On Wednesday the 8th June we untied the lines and left the quayside that has become our home. After what was a massive effort to get South Star ready it was with sadness and excitment we waved our friends and neighbours goodbye. We worked so hard and even with damaged ribs and small baby to watch over somehow it all came together. Many friends and family also pitched in and we had help making new saloon cushion covers and generous gifts of an epirb beacon and personal ais locators. I jotted down some of the jobs completed in the last few months…made and rigged new bowsprit, finished making and installing frezzer, fixed oil and fuel weeps, cleaned fuel tanks, installed new hydraulic pump with clutch and brackets, made new mizzen chainplates and rigging, cleared quayside (no small job!), cleared workshop on quay (ahem…sorry Daz!), new woodburner flue…the list goes on. Everthing in our lives that could have cost money in the last few months has reared up for a feed. I guess it goes like that sometines but its been very unfunny the way it kept on. I guess when your trying to escape from normal life and after being tied up for nearly two years the land anchors are many and well set.
The place we have been tied up is called Millbrook and is a great place to be. Lovely people and super friendly. However the wanderlust of the boaty life can not be contained for long. Ports rot men and boats alike is the old adage and it is certainly true for wooden boats. They need the salt water of the sea to keep ’em from rotting. Fresh water fell in abundance last winter and was the wettest on record (I swear they get broken every winter). We have our eyes set on distant shores…somewhere warm for the winter would be amazing but the great adventure has no fixed plan so we can see where the wind takes us and be fluid and free.
We left in a light North wind on a calm sunny morning. The wind blew us gently from the quay on the last hour of incoming tide. This would allow some margin of saftey should we touch bottom, so to speak, and let us float free. In several years of coming here we never have got stuck however but I guess that comes form six years spent living out in the wilds of North Devon with its 10 meter tides and extensive drying mud banks. Bryher, now just one year old, had her car seat lashed to the captains chair and had a good view of what was going on. She had three weeks afloat in September last year but apart from that this is her first proper outing. With rice cake in hand she waved her enthusiastic wave – with both hands to our friends. We slipped away and round the corner where more good friends shouted and waved farewell. We motored down the channel and past Southdown where I spent a year when I first came here.
Plymouth Sound greeted us and on a sunny morning like today its is stunning. We went past our mooring and out into the bay. There is lots of military craft based here and a fleet tender (think massive motor cat) went past us close and on the plane. I turned into the massive wake but we still cork screwed wildly and my coffee went everywhere on the dashboard…. Theres no love in this place when it comes to pleasure boats and the MOD. It’s basically their sound and were just in the way. I try to take it as another sign to get away and also a leeson that we are no way ready for sea yet. Yes we worked hard to escape the quay but there is lots more work to do.
The first few days afloat are always hard. Your just not with it. The motion is unnatural, everything bangs and clatters and things break. Our home which we have filled with the trinkets of normal life needs organising and thinning down. The boats full to the deck beams and some of it has to go. Bryony, amongst many things, is great at stowage but certainly has her work cut out for the next few weeks.
We spend a lovely day in Cawsand bay. Its super hot, no wind and the water is blue glass. We rig a sun shade made from a thrown out catamaran trampoline and try Bryher in her new deck eating chair. She tries to climb out and face plants onto the deck. Howls of pain are placated by boobs and she now sports a bruise to her nose. I know all kids must fall else how will they learn but the situation adds to our feeling out of place and inadequate.
South Star has some teething problems also. The solar panels are not kicking out their normal power level. The regulator is warm to the touch and I have a feeling it has an issue. We need to send it back but with no generator either currently (exhaust bits required) we have no other means of generating power. I order a cheap one of Ebay and will return the expensive Victron one when it arrives. The oven door smashes and the galley is covered in broken glass. It was always a bit dangerous so we will replace it with a sheet of stainless steel instead. A glass framed picture which was a gift for Bryher also falls and breaks. We try to resist plastic because of its enviromental damage but it is much safer on a boat.Despite feeling a little out of sorts we spend a nice night at anchor. The next day sees a wind from the South East which for Cawsand spells swell. So too does hideous plastic Princess yachts testing in the bay…the relentless swell adding to the discomfort. We up anchor in the afternoon and move to Jennycliff as it affords some protection. After dinner we move back to our mooring oin the sound. So here we are then. We need to get ourselves together in boat, mind and body. But our journey has begun!