Saturday, May 21, 2005

Saturday, 21st May

My miniature Roberts radio could only give me an uninspiring early morning forecast of gales for the whole of the south coast from St Catherine’s Point, on the Isle of Wight, to Lands End. From where I was anchored at Elberry Cove, the distance by sea to Kingswear on the River Dart was only a matter of 12 nautical miles, and it was to be my next port of call, but with the outlook of strong winds and prolonged heavy showers, my best option was to visit Brixham Marina, but with some reluctance.

As you’ve probably gathered, I’m not fond of marinas, but they do have their advantages.

Having slept longer than usual, I didn’t finish breakfast and the usual ablutions until 1000. As I surveyed the panorama from the cockpit I was struck with how calm it was. There was no indication at all of the strong cold winds to come.

To starboard I noted a limestone folly tower, built low down on a miniature cliff which was next to Elberry Cove’s pebbly beach. High up above the waterline there was a tent where a couple had spent the night making themselves visible by the light of their barbecue fire. A lone figure strode along the water’s edge while her two dogs scampered to and fro. Bubbly birdsong broke the silence, but incessant crows did all they could to nullify the harmonious melody by monotonously repeating their raucous cries. Meanwhile a local crab fisherman in a black work boat expertly tended his pots marked by bright orange buoys. In the direction of Paington a high pitched note of a steam train drew my attention to its ponderous progress marked by a trail of grey smoke, as if a dragon were breathing fire. Such moments are the stuff of a coastal cruise.

Soon this picture of calm was broken by a blast of wind which whipped ‘Bumper’ at the end of her anchor rode; then several heavy downpours cooled and dampened the scene. I stayed below with the washboards firmly in place and whiled away my time by attending to mundane things like testing the engine oil level, sharpening my penknife and kitchen knife and looking up details of possible next ports of call.

The morning was soon over and at mid-day I listened to the forecast. It was the same as before: South West 5 to 7, occasionally 8 at first, with thunder showers and moderate to good visibility. My mind was made up, Brixham it would be. Confirming my decision, a ski boat made circles around ‘Bumper’, treating her as a newly found marker buoy!

By 1230 the boat had been prepared with lines and fenders in readiness for entering the marina. At 1320 I turned off the engine after the difficult manoeuvre of entering berth 31 at pontoon ‘B’, which was made a bit easier by a kind motorboat owner who anticipated I would need assistance, since ‘Bumper’ had to come alongside on the downwind side of the finger berth. Being single-handed, one cannot attach the bow and stern lines immediately at the same time to the pontoon. I suppose the answer is to use a temporary single line from amidships, which can be attached to the central cleat on the finger pontoon. (I’ll have to remember that in future.)

Feeling tired after getting the boat sorted out, I took a well earned snooze, and when I woke, around mid-afternoon, I visited Brixham’s main shopping area, where I bought a new pair of gloves for only £2.00, an absolute bargain.

Brixham is famous for being a fishing port, and in times past it boasted a large fleet of sailing trawlers, three of which are in the harbour today being used as charter boats. They are getting geared up for ‘The Festival of Sea’ events, in commemoration of Lord Nelson and the Battle of Trafalgar.

As soon as I returned to ‘Bumper’ after my successful shopping expedition, the rain really came down, as the proverbial saying, ‘Like cats and dogs’; although I cannot associate the link between heavy rain and these animals.

While preparing this entry to the ‘blog’, every now and again ‘Bumper’ is pummelled by blasts of wind, which tension her lines as she heels several degrees. I am thankful not to be at sea.

What will tomorrow bring?

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