Martin was off work on the Friday, so as soon as I had had my ears irrigated (they nearly refused, until I told them I would be away at sea for two weeks) and could finally hear the skipper, he ordered us aboard and we left Hythe for Keyhaven near Hurst Castle, where we anchored for our first night at sea.
Martin kindly did the entire night shift, though I managed to stay awake with him for all but a couple of hours through very calm seas and little wind. The skies were beautifully clear until the early hours, and we saw shooting stars aplenty in the darkness, though we were never out of sight of reassuring shore lights. A nice man guided us onto our berth and urged us to get our heads down, leaving payment to be arranged in the morning, along with refreshing, powerful showers.
Brixham is a small fishing port, formerly the home of the Brixham Trawlers with their distinctive red sails protected with local ochre. We walked around the harbour in light drizzle, with holidaying families at every step casting lines for crabs. The RNLI were holding a fundraising day, popping kids into inflated balls in the water, and giving advice. We picked up some books at their secondhand stall and were impressed by the number of clever garden arrangements filling un-used spaces around the village.
By lunchtime you could hardly move for chattering Brits munching on takeaway fish n' chips. Having topped up on supplies, we took ourselves back to the boat for coffee and a lazy read of the Sunday papers. That evening we found a restaurant and enjoyed a (fish) meal accompanied by a delicious local white wine, then set off for coffee in a cafe overlooking the sea wall, where the RNLI put on an amazing firework display just for us.
Greenway occupying a beautiful and serene hill from where we caught glimpses of Drifter through the woods.
10 August Birthday Treat
Incidentally, I should perhaps mention that although I spent most of my time wrapped up in windproof and neck gaiters, the weather was largely lovely: I am just an eternally cold person. And on the odd occasion when I did get cold we found some exercise did the trick:
Once the rain had cleared through next morning we headed off homewards, sailing East for the first time to Salcombe, another pretty estuary but this one choc--a-block with RIBs: the harbourmaster explained that the holidaying families worked out it was cheaper to buy (and then pass on) their own boats to get to the beach than to take the water taxi all week. The town itself was pretty, lots of small lanes and sea-related shops as well as pubs by the jetty where we took ourselves for a drink when we arrived.
Martin bought a crab pot for use on Drifter and dropped this overboard whilst we were in Salcombe, though when he pulled it up the mackerel-trimmings-bait had been stripped clean and just one crab was left aboard.
Finding ourselves with nothing useful to collect berries in, we figured the best we could do was to use pages from the Sunday papers. A quick Google search revealed instructions on making paper boxes so we folded and re-folded and before long had a lidded box into which we could place our harvest. Job done... and the blackberry pancakes made a delicious breakfast next morning.
Sunny sailing brought us soon to the steep-sided cove at Beer, where Martin was keen to have a swim for anecdotal purposes.
We lunched under way, Martin preparing the crab with our newly-purchased lemon, salad and bread to make a delicious plateful washed down with beer chilled at Beer (though the milk and other items we had dangled in the water to chill managed to escape as we lifted the anchor, so we spent some time dancing around on the spot trying to retrieve them).
Actually Martin managed to park in three berths consecutively: it was not clear where the first was so we took a punt and found ourselves alongside another boat whose owner told us people made the same mistake all the time, and showed us an unmarked berth at the head of the narrow pontoons. Between them the men shook heads and tutted over how difficult it would be to dock smoothly, then Martin made it all look ridiculously easy. We were just tidying up when the owners of a boat we had now boxed in returned, informing us they were leaving at 5am next morning, so we ended up swapping places with them in pouring rain. Suffice to say the hot showers went down well that evening!
It was raining lightly in the morning and we decided a trip to Brownsea Island was in order, Martin having passed it often but never been ashore. So we motored closer and dropped anchor where we could easily row ashore, then spent the morning roaming the woods where Baden-Powell set up his first experimental Scout Camp.
Luckily we knew Rosie would be home for a break, so we called her once we had coverage and she was keen to join us for a day's sailing, which turned out to be a great idea! She got the train and taxi to Ocean Village Marina on the River Hamble (another MDL marina more-or-less opposite Hythe)where we stopped for a quick shower and picked her up before turning back out for a beautiful sail in warm sunshine.
Anyway, we enjoyed our G&Ts, ate fish, and spent a peaceful night.
So our long holiday ended with so much sunshine that Rosie had a swollen red forehead the next day. Within moments of us tidying and leaving the boat it started to rain, and didn't stop for five days. We could hardly believe we had been so lucky with the weather.