Moonlight Adventure

The story of our travels on board Moonlight, our Vancouver 36.


Wednesday 8th July 2009

Posted by yachtmoonlight on July 9, 2009 at 10:32 AM

We spent Sunday morning relaxing on the boat and I made another exciting salad for lunch. There were heavy, squally showers all day and the forecast was for more of the same so in the afternoon we moved down to Queen Anne's Battery Marina in Plymouth so we could explore the town. The marina doesn't have much space for visitors, so we had to raft alongside another boat, in pouring rain and strong winds. It was very traumatic and led to a lot of confusion (on my part) and a lot of shouting (on John's part) before we finally managed it, with the help of a couple from a nearby boat.
In the evening, we ventured up to a small bar / restaurant in the marina called Chandlers which not only served excellent food but it also had working and very fast wifi, so we spent a happy couple of hours eating, drinking, updating the website and catching up on banking and emails.

The following morning, the boat alongside us moved on, so we were able to tie up against the pontoon - much preferable to having to clamber over someone else's boat and after doing some washing, we wandered around the Barbican area of Plymouth, which is lovely and would have been lovelier had it not still been raining in intermittent downpours! We quite fancied a tour of the Plymouth Gin Distillery, but found that the tours were at 10.30am and 4.30pm (stupid times if you ask me) so we settled for a look around the distillery shop. It soon became apparent that the very snooty shop assistant didn't like customers (I could just stop there) touching things or heaven forbid, picking them up and each time we did either she said very loudly and snootily, without moving from behind the counter, 'errrrr, can I help you?'. This soon moved from being annoying to good sport, so while John sent her into a frenzy by thumbing through every page of a cocktail book, I picked up all the glasses, one at a time and put them back on the wrong shelf, with finger-marks on them. Just as she was about to explode, we turned round as many bottles as we could so the labels were no longer uniformly facing the front before dashing for the exit. I had fully intended to buy a bottle of Plymouth Sloe Gin in the shop, but there's nothing like an unpleasant snooty shop assistant to make me keep my hand in my pocket.

We moved on and browsed the tat (otherwise known as 'Antique and Collectibles') shops and second-hand book shops, both of which I have a soft spot for, hampered only by the rain and the occasional swarms of teenage European tourists in matching rucksacks with the name of their school and something like 'England 2009' embroidered on it, which now seem to be the in thing (the matching rucksacks, not the tourists, they've been around a while). Now, I find this most peculiar, as over the years I have never seen a European teenager without a rucksack attached to their backs, happily knocking little old ladies off the pavement and boxes of 'local' fudge with postcards under the cellophane and union jack London busses off the shelves in souvenir shops, so why on earth they have in recent years decided when they arrange school trips to England that the one thing each child will need is another bloody rucksack is beyond me.

We ran the matching rucksack gauntlet and ducked into Rod's Books - a tiny second-hand bookshop crammed so full of mainly military, war and sci-fi publications that we couldn't see the books for the books. We squeezed between the shelves and stacks of books and my eyes fell on an old scruffy paperback novel called 'The 20th of July', which it turns out is not only my birthday (and incidentally the first day a man walked on the moon), but also the date of an attempted assassination of Hitler, which is what the novel is based on. I had to buy it, for no other reason than my birthday. We asked the cheery helpful chap at the counter (Rod perhaps?) if by any chance he had a copy of the Manual of Seamanship Vol III, which John has been wanting for some time. He was given a 1951 copy of Vol I by my friend Ruth who found it in a pile of books her dad was throwing away, and I found an earlier copy of Vol II in a tat, errrr, 'Antiques and Collectibles' shop in Portsmouth, but Vol III had so far been elusive. "Oh yes" said (possibly) Rod "I'm sure I have one of those" and he waded through a sea of books and laid his hand on a 1951 copy of Vol III straight away, so we bought both books. I am quite sure there is every book ever printed on military, war or sci-fi themes in that shop, the trick is not to try and look for what you want , just ask (possibly) Rod.

The rain was still intermittently pounding down, so we returned to the boat via the laundry to collect some clothes from the tumble dryer and we spent a happy half an hour looking for the mate of a single sock and discussing whether it could have been left in the washer or dryer before we realised the single sock didn't belong to either of us.

