When we tell people we are taking a Gap Year it’s interesting to watch their reaction. Some say –“Great what a brilliant idea and you are right to do it when you can”. Others mutter something like “Great, well for you” and change the subject. A third lot of people say “Are you mad? You should stay working, pay off your mortgage and put money in your pension. What will happen if you run out of money or get sick“?
During the two years of planning and working on this Gap Year Project there have been many times when I think the third lot of people are right and we must have been mad to embark on this adventure. As we get closer to the departure date, for me the worry actually increases. At this stage we cannot back out – the boat is bought, fish tank, car and motor bike sold, job gone etc
Then I think of all the people who have helped and encouraged us, some of them more than once it gives me courage to keep going. People like Michael & Penny Eustace who agreed to store our old sailing boat whilst we are away. Bill Kee, who drove us to Portumna so that we could collect the boat to transfer it to Tarmonbarry and trained us in Project management (Bill does this for a living as part of the Circa Group Europe Ltd) This helped us greatly with the endless check lists and management of the Gap Year Project.
Gerry & Katrina Fitzmaurice kindly offered us the use of their boat berth at Tarmonbarry on the Shannon. C’est la Vie has been there since Oct and she will leave from there to go to Dover. They have kept us in their house, fed us, minded the boat, lent us extra heaters for the boat and given endless help.
Topaz Local Fuels. I had a big problem as the diesel tank on the boat was filled with green diesel and this has to be changed to white (derv) diesel for use on the Continent. The only solution was to drain the oil from the boat tank and Topaz agreed to take the oil back. Twenty Nine cans later the tank is empty and when I am ready a Topaz truck will come and refill the tank. Ian Gallagher (my son) who has a degree in Web site design and has given endless support and helped to set up our blog site. Des & Janet Leyden who have spent last 11 years boating on the canals of France. They have returned to Ireland this year. They have an encyclopaedic knowledge on cruising on the Continent and have given us loads advice and encouragement and contact details of people who can help us in France.
Aine Brady (Nuala’s mother) has been very encouraging who sponsored our two special folding chairs and a folding table so we can eat out in style on deck during the good weather. Tom Fuller does volunteer IT work for Saint Vincent De Paul. Tom has checked and upgrade our computers, IPads and laptops. Thanks to him our computer network is secure and we should have good IT infrastructure on the journey. Shelia Fitzpatrick Nuala has been talking for ages about getting a Kindle to read books during the journey and Sheila insisted on giving her a Kindle as she has one herself. Pat & Helen Mc Gonagle In our efforts to have the boat registered as a ship of the Irish Nation we have had to complete affidavits and indemnity forms under the Mercantile Marine Act 1955. Pat (a solicitor) has given loads of advice and help.
St Vincent’s Shop Sean Mc Dermott Street A big thank you to the staff that have helped Nuala find loads of bits and pieces for the boat- at great prices. Ben & Barbara Cheever Ben (Known as the light man) is helping us to put a solar system on the boat and fit correct LED lights. If we can run the electrical systems on the boat on low power lights and solar energy we will save a lot of money on the journey.
So when I get fearful and wonder are we a pair of nutters, I think of all the people who have helped us so far, and know we are not making this journey alone, but with the support of an ever growing number of friends and family, people enthusiastic for us to fulfill our dream. Hopefully, we will someday be able to return the favour, in the meantime, THANKS A MILLION!!!