This summer, we are cruising in the West Country – closer to home than for some years but we are glad to be back on the water after a whole season ashore. We also feel the need to get our confidence back after the break and learn again how to do things.
A complication is that the navigational software, that has served us so well for ten years, is no more and Tony has had to adopt OpenCPN, a very different package that is not yet familiar. Further, he has had to write code during lockdown so that it communicates with the iPad at the wheel station. It is working but not yet robust and familiar like the old system.
We went aboard on 2nd July, loaded up Antipole with stores and moved down to the entrance of Poole harbour. Being in home waters, we knew just where to find a buoy to hold us over night.
The next day we had an excellent sail to Weymouth. It was good to visit Weymouth again after six years. It combines fishing boats, yachts and trippers all together in a happy mix rather than separating them into different areas.
The next morning we sailed for Dartmouth. This required an early start so we could round the notorious Portland Bill at the safe moment before setting off across the vast Lyme Bay – a passage of 69nm. The forecast was for southwesterly winds, which would make for a very long passage. Actually, we had southerlies for the morning and so made excellent progress. However, in the afternoon we had rainstorms and strong westerlies up to F7. Followers of this blog will know we have equipped ourselves with a staysail for just such a situation. But we had not foreseen this and the new sail was not rigged on standby. So we had to beat into this wind carrying the full Genoa, which was exhausting. Eventually, we arrived in Dartmouth very weary and glad to be in shelter.
The River Dart is wondrous, running through a twisting steep-sided and mostly wooded valley. The entrance is through a double bend so that, once inside, you are completely sheltered from the sea. The whole place is about sailing and everything is well organised. You are still able to anchor right in the middle of the harbour. The towns of Dartmouth and Kingswear tower over the harbour and at night it is like being anchored in a crystal bowl with the lights surrounding you on three sides and reflections twinkling on the water.
The next day we sailed upriver to Bow Creek, a very shallow muddy creek which Antipole can navigate near high water with keel and rudder up. There we berthed in Tuckenhay alongside The Maltsters’ Arms, where we enjoyed a pleasant evening. We were last here ten years ago on Antipole’s maiden cruise.
On the Tuesday we motored further upriver to Totnes at the head of the navigation. Totnes is a delightful town with a steep narrow street and many Elizabethan buildings still in existence. Today it is very “alternative” with lots of creativity showing on the streets and in the parks.
We had come to celebrate the imminent eightieth birthday of Tony’s dear friend Malcolm. Malcolm was one of Tony’s key Gestalt trainers and has been an important mentor and support for Tony over the years. We welcomed Malcolm on board for tea and later dined out.
We were joined by Jenny, another Gestaltist and an avid sailor. So we had lots to talk about and reminisce.
On Thursday we sailed round Start Point to Salcombe, which is another ‘boaty’ place and rather crowded in summer. We anchored off Sunny Cove, which lived up to its name and we had a lazy afternoon and evening. The next day we made a 19nm passage to the River Yealm – another very beautiful river twisting through wooded hillsides.
Tomorrow we will go for Plymouth where we will meet up with Tony’s grandson Lucas.