Time was indeed moving forward, late in 1998. We were suddenly looking at nine months to go, and all of the little ends were suddenly coming together.
One way I could see the time growing short was from riding the 15 bus every morning, passing Piccadilly and looking at the Millenium countdown clock by the Coca Cola sign. It had spun from 1460 days to the Millenium celebration (back in early 1996) down to about 400 days.
There was the issue of that boat loan I took out in 1996, for 75K from Navy Federal. At 10.9% interest, for twelve year term.
Add in the 16K it took for delivering the boat from Jacksonville to Southampton. Oh, and the almost 12K for sails, which were arriving any minute, you can see that we had quite a bit of fortune invloved in this little sailing fantasy.
About the boat loan payments; It was about $963.00 a month, not counting the insurance. Back in early '97, I felt quite overwhelmed by the costs, especially at the interest. I think we were at $22.39 a day in interest, or $671.00 a month.
How the heck can you get something paid off like that?
I was scared. It took until about March of '97 before we had the loan amount below the original 75K. I became a fanatic about dumping every spare dime onto that usurious loan.
Spousal Unit had a great job, working for an American Health Company called "Foundation Health", at the Conoco Building near Oxford street. She says that if you can picture Edina and Patsy from "Ab Fab", then you get the picture of how this company had been run into the ground by its Management Team. The director had hired her Lover (who had no sales skills) to be the sales director. Naturally, all this came to a screeching halt when the California folks came out to audit and find out why things were not working out.
Come August of '97, Foundation closed its doors and we were in a pickle; We really needed the paycheck.
Fortunately, the National Health Service at Moorefields Eye Hospital needed a manager, so the day was saved.
Back to bills; We put every spare penny on that boat loan, and like magic, we had all of it paid off by December of '98! In view of this achievement, we invited all of our local friends over to Friern Barnet for a Thanksgiving party. Tom Davey kindly allowed us to use his manse, and we moved right in, we used his apples from his orchard for apple pies and cooked two turkeys on weber kettles in the back yard.
Lucky for me, I had a tooth infection which made my back molar feel like it was about to explode from my jaw. I used cold water to help keep the pain down and wound up being the only sober person at the party. (I went in on the following Monday ant the nice dental team at Blenheim Crescent did a rapid root canal which alleviated my suffering). Staying sober at that party would have been impossible otherwise, so I was indeed lucky because the pain made me be a better host.
That party was a great way for thanking all of our British and European friends for treating us like family over the previous three years and also their support which kept us focused on our goal of sailing away.
Our sails arrived and were installed, uninstalled and reinstalled. Adjustments were made to our equipment and the boat was slowly made ready for a final visit to Calais.
What were we going to do with the Kitties?
I dragged them to the vet in West Ruislip, got a health certificate and brough them to British Airways, where they flew to San Francisco to stay with my Mom for the next year, or two.
They were not amused.
We cleared out of St Katherines for the final time, heading East for France, Memorial Day weekend of '99. The plan was to bring the boat to Lymington to the Berthon Boatyard for refit and self steering installation.
I will cover the trip and the visit to Berthon is coming days.