First motor trip: Dandy Hole

Note: I wrote this post 10 days ago. My computer broke and I couldn’t post it. Now it’s fixed. 

It’s 11am and I’m jammed in to the port sofa, shuddering a little, wearing all the clothes I can with my dressing gown wrapped over my legs. The boat bounces from my left to right and back and stirs occasionally forwards and backwards, port and starboard, like a novelty dashboard toy gone haywire, shifting shards of hatch light. Though dust hangs calmly in the air some wind from the (dr)aft cabin finds the bread’s paper bag. It trembles as it hangs from the galley storage.

I can hear Rich out there, keeping watch, readjusting his waterproof attire. More than that I can hear the constant drone of the wind, rising and falling in pitch but never abating in volume, multi toned, harmonised from time to time by thin whistle squeals.

We are anchored out in the Hamoaze, our marina in sight, waiting for the wind to die down. Though the tide is high enough to get back we’ve just battled our way down the river and have decided not to risk re-entering our berth on a 30-mile-an-hour gust. It’ll be tonight then, after seven, after a day of bouncing about here.

While we bob around doing nothing, Grayhound set their apprentice to work.

While we bob around doing nothing, Grayhound set their apprentice to work.

Yesterday morning we woke down there at 6.30am to a nearly high tide. The water was still, the sun was warming itself up for a blazing day and we made coffee our first priority – one for now, one for the way. While Rich attended to ropey matters I drove us out of the marina and away, past Grayhound in to the main channel of the Tamar. From there we passed the dockyard, scooted between two Torpoint ferries like an easy level game of Frogger, and took the left fork in the river in to the Lyhner.

Once the marker buoys thinned out the video game stepped up a level and I used Gwen as a giant joystick in a game of “follow the channel” on the GPS programme on Rich’s tablet. The wind picked up a little, the countryside consumed us and by the time we approached our destination at the tree-lined deep spot of Dandy Hole there was barely a sign of Plymouth left. Gulls, herons, ducks, crows and an egret watched us make anchor, with me steering and yelling the figures from a freshly fitted depth sounder as Rich dealt with the anchor and yelled back engine advice. Once anchored it took a good while to stop the boat from continually turning between tide and wind, and where a storm gib and a rope on the chain failed a second anchor eventually succeeded. Three buzzards circled briefly overhead before we crept back in to bed for a midday nap.

Look at me, I've got a boom.

Look at me, I’ve got a boom.

The sunny afternoon was blissful. It began with a game of Scrabble on deck which was abandoned when the boat turned around and a breeze lost the letter I to the drink. Most of the time I is a surprisingly horrible letter to have in Scrabble so I’m not too upset to have lost one. The tide went out leaving a mudflat full of birds and drying leaves which fluttered along in the breeze. Rich saw a crow picking up mussels and dropping them on to rocks to eat their gooey contents and we both caught a glimpse of a deer wandering between the trees of the deserted shore. Some chap came along early on picking up worms but soon disappeared, and so unlikely was the sight of anyone else that when we later set up the storm gib as a wind shield to make the cockpit more bearable I had no problem spending a merry hour stark naked, free as a cheeky toddler to bear my bottom to the world.



The mud man cometh.

The mud man cometh.

At rest

At rest



In the early evening we jumped in the dinghy and headed further up the river to St Germans, a favourite of ours because of the marvellous annual festival at its Port Eliot estate, but not somewhere we know well apart from that. Leaving Gwen was a nervous affair – like that first day you take your kid to school we felt like we were abandoning her, and we gulped as we lost sight of her round the corner. Once we’d ditched the dinghy at the sailing club under the advice, if not permission, of a local boatman, we walked up a ramson-lined path past the viaduct to the village and successfully located the pub. There a friendly throng of drunkards welcomed us on outdoor tables that the sun had just left, gave us some tobacco “we’ve got to look after the boat gypsies” when we told them we’d missed the shop and then disappeared to the warm of the pub while we stayed and got surprisingly drunk on only two drinks each. When we got back to Gwen last night I sat on deck and serenaded the sparkling darkness with a badly banjoed tipsy rendition of The Rainbow Connection as potatoes boiled in the galley, and figured everything must be pretty brilliant with the world.

Gwen alone and looking like a real boat.

Gwen alone and looking like a real boat.

Tipsy motor back from St Germans

Tipsy motor home from St Germans

Today, not so brilliant. Not terrible either, just windy and cold. The journey back up the Tamar was as different to the first as could be, the sky swiping both body and face with blows and occasional sprays, but I still felt confident in handling the tiller despite its more erratic pulls.

Rich has just come in and jammed something white between the big galley cupboard door and its frame, finally keeping it shut. In our bubbly bobbing movement it’s been swinging open every few minutes and flapping about, and is on a short list of jobs we’ve drafted based on experiences on this trip. He turns to me and smiles “tampon door catch!”. Nice to see he’s keeping busy. Now to find my own ways to pass the non-day.

I love the boat, but I’m a bit sick of the boat (sorry, Gwen). It’s been all “boat, boat, boat” for months now so I’ve demanded some time when we do something other than think about the boat with our days off next week. I’d like to go to the beach and see Age of Ultron and have a bike ride, I think. That’ll get me feeling ready to be boaty again. Cheerio until then.

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