The Cruise – Part 13
Saturday 3rd May
Still at the Public Slipway in Balsam Creek, Salcombe - definitely a day for staying in port because it was far too windy, although from the right direction for Plymouth. I took the opportunity for cleaning the boat inside and out; then I discovered I could access the Internet via a Hotspot at Blue Water Cafe. That was a relief because of the difficulty I had since my last success at Brixham at the Yacht Club.
A yachtsman who owned 'Cassie' a Westerly Centaur, engaged me in general chat which lasted nearly an hour. He was helpful by giving me local information such as where to buy petrol and find Internet access.
As I suspected, I was asked to move the boat because the rules clearly signposted spelled out that the pontoon was for short stay by attended boats. I took the opportunity to tie up alongside the fuel barge for a meager 5 litres of petrol, then I explored the upper reaches of the River where I found 'Patsy Rye'. Nigel informed me he would be at the floating pontoon in The Bag. Later I joined him and several other yachts, and in the afternoon we enjoyed a circuitous walk to Balsam Creek and back to the hole through the hedge to the beach where we had left his dinghy.
Sunday 4th May
The big day arrived for sailing to Plymouth, but what a shock was in store at the Bar; the ebb was moving fast against a large swell, causing dangerous breaking waves. I steered 'Faith' well port in deep water, but even there we bobbed up and over the waves with the engine purring away. I was relieved to get to out to sea where the wave height diminished, but the swell remained. When well clear of the fearsome Bolt Head I set a course towards the Mewstone off the River Yealm. By 1025 we were adjacent to Burgh Island and with the ebb running in our favour we were doing 3.6 knots without much wind. The sun broke through the gloom to transform the day, to the extent that I shed my layers of sweaters. I saw my first swallow of the year heading for the coast, presumably after crossing The Channel. Six wonderful gannets with their large wingspan flew in formation like the Red Arrows buzzing the boat. The smell of the air was indescribably pure and fresh – the likes that can only be found at sea after crossing an ocean.
By mid-day there was a good force 3 pushing us relentlessly towards Plymouth. There were a few boats in Bigbury Bay, one of which was an old, classic vessel painted in black and yellow once used by the Navy for general use. I could hear her rhythmic engine from miles away.
Arriving at the eastern end of Plymouth Breakwater I could see many yachts on that Bank Holiday Weekend. An enormous white passenger ship entered the western entrance and she was followed by a purposeful looking frigate that anchored in The Sound. I took the opportunity of smooth water for topping up the outboard tank. The incoming tide swept us through The Bridge (a narrow opening between a submarine barrier) south west of Drakes Island towards the narrows by the Cremyll Ferry slipway. The usual swirling agitated waters of the Hamoaze south of Devonport had us changing course.
I was fascinated with the Navy vessels at the Dockyards; there were Frigates, a Pilot boat, three tugs, three large Auxiliaries, a submarine and twelve moored ammunition carriers.
With the flooding tide pushing us up the River Tamar we were doing a good four knots with hardly any wind. Nowadays there are countess numbers of yachts on moorings and I used them as signposts to show me the way to Cargreen and beyond. From there on, the River is beautiful being lined with trees and fields for grazing cattle or sheep. The light drizzle didn't diminish the view, in fact the opposite by providing atmosphere.
At 1750 I tied 'Faith' to the Calstock Town Foating Jetty, and there I spent a very uncomfortable night because the boat settled at an angle on the sloping mud.
Monday 5th May
Most of the day was spent with my friend Geoff who lives in Calstock. Late afternoon I took the boat along the narrow winding river to Morwellham and the views are quite stunning. For a section of the River there's a cliff on the starboard hand when going upstream and at other parts the wooded hills rise steeply and there's such a profusion of trees of many types with their various colourings. Now and again nestled between the trees and fields there are granite cottages by the old industrial town of Morwellham there are remains of building associated with tin and copper mining. A few very tall but deformed chimneys look like religious totems; on had the top split as if it had been struck by lightning.
I anchored 'Faith' in mid stream with hope that I might have a quiet night's sleep.
Tuesday 6th May
Had a really good night – didn't even hear the boat turn on her anchor at the flood. I had no concerns except for a tiny black snail that had found its way to the foredeck. As I didn't want a superfluous crew I determined to set the tiny thing free on one of the branches floating on the water and sure enough one obliged. Once securely aboard nature's raft the wind obligingly carried my unwanted friend to the river bank.
For some unknown reason the engine was not in the mood to continue after starting and therefore I changed the spark plug and all was well. For the first time there was a high pressure system giving a blue sky and much appreciated sunshine. The verdant countryside was at its best. At this part of the River Tamar the beauty is outstanding; there are rolling hills covered with an abundant variety of trees and here and there are hedged fields in which sheep and cattle graze. Birds for ever entertain; a graceful swan, black-headed ducks alighting and skiing in to halt with their feet spread out, moorhens pecking reeds, pigeons darting from the overhanging trees, geese honking to keep intruders away and crows passing the time of day with their raucous call.
At Devonport Dockyard there was a hive of activity; tugs chugging here and everywhere, the Police launch speeding along, men dressed in overalls on the deck of the dilapidated submarine 'HMS Tireless' and sailors aboard Frigate 321 the 'Argyll'.
I berthed alongside the visitor's pontoon at Mayflower Marina, but it was hopeless there because of the continuous waves caused by the washes of passing vessels. I next motored along Plymouth seafront to the Barbican where I gained permission to enter Queen Anne's Battery Marina, and here I leave you here as I take a late afternoon stroll into Plymouth in search of a MacDonald's to post this blog.