Its always sensible to have a Plan B, so long as you have a Plan A of course, but complications arose after a convivial evening ashore with family last evening, for indecision – not a usual Willis characteristic – set in. Merrily back aboard Pippin, the Willis Plan A had the most attraction as it promised longer in my green maggot (sleeping bag) – but then Plan B had a tad more margin for error. So to bed with Plan A in my head; but the Angel Elf and Safety visited me in the night and placed common sense in my brain, so it was Plan B that got me up at dawn, just as the fishing boats were all preparing to leave. Clearly Willis Plan B had something going for it, or perhaps the Angel had visited them too; whatever, I do find that locals do tend to know what’s what.
Salcombe Fishing Boats Prepare to Leave
I followed a fat bottomed trawler towards the open sea and squeezed Pippin round the sand bar at the harbour entrance and with her skirts flying, she sniffed the breeze and took off for destination Plymouth, 25 or so nautical miles off to the north west, with bossy Hercule cracking the whip (not that I dare tell him he is bossy). Deep in Bigbury Bay, tea and toast staved off starvation in the chilly morning air, as a sinister looking patrol boat came up astern and sniffed like a curious Rottweiler looking for sport; fortunately it clearly found Pippin of no interest and roared off to find entertainment elsewhere.
As Pippin closed a strangely deserted Cawsand Bay, my designated finish line in Plymouth, Frigate 334 came in from starboard gathering way fast, burnt kerosene from her gas turbines trailing in a translucent plume from her funnel, evidence of effort and power. It’s sensible in such situations not to argue the toss about right of way even though it was mine. Instead, the old unwritten but universally understood adage, ‘might has right’ is the order of the day, so I hove Pippin to and had a go with the camera as she sat quietly, wholly unimpressed with the racy grey ship roaring past.
Behind me stretched the long Plymouth breakwater, the western end of which marks the start line for what I have come to Plymouth for, but I’ll come on to that later.
An hour later, Pippin slipped neatly (I thought) alongside Berth Delta 7. The gentleman on the pontoon who took my line was clearly something of a joker. “Job well done!” said he. “Thanks” said I, graciously accepting his praise. “I didn’t mean you“ he said. There’s no answer to that one.
I have written stories about Plymouth, but won’t repeat them here; you can find them in the 2017 blog, written during my first and not very successful voyage in Pippin.
Pippin in Delta 7
There is no peace for the wicked and I had VIPs coming to visit on Day 1, so Pippin got a wash and brush up and the skipper had a brunch just to keep him going. I managed also to squeeze an onboard lunch date with Royal Marine nephew Ed into my busy diary for the morrow. I am not sure quite where Ed’s genes came from, as he is everything I am not from the lofty crown of his head to his six pack stomach with good looks to boot – oh and he is bright and sporty; I reckon he got a full house when God put him together. He does share one thing with his diminutive curmudgeonly Uncle John though – he does like his scoff, so I’ll have to raid a locker or two.
An evening dinner full of humour and shared stories with VIP friends Pete and Tracey Goss proved that they know a thing or two about true friendship, for Tracey promised a resupply of Gentleman’s Relish before Pippin and I set sail again. Well, you can’t say fairer than that! Good people the Goss’! They know what’s good for morale.
Plymouth Sights – this Monstrous Royal Fleet Auxiliary Ship was 10 Stories High!
I have of course perambulated around every pontoon here and examined all boats of interest (er – more than once, rain or shine except I’ve had none of the latter here). I suspect like dogs, boat names say much about their owners and one particular peccadillo of mine is to check out boat names, and then imagine a Mayday conversation on the VHF radio when you repeat your boat name 3 times, whilst trying to keep the panic out of your voice. I suspect the RNLI, on listening to the name, might suspect one thing or the other as they approach the stricken casualty. For example, Shoal Waters, White Swan, Dream Chaser – all good and Pippin (excellent!). Here in Plymouth the Willis award for crap boat names went to Legless, fine for a jokey chat over the radio with mates, but not so in a serious survival situation I felt. Perhaps I am just being curdmudgeonly – quite likely, though I care not.
Late last evening I shared a dram aboard Pippin with a kindred spirit also here to have a crack at the Jester Challenge. He a veteran of the event and me a novice, we couldn’t help talk of weather, which remains unrelentingly dire. I almost can’t bare to look at the forecast, preferring instead to save my efforts for cringingly pleading night time prayers; I genuinely have a sense He will be there on the day, so I reckon He’s listening.
Fortunately Ed brought most of his own rations for lunch, so only a minor restock of Pippin’s food lockers was required this afternoon, though I can officially confirm that Lidl do not stock Gentleman’s Relish – indeed the lovely shop assistant had never heard of the stuff, and I found it hard to describe it in an appetising way (“its a sort of smelly fish paste”), judging by the look of utter distaste on her face. “Ugh! Sounds like Marmite but MUCH but worse” she said, curling her lip. She was a strawberry jam sort of girl I suspect.