Abemama is at Capestang – a minor British colony – about 80% of the way along the Atlantic to Med canal route. We are also approaching the half time whistle for this summer’s cruise. We seem to be dawdling, but we have no real priority other than pleasure and the log shows that this is where we were on the same date last year.

You can never run a long cruise to a strict timetable. An injury to a crew member means that we shall stay here until the malady is cured. We have a vertical quay (no tree roots to snag on bilge keels) and – at this time of year, – water and electricity are free, as long as you do not abuse, or outstay your welcome. We are also among friends made on previous trips, so have support if we need it.

Typically, on Friday, John and Rose Soper (first met in 1993 on their boat French Mistress at Addaya) stopped by to take us away from the canal to a vineyard miles out in the country. There we were able to buy a good red Merlot (12.5% by volume) at the incredible price of 90fr for a 10 litre ‘bag in box’ ie a very acceptable, thick dark red, not blended, for 90p a litre. Gordon Brown eat your heart out.

Sadly, we have witnessed a number of accidents this year. On a hot day, a Belgian skipper filled his petrol tank from jerry cans. When he started his engine, there was a huge explosion and a badly burned lady. Last week, a British skipper overturned a boarding plank and severely damaged a kneecap in the fall. Even before this, petrol engines and boarding planks were not my favourite gear. If we need a plank, we are moored in the wrong place. But the events show that even in the calm of the canals, boats are still an adventure connoting risk.

The enforced stopover will let us get some money earning and boat jobs done – notably the engine. Before the new injectors had bedded in, back in April, our BMC 2.2 was needing 40secs of pre heat and then started lazily. Now, on all fresh fuel and in a warmer climate, 20 secs does the job and all 4 cylinders crack in together. The BMC is very air sensitive and we have picked up one of those irritants which means that if we do not start for 3 days, we have to bleed a couple of injectors. If air is getting in, fuel must be coming out, so finding a micro leak around the lift pump might have done the trick. With mains available for charging, we can give it a 3 day rest to verify.

Several years back, we made enquiries about the price of a fitted awning for the cockpit. Frightening. So, Rita made one from an old tent roof and some plumbers lightweight piping and joiners. It is one of the best bits of kit we have ever had. Yesterday it rained all day, but we were still able to sit and dine outside in a dry cockpit. Today is sunny and hot, so we shall demolish our duck, Toulouse sausage, salads and Terre Noire Rouge in the shade.

All cruises have problems, but life could be a lot worse.