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South West Group Dartmouth Meet (Music Festival +)

May 9 - May 13


Let me start by giving a huge thank you to Jim Eccles and Sparks Beattie for organising this event between them. Well done both for a smooth and enjoyable time for all.

The weather was not kind to those coming from the west as strong winds were keeping them at home, nevertheless, we had boats from Falmouth, Plymouth, Salcombe and Brixham, as well as the Dartmouth bunch, who all arrived in strange little blow up Westerlys! We also had a caravan but that didn’t arrive up the river!

Thanks to the Dart Harbour Master, we all enjoyed reduced mooring fees and cheap water taxi fares all weekend. During the music festival the taxis were buzzing around and you only had to wait 5 minutes for one. These reductions were thanks to Sparks chatting to the harbour office and making life easy for them.

We had a pontoon party the first evening and although there were only 5 boats on our pontoon we were joined by the Dart crowd and had an excellent evening.

Jim had organised a visit the following day to a vineyard for us, as you can imagine this was well attended by the Westerly crowd! We all boarded Bob’s Bus and trundled off through the Devon lanes to Sharpham Vineyard. We were greeted by our excellent guide, who we all warmed to as he loaded a rucksack with bottles of wine and told us we would have our tasting amongst the vines, a short walk away. We gathered in the vineyard overlooking the Dart and our host explained about the wines in a superb presentation as he poured each of us healthy measures of (I can’t remember how many) different wines. The sparkling wine was a definite favourite. We then tacked back to the winery to see the production plant and tasted an excellent red wine. Lunch was then served and wine was purchased. An excellent trip, thanks again Jim and thanks to Jools for sorting out the bill for lunch for us all. No mean feat after all the wine we had consumed. Bob’s Bus arrived and we were all glad to be driven back to Dartmouth. The boats were very quiet all afternoon as the sun came out and we all enjoyed a beautiful evening.

The music began on Friday afternoon and kept going all weekend till Sunday night. All the music is free and the organisers just ask for donations; Great bands on the main stage and superb other acts all over town were enjoyed by members of the group. There really was music to suit all tastes. Sunday morning saw some boats readying themselves to leave in the afternoon whilst Sparks organised a Michelin star chef to cook bacon rolls for everyone on the back cabin of Sea Daisy. 25 were served and £50 was raised for the RNLI. We enjoyed three days of glorious sunshine in the beautiful town of Dartmouth. A first class event organised by our new committee members Jim & Sparks.

Let’s do it again next year?

Report from Steve Jones:

This meet coincided with the annual Dartmouth Music Festival and began with a number of boats braving the easterly gales. Those who felt the weather too inclement arrived by land but this did not deter some 20 members enjoying the pontoon party.

A visit was arranged to the nearby Sharpham Vineyard and although it is only a few miles upriver, 13 souls braved “Bob the Bus” through the winding Devon lanes to the vineyard.

On arrival we were taken up the hill to be shown the vines and the tasting commenced.

Our host was knowledgeable and gave us a history of the planting and dispelled some myths around winemaking.

A sumptuous lunch was eaten in the sunny courtyard and more wine consumed.

A medal, the size of a frying pan, goes to Jules Eccles for undertaking the task of individual billing after such a boozy affair!

The music festival, is an eclectic mix of styles with participants meeting up in the various venues over the weekend. The Britannia Royal Naval College was also open to visitors and a few members took up this offer.

After a busy weekend it was time to say “Bon Voyage” but not without partaking in the bacon butties provided by Sparks in aid of the RNLI.

Our thanks go to the Beattie and Eccles crews for organising the event.


May 9
May 13
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