On leaving the Albert Dock for the summer vacation, Gray springs a catastrophic leak. Dominick reverses into the dock they have just left and makes a poor repair diving in a thunderstorm. Claire says he had better find some mud and make a better repair. So they find a suitable mud bank down river, make several attempts to sit on it so that Dominick can work properly. When he finally gets Gray lined up on the mud, she falls over almost on top of him. After making a better, but not perfect, repair the tide rises, but Gray refuses to come too. When the water is on the point of cascading down the main companionway into the hold, a commercial vessel comes by very fast. Its wake sucks the water off Gray's steeply angled decks, and as it rushes back Gray pops out of the mud and floats. During this anxious time, while Toby and Dominick gaze uselessly at the rising waters, impotent to do anything, Claire is in the deckhouse making dinner despite the angle.
Then, off to Calais with the intention of going down the English Channel to Dieppe against the prevailing Westerlies. For 19 days contrary winds keeps them in Calais. Claire gets desperate trying to amuse the children in a town whose few remaining attractions have been ruined by British attacks in the Second World War. Dominick skulks around listening to the weather forecast - which always turns out to be bad. Eventually, the Westerlies abate, but Claire does not trust Dominick's resolve to leave. So, she slips 10 mg valium in his tea and tells off two of her children to catch him if he falls. Dominick accordingly shoots out of Calais with no difficulty at all, finds out he has been drugged - and thereafter takes valium whenever he is scared at sea. They reach Dieppe, sail onwards, start leaking properly and return to Dieppe for permanent repairs.
It is now 1974, the year after the Arab oil embargo starts to throw the Western world into confusion. The children have to go back to school and university. There is delay after delay in getting onto the floating dock. Claire returns to London to organise the children leaving Dominick alone in Dieppe with time on his hands to think about the future and finances. So, when Claire returns for a brief visit between children obligations he suggests they cannot any longer afford both a large homeless schooner and a large house in a better part of London. Claire disagrees - after all, it's mostly her money. They have a huge fight which becomes personal and bitter. Before Claire returns to London, leaving their future together somewhat vague, they are asked to dinner with the LOCAL BILL POSTER whose son has become a friend of the children. Papa wants to know discreetly if they are doing drugs.
Gray spends three weeks on the floating dock. Dominick gets to know the WORKMEN who teach him lots of technical French, get him to roll their oakum (like Tom Sawyer and his fence), but cannot spell the words they teach him - they are illiterate. Three of the workmen stand out: Abasourdi, Trente-six Années, and Robert. Dominick finds that social class is unchanged from the Ancien Régime. Furthermore, they know nothing of modern British industrial action - they go on strike but for only two hours coinciding exactly with their two hour lunch break.
Eventually, of course, Gray is put back into the water despite an hysterical Dominick.
Gray is berthed in a disused end of a large basin for the winter. (Click here for the story) Dominick's attempt to purchase a shower base tax free sets off a chain of bureaucratic events as a result of which he imports Gray into France, exports the shower base to Gray , but as Gray remains British he is no longer required to leave France in the middle of winter at the end of her six months' visitor stay. Dominick is upset by the head of the customs service insulting Gray as a 'wreck' - until he realises that wrecks do not attract much import duty.
When he calls Claire to tell her what he has done, she immediately suspects he is leaving her and selling his London house under her feet. Then she announces that THE TENANT, vital to the financial survival of the house has stopped paying his rent, as permitted under British socialist legislation. Dominick had better return to England forthwith in Gray to deal with the situation. She will be arriving the next day with children to act as crew. Having crossed back, it becomes clear that England's harbours are too crowded for Gray. Claire's idea that they go back to living the grand life with both the schooner and the house therefore won't work. However, the tenant is a rich American weirdo who is in fact longing to pay the rent provided he can look after the house and any children temporarily at home - a sort of blackmail to get their love and attention.
Without Dominick's knowledge, Claire offers a passage to Gibraltar to an AUSTRALIAN OPAL DEALER who happens along the quayside, points out to Dominick that the ship is now seaworthy and merely needs some provisions. Within two weeks, Gray leaves England for ever. They dine on roast lamb and gravy, roast potatoes, and peas as they round Ushant into the Bay of Biscay in a rising gale.
During the next twelve years, the Gray sails via the Mediterranean and the Caribbean to America where she is sold, and sinks at her moorings near New London, Connecticut, six years later.