|South Devon looking beautiful|
The May bank holiday weekend marks the official start of the boating season in Britain. In Plymouth it was marked in style with a display of boats, lots of bunting and a treasure trail. We enjoyed catching up with people and walking along the pontoons; something we hadn't realised how much we had missed. We visited the stalls of the RNLI with their helpful safety messages, had a nice burger and admired the amazing pictures created by Deep impressions. We love her work and now have a very nice cuttlefish magnet in the galley. There was also a helpful chat with All boat services about our refit plans and possible alterations.
All boats have their own story but the ones we saw had some great ones. Bounty's End was built specially for the channel 4 programme Mutiny. She is a 23 foot wooden replica of the boat that Captain Bligh and 18 other crew members of the Bounty were cast out on in 1748. They travelled 3,500 miles in the little boat whilst the mutineers settled on the Pitcairn Islands. Now a legacy project to educate others and inspire adventure she is being used by the Island Trust for day sailing. She is a beautiful boat but it is amazing how they survived in a boat so small.
Also belonging to the Island trust that do so much is Moosk. Another beautiful wooden vessel she is one of the three traditional vessels used for sail training. The Island Trust is a local charity that was set up in 1973. Their aim is to allow everyone access to the water, especially those children that would normally not get the chance. They use their gaff rigged boats - including a Bristol pilot cutter - to build confidence, experiences and adventure. It is an amazing project and we see the thrill on the children's faces and the pride in their achievements as they come back from a voyage. Over the last 40 years they have taken hundreds of children on life changing adventures. I have a lot of admiration for the adults running the training.
As we wandered out onto the pontoons breathing in the familiarity and feeling the water underneath us we saw the stunning super yacht Elfje. She is run ecologically and was designed with racing and cruising in mind - a challenging combination.
At the other end of the size scale is Popgun. At 23 foot she is used for racing in the Sound.
Still small but very mighty we had the chance to meet Mark on the 23 foot Coconut. He is preparing for the Golden Globe 2018 edition which sets off from Sable D'olonne in July. It is a non-stop, single-handed race which will take around 10 months to complete. The race has been organised to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the original 'Race for madmen' that was won by Robin Knox-Johnson in Suhaili. He was the only man to complete the gruelling course and the first to race non-stop around the world. The boats have to meet the standards of the original race of 1968/9 using no additional equipment. That means no GPS, no electric, no weather forecasting and no contact with the outside world (except at set points).
Mark, the skipper was a very nice man who invited the deckhands into his cockpit and showed them bits of equipment, talked about the race and generally enthused them so much that they came away talking about taking part in the 100th anniversary edition in 50 years time when they reckon they will be ready. He showed them all sorts of interesting things like the wind vane steering, rope log and sextant. The youngest was taken by the inside; "There was a door made of aluminum the same as you would find on a submarine. To help to stop the boat sinking as quickly". The middle one liked the colour; "It's bright orange because you need to have at least 2 square feet of orange so he decided 'why not paint the whole boat orange'." The eldest was taken by the practical aspects of stowage; "It's floating a foot high at the moment but wont be when he starts because of the provisions. He will have a tonne of food and half a tonne of spares on top of that. We joked that because of that he will be going faster at the end than at the beginning."
We'll certainly be following the Coconut on her adventure.
The deckhands also enjoyed trying their skill at balancing on a mechanical surf board and talking to the very knowledgeable and enthusiastic people from the National Marine Aquarium about shark teeth and turtles complete with bits to touch. It was an enjoyable day in the sunshine.
Fair winds to all for the season ahead