Thursday, 24 July 2014

Oh I do love to be beside the seaside


As sandwich boxes, sports days and the school run give way to picnics, paddling and exploring, we are enjoying living on one of the best playgrounds in the world. With the river flowing through the marina and the beach a two minute walk over the other side of the peninsular, our new Devon home is perfect for the summer holidays.

Stunning
 
Emergency grab-bag number 1 has been repurposed as a great beach/canoeing/dingy bag and a couple of weeks ago we got some new beach shoes, ready for the schools to break up. They have been really good for paddling and canoeing then they dry out ready for the next day. Normally I love to feel the sand between my toes however here shoes are a wise choice. Not only are the rocks jagged and rough with barnacles but Weever fish live happily in the sandy bays ready to sting any foot which ventures too near.

5 pairs of shoes drying out on the deck
 
The water around Britain’s coast is warmer this summer than it has been for several years; partly due to the storms preventing the usual cooling over the winter and partly thanks to the bursts of heat we had earlier in the year. Although the usual feeling of cold creeps its way into your skin as you enter the water it doesn’t take long before you realise that the water is actually ‘pleasant’ rather than the usual feeling of tolerating the cold because your legs have gone numb.

The beautiful Devon coast is vibrant with many rich hues of green, brown and blue and the coastline is formed by fingers of rock jutting into the Sound hiding tiny coves and bays. As we scramble over the rocks from one peaceful secluded beach to another or watch terns performing overhead in the cerulean sky it’s incredible to think that this is one of the coasts which was battered so severely in the terrible winter storms.


One of the tiny coves accessible only by canoe at mid-tide 

The crew have all skimmed stones, swum and paddled. The deckhands have dug and played in the sand whilst the Skipper read boat building books and I read grammar books sat on the beach. We have scrambled over grassy outcrops, inched along rocky edges above the sea and giggled as we carefully picked our way between rocks with the water up to our waists. People living with the ocean have been coasteering for generations, certainly for many years before it officially became a sport.
 
We have enjoyed exploring the river in the dinghy and seeing our new home from a different perspective. We have probably mentioned our elderly Seagull engine before; a two-stroke petrol outboard which came with Kate (our old Ridgeway Pirate) and stayed with us when she was sold on. This is a legend of British engineering. These things have got a reputation for never giving up even when they have been completely neglected or totally submerged in sea-water. They do have a couple of drawbacks though including being incontinent of oil and petrol and the noise they make. You can hear a Seagull engine approaching from a distance and there is no chance of conversation when it is running. Communication is reduced to hand signals with people who are sat only 2 foot away from you! This made us finally replace ours with a much quieter and more environmentally friendly electric outboard last year which has made trips – and conversation – in the dinghy much more enjoyable.  

Heading upriver in the dinghy
 
Obviously there has also been lots of work on the boat, everyday chores and studying in between having fun and the deckhands are now helping the Skipper build a new wooden dinghy. This sunny weather may not last for the whole 6 weeks of the holidays – that may be too much to hope for – but it has certainly been a lovely start.


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