⚓ Stuart Line Cruises Monthly Newsletter ⚓ March 2020 ⚓

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Welcome to Stuart Line Cruises’ March Newsletter

For those of you who are new to this monthly sign-up, welcome! And for those who have been loyal readers for some time, welcome back to your favourite read of the month!

Following what has probably been the most extraordinarily strange month for everyone across the globe, my focus this month will be on attempting to engage you in matters and topics which I hope you will find interesting and find pleasure in reading.

I would love to provide something which may bring a smile and possibly even lessen the worry and fear of uncertainty which you may be feeling – although I know that is a big ask – even if for only a few moments or so. Perhaps I will mention something which will evoke a happy memory and spark a cheerful conversation between yourself and your partner, friend or child – either in person, over the phone or on a digital platform.

Either way, I hope that this will brighten your day.

So please, before you read along,
Go and pop the kettle on,
Maybe even grab a biscuit,
Make yourself comfortable – go on, risk it,
And allow me to steal, if I may,
What I sincerely hope will be a few well-spent moments of your day!

The show must go on!

Whilst we are not entirely sure what our timetable will be looking like in terms of boat trips for the next month or so, some things are still going on behind the scenes and one of those things is the ever-essential maintenance of our boats!

Many people have already expressed an interest in receiving updates on the progress of works so here goes…

As many of you may already know, our flagship vessel, Pride of Exmouth, set sail for Cornwall a couple of weeks ago and has been in an undercover boatyard there ever since. Essential, planned works are being carried out and we are of course incredibly grateful that it is possible for all people to work independently and at a safe distance away from each other. Good job she’s a big boat!

Nothing too major this year (no adding decks or lengthening projects like 2017) but essential maintenance such as anti-fouling the hull and re-painting are among the list of this year’s tasks.

To date, we have sandblasted the hull and bow deck – this strips back the finish to the bare steel so that we can then prepare to repaint and achieve the best possible finish which will both look great and last for a long time. In addition, a lot of painting is underway (the preparation for which is hugely time-consuming when done properly as Jake likes to ensure), the top deck toilet is being refurbished, the diesel tanks have been cleaned out, both propellers and shafts have been removed and sent off to be overhauled, the bow steps are being redone and there is a lot of varnishing in progress, to make the wooden steps look shiny and beautiful!

Incidentally, whilst we are on the subject of the wooden steps being varnished, this is a mildly contentious subject within the Stuart household at present and leads me on to a little aside…. Obviously wherever possible we are all working from home and in all cases, we are working independently. Ian has taken this very seriously and much to Philippa’s horror, has decided to convert the hallway at home into his new temporary workshop! Yes, as outrageous as it sounds! Anyone who knows Ian will know that he is currently in strict isolation and so it stands to reason that he saw this as a perfectly justified solution to the problem and has filled the space with workbenches, upon which he has meticulously balanced the wooden steps in neat lines. He can now complete the varnishing in isolation and in the warm meaning that the varnish should dry nicely – a win win situation all-round?! Well, maybe not in Philippa’s eyes but she’s very understanding/patient!

So there you go, where there’s a will there’s most definitely a way!

Riding the wave…

Peculiar days, indeed. The feeling is surreal – almost apocalyptic but one thing is for certain and that is that we are all in this together – everyone is ‘in the same boat’ – so to speak. Despite wishing that I really was on the boat, I find it reassuring to remind myself of this at least once per day!

As I sit here in my somewhat make-shift office at home (and by that I mean that I am sat at my breakfast bar with my laptop), the sun is gleaming through my windows, the skies are clear and brilliant blue, I’m lucky enough to have a garden which is looking glorious, I’ve had several very pleasant long-distance encounters with my neighbours already today and overall, I’m feeling pretty positive. I also can’t help but think about what nice weather this is for boat trips but that’s besides the point and I must remind myself to focus on the positives, of which there are plenty!

And so, after my third snack of the day (it’s only 10am!), I begin to reflect upon the past couple of days, how it has made me feel and hope that in doing so, you may relate to it in some way and feel better knowing that you are absolutely not alone…

I have just got back from my daily run – my one form of exercise of the day and indeed, my one outing. I took my usual route but extended it slightly to compensate for my otherwise newly sedentary lifestyle as well as all of the additional (completely unnecessary) snacks I have been demolishing! I run reasonably regularly (though perhaps not as much as I should), however, I would usually be running with my dear mum and now I am running on my own. This new aspect is unfamiliar to me but none of us are strangers to new adjustments to our routines at the moment, right?

There were people out and about as you would usually expect but I didn’t see any groups or gatherings, only couples or people on their own. I was pleased to see this and much of my recently dwindling faith in humanity (queue sigh and eye rolling as I recount the brawl-like scenes at supermarkets posted on social media last week) was miraculously restored – people finally appear to be taking heed of the advice which we have been given! Hooray!

As I ran along with my loyal pooch I felt a huge sense of content and I am almost certain that I was probably visibly smiling to myself. There is no doubt in my mind that the beautiful weather is lifting spirits and it’s lovely to see so many other smiling faces. Every so often I catch the eye of someone as we pass each other; we smile a friendly smile at each other, say “good morning!” and ensure our 2 metre distance at all times. It feels like there is a mutual understanding and great sense of respect among people. They want to engage and show their empathy and support but at the same time, keep their distance. I am saddened by the necessity for this as the severity of the situation dawns on me but hugely encouraged by and appreciative of peoples’ responsible approach.

