Who invented alarms at 3.15? This is not the time for sparkling conversation and repartee…we get ourselves ready in an even more cursory fashion than yesterday and soon we are squeaking and rustling around in our wet weather gear with plenty of layers underneath. Just time to make some coffee and neither of us feel like eating…or talking much, at the moment. We can just about pick out the dim outlines of other boats on the river as we make our way downstream and out into the inky blackness of the open sea once more. Some big warships in port have lights blazing and this helps navigation for a while…just the Black Rock to find and avoid now.
St Anthony Head light blazes comfortingly through the drizzly blackness and the silence is only disrupted by their mournful foghorn which we hear for some time even once we are well past. The rain comes and goes and once we are past the headland we set a straight line for Penlee Point and the entrance to Plymouth Sound. With nothing especially challenging (we hope) for the next few hours, we settle into a brief watch routine. We are running just on genny alone and when the showers have passed the visibility is not too bad. The radar suggests a boat about 3 miles away off the starboard beam and they track us steadily for sometime until we finally see their running lights. At first all we can see is a red and a white light but eventually, when we are about 1 mile away we can see the red above white of a fishing boat. Gradually we can make out more of the outline of the boat and can actually see the waves…a feeble dawn is clearly coming albeit without the splendid light show and colours of yesterday. Our patch of sea is suddenly more active…two tugs in line abreast are pushing steadily West and some small fishing boats are pottering around inshore.
James’ turn to grab some sleep and when he pops his head out an hour later, we have already closed Penlee point. From the sea, it is obvious why some are headlands and others are points…Rame head and Penlee Point give us a geography lesson.
John has phoned his friend who lives in some flats at Cawsand Bay and we make a short detour into the bay. We see his torch flashing at us and wave back energetically….while still on the phone!
John has loads of memories of sailing these waters in dinghies nearly 60 years ago and he enthusiastically points out local stuff as he sails Heydays into his boyhood waters. He opts to use his local knowledge and takes us through the short cut on the Cornish side of Drake’s Island.
Back in the sound and a Military Police Launch hurries over to a catamaran which is seemingly oblivious of a huge (and un-named warship) bearing down on him. We keep well out of the way…best not to argue with missiles, guns and torpedoes (and who knows what else…). The man with the gun on the bridge doesn’t wave back!!!
We tie up in the marina with enough time for a fry-up before our scheduled lift out at 12.30. We hope they don’t need to come on board, as second-hand fried breakfasts are not everyone’s idea of subtle fragrances…we even have time to wash up.
Heydays is lifted out and we are disappointed with the amount of slime we have accumulated since we antifouled in April in Scotland. We can hire a pressure washer for 30 quid, but for an extra tenner we can have it done for us…we’ve had enough of getting wet…
Our loss of speed is due to hull fouling after only 6 months but also to some fouling on the prop. Teckky alert…we used Hemple’s Tiger on the hull and it has not performed especially well, but we splashed out on some PropSpeed for the prop 2and a half years ago. It cost nearly 100 notes just for the prop but has worked well until now. The locals don’t do PropSpeed any more and like many commercial boats use a spray-on grease instead…we’ll try that out this time.
More disappointingly, it is clear that the cutlass bearing has failed after only three years and the rope cutter is also beyond repair. Mick from M&G Marine is a gem however and he sources replacements very rapidly. The work won’t be done however until next week, by which time our domestic duties have caught up with us once more. The yard is able to do us a deal and so Heydays is ashore for the next two weeks having her bottom and stern gear attended to…
Final thoughts…we expressed our disappointment at what we considered to be an early failure of gear which we thought was relatively new. Mick’s view, once he learns that we have been almost all the way round the UK is that we shouldn’t be surprised given the distance that Heydays has covered. We console ourselves that at least we are wearing gear out (like our mooring warps) rather than them just rotting away through lack of use like so many of the boats we see in the Lymington marinas…