Freebooter

Life & Travels Afloat in our Moody

Our Trip Down from Scotland

We spent a few weeks sorting her out and driving up to Scotland every weekend, before finding two more experienced people to help us sail her down. We left the Clyde on Boxing Day in fine weather, just sorry that we didn’t have time to explore Scotland more. We had to be back at work after the New Year, so time was limited. We planned to stop at Holyhead, Milford Haven, Falmouth and Weymouth on our way to our new home base of Gosport Marina (the old Camper & Nicholson marina).

In practice, we took advantage of weather windows as there were gales around. We had a wonderful sail down the Irish Sea with a big swell. It was our first big passage, and we remember seeing the lighthouses flashing on the coast of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales during the night. Also memories of grey shapes of seagulls accompanying us, and waves dwarfing us at times. The wonderful smell of the sea and sound of the waves.

We got into the Milford Haven estuary in the early hours of the second day in horrendous horizontal rain, and were relieved to get into Neyland Marina further up the estuary. It took three of us to find our way up there, one on the helm, one on radar and one on lookout to spot the navigation buoys! We went past the oil terminal, and couldn’t get into Milford Haven so headed further up the river. We stayed in Neyland a couple of days to let a front go through, and then headed to Falmouth.

The plan was to round Lands End at dawn, but we were surfing across the Bristol Channel at 11 knots at times, and were ahead of time. We made the best of the weather and pushed on to Plymouth. Falmouth Bay was relatively hot and sunny with no wind. We were lying on the aft deck “sunbathing” in our warm clothes when we got buzzed by a plane. We later realised it was HM Customs, as the Customs cutter in the distance made a beeline for us. We saw the ship stop and a rib was despatched with four armed officers. Great excitement – not least as the lead officer was rather inexperienced in moving between boats and was deposited on our deck in a heap after nearly falling in the drink. (Two officers had had to give her backside a hefty push so she reached our boat!) The boat was searched, and Kate, our then 13 year old daughter was awoken by someone waving what looked like litmus paper in front of her nose and a perfunctory, “Good morning, Madam, HM Customs & Excise!”. We had coffee all round and were chatting with one of the officers who mentioned that the captain of the Customs Cutter thought we were suspicious because we weren’t sailing. Steve politely questioned how long the captain had been at sea as there was only two knots of wind!

We spent a few days in Plymouth while gales raged around us, and had an exceedingly good New Year’s Eve meal in a little Himalayan restaurant in the Barbican. We were obviously looking a bit scruffy and maybe we were wiffy too, as we were put in a back room on our own! We had a rather oddball waiter who kept a python (called Monty, of course) and a parrot. (He said the python slept with him, and agreed to Annemarie’s comment that his girlfriend didn’t like it!)

We had an uneventful last hop from Plymouth to Gosport, where we tied up for the first of many times over the next 10 years.

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