As I run along the seafront, I see young siblings larking around as usual on the golden beach (presumably during home schooling break times), parents looking after them, older folk are out for their usual brisk walks and I feel a strong sense of camaraderie. Every-so-often, people encounter someone they know – someone else making the most of the glorious weather and their one exercise allowance of the day. They chatter at a distance, make remarks about the strange situation we all find ourselves in and many laugh at small jokes, before moving on.

My sister is a doctor and so is her finance. They both work at a large hospital in Wales and are currently working on the ‘front line’, as it were – I am immensely proud of them both, by the way – now more than ever. They would probably be horrified at the thought of getting a mention in my monthly newsletter (sshh don’t tell them!) – why is it that the people who most deserve praise and recognition always seem to be the least keen to seek it? Although I don’t see my sister as much as I would like, we are extremely close, emotionally. She’s almost 2 years my senior, far more academic than I am and I have always looked up to and turned to her for advice – she’s always so reasonable, wise and level-headed. I am much more fiery and hasty to make (sometimes unwise) decisions – hey, we’re all different! Medicine is of course her area of expertise and so at this time, I have found myself turning to her and trying to follow every bit of advice which she has been kind enough to offer and apply it to my personal and professional life. She is extremely rational about the situation and I find great reassurance in speaking to her. She would never admit it but she is doing truly great things now more than ever and I find myself in awe of her resilience, determination and commitment to the greater good.

With this in mind, I must admit I have grown tired of reading peoples’ recent complaints on social media about ‘having to stay home’ – how bored they are and how difficult their life has suddenly become due to being confined to their homes. Of course, things aren’t easy for anyone and one should never make judgements about others’ personal circumstances but having even just a vague insight into what my sister’s shifts are like at the moment actually makes me grateful for the life I have, however disrupted it may feel. The nurses, doctors, therapists, catering, administration teams and everyone else who help to steer our NHS are courageously risking their own health and well-being and that of their families at home, to treat and protect others and I can’t quite believe how lucky we are to have them. They are the real heroes. ALL PRAISE THE NHS!

I can’t help but notice of late that there are a lot of people trying to do a lot of good things to help people and of course I fully support this – how could anyone not? I have been trying so hard to think of ways in which I can help too; I had a conversation with Jake in the office one late evening last week (that was before the new lock-down restrictions, of course), throwing ideas around and getting myself all worked up because none of my ideas seemed good enough. None of them seemed significant or extraordinary and certainly none of them compared to what my sister is doing.

Anyone who knows Jake will know that he’s not a particularly philosophical chap – what you see is what you get and in my eyes that’s a pretty good trait. He turned to me and he said “just chill, good things can be found in every situation and there’s an awful lot to be said for doing good things because you want to do them, not because you want to be seen to do good things.”

I didn’t think I was wanting to do something good to get praise or recognition but his words have led me to conclude that good things can come in all forms, scales and at all times. Nothing is too much or too little and what may seem small or insignificant to one person, could really mean the world to another.

And so, my search for something revolutionary and life-changing continues but in the meantime, I will keep doing my best to smile warmly at strangers, run with a silly smile on my face, share positive anecdotes with you and waffle on about it.

So please, at this terribly unsettling time, take the time to do something good, however ‘big’ or ‘small’ and take time to think about what you are grateful for. We are all in this together and together, we shall rise and when we do, we will smile bigger and laugh harder than ever before.

The power of language…

I am no professional writer – sure, English Literature was one of my stronger subjects at school (when you compare my grades to my appalling maths ones that is) but I really do love to write. I find the creative process of reflective writing to be thought-provoking and feel it brings a real sense of emotional connection between my personal and professional life.

To write and publish one’s thoughts, feelings and memories is a very personal thing but in times such as these, where physical interactions and encounters are so limited, there is great pleasure to be found in reading and writing. In a time when we simply can’t go out for many new adventures, eat at gorgeous restaurants or meet with friends, I think this presents the perfect time to reflect – take time to revisit amazing memories or experiences that you have shared with friends and family and talk about things which have made you smile and made your life feel fulfilled.

I am genuinely terrible at poetry but Jake’s granny’s partner is rather good at it. David wrote the above and gave it to me when we last enjoyed a Sunday Roast together. In his poem, David recounts his experiences and feelings whilst cruising the tranquil Exe Estuary and this got me thinking….

…let’s do a poetry competition?!

I propose the following guidelines for entries:

  • The theme is nature
  • You will not be penalised if your poem is not related to A) The water or B) Boats !!!!
  • There are no other rules – go wild and let your mind run free!

If you’d like to join in, please submit your entries to us via email. Jake and I will read every single one and our favourite will win a gift voucher to be used on one of our award-winning boat trips (once this all blows over – which it will, by the way)!

I hereby pledge that I too will write my poem and I will share it on social media. Come on don’t be shy, let’s engage in whatever ways we can, have fun and share a smile or two!