Monday, July 14 to Monday July 15
49° 2′ 39.6348” N 3° 58′ 1.56” E
One week further has passed. We are still in Epernay and when we are on our run every other morning we stop at the local bakery in Magenta. The baker’s wife goes immediately to the shelf with the coarse baguettes added extra grain. She sees us as regulars, knows what we want and welcomes us warmly when we come.
Similarly, when we cycle into the café every day in Epernay for the strongest Wi-Fi, so we can read news, check mail and follow what is happening in the world. The waitresses greet us as customers, they know, although we are not quite like other patrons having come to a kissing level with the waitresses.
We are close to taking root in Epernay. Instead of Friday, the mechanics come suddenly on Tuesday afternoon. We are up in the city at our regular café. “You’re not on the boat,” he says slightly reproachfully. “No, but I’ll be there in ten minutes. Should definitely stay. “He measures, he photographs, and he speaks in French to a warehouse, according to the dimensions of gimbal-membered nuts. The mechanic makes us understand that we are now, despite many hardships with cracked departments of Malö and holiday closures, close to a solution. But it will not be Wednesday. It will be, at best, on Friday that he can install the new part.
Two more days, we think. But we settle down for the evening by calling Bill, the English translator, but with an ominous voice he proclaims that the universal joint is so specific to our boat that it is not stocked anywhere in Europe but it must be produced at a factory in Holland after ordering it. It costs € 1,591.24 including VAT, and the money will have to be sent before he placed an order for the production of a new gimbal-joint. In addition, he will have 500 € for the work of measuring, evaluating and – for his time – to install the new part. From the time of placing the order it will take 15 days before the spare part is ready to be mounted. 15 days!!! We’re damn not retired with a lifetime ahead of us to wait. We are on a four-week holiday. And already two weeks we have agreed to wait for the solution to our engine problem.
Per agrees to transfer the money. Paying wages. But will not accept that it should take 15 days. Bill calls back to the mechanics. There’s nothing to do. The Dutch manufacturer is adamant. We agree for the mechanics to come to the boat Wednesday night with our bank details so we can get the financing done. But the French are apparently unreliable. For the mechanic does not come at six o’clock. He rings the bell 21 and asks if it’s okay that we meet the boat at 10 o’clock on Thursday morning instead? It’s OK, we accept, with a tired voice, only our deficient knowledge of French will hold us from expressing ourselves more aggressively. The mechanic does not show at 10. He rings the bell at 12 and asks if it can be at two o’clock instead. Frenchmen are unreliable.
At two o’clock he comes. Per calls the Danish Bank in Odense to transfer the amount to the mechanics. The agreement is that when the money is in his account, Friday, he will order the “la piece,” and he tells us that maybe he could get the spare part already after seven days, he has really pushed the manufacturer and explained our situation. We serve coffee, talk socially and separate with the best hopes for early solution to our problems.
Seven days! After all the bumps put in the schedules, we do not believe anymore in French assurances certain times, so now we are in the process of planning a whole new holiday. We agree with Lasse, we would like to come to Provence to live with them at a rural B & B. We call Mikkel and Helen and explain to them that we will hardly get a chance to visit Lyon as agreed. They propose, however, that we keep some day city breaks. So be it.
The days go by with chores on the boat. It will be painted. Screws on the railings will be tightened. The whole deck gets a clean with algaecide. Jørgen and Hanne come on Friday. And as always when they are on board, so changes Ronja’s character. There are more sports-camp on the boat, and there will be – paradoxically – even more decadent enjoyment of food and drink on the boat. She has her little red Michelin Guide for Frankrigst best restaurants, and wewith Hannes help explain to Per the new situation and the new plan for the port captain. We leave the harbour on Tuesday and we would like Ronja to stay in Epernay until October 11, when we will come down and sail Ronja further south. We would like him to take care of Ronja for us. We would like him to open for the mechanic when he comes and we would like him to shut down the engine and internal power when installation is complete.
Bernard is definitely ok with it. No problems. He’ll keep an eye on Ronja and intervene if something goes wrong. We agree on a price until 11 October. 4,500 kroner. It is relatively a lot. But it is important that Bernard has made a clear promise to take responsibility for Ronjas well-being. We get a port space. We also get a conscientious caretaker.
We even get discounts on some days. “We do not do this for everyone,” asserts Bernard.
A Swedish couple and a couple of their friends from Lomma Malmö attach to the side of us. The Swedish couple has retired and is in the process of a 16-month voyage down to Greece. Their boat is a Bavaria 34, which they have called “the dream”