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The old seafood diet…

Thursday 9th July – I have to get the creaking limbs going and get an early start to Weymouth. I leave at ‘0430’ – what does the ‘0’ stand for Oh my God that’s early (apologies to Robin Williams) – to get the tidal streams and tides right. Dont forget that I am anchored in a hollow in the middle of wetlands. I need 2m of water to get outa here!

Its beautiful to start just before dawn breaks and to see the world gradually stir as the sun rises. Its a clear blue sky, a fresh breeze (that’s 17-21 kts of wind – sorry – “Fresh Breeze” is a technical term), as I motor out past the chain ferry at Studland, and into Studland Bay.

Then the fight with the main sail begins. Enterprise has an in-mast furling main – that means it furls up inside the mast and does not drop down on to the boom to be put away. This was meant to be a labour saving design – but if your sails are getting old – well – it becomes a fight. The thing jams. It took me 30 mins to get the sail out. By which time I was pouring with sweat and a little bit disappointed that this gadget had tried to spoil the lovely dawn.

But the old Bentley is now in gear and as the wind freshens Enterprise starts making that lovely sound as the water gets brushed aside as if it is a petty annoyance. The wind has more South in it than South West as forecasted, so as I round St Albans Head the boat really takes off. We are in full sail – partly out of tiredness and partly out of devilment I don’t reef as the wind increases to 24 then 27kts more than the BBC forecast of course (they tend to understate). But I don’t care we are now at cruising sped for the old girl 7, 8 even 9 kts speed over the ground appears … fantastic, I’ll be getting to Weymouth early at this rate!

I arrive at early, at 1035…I intend going into the Weymouth Marina since I will be here for a week or so…that means going under the town bridge – the opening of which I miss by 35 mins. So I will have to wait for the 1200 opening – the one I had planned for in the first place. This means motoring up the river to the bridge and mooring on the waiting pontoon – right in front of 500 or so day trippers eating their fish and chips and licking their ice creams – seemingly expecting the next variety act to appear and entertain them. I use the time motoring up the river to get fenders out both sides and all the lines ready on starboard side – that’s the side I have a gate. Of course the pontoon is on the port side – so I will have to turn the boat in the river and come in on my starboard side. I don’t dare look up at all the  faces of holiday makers lining the bridge and the dockside pubs and restaurants that border the river. I start the turn, I approach the pontoon, I slow the approach to a crawl, the boat drifts gently and sidles up, I step out of the cockpit, and jump down on to the pontoon – any slip now will set 10 tons of boat drifting aimlessly away down the river probably dragging an unwilling water skier behind…. but no – what’s this ? – I step down holding stern and aft spring lines I deftly spin them round a cleat – I calmly walk to the front – before the Gods realise what’s happening – I pick up the bow line off the guard rail left there so professionally and tie up the bow. Job done. Its almost like Bruce Willis stepped into my skin for just 34 seconds executed everything for me and all I had to do now was clamber back and stop the engine. Then I look up expecting faces…but I don’t get them – I get the ultimate mark of approval – everyone has just turned back to their friends and continued chatting – a compliment indeed from a tough British audience.

The bridge opens at 1200 I meander through – There is something perversely satisfying about causing inconvenience to other road users but without actually breaking the Highway Code.

I’m ready to meet the Se’Alin E’clubbèrs who are also gathering in Weymouth for the Dorset Seafood Festival. Over the next few days I am joined by Joe & Sam, David & Kirstie and of course quite a bit of ale is consumed. I cant say much more because what goes on tour stays on tour – you know the rules.

The following week is the Poly Reunion where I get to meet some very decrepit old men whom I have not seen since we tried to graduate with a degree in something at age 22 and some radiant women also from that era – why is it that the women always look better? – I must add Oil of Ulay to the ship’s stores. Much champagne is consumed.

On Friday Hannah braves the 3 hour train journey and we spend a delightful day together, eating fish and chips and licking ice cream, before I have to wave her goodbye at Weymouth Train Station. Quite a lonely moment.

A week has passed. All the engagements so long anticipated are now over. Time to make tracks.

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Enterprise moored on the waiting pontoon at Weymouth Seafood arriving from who knows where for the “Dorset” seafood festival
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Family gathering outside a local ale house Everyone agreed that this had a remarkable family resemblance – it was the 1000 yard stare.
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Weymouth or St Tropez ? Two British holiday makers…

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