We made the most of our stay in Portland. The first day by catching up on sleep and generally taking it very easy. Feeling fully recharged, on Sunday, we took advantage of being near the land. Without letting the breakage of the outboard engine spoil the day, we went for a long walk by the bay. The sun was shining just right to suit our skin. We adventured on top of the Jurassic cliffs far enough to see Portland Bay lighthouse on the horizon. On the way, we passed an old prison, war ships, kangaroos, divers, sheeps and a lively crowd at the Marina gathered there for a charity event. We wrapped up with a romantic dinner by the candlelight; and the day was sealed by Sorin launching at sea a candle in a half melon cradle.
On Monday around lunchtime we left Portland Bay, heading west again. Having planned for the wind and tide to be from the right direction, the notoriously troubled waters at Portland Bill did not create any difficulty. After a combination of motoring and sailing, we made it to Brixham Harbour by dusk.
Brixham is a busy fishing port and as we were approaching we were gutted by the multitude of seagulls – in the hundreds if not thousands. They were flying in all directions making noises that brought back memories of Hitchcock’s movie “The birds”. Luckily as it got dark the seagulls must have called it a day and the calm descended at last over the harbour.
The next day we made a move again. Short sail to River Dart. As we entered the river mouth, the beauty of the surroundings was breathtaking – castles, manor houses, middle age churches nestled amongst green river banks; on the horizon the town of Dartmouth – an agglomeration of pastel coloured houses surrounded by the fresh green hills.
We planned to leave the river the next morning at dawn. Our alarms were set for 4:30am, but we were woken up an hour earlier by a strange noise made by the water gently touching the boat. We had anchored and picked up boys on many occasions, but never before we experienced a similar noise. After briefly checking on things, Sorin returned to bed. We tried to fall back to sleep to no avail. After having our coffees we put our sailing gear on and left the beauty of river Dart behind at around 5am.
After a relaxed eight hour sail to Plymouth we pulled at the fuel pontoon in Yacht Haven Marina at around 1pm. We filled the fuel tank and we asked to stay in the marina for another hour or two. We needed a Raymarine engineer to check why our radar is not being picked up by the navigation system and why every day a different issue with our electronics would crop up.
As soon as we were connected to power and water, we rushed cleaning Mehalah inside and out. The boat was covered in salt and the deck in mud from having anchored over the last weeks.
When at sea, the simple things that we tend to take for granted in our day to day lives, like having a lengthy warm shower (let alone a bath!) or using the vacuum cleaner become such a luxury! It never occurred to me that I was privileged to use the vacuum cleaner! At contrary…But hey, everyday is a school day.
After finishing our cleaning work, Sorin went to look for the Raymarine engineer. Luckily he came across a really nice chap – “old school”, as Sorin would describe him. He took his time to effortlessly talk us through all the cumbersome workings of the newly installed system, its shortcomings and how to overcome these.
When all the ‘to dos’ in the marina were ticked off the list, we picked up a buoy to have a late lunch/early dinner. By then, it was almost 7pm.
To take advantage of the beautiful evening I persuaded Sorin to join me food shopping. I had been told that there was a store in a ‘walking’ distance. And we set off. This meant unpacking and pumping the dinghy up, rowing ashore, storing the dinghy and climbing several hills, getting lost, asking for directions, etc. After a three mile brisk walk we made it to the shop (25 minutes before the closing time).
When we decided to stop in Plymouth, we did not know what a great decision we made. But we were soon to find out. On arrival, Sorin picked up from the Yacht Haven Marina office a free copy of the newspaper ‘All at sea’. This contained a lengthy article about the impending Golden Globe Race that marks 50 years since Sir Robin Knox-Johnston historic world first solo non-stop circumnavigation aboard his traditional 32ft yacht Suhaili. The article contained the schedule of celebrations; it announced that Sir Robin and various participants to the anniversary race were expected in the marina the following day.
Needless to say that both of us were suddenly filled with excitement at the prospect of meeting Sir Robin and Suhaili. And the following day at the welcome drinks organised by the Cruising Association, Sorin had the chance to shake the hand of the one that has been an inspiration for a very long time.
Tomorrow, Mehalah will be setting off alongside Suhaili to Falmouth, were further Golden Globe celebrations will take place.