Friday 23rd - Saturday 24th August
Weymouth to Dartmouth.
We woke early and left Dugald and Fenella on the pontoon at Weymouth at 05:25. They were off on a camping adventure for the August Bank Holiday and we were venturing forth to Dartmouth and then Salcombe. I was very nervous as I would not have Dugald as my wing man when setting the sails or winching. We would be living on biscuits until we reached port as going down below is still an extreme challenge when sailing. My fears were soon laid to rest.
It was a pleasant journey. We started out under motor and I stayed in bed, leaving Iain to helm and watch the sun rise. At 08:00, our new found friends from Lucky Ash sped past at 20kts full of smiles and waves. I eventually came on deck at a much more civilised hour of 09:00 to sunshine and an easy breeze. There was much excitement at our first sighting of dolphins on our trip. It was such a joy to see the happy little pod ducking and diving under our hull. They seem to enjoy the waves and bubbles which we were creating, staying in our company for some time. I tried my hardest to get some action shots, but really I was far too busy watching the dolphins frolic to concentrate on framing the perfect shot.
All in all it was an exhilarating sail. The packet of ginger nuts was more than sufficient as we made excellent time arriving at 10:45. We arrived in the River Dart to a very warm welcome from the Harbour master, Jack who was extremely efficient in helping us to our mooring buoy opposite Dartmouth College. We arrived just before the start of Dartmouth week. It would seem we were following the sailing regattas down the coast! Iain was very pleased to be in the throng of it all once again. As it was so busy we shared our mooring with a very pleasant couple in their autumn years, very experienced and excited to tell us all their tales of completing the Arc some ten years previously and other sailing adventures.
Iain had arranged for some spare parts to be delivered to the Harbour Office, so on Saturday morning the plan was to go ashore.
I think a good sleep and a new destination had filled me with renewed enthusiasm for all things water related! This was the moment I decided I should learn to use the new, very shiny outboard motor. Iain was nervous, I was not. I’m not sure why. How difficult could it be? There were very many people making it look very simple in all shapes and size of vessel. My children have been driving the dinghy for as long as they have been sailing. Surely I could do this?
The river resembled the M25 just before 09:00 with a very respectable tide flowing down stream. Everyone except me seemed to know which direction they should be pointing to head to shore. There were lots of exasperated men and boys in their vessels trying to work out what my intentions were. It would be fair to say, I was facing the same dilemma. Iain was not facing me. He had spent most of the winter trying to persuade me to get into the dinghy in Ipswich Dock and “give it a go”. In my defence, the water is not the cleanest or the warmest in the depth of our winter. However, Iain could not keep calm any longer while I tried to work out left, right, port, starboard and all in reverse with a tiller. After many expletives and some very exasperated stares from many boatmen trying to avoid a somewhat uncontrolled dinghy, Iain saved the day, our vessel and me.
I decided to wait for Dugald to return before attempting to venture forth again.
We retrieved our parcels and headed back to the boat to mend a few things in the hope of reducing the never ending list.
The rest of the day, and indeed, the following days were pleasant. We watched the rowing races, Iain went for a swim, we had a lovely walk beside the railway track. We explored Dartmouth’s back streets. We watched the children crabbing and indulged in beer and fish and chips on the harbour wall. All the summer pastimes which define a perfect English Bank Holiday weekend.
Sunday 25th - Monday 26th August. Dartmouth to Salcombe
My favourite morning of the week - Sunday. Radio 2 Love Songs.
We left Dartmouth at 11:00, after Iain crossed another job from the list whilst I sung along dewy eyed to the week’s offerings. We motored out of the river avoiding the rowers. It soon became apparent there was a very good breeze. Time to experiment with our A4 spinnaker. First time out of the bag for the two of us and for the trip. Without Dugald, I was apprehensive, Iain was not. He was getting excited. Iain had spent days rigging the hands free powered spinnaker furling system. Orders were flying, bags were opening and the sail appeared. A text book hoist! It worked a treat. I was surprised at how well we managed and without an argument. Things were looking up!!
We sailed until the wind dropped and eventually we were forced to motor into
Salcombe. Again, very helpful and enthusiastic staff helped us to our mooring buoy. This time we were tied up against our friends Mark and Joanne, on their Hanse 575 While Andy and Sue, with Lucky Ash were on a bouy behind. The three of us were becoming quite the water caravan.
Salcombe was heaving. Holiday makers were plentiful both on the water and ashore. The busiest Seaside destination so far. Iain was ticking off yet another job from the list, and I was busy cleaning the boat. It is uncanny how quickly such a small space becomes messy. All was well. We were not arguing. The radio was on, I was singing while cleaning the heads in our cabin. True to form, I took my eye off the ball. I flushed the loo while cleaning the pan with a small yellow sponge. Who knew such a small pump would have so much force it could pull the tiny sponge from my hand and down into the mechanism. The sound was heart stopping. Or was that the adrenaline kicking in knowing I had just added to The List? I was greeted with silence upon the news. This was not going to end well, or so I thought. We continued our jobs in silence. About half and hour later Andy Hobbs from Lucky Ash Luxury Yacht Charter, cycled over to have a look at our home.
After much discussion, we went back to see Andy and Sharon’s very stylish motor yacht which they own and operate in the Solent taking people out for the day or longer following all the major regattas on the South Coast and more. Thanks to their wonderful hospitality, we had a gin and BBQ filled evening topped off, with Andy performing magic tricks which I found highly entertaining and very believable. A trip on Lucky Ash would be well worth it for any occasion!
Thanks to this great end to an otherwise less productive day, all was well aboard Fatjax that evening and the next morning the offending sponge was removed (whole) from the mechanism…..
On Monday evening, Dugald and Fenella were kindly driven back to meet us by Fenella’s Grandmother, they were full of tales of camping and speed boat trips. We decided to stay a few days to absorb the atmosphere and explore Salcombe.