That evening, we treated ourselves to dinner in a restaurant recommended by John's daughter Becky, which he remembered was called The Waterside restaurant. As we sat looking out over the marina, sipping wine and perusing the menu in the restaurant, John noticed that for some reason the menus had 'The Glassblowing House Restaurant' on the top and we realised that the 'Waterside' mentioned on the sign outside the restaurant was a description, not the name of the place. We nevertheless enjoyed a fabulous meal in the wrong restaurant (the right one was actually called The Waterfront we found out later when John fessed up to Becky).

We were awoken yesterday morning by a stressed sounding Marina worker who told us we would have to move straight away as they had a 24 metre yacht coming in that needed the space currently occupied by us and three other boats. He informed us we would have to move to a space roughly three inches shorter than the boat (or so it seemed) or raft up again, which would have been tricky and the other boats being moved were having to do the same so we may have ended up three abreast, which wouldn't be much fun. After a little persuasion, the marina chap agreed we could move to a non-visitor berth, but said we could only stay there for a few hours and if we wanted to stay another night, we would have to raft up. So, feeling slightly miffed by all this, we decided to move to a nearby anchorage in the afternoon, after a trip to the Aquarium.

We enjoyed the aquarium, which is quite good but mainly just a few very large tanks full of lots of different kinds of fish, and not as good as the smaller aquariums in Southend and Southsea, although I did particularly like a rather funky octopus.


(The funky octopus)


A large section of the aquarium was closed due to 'technical difficulties' (errrrrrr, the water escaped? The fish escaped? ) and so we were given free access to a '4D' film, a computer animated film of cartoon turtles with accompanying 'effects' which entailed throwing water over John. The aquarium was full of children, some on school trips, but mostly with their parents, which puzzled me somewhat as when I was that age it was fashionable to go to school during the day, but maybe they don't bother so much these days.

There was one particularly annoying child who appeared to be fluent in at least three languages and didn't know how to behave in any of them.

There was a break in the rain that was still coming and going in heavy showers, so we took a walk up to Charles Church, which was destroyed in 1941 and left in ruins as a memorial to all those who died in Plymouth as a result of the air raids. It is a fitting memorial, but unfortunately is now surrounded by a circular road and mountains of concrete of the nearby shops and offices.


(The ruined Charles Church, Plymouth)

John returned to the boat and I spent some time in a huge, wonderful 'antiques and collectibles' (tat) shop in which I bought a bracelet that caught my eye and begged me to buy it before returning to the boat and moving across to anchor in Cawsand Bay. We watched a series of warships (British, Dutch, German and Portugese) come and go and one anchored in the bay behind us for the night.


(View of Plymouth on the way to Cawsand Bay)

This morning, we left Cawsand Bay at 8.30am and headed towards Falmouth. The wind was gusty and the sea quite choppy, but we managed to sail all the way with Frankenstein's sail amazingly still intact. Several of the warships were carrying out exercises along the coast and at one point, a Portuguese ship appeared and announced several times via vhf radio that it was about to start firing and all ships should keep clear of an extensive 'exclusion zone', which worryingly included a stretch of land on the coast. Along with many other sailing and fishing boats, we were in that zone and even sailing (or motoring) as fast as we possibly could, we wouldn't be able to get out of it for a couple of hours. As the Portuguese ship argued with two fishing boats it had asked to move, I was tempted to call it up myself and suggest it move to a less crowded area to play with it's guns, Portugal perhaps, but John didn't think this would help so we just kept going and at 3.30pm we arrived in Falmouth without being shot or torpedoed and anchored near the town.

We took the dinghy across to the town and had a short wander round while I looked in the shop windows and John concentrated on being grumpy (he was very tired, bless him). I decided to go along with whatever he wanted to do for a quiet life (first he wanted to go to the pub for a drink, then he didn't, then he wanted to eat out, then he didn't...) and not agitate him. I have now learned from experience that accidently smacking him around the head with the dinghy oars is not necessarily the best way to do this.

We settled down on the boat for the night and John's grumpiness was soon cured by a couple of pints of beer and a dinner of burger and chips and we enjoyed a very pleasant evening watching others boats go by.

Categories: England, July 2009

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5:31 PM on July 9, 2009 
I must add to my mental note book that burger and chips and a few pints cures grumpiness - hope it works every night!
Reply Barbara Cottington
12:46 PM on July 18, 2009 
Have great urge to arrange visit to Plymouth Gin distillery shop with 20 or so under 10 year olds, telling them before entering that prizes will be given to those who can move the most objects in 2 minutes,