Author: Phalene G.
We arrived late on the Friday evening at the Harford Bunkhouse on the edge of Dartmoor after a romantic car park dinner stop at ASDA en route and a going a bit “overboard” on the food shopping. Tom familiarised us with several charts of the Plymouth coast and the meaning of its key features which was imperative for the boat handling course. We started the next morning with passage planning and a side of bacon sandwiches. We collected the boat and equipment from Pete and headed down to the Mount Batten main slipway. We thoroughly went through the contents of the boat, preparation of the boat for launch and safety measures. Zhenbo got a bit overexcited and pulled the cord at the bottom of his life jacket and it blew up! (Perhaps this was a blessing in disguise though as the cartridge was quite rusty!)
The sun was beaming and away we went upstream for some slow speed handling practice, with Pete accompanying us for extra help and guidance – especially with the knots! After a spot of lunch on the boat, we followed our bearings first towards the harbour, then just west of the first breakwater and out towards Plymouth breakwater. We did a lot of higher speed practice observations of marker buoys and rules of the sea and hazard awareness here which was all good fun on such a lovely day.
We returned to the marina to practice mooring with the use of the wind, before getting the boat back onto the trailer and taking it back to Pete’s house. After a great first day filled with some fundamental boat handling skills, we celebrated with some fish and chips in the Barbican and a few beers! This carried on back at the bunkhouse where we did more voyage planning, this time to different dive locations, and again accompanied with a good drink.
The next day we set off and got the boat ready with Zhenbo in charge! We took dive gear to simulate how the boat would usually be on a usual OUUEG trip, as well as hoping for a cheeky dive if we had time! There were magnificent trimarans coming into the marina and moored in preparation for the Transat Bakerly race in a couple of weeks.
We practiced backwards manouvres around buoys and then head off again to undergo some anchor deployment skills and using the gps to locate dive sites. The weather was marvelous again so we stopped for a picnic in Jennycliff Bay, paying attention to whether the boat was drifting with the anchor down. After lunch, we found the Aberlard wreck with transits and the gps and practiced picking up and dropping off divers to this location.
We finished the day off with some man overboard skills before heading back. Phalene took charge for organizing crew to get the boat out of the water and we returned to Pete’s before heading back to Oxford.
A great weekend with boat handling skills which really made you appreciate our lovely boat as well as what it’s like being in charge and not a diving passenger of the boat! Hoping for a lot more driving around in the sunshine this summer too, thanks to Tom and Pete for their help!