresh, being 35 tons and Admiralty built, just shrugs off a storm, and it is me who is left with bits broken off and my hair on end – no, it’s more the domestic ghastliness really, like helping install a new head. This meant removing the one Hub has been using and I now know that whatever life throws at me, there can be no greater horror in store than the memory of that! On a happier note - Oh, Joy! It’s the


Food Festival! It never hurts to have extra ballast for the boat. I exercised a pleasing degree of self control and, as we are blessed with generous storage space, the olives, chutneys, cheeses, breads, cakes, spices, herbs, hams, chocolates, biscuits, cider and local ales fitted in quite neatly. Paltry, really, considering the temptations…. I would have entered the fastest omelette cooking competition – the record to beat being 45 seconds but it would have been cheating. On board, I can create an omelette with six eggs in ten seconds just by trying to put them in the fridge during a force 8. still, we are now nicely sorted for Christmas treats. Or we would have


been, but they sort of call to you, don’t they….. there you are, forming an eye splice and suddenly a vision of a bag of fudge comes to mind and - well, I seem to be left with an awful lot of empty wrappers and bottles…..I’ll have to go round again. If any of the stall holders recognise me, I’ll just say I’ve got this weird obsessive disorder where I have to buy everything twice. On the subject of food, we had


words the other day. Hub fancies a new cooker and pointed out a gimballed one in the brochure, reading aloud that it was “particularly useful” when cooking whilst wearing a safety harness. Once I’d recovered my power of speech, I was able to inform him that under no circumstances whatsoever would I be placing myself in the position of cooking whilst having to wear a safety harness. Whatever next? No. A scotch egg and a packet of cheese and onion must and will suffice.


On board, I can create an om- elette with six eggs in ten sec- onds just by trying to put them in the fridge during a force 8.


Anyway, it’s hardly a good look is it, flying around the galley like a giant toddler on a rein. I’m not doing it. Having said that, given a force 11


is predicted, when it comes to flying around the boat, I may not have much say in the matter! It comes courtesy of st. Jude, the Patron saint of Lost Causes – which says it all, really. Hub has created a “pre-storm prep list”. He handed me my share of it and I thought there must be some mistake - it was enough work for twelve people . Tie a Midshipman’s Hitch (eh?) to this, put a Clara Hitch (who she?) on


that. sometimes I feel like going to live somewhere more sensible like, oh, I don’t know – Outer Mongolia?


I


wonder if I have a touch of cabin fever? everybody gets it from time to time and it just has to be lived through. You feel like screaming but it does no good and I’ve found that trying to land a hard, well deserved punch when the floor is fairly heaving under your feet is well nigh impossible. (The last time I tried it, I flailed about a bit but just ended up weak and exhausted – Hub, however, laughed so much that first he got hiccups and then whisky came out of his nostrils.)


Obtaining sufficient supplies of water takes up a lot of our time and at first I felt like I was in one of those sad Oxfam ads: “Marianne doesn’t have access to clean, fresh water. No. If she wants a cup of tea she has no choice but to row for hours through treacherous currents in the hope of finding a tap. Just £3 a month could transform her life forever. Can you help her and others like her on the River Dart?” It’s easier now though as a tap is quite close – but even that can be perilous. As we went to refill the other day, a large wave broke over me and I fear I may have swallowed a jellyfish. Well, something slipped down very easily and I know from experience that bladder wrack catches on your teeth, so……if it isn’t one thing, its another. Hub just came in and said “if that


roof leaks now, I’ll eat a two inch Pigs Bristle” (it’s a paintbrush - thankfully) The first drops have just bounced off


my head. Wonder if he wants it fried or boiled? It’s true that I sometimes feel


like a deckhand in an episode of ‘Hornblower’ - but would I do it all again ?


In a heartbeat! • 51


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