Team Hapatoni are finally ready and waiting, with only 1/2 a day to go. With final preparations now all completed – food shopping done, dinners pre-cooked, safety check completed (no issues), fuel done and finally with Phillip & Debby arriving yesterday evening; We are ready to go….
Yesterday was the official Welcome meeting with a curry dinner at the local Rugby Club, gave us a chance to meet more of the group as 98% of all the crew are now here. Later today is the Skippers meeting to finalise the route and weather, then dinner homemade Paella, final team checks and early night as we have to be ready early and at the start line for 9am.
We have arrived at the start point of the ARC Portugal – Plymouth (Mayflower marina). It was so good to finally get here; we left Dartmouth on Monday 25th May at the more reasonable time of 8:45am hoping to sail the 34 miles to Plymouth with a few tasks to be completed on route, such as reefing marks on the main halyard and the whisker pole to be deployed. All completed with no problem, as yet again we had only 1.4 knots of wind so no sailing (a bit of a theme so far), but the engines have been well tested. The only good part was it was again a lovely sunny day.
Now we are here the flags/bunting has started to go up on a few boats so far, we expect the rest to follow over the next day as so far about 10 boats are here with 8 left to arrive. We are all now starting to identify who is on the ARC Portugal trip and the social events have begun, as we are a bit spread out at the moment it makes it a bit of a challenge identifying the boats. I am pleased to announce we started the ball rolling Tuesday eve with a drinks party, and last night the favor was returned on another boat. So far we have met 4 boats and all seem lovely, social people; it is so interesting to see what people have done in regards to preparations, looking around other boats and what experience everyone has. Already we have met some lovely people, I think its going to be a great trip.
Plymouth is a very historical town, with a large navy influence, it has some beautiful buildings. castles and areas but some areas are so run down and not pretty its so sad as when we walked into town the route in is very “dilapidated”, with old buildings just gone to waste. We have found some great dog walks not the “Killer” type like Dartmouth but ok for Hudson, he is a happy bunny meeting all these new people being the center of attention. Wait till they see him in his bow tie :-).
So today (Thursday 29th May), we register ourselves for the trip and undergo the safety checks. then tonight is the 1st formal social event at the local yacht club and the sequence of events begin… can’t wait. Debbie and Phillip arrive Friday eve and then final preparations and we leave (pending weather) on Sunday with a start time of 9am.
We left Weymouth at 4:30 am with the fishing boats, so early that the wind had not woken up, so we did not experience any of the promised F3/F4 forecast. However, the sunrise was beautiful and it was a sunny day although a bit chilly. The passage to Dartmouth was very speedy, only 8 hours despite taking the outside passage around Portland. We were water skiing at times at nearly 11 knots thanks to a lot of tidal shove.
Dartmouth is a deep-water port for sailing vessels, and is reputed to have been used as the sailing point for the Crusades, Warfleet Creek is allegedly named after the vast fleets that assembled there. Above the creek is the Royal Naval College looking over the town and river.
Dartmouth is so picturesque with its narrow streets and boutique shops, art galleries & delicatessens and a cobbled market place with colourful stalls. The river Dart, is picture perfect framed by the multicolored houses all along the river climbing over the rolling hills, and with the boats moored all along the river, its very pretty.
We are staying on the Kingsmear side of the Dart with the steam train just behind us, we have an amazing view to wake up to, even better when its not raining and its quite quaint getting the lower ferry across the river to the shops.
Dartmouth has great walks along the cliffs and we started today with the hardest of all, it was a “Killer” walk up and down the cliffs on the western side of the entrance, Hudson loved it Mark and I endured it (I keep thinking buttock improvement). Although the views at the top were breathtaking when I was able to actually breath.
We plan to stay till Monday. Tomorrow I am planning some pampering (Deb’s only) found a lovely little beauty shop and will then have a walk round the town “shopping time”, plus weather permitting we will get the bikes out and go along the steam railway line.
En route to Weymouth, we went through Hurst Narrows with a fair wind and foul tide, engines and full sail to get us through, with Captain Debera at the helm. Then on past the Needles, engine on again as the wind disappears, arriving late afternoon in Weymouth.
Weymouth, love it and hate it (especially with a Beagle). A pretty fishing village, but also the worlds centre for “Fish & Chips”, with most of the lovely tourists determined to dump their left over food and rubbish on its streets to Hudson’s delight. Hudsun is doing his best to make up for the lack of street cleaners and will happily stay for the rest of his days getting fat.
Maybe all this pollution explains why in 1348, Weymouth is thought to be the first port the Black Death arrived in England.
I briefly talked to another ARC Portugal boat today just before they headed of to Dartmouth. Also spotted an Island Packet with an Australian crew on the rally, heading up past the town to the marina. We plan to spend a couple of days, doing a few tasks and exploring coastal walks with the dog. We aim to move on to Dartmouth on Wednesday.
The journey has finally started, we left Hamble at mid-day 15th May; the wind threatened to be 3 to 4 but in the end ranged from 0 to 4 and came from just about every direction, but with just enough wind and a very good tide we arrived at Yarmouth mid afternoon, walked the dog, booked the Bugle for dinner tonight and had a beer at Salties (as per tradition).
As you can see from the photo, the sun was shining and so we took the opportunity to water the herbs on deck – you have to believe that Debs is 100% responsible for having weeds on the boat. Debs made her first on board loaf of bread. We are staying a few days to relax and enjoy the sunshine, today we will be getting the bikes out and taking a long cycle ride down the side of the River Yar to tire out Hudsun and see the sites.
In 2 weeks Debs, the Dog (Hudson) and I head for Plymouth from our mooring mid-river at the Royal Southern in Hamble to join up with ARC Portugal. We plan to be away till Sep/Oct and on June 1st are crossing Biscay with Debbie and Philip which should take the 5 of us, 4/5 days from Plymouth to Bayona in Spain. We will then be cruising down the Portuguese coastline till the end of June. Philip and Debbie leave us in Porto and we will continue on into the Med . The plan is to stick around the Spanish coast and Balearics this summer, and then go a bit further afield next year.
This weekend we have been getting some of the final serious bits of prep done, Philip changed the masthead lights for LED and we did some MOB drills. All going well apart from the *?*??* water maker that seems determined to keep spilling water into the bilge rather than into the water tanks.
The final but one challenge is for the 2 Debbie’s to stock the boat with essential food, drink and of course goodies (chocolate is a must for Phillip). So far the dog is taking up most of the spare room with his food even under the floorboards (it must be driving him mad all the smells and he can’t get to the food). The final final challenge will be Deb’s deciding what clothes & shoes to take for 3-4 months as need to cover all occasions and getting them on the boat and stored away.