Another milestone


There’s something wonderful about warm days in the company of interesting people. Primo Levi said it best: ‘Each of us bears the imprint  Of a friend met along the way; In each a trace of each’.

On Saturday I took the bus to Brixham to do the RYA VHF radio course to get my radio license. It was an interesting course and I learned a lot, much of it not part of the curriculum. The instructor provided us with some useful information about sailing locally (what would be termed ‘local knowledge’ – a term I dislike for reasons I won’t bore you with here), and I was very pleased to get 100% on my exam at the end of the day (I’m a swot and proud of it!). But the best part of the day was meeting a wonderful man called Philippe, who was one of the other students on the course. Philippe is originally from the UK, but has lived in South Africa for most of his adult life. He’s raced yachts for years and has lived aboard boats for most of his life. There’s now a digital component to radio usage so Philippe took the course in order to update his license. He’s recently been widowed, has grandchildren back in South Africa, and has a date next week to launch his boat from Teignmouth to set sail across the Atlantic.

There are people you meet along the way who are interesting and informative and just downright pleasant to be around. And he was one of them. After our course ended Philippe and I went for a beer while we waited for the ferry back to Torquay. When the ferry failed to show up we went back for another beer. And when that ferry was a no-show we hopped on the bus instead. What a wonderful way to spend an evening with such and interesting and engaging person. We exchanged phone numbers and I told him to look out for a big bearded man with two blondy little girls around Torquay and go introduce himself. Our paths may never cross again, but to quote Primo Levi again ‘at least for a moment   A line has been stretched, A well-defined bond’.

Sunday was also spent in good company. Katie and Rose, two Geography PhD students, joined us yesterday for a day of sailing. It rained a little in the morning, but by the time we were ready to get underway, the sun had come out and we might have been in the Greek Islands (or what I imagine the Greek Islands to be like). We were delayed somewhat by two mishaps. Shortly after Katie and Rose came on board, my daughter Katie bashed her chin on the companionway steps, knocking one of her front bottom teeth loose. There was blood and tears and general grouchiness for much of the day, but the tooth has stayed in place. I’m hoping it will knit itself back into the gum and if it doesn’t…well…she’ll be gummy for the next five years. Our second mishap was of a mechanical nature. When Julian switched on the engine the battery light came on showing it wasn’t charging. Julian spent about two hours tracing the cause of the problem and then fixing it. He’s handy to have around!

But finally we were underway. We motored out of the marina and then got the mainsail and the genoa up. This was our first time to try them out and the sound of silence when Rose switched the engine off was bliss. But wait…where did the wind go? Almost as soon as we tried sailing the wind completely died. Nothing. Just sitting there in the Tor Bay doldrums! Our plan had been to just sail around in Tor Bay, but with nothing happening, we motored out of the bay. Now we had some wind to play with, so we went around the corner and had a delightful sail. We anchored near the little beach in the photo above, and had lunch in the sunshine. What a pleasant way to spend a Sunday afternoon. The blue sky, the Triassic cliffs, the jagged islands, and of course the good company.

Lily delighted in having some company aboard and Katie probably would have too if she wasn’t so clingy and feeling sorry for herself. But so long as Mummy was close by she laughed and joined in the fun. After lunch Julian reappeared from below deck in his swimming shorts, mask and fins, and dived overboard. Good luck to him. It may have looked like the Greek Islands, but I wasn’t about to be fooled about water temperature. He didn’t stay in long! We played around with the sails outside the bay then, tacking here and there, getting used to the sails and the reactions of the boat. It was really lovely, and we’ve passed two major milestones – sailing Carina at last and anchoring her. The day was rounded off with fish and chips and cold beer, before we said goodbye to Rose and Katie.

And finally, I couldn’t resist including this photo of Lily taken last week when we inflated the tender. Still in her pyjamas, but all ready to go!!




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