Departure day at last. We planned to sail west from Torquay to Salcombe or, if we wanted a shorter trip, Dartmouth. We didn’t need to leave too early, but decided on being under way by 10am to make the most of the tidal stream around Start Point and, crucially, to get across the bar into Salcombe harbour (a shallow area that we wouldn’t be able to get over on or near low water and not, as you might think, the pub). We were all up at 7am and by 9am we had finished breakfast, the girls were dressed and ready to go, and all that remained was getting the boat ship shape for the trip. We were ready to leave on the dot of 10 o’clock. When Julian turned the key in the ignition we were met with an annoying high pitched noise alerting us that the battery wasn’t charging. This is a recurring problem and in the past it’s taken Julian anywhere from 10 minutes to two hours to resolve, working his way through the various wires running to the battery til he finds the offending wire. This time it took him an hour, with me keeping the girls entertained in the cockpit and occasionally trying the ignition when instructed. At 11.15 we were under way. The delay did have one advantage, however. The fog that had been hanging over land and sea all morning finally burned away, bringing us good visibility.
As soon as we got beyond the harbour walls we set the sails and sailed with a southwesterly breeze for the next almost seven hours, all the way to Salcombe. It was a lovely sail, if a little on the cool side. Katie, who generally no longer has a daytime nap, quickly got very grouchy and within two minutes of being cuddled fell fast asleep and slept for about three hours! Lily spent most of the day playing with her toys in the cockpit and late in the afternoon moved down to the saloon to play with her cuddly toys, who weren’t allowed in the cockpit due to the rain. It was the girls’ first time to really experience the boat leaning and it took a little getting used to – for us and them.
At 6.15 we arrived in Salcombe and spent the night on a swinging mooring. After a quick pasta supper I called the water taxi and we went into Salcombe for an hour, to the wonderful Victoria Inn, where Julian and I had a pint each while the girls played in the brilliant child-friendly pub garden. But it had been a long day and the girls soon became grouchy, so we caught the taxi back home and we were all soon tucked up in bed asleep. I don’t know how the girls felt, but Julian and I were feeling very proud of our first sailing trip as just a four-some!
I can’t tell you if it was a calm night or a wild night in Salcombe harbour, because all four of us slept soundly from 9.30 until 8 o’clock this morning! The magic of fresh sea air! A few things were somewhat difficult yesterday and I made adjustments today to make life easier. I boiled the kettle three times yesterday but never got round to making a hot drink. Making lunch was an exercise in maintaining balance, overcoming queasiness and not scalding myself. It’s amazing the difference in having two adults on board compared to three. No extra set of hands to keep the children occupied while you make tea, or help with passing cups and food up and down the companionway. So this morning I prepared myself. I made a Thermos of coffee to last the day and I got all the lunch ingredients out, so I only needed to assemble them at lunch time. I planned ahead for when Katie would wake from the inevitable nap, so I didn’t have to deal with a grouchy and potentially seasick toddler. And when Lily asked if she could have cornflakes for lunch, I thought ‘What the hell’ and watched her devour a bowlful. And it all made for a much more relaxing day.
We belted along with on a southeasterly wind, with the sun warming up through thin clouds. We watched lone, and occasionally flocks of ten or more, gannets flying to and from the land. Apart from the swell coming over the bar out of Salcombe it was a lovely sail – and even the swell was cause for amusement for the girls who treated it like an amusement ride. We suffered one technical glitch when, about an hour out of Salcombe, the bolt holding the kicking strap in place suddenly broke, and Julian had to do a running repair.
After four hours of sailing we were in Plymouth Sound. Julian had turned the engine on and we were starting to bring the genoa in when a rib came zooming in our direction. It was almost beside us before I saw ‘Police’ written on the side of the boat. They told us a Navy frigate was coming out and advised us where to go in the channel. So we abandoned taking down the sails for a minute while Julian motored Carina out of the path of the pilot boat and the frigate. Less than a minute later the frigate was passing us to port, her sailors all standing on deck. Now I’m a pacifist and I have very little time for the military, but I have to admit the sight of goodness knows how many sailors all waving to us from the deck of their ship, and my girls waving back, was moving. It was amazing!
We’re back in Plymouth Yacht Haven now and plan to stay here for about a week. Tonight Julian made a to-do list of all the little and not so little jobs that still need to be done on the boat. At last count the list was up to 34, so he has a busy week ahead of him. My job is to keep the girls busy and out of the way while he gets the jobs done. So I’ve promised I’ll take them to the National Marine Aquarium tomorrow – a brilliant place that we been to so many times, but never tire of. And Katie’s told me she wants doughnuts!! A girl after my own heart.