The wind howls and the waves plunge Ruby Tuesday up and down like a cork. We are just off Start Point in Devon, heading for Plymouth. The forecast was for Force 4 or 5, but the wind speed has risen to 21 knots, almost Force 6. We are reefed already, but I decide to take in more sail area. We point the boat into the wind, but just then the in-mast furling mechanism jams and the endless loop works its way off the pulley. This is not a good time for that to happen. I crawl forward to the mast clutching a winch handle with one hand and holding on for my life with the other, and manage to wind the mainsail in manually, then feed the endless loop back through the pulley mechanism. It seems OK for now.
We had left Dartmouth that morning after a pleasant couple of days there. Dartmouth is a naval town, dominated by the imposing Naval Academy building on top of the hill. We had tied up to a mid-river pontoon with no water, electricity or land access, as all the good ones had been taken by the time we had arrived. At least our pontoons were cheaper, and we could run the engine for a while in the evening to keep the batteries topped up and to run the fridge enough to keep things cool. We needed to, as Dartmouth was also enjoying the sweltering weather the rest of the UK seemed to be having.
We had met Helen and Adrian, some friends from Bedford days, but who are now living in Exmouth. It was great to see them again, and we had found a seafood restaurant to have lunch before exploring the town. This is Agatha Christie country, and not having read much of her work when I was young, I had been pleased to find a little second hand bookshop and buy a couple of her books for later reading. Nearby, someone else had seemed to have the same idea!
We had then caught one of the little water taxies run by the Harbour Authority that buzz about the harbour taking folk from one place to another for £1, and had headed to Ruby Tuesday on the other side of the river for coffee and cake. They are keen to do some sailing with us, so we agree to meet them again next weekend for them to do a leg with us.
We are out of the rough water around Start Point now, and the wind lessens. It is from the north and we head for Plymouth on a close reach.