With Heydays out of the water in Plymouth, we take the opportunity to anti-foul her bottom and we even have time to polish her top sides…the decks and coach roof will have to wait though. There is no doubt that after nearly 2 years away from home she is looking a little tired and in need of more detailed attention than we have been able to give her.
However we receive the sad news that John’s Dad passed away early on Tuesday 10th October. In March with all of us in Orkney, John rushed back to be with him in what doctors thought were to be his last few days. However over the next few months he rallied and John managed to take him out to his favourite pub, The Ferryhouse Inn on the river Tamar, for the occasional pint and meal. We’ll have a wake there after the funeral and toast Roy, looking out over the river and the dockyards at Devonport where he spent so much of his life.
With a domestic and weather window before the funeral, we decide to press on Eastwards with a plan to take us to Dartmouth, Poole and then home. Heydays is lifted back in the water and we slip the mooring just after 11am on Saturday morning. The benefits of a clean bottom and prop are felt immediately as Heydays slips easily through the Sound at 4 knots at only just over 1000 revs. The wind is on the nose as we head south initially, but we look forward to a straightforward beat to Start Point and then a fetch and final run into Dartmouth.
John pilots us out of his boyhood waters with mixed emotions…and a grey sky,
We skim the light at the Western end of the breakwater…
and in clear seas the wind frees and we head for the Mewstone rocks just south of Wembury point with a full set of sails.
With each headland, we make some more easting in the course and by the time we round Bolt Head we are on a fine fetch. The sky lightens and breaks (…”enough blue to make a sailor a pair of trousers” as my grandma used to say) and the green fields of S Devon slip by.
By the time Salcombe is on the beam, the sun is out and although the wind dies to a zephyr we are just happy to be out on the water.
We pass a few floating plastic drink bottles and grumble about the general level of pollution, the future of the planet etc. etc. …how unusual for two old men…With a near flat sea we suddenly realise that we are not looking at drinks bottles at all, but Portuguese men of war (who are doing a very good impression of floating plastic debris). We even see a gull tentatively pecking at the sac. We are not sure if that encounter finally ends in a score draw…
As Start Point comes on the beam the mouth of the Dart, although still 10 miles away, is indicated by a cluster of sails and other boats like bees round the entrance to a hive.
We pick our way up river just as the ebb is starting and with the sun casting longer shadows over the town, we understand why this part of the coast is so popular for tourist and yachties alike.
We even have time to glance back…
On cue, a steam train whistles and chuffs away up the old line. This could be a scene from the fifties….except for the rows of plastic boats now lining the banks instead of fine varnish and canvas…
We choose the town quay for the night as we are allowed to moor there while the ferries are not working from around 5pm to 8.30am. As we plan to be away by 6am there shouldn’t be a problem…except that the ferry is working later today due to demand! There is enough space for all of us but we have to put up with a few returning drunks waiting next to us for the last boat back across the river. We are not at all bothered as we head for the The Royal Castle for a couple of pints and a what turns out to be a great meal. This is slightly spoiled by 1) the price….welcome to the touristy south and 2) the fact that the service charge does not go to the staff at all. After the recent high profile stuff in the news about owners pocketing tips meant for staff, we thought that this would now be a thing of the past. How naïve are we? The prices in the Royal Castle are high enough without them feeling that they can steal from their staff…..grump over. Dartmouth is delightful and we’ll return soon with more time to look around.
We check forecasts and ex-hurricane Ophelia is looking like it will be making its presence felt over the next few days as it tracks north from the Azores. The further east we can make, the easier it will be. There are some gales forecast in Fitzroy, Sole and Plymouth sea areas…all to the west of us but some F5/6 in Portland and Wight. Looks good to go at the moment, but we’ll check in the morning.