Eddystone Pursuit 2012 17-19th AUG

Don’t know where to start so I’ll jump in at the deep end so to speak.

Well first let me introduce the crew, ladies first 2 Lizzies, so Liz Thompson remained Liz & Liz Skinner became known as Lizzie then Sue able bodied seawoman. The lads Andy skipper, Ian & big Mike & myself Mick.

All got on like a house on fire with lots of male & female bonding & lots of double entendres a la James Bond 007. I’ll include what I can of these but some might need censoring!

DAY 1

Friday. All names agreed, we set off from TQ in rain & gusts so decided put in 2 reefs & a postage stamp genoa. First little mishap, which turned out to be a good learning exercise. Didn’t bring in fenders & one broke free. Lizzie alias Hawkeye (remember MASH), spotted it & acted as spotter whilst Mike used the pickup pole to raise rope on the fender so that I could catch it & bring in onboard. What good man overboard practice fortunately never to be put to the test for real. Leaving Berry Head & the bay we were all pleased with ourselves.

Wind started to drop & we look out the reefs. Sue & I helped go up & down the companion way & worked out a good system, though it did involve Liz’s bottom on my head on most occasions. This caused hilarity & comments from the rest. I took to being galley chef & brewed tea & coffee to everyones tastes. We had assorted snack we had brought with us for lunch whilst underway. Wind dropped by p.m. & we had to motor most of the way to Plymouth. Radioed Queen Anne’s Battery Marina no space due to too many craft staying at their berths due to previous poor weather. Eventually got a berth at Plymouth Yacht Haven, Mount Batten alongside pontoons, ideal wheel chair access for Liz. “No room at the Inn” in the marina restaurant but 500 yards along the shore line a good meal was had at the Mount Batten activity centre.

Headed back to FREEDOM, alls well until lifting Liz’s wheel chair back on board. “PLONK” oh … expletive / expletive one of the foot supports fell off into the drink! I felt so bad as I was the one lifting it onboard. Liz was remarkably unconcerned & said she had wanted an excuse to get a new chair anyway.

Lizzie (other Liz) & I tried various ways to retrieve the foot support ie a claw hammer on a rope, a powerful magnet on a rope supplied by Roger a marina staff member. Finally even 1/2 hrs time of a diver from a live aboard boat couldn’t find it.

DAY 2

The actual pursuit day. I’d mastered the cooker & found a way to make toast in addition to cereals & hot drinks.

Oh sorry I forgot to mention the amusing bedding arrangements. Lizzie had foreward cabin with crusing chute as a “Teddy” to cuddle, tall Mike the port berth in the saloon (longest bed), Andy the starboard single, Liz and Sue the starboard double the larger of the stern berths. Ian & I had the port double christened by some as the “smelly cabin”; thats before Ian & I used it. Still I felt this was my penance for the wheelchair footrest loss. Well this cabin wasn’t smelly to Ian & my noses but “oh the toolkit” etc. There were lots of comments Liz & Sue heard which had them in stitches; like shall we try this position & oh I’ve got your feet in my face & I’m nibbling your toes etc.

I digress we set off; gentle wind & picked up pursuit pennant & crossed the line at exactly 10.45 a.m. Took ages to get out of Plymouth Sound & past the breakwater. Started to motor some way off Hands Buoy, Lizzie on helm. Next round of fun, big Mike kept knocking the motor throttle. Lizzie kept shouting “leave my gearbox alone will you”. This became a frequent event.

Heard a distress call on radio, one of the yachts in the pursuit had engine failure 3 mile SW of Eddystone or was it Hands cardinal. Anyway bless her Lizzie said we must go to the rescue; a little bit of “Don’t Pannick” a la Dad’s Army. We reassured Lizzie that other boats were much nearer to enact the rescue. We spotted Hands cardinal & decided we all wanted to see the Eddystone Rock. Andy, brilliant skipper plotted our course. It was too misty to get a visual heading. Lizzie still on helm & we spotted Eddystone lighthouse emerge from the mist an eerie experience. Didn’t go too near.

All fine heading back this time to a berth in Queen Anne’s Battery mostly under engine. Andy very competent skipper took over for the final approach to a “finger berth” next to an open proffesional rod and line fishing boat. We watched with interest as the fisherman deftly gutted lots of pollocks in GT time.

To the evening itself; meal sausages, peas & chips, 3 sausages for the greedy! followed by vanilla ice cream. All craft taking part were awarded “Dartington crystal” water/milk jugs, called up in batches of 10’s. Three 10’s were called & we began to think we were in for a big prize, but no we were called next. Still by my calculation we had beaten at least 30 other yachts. In the end Andy found we were 15th out of over 70 craft; not bad eh! I was very impressed with the presentation itself with a special prize for the yacht which had gone to the rescue of the engine failure craft. Plus a prize for the youngest crew member a very small 8 year old lad.

To bed; the girls suggested Mike remove the long side cushion to his berth to give him an extra 2 inches. Needless to say this resulted in witty comments. Only followed when I removed bunting & other objects to the side of Ian & my berth &used this cushion to extend the width of the berth. Next came a comment from Ian, “shall we change or try a different position tonight”. Well taken out of context our transcript could result in all the perverts from Paignton wanting to go on the next trip on FREEDOM.

DAY 3

Return home, breakfast as before, please note pasties hot from the oven are great for lunch. This journey mostly under power was a “nature safari” in all senses. Reported in to Brixham Coastguard re journey & ETA. They asked about vis in Plymouth Sound & my non-nautical term “murky” didn’t suffice so they came back to me & I changed to vis 1 mile. Mist cleared near Salcombe & we set anchor in a small bay at the western approach to Salcombe, sheltered under cliffs with an enticing sandy beach & very calm water. The ladies put out a challenge “anyone for a swim”. Well this was too much for me & after agreeing my underpants wouldn’t offend I swam to the beach & back to FREEDOM. The stern diving platform & steps proved a great success.

Left Salcombe at 3 p.m.; mist kept coming & going so 2 kept watch on either side. Oh talk about icing on the cake, saw dolphins, but wasn’t the end, we saw a typical triangular dorsal fin of a porpoise. Then a rather floppy fin broke surface, so we motored to investigate. It was a “Sunfish” a summer migrant from warmer climes. Saw another black object bob up & down from afar. Almost ignoring it saying its another Sunfish, but a closer approach saw it was a seal. By this time approaching Dartmouth & wind started to pick up from aft & tide now running in our favour as could be clearly seen around lobster buoys & comparing speed over ground with speed through water. By the Bay we were really “motoring” though not with motor at well over 7 knots.

Successfully berthed & decks scrubbed, time to say our goodbyes. Bless her Lizzie took tea towels home from FREEDOM to launder. Lizzies skills on the helm & her confidence really blossomed. Liz had happy childhood memories of her time in Salcombe rekindled. I had so many laughs with Ian over being bunk mates. We had practice using the radio & interpreting & using charts under Andy’s guidance. Mike with his one liners etc.

Sorry this is so long but I had to put down memories whilst fresh. Even so I guess I’ve left out things. Thanks Liz for suggesting I write this. If I go on many more trips on FREEDOM this could turn into a book.

Mick Jennings