We have been in Plymouth for almost a week now, after our quick dash from Falmouth in a good weather window last Sunday. Since then we have been rather obsessively watching the forecast to spot safe and civilised opportunities for sailing further east. There are not many of those at the moment, as a series of low pressure systems looks set to continue bringing strong winds and at times lots of rain. It hasn’t been extreme or abnormal for this time of year, but if you were to read the Daily Express you’d think the weather was on a personal vendetta: “Hurricane Humberto… is threatening to unleash heavy downpours on the UK”.
Our current aim is to be back in the Solent during the week beginning 7thOctober – weather permitting. It has been good to exchange ‘go or no-go’ views and spend time with Nigel and Sue on yacht Serendipity, also heading back to the Solent. As we write, we are expecting to be in Plymouth for a couple more days, then to Dartmouth or Brixham, and then across Lyme Bay. The latter is a longer passage and timing to get round Portland Bill is critical, so we need to take into account weather, tides and trying to do as much of the journey in the light as we can. That combination rarely works out, so we’re likely to be doing some part of the journey in the dark.
Meanwhile we are enjoying Plymouth. We are moored in the calm (behind lock gates) Sutton Harbour marina near the Barbican, Plymouth’s old town, from where the Mayflower left for America. There are shops, cafes and trip boats departing from the quay (when they’re not cancelled due to weather). Nearby is the Hoe, a green slope above the sea, with the red and white striped Smeaton’s tower (formerly the Eddystone lighthouse) at the centre of Plymouth’s waterfront.
Further west is Royal William Yard, previously the Navy victualling yard, the buildings progressively being restored and converted into flats, offices and restaurants. Then across the water in Devonport is the oldest covered slipway in the country, with a beautiful painted statue of King William guarding its entrance.
Plymouth is in the county of Devon, but we spent one day back across the river Tamar in Cornwall. We took a little ferry to Mount Edgcumbe park where we explored the beautiful grounds of Edgcombe House, a Tudor mansion which was restored after significant damage in WWII. The grounds – formal gardens, woodland and a coastal walk – are open to the public. On the spur of the moment, we caught a bus back to Plymouth. A journey of about a mile as the crow flies, the 1.5 hour journey took us down narrow winding roads to villages, along the coast high above the surf at Whitesands bay, and finally across a vehicle ferry from Torpoint and into Plymouth.