Jane and Christine joined me for a couple of days in Padstow harbour as they had been visiting her parents nearby. We did lots of walking and looking at all the tourists making goo eyes at the harbour and shops, then gorging themselves on Rick Stein's fish and chips. A pleasant place but some boats had been there for over a week awaiting the weather to go to the Scillies or around Lands End. The weather sounded ok for going north, but was still unstable, and therefore likely to create moderate to rough seas. I was conscious that James, my next crew, hadn't done a huge amount and I didn't want to scare him. The day after he arrived it didn't sound good so we went walking and for the first time my leg, injured back in November, was starting to feel better. Two long walks with the girls followed by one with James did the world of good in helping the recuperation.
So on monday morning we left to head to Lundy Island with a forecast of west or southwest 4-5 for the next two days. The swell was two metres outside but James was happy to go so we went for it. The seas were big and the wind good so we creamed along towards Hartland Point, 11 miles from Lundy. When we got there the tide started to go against us and we got wind over tide creating 4 metre swells at times and confused seas. James handled the conditions well, despite his inexperince. Well done kiddo !!! We anchored close in to avoid the swell but the anchorage in Lundy is swept by tidal currents and so is rarely really calm. This meant for a bad night's sleep, especially in the morning when the wind started coming around the point creating a chop. The forecast was now 5-7 so we knew that we would not be moving that day or the next. Having had no sleep, I decided to take up a mooring buoy and throw ourselves at the mercy of those running the island to see if they had a place we could crash ashore for a couple of nights until the weather improved. Liz in reception allowed us to stay in the church, sleeping on the floor, which was much better than rolling around on SD.
We celebrated being stranded by having dinner and a few pints in the Marisco Tavern. At this stage I must explain about boat porn: this is where sad people like the skipper wander around marinas and harbours looking at boats and making the sounds builders make when they see a pretty girl. Anyway, Stuart who works on the island, spotted James' camnera. Being a photographer himself, soon a camera porn conversation started. One thing led to another and we ended up sitting with his girlfriend Zoe and the rest of the staff talking about life on the island. It was to turn out to be the start of something wacky which can only happen when you don't plan it.
The folowing day we went for a long walk to clear our heads and a second night out in the Marisco followed. At this stage we were getting to know some of the "characters" on the staff. On day three, we tried to leave but with winds gusting to 28 knots and breaking seas, we turned back and spent the rest of the afternoon on the beach with Stuart, Zoe and others who were on their day off. We were knackered from preparing to leave and the disappointment of having to turn back and almost went to bed but we would have missed a great night. Nicola, the warden of the island, came up with the idea of watching the video of Slumdog Millionaire projected onto the wall inside the lighthouse. Ten of us, including Derek the island manager, sat on a landing or on the spiral staircase fo it. A really special evening. By the following morning, I was in better form and well rested so we went for a long walk around the south and west of the island. Looking at the sea we were glad we were not out there, but also wondering when would conditions ever improve. That morning a Russian Billionaire friend of Roman Abramovitch arrived on a syperyacht motorboat with all the boys toys. The staff in the Marisco were bemused to get a phone call asking if they could land their helicopter on the island to get ashore. Sure who needs a dinghy when you have a helicopter !!!!. Looking at the boat, 300 foot long, we saw the ultimate in boys toys as it had 2 ribs, a helicopter, 7 jet skis, a 50 foot yacht, a 45 foot sunseeker motorboat and a staff of 51 just to operate it! All this for 7 guests. They flew to Padstow fo lunch (as you do !) and then came ashore for a wander, tipping Derrick £1,000 for his services before leaving. A different world !
Saturday was changeover day for the guests staying in the 23 different properties for rent on the island. As our way of saying thank you to the staff, James and I offered to help as it sounded like a busy day for them. We made beds in 10 of the properties in the morning and then helped distribute the guests luggage when it came off the boat. After being on the doss or 2 months it was not bad being a "worker" again. That evening Stuart, Zoe, Derek and I went for a dive at sunset while James kept an eye on the warden's rib at Gannet Cove. It is a small bay where grey seals sunbathe. One in particular was very playful, nibbling on our fins and playing hide and seek in the seaweed forest. That was a great end to a busy day and I tell you the first pint that night didn't touch the sides as it went down!
By now, the weather looked better for us, with a window to cross to Milford Haven on the sunday afternoon. After bing 6 nights on the island, we were looking forward to moving on. It would already have been too late for me as I had missed the chance to see Anne ho was due to come to Milford on the friday. Sunday morning dawned sunny with reasonable winds and calming seas. That morning James and I worked for Stuart roofing a building and then it was ready for the off. We thanked everyone before we left, but here once again can I say thanks to all those who looked after two stranded sailors. You only add to the magic that is Lundy.
The sail back went well with 14 knots of wind for most of it and moderate seas. James was much more comfortable for this trip and worked well with the cruising chute when the wind went more astern on nearing Milford. We got in just before dark and found Joe and Sindy on Monearn waiting for us in the anchorage in Dale. Suffice to say, there were a few bottles of wine drunk and boat stories related that night!!! It got bumpy during the night as the wind built and in the morning we motored 8 miles up to Pembroke Dock, where James got a train to meet Aoife. I am sure this trip is one he wont forget in a hurry !!