22nd March 2020
Beaulieu, UK, 50 48.09 N 01 25.38 W – Dartmouth, UK 50 21.44 N 3 34.37 W via Newton Creek, UK
All the best movies have sequels. Some sequels are huge disappointments, think Rocky 2; some are master classes in storytelling, think Toy Story 2/3/4; and some just build and build and build on the original, where the storyline in continual. The characters are as compelling as ever, there are still surprises at every turn and you are left wanting more; think Star Wars. Welcome to the continuing stories of Ruffian where we pick up from where we left off and hope that our sequel will be like the stories of Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia.
As the sequel opens, we note that Ruffian has magically grown from a little Sadler 34 to a grown up Westerly 41. Everything is bigger, we have more clothes, more fuel, more water, more sails, more horsepower, and more toys; but most importantly of all there are so many things the same. Fiona takes the considered approach to everything, Iain dives in feet first, and Larry is always in the background waiting to make mischief.
As a prelude to the sequel, for the past couple of years Fiona and Iain have been fully fledged members of society, they’ve been dirt dwellers, holding down corporate jobs and getting Ruffian ready. In between conference calls where Iain has been talking about ‘touching base with the extended eco system’, ‘squaring the circle’ and ‘blue sky thinking’ and Fiona worked her magic in the world of legal technology, we’ve been ticking off a jobs list as long as a very long arm. The new Ruffian (of Amble*) has had new instruments, sails, ropes, outboards, water tank, and watermaker; and we’ve had to learn how everything, the amazing Ken and Judith (the previous owners) set up on board works. Everyday has been a school day and now it’s time to put that knowledge into action.
So, with the movie now in full motion, Ruffian slipped out of her old home and put miles under her, keel. The longest of journeys start with a single step and our first step was greeted by wildlife everywhere. Wagtails flitted around the deck as we made our way through Beaulieu and Seals mewed as we entered Newton Creek for our first night of freedom. The adventure had begun.
As with all good sequels, lots felt similar the next day as we started blasting our way towards Dartmouth. Familiar landmarks passed us by, sails were fiddled with and books were opened, but somethings felt different. Those landmarks buzzed past us lightspeed, there are lots more sails to fiddle with and books could be read facing either backwards or forwards!
In Dartmouth the familiarity continued with more of Iain’s excellent walks. You may remember highlights from years gone by where Iain took Fiona around yellow fever cemeteries, down dead end valleys and through bogs and rain. Now was no different. With the Covid 19 pandemic in full swing rights of way were closed, forcing some unusual routes through and around a National Trust property, ferries were cancelled, meaning lots of backtracking and supermarkets miles from Ruffian were frequented to fill up on provisions, with the exception of prized toilet roll and pasta.
The film of Ruffian, while out on a dinghy safari nearly turned into a full-on disaster movie. In place of Thug with his low freeboard and tiny outboard we now have a Brock, a 9.5 m rib, in which we can blast around at 20 knots, never get wet and take ourselves to far flung parts of undiscovered coves. The rib however has a significant downside, it gives Iain confidence way above his ability. Iain’s confidence was at an all time high as he decided that he’d have time to scoot in front of the Dartmouth chain ferry instead of waiting and going behind. The throttle went up, the revs rose and just as we were crossing, the fuel ran out. Now in the rather embarrassing situation of being run down, Fiona’s cool head took over, out came the oars, apologies were raised and the chain ferry captain expertly avoided us. In the genre of any good action movie, disaster was avoided, time will tell if Iain will has learnt from the experience.
The Covid 19 pandemic certainly makes us feel like we are in a movie where the movie maker has a high budget, but has no idea what the plot will be. As a result, our plans are being rewritten every day, risks being assessed and the impact of our actions on the wider community being analysed. Quite what will happen we have no idea and therefore quite what we’ll do is unclear. In the meantime, however the Ruffian sequel is looking pretty fine, it’s not a disaster movie, it’s not full of drama but it’s full of action at every turn.
* Ruffian of Amble. Amble is a coastal town on the North East Coast of England where Fiona learnt to sail with her father. It is not a misspelling of Hamble as many south coast sailors has assumed!
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