We have finally been at sea proper today. We have had to deal with everything a yachtmaster needs too and we've performed brilliantly although with 'some' stress. We've had to deal with tidal gates, secondary ports, fishing boats, unlit marks, rocks, the list just goes on and on. We have also had a cheeky stow-away but more of that later.
The day started young at 4am weighing anchor at Studland. The tide was set fair to Portland bill and we had to get through the gate by 11am. 10.30 duly arrived and we were squirted through like a cork. The tide turned against us and it was again decision time. I am sure that Ruffian is a girl as she always seems to change her mind. Instead of making for a free scary anchorage in Brixham we decided to push onwards to super cheap moorings in Dartmouth.
As we hardened up towards Dartmouth we found a stowaway onboard. She was duly named Cheryl. The name was decided upon as she's a Wagtail, or Wag, the top Wag is Cheryl Cole (we think) and so our temporary boat mascot is called Cheryl. She has hitched a ride all the way into Dartmouth and is currently asleep in a nest of rope in the cockpit. So far she's had a diet of cheese, crisps and custard creams. These are clearly comfort foods, so we think she is missing her partner as in Wayne Rooney (we think).
When we started making the approach for Dartmouth the stress started, there were scary pointy rocks to starboard and 'lights' to port. The lights were getting brighter at an alarming rate and we had no idea what 100's of white lights, and the odd glimpse of starboard and then port nav lights. In hindsight it could only be 1 thing - a fishing boat. After getting out the searchlight (thanks John) and illuminating our sails, he made a turn and made his intentions clear. He was so close however that we could see the gulls off the back of his boat and even smell the fish. No fish for dinner for us tonight though.
We are now safely tied up in Dartmouth and must have good Karma with us as just as we'd finished putting the boat to bed the rain has started. Time for a beverage after 16 hours at sea covering 80 miles, going through 2 tidal gates and one sketchy entrance.
It looks like the next couple of days are set for rain so progress maybe slowed, but there are worse places to be than happily tied up in Dartmouth.
Portland Bill in the background. Have we got the tides right to be squirted through.
Our little hitchhiker.
The dawn sun rises over Dartmouth (Kingswear).