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It's Vince and Malcolm

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Fowey to Salcombe/Dartmouth 17th July 2007

After a peaceful night moored in Fowey, and being ahead of schedule I decided to have another day off to explore the town. I contacted the water taxi on CH 06, and was soon on my way ashore. The weather is good, and there are lots of holiday makers milling around, which is good to see, the various cafe's have plenty of customers, as do the gift shops. A visit to The Royal Fowey Yacht Club on the fore shore is one of my places to visit while I am here, and a shower goes down well. The Yacht Club isn't very busy today, but it is mid-week. I collected some provisions at the mini store, and some fresh bread from Niles Bakery, but resisted the fine chocolates etc at Middleton's chocolate shop. After a good walk around the town I decided to return to Anita A, and watch the world go by for the rest of the day, and to do the voyage plan for tomorrow, The water taxi soon had me back on the boat and the first thing to do is put the kettle on and make a sandwich with the fresh bread, Ham and cheese is my favourite, with a slice of tomato for good measure.

The passage plan is to leave at 06:00 so its an early start. I am up at 05:00 and have a quick breakfast and hot mug of tea, as I want to re-set the tiller pilot before I set off as it is getting lost again, this time on an easterly heading . I drop the mooring buoy at 05:30, and motor out into a clear area of the river, set the tiller pilot for Linearisation and Heading Alignment, and commence turning in circles at slow speed, before matching the autopilot heading with the main compass. I don't think this will sort the problem but I will try anything. by 06:00 I have completed the setup and I am heading out of the river, and into open water, I follow the shore to a point south of washing rocks and take a compass bearing on the white house which is 20deg, it's 06:18 and I set course for a point south of Gregory Rocks, a distance  32nm. Depending on boat speed I doubt if I can make Dartmouth before the tide turns so I  may have to stop off at Hope Cove, Steeple Cove or Salcombe. Salcombe is favourite as it is another beautiful area, and I have never been there before. I am pushing the west going tide so progress is slower through the water, but it's a nice day and I am in no rush to get to Dartmouth as my sister Teresa, who lives in Exeter is coming down to Dartmouth on Saturday, and I am looking forward to that, as we don't see each other very often, and I think I can make it in four days even if I row!

08:00, wind strength zero, engine running smoothly, and pushing Anita along at 4kn. I am south of Looe Island, progress is slow but Its getting warmer as the sun climbs higher into the sky, and I will be able to remove my oilies later on. I can see a Royal Navy ship ahead, but I can't make out the type yet, what I can tell though is that it isn't moving, so I will have to keep my eye on its position so as to make sure I stay outside its exclusion zone. Its 11:15 and I am about three miles off Plymouth Sound, sailing in shorts and T shirt now as it is quite warm, but I am still wearing my lifejacket clipped on to the D ring in the cockpit, I can see Eddystone Lighthouse  off the Starboard beam bearing 202deg, and there is another RN ship directly ahead, its also as motionless as the last one, as I get closer I can see three ribs exercising around the ship. and will soon have to alter course to pass around at the required distance, as my heading is straight towards her. Ten minutes later, and before I have altered course, a cloud of smoke rises from the Destroyer and she moves off. Her Pennant is D91 which is the pennant No of HMS Nottingham, a type 42 Destroyer, even more surprising is that she soon stops again well clear of my course, its as if she moved out of my way, and its not long before one of the ribs is heading towards me at speed, as they close they circle, and close even further  for a good look, I can see that they are fully armed and ready for action if required, I give them a friendly wave, which is soon returned, satisfied there is no threat, they turn away heading back towards their ship.

12:30 and the wind is now 2/3 and gusts of 4 and although it will slow me down I turn off the engine, and set the genoa so I can enjoy some peace and quite. I make a quick dash below to put the kettle on, and with a fresh coffee and a couple of biscuits. I can relax in the warmth of the sun and enjoy the sailing. After all the strong winds I have had on this voyage, I have got used to some fast sailing, when relaxing isn't an option, but as I said I much prefer sailing to motoring or motor sailing, whether its fast or slow. I often wonder if we rely on the engine too much nowadays, maybe we ought to get more used to a much slower pace, even drifting with the tide at times, and sometimes loosing ground too. I am in front of schedule and can afford to slow down, I have allowed twelve weeks for this voyage, but Malcolm would like me to get back as soon as possible so I can get back to work on his office development programme, which is slipping due to my absence. Malcolm leaving the voyage at Blythe has worked out for the better, as I had a phone call from a prospective customer for the two warehouse units that were complete enough to let, and as a consequence of Malcolm being at home, he was able to secure a deal, which makes him happy of course as he has already laid out a lot of money on the development, and if he is happy I am happy too.

15:30 and the boat motion has changed, a quick look at the GPS tells me progress has halted, we have stopped because the tide has turned, but good fortune as always, I am off the entrance to Salcombe Harbour, so I guess a course change is due, and I head for the Salcombe Harbour entrance. I keep to the west side of the entrance to avoid the bar, and head for the starboard buoys of Wolf and Blackstone Rocks, then follow the fairway to the mooring buoys opposite the town quays, and by 16:15 I have Anita 'A' secured to a visitor buoy.