I’m writing this in the Royal Dorset Sailing Club, lovely and quiet and a perfect setting for quiet thought, contemplating the piecing together of the past week into something of literary interest. That was until the loudest bores in Dorset sat bang next to me and proceeded to discuss twaddle at 10 decibels with no let up.
OK, so where are we? Ah yes…. We left Yarmouth last Monday and made our way carefully past The Needles to port and the long shingle bank to starboard, determined not to suffer the same fate as ‘Lucky’ the American Fastnet yacht which grounded itself the day before. Sailing was good and once beyond the danger zone, we tacked our way towards Weymouth making good progress for most of the journey. We finally reached Weymouth towards 9pm and with darkness descending, berthed along the outer harbour pontoon. It was darkness by the time we’d checked in with the harbour master and got our bearings, taking a walk along the harbour wall towards the main town.
A couple of weeks ago we’d left our van in Newhaven. A couple of days after we left Harwich, one of our neighbours and a friend Joan died unexpectedly and her funeral was scheduled for Wednesday 19th August. We’d got to Weymouth on the evening of the 17th and had in mind to train it back to Newhaven, pick up the van and head back to Harwich to help celebrate Joan’s life with Steve, Joan’s husband, and Tracy, her daughter, check the cottage and make sure it was in good shape for the next Airbnb guests, and bring the van back to Weymouth, picking up our newly serviced Taylor’s stove en route.
After speaking to the harbour master, it was stressed upon us that as it was summer and hugely busy, our vessel must have someone aboard on a day-to-day basis and certainly every night. Fearing we may be thwarted in our plan, I contacted my old pal JenJen, who lives about an hour away, to see whether she would like a couple of days boat sitting. She in turn suggested her niece Connie, a keen 18 year old sailor who had just returned from taking part in a tall ships race from Norway to Denmark. Connie was thrilled at the idea, and any angst I had about leaving DD disappeared with the knowledge that Connie was packing her bags for immediate embarkation. Clive took charge of ‘post-it’ notes duly describing in detail every nuance an emergency skipper might need – instructions on flushing the toilet, operating the aft shower pump, emptying the forward grey water tanks, the locks, the windows, the lights, which cupboard held what, et cetera. Various texts and phone calls later and we hauled our butts and our bags through town to the train station. Four & a half hours later we reached Cecile le Citroen at Newhaven Marina. The roads were fairly clear from here and in another three hours we reached our friend Sonia’s house in Stansted for supper and the night. The following morning we set off in good time to reach Joan’s funeral with at least half an hour to spare. This diminished to minus four minutes after negotiating two pile-ups on the A120, reminding us how stressful driving can be! We reached the church by the skin of our teeth, just missing the first hymn and the start of the eulogy. Phew!
Our stove – I forgot to mention in our last blog that while we were in Portsmouth we contacted an engineer who’d checked our Taylor’s stove last summer when DD was still at Fox’s in Ipswich. He lives close to Portsmouth though keeps his own boat at Woodbridge in Suffolk. He came aboard in Gunwharf Quay to carry out a proper service as one of the problems that often occurs with these old paraffin stoves is the paraffin has a tendency over the years to gradually soak into the stove lining, which can eventually catch fire. If this does happen it’s very hard to extinguish. We were told a story about a chap who couldn’t put a stove fire out aboard his boat, and to counter it he dismantled it from it’s fittings, hauled the oven on to deck and threw it overboard into the marina. He spoke to John about buying a new one, discovering then that they retailed at over £4k! On hearing this, he donned diving gear, located the stove in the mud and with ropes and pulleys managed to haul the stove to shore where it was dried out, had the lining replaced, was overhauled and worked as new.
In true fashion our stove lining was soaked with 23 years of paraffin, sigh, and our burners were all three leaking a little. So stove was removed for full overhaul and we had planned on collecting it from the New Forest on our way back to Weymouth. Instead John travelled up to Woodbridge on Thursday with safe non leaking, sparkly clean stove in his car, and we picked it up from there. We had tea and cake with our friends Jo and Paddy at Holbrook on the way back to Harwich and on Friday early afternoon we headed home to Distant Drum and to relieve Connie of her boat sitting duties. Luckily she’d loved every minute being aboard and had done a sterling job.
Hurrah, the bores have gone. Quiet descendeth once more and I can hear myself think.
Saturday there was a festival in Weymouth and we explored the town, finding a good parking spot behind the Asda (with a Subaru and Mazda). We explored the west part of town and caught the water taxi across the river in the afternoon, an eight seater boat operated by an oarsman – a great way to keep fit. Sunday we visited the Nothe Fort and the rotating viewpoint gallery, before discovering the sailing club for a late roast lunch.
On Monday we ventured to Lyme Regis to see our friend JenJen and unbeknownst to us before hand, to help her move house. We were all three invited to Connie’s parents (JenJen’s brother & sister-in-law Andrew and Liz) house for dinner in the evening and we made our way to a most beautiful 500 year old stone built, semi-detatched stately home, with a huge and lovely garden. We met Connie’s sister Maddie too and enjoyed a relaxed evening, large open fire roaring in the oak panelled drawing room, sound weirdly echoing off the walls in the dining room, uninterrupted view of the stars as we made our way home.
Yesterday we drove to Portland Bill and on to see the Portland Race, one of the most notorious areas of dangerous water in the world. You either sail close to the shore, only advisable if you know the waters well, or at least three miles off in good weather, five miles in bad.
Great view on the way back of Chesil beach and we stopped at an extraordinary church, St. George’s, Portland, which is owned and run by The Churches Conservation Trust.
We’ve had a lot of heavy rain the last few days, interspersed with sunshine, and checking weather reports Friday looks the best day to sail further west to Torquay. We’re being joined by JenJen and Connie for the next leg of our journey so getting stocked up ready today.
Bog watch: Weymouth harbour has the most modern showers, movement sensitive water dispersal, touch sensitive hot and cold, so you’re advised to keep moving as you shower. No amount of rumba, salsa, merengue or ball room jiving under the stream of water keeps it running for more than 15 seconds before you have to wave your hand close to the sensor to start it up again. With soap in your eyes one is inclined to accidentally touch the hot, or the cold, sensors ensuring far more leaping about as the jet starts once more at a completely different temperature. Hence a 2.
Ooooooo….Tell me MORE about the rain, plz “RAAAAAAAAAAAAIN….” Sonia has promised me some for my upcoming visit. – The Desert Rat