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South West: Dartmouth SW WOA Rally – Sea Gypsy’s perspective

27th May 2017

Being single handed I just love small crowded pontoons… so arrive early. Ha. One slot on the end left. With trepidation, dodging the red pontoon mooring buoy which seemed to be just where I wanted to be and attacked by ferries Sea Gypsy and I with the help of a friendly reception committee arrived. Afternoon was spent provisioning and wondering, where’s Classmate, my friends from Falmouth who were were planning on doing the trip in one go. As evening approached the pontoon became a buzz with activity, wine flowed and nibbles were chomped as old friends met up and new friends were made. Barbara keen not to miss out arrive by car, but one puzzle remained…. Where’s Classmate. Finally, as the sun set over the horizon, Classmate steamed up the river. Rod and Jan, tired but triumphant told of a gruelling trip into wind and waves, and Classmate settled next to Sea Gypsy and they talked of whatever boats talk about when they are re-united.

Walking boots and sticks.
All action, the next day was the walk. Beautifully planned with lots of options and escape routes, to suit every level of fitness, we all headed for the castle. Some got no further, being beguiled by the view and the breakfast opportunities, some valiantly continued on, and to be fair, some, having re-provisioned themselves caught up later. The walk took us up round the headland where, had the visibility been better, the views would have been stunning. As I puffed up the hills, Lizzie, Barbara daughter entertained me with tales of her life and pets. At the parting of the ways some went back, but the intrepid few continued on the Blackpool sands and bused it back. Somehow I missed the theme park… must keep it hidden along with the zoo. After all that exercise the excellent meal in the evening was enjoyed by all. The thoughtful organisers had even headed off the inevitable … now what was it I ordered … by providing a list. Good food, convivial company, does not get much better.

Stand to Attention.
Monday offered a rare opportunity to see inside the Dartmouth Naval college and have a guided tour. Architecturally built originally to resemble a ship the tour took us on an entertaining and informative journey through the building and the history which was brought to life by the enthusiasm and personal anecdotes from our guide. Everyone afterwards spoke of how much they enjoyed this tour.
How to follow that? Well navel uniforms were replaced in the evening by BBQ aprons, and we saluted John, who kindly arranged and provided his garden as a venue, with bottle of wine and fire lighting kits. This proved a lovely relaxed end to the day, tables and chairs provided so we could sit appreciating the view over the bay and swapping tales as sailors will.

Walking on water.
The final day saw us gathered for an amazing breakfast at Alf Resco, a quirky venue that I believe was once a garage, with amazing food and so popular, people queue to get in. Many thanks to Charles for managing to book us all in.
Afterwards John took us on a guided tour of Dartmouth, looking the part of a tour guide so convincingly, complete with map and historical facts that he was getting black looks from passing official guides. I had had no idea that the whole current waterfront of Dartmouth was originally under water and all the buildings built on reclaimed land. Not being familiar with Dartmouth, I found it fascinating to hear a bit of the history and also to discover the shops and market behind the tourist facade. Something I was later grateful for when I spent a week in Dartmouth storm bound. Of course the tour had to include the oldest pub, so we just had to finish by sampling the wares.
And the next day it was off to Salcombe to start again, but that is someone else’s story.

Pauline Little


27th May 2017
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