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Old 16 June 2010, 18:54   #1
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Great British RIB Rally - one story

Introduction

It has been some time since I posted on RIB.net although as you will see from my profile I did actually join up many many years ago and go back with Mr Kennett some time. In the early years of RIB.net one of the things that inspired me were the really excellent postings on the RB4 (Round Britain in 4m (or so) RIBs) - (www.rib.net/forum/showthread.php?t=253&highlight=rb4 ). It was this that persuaded me that it would be fun to write up my present trip as part of the Great British RIB Rally 2010. Whilst my postings will never match the RB4 ones in either volume or quality I hope that they prove of interest and inspire others to commit to a challenging RIB cruise or two.

Back in 2008 I took a friend down to Scorpion to meet Patrick Byrne who had just bought the business from Graham Jelly. Andrew was quickly smitten and committed to buy a 8.5m diesel inboard. This was quickly stretched to 9.25m to accommodate the first in-console toilet (yes!) fitted in a non cabin Scorpion. (The ladies of the family weren’t keen on hanging over the side in Studland Bay!). And so over a series of months ‘Evolution’ was specced, paid for and came into being. During regular visits to the factory Patrick floated the idea of a Round Britain rally and before we knew it we were one of the first boats signed up. The appeal came both from the route (round the top of Scotland and outside of Ireland) and also that the event was not to be a race. Patrick wanted to position the event as a group of like minded individuals undertaking what for many would be a once in a lifetime experience without the pressure of racing. For me I have no interest in blatting around at top speed hoping my back holds out so a rally seemed perfect.

Like anything in life you commit to, the event seems to happen upon you rather more quickly than seems right and the rally was no exception (weddings seem a likely parallel!). I entered 2010 with a reasonable plan to get things together for the rally with Andrew in the 6 weeks running up to the rally. This all went to pot when at short notice I ended up going overseas for 6 weeks arriving back in Poole with only two weeks until the rally left Portland. Andrew rose to the challenge (and I think would agree enjoyed it) and pulled together what we needed with me sauntering in belatedly to claim the glory and run around like a headless chicken getting the bits on my ‘to do list’ together.

The final week had its moments, not least of all when we removed the leg with an engineer as a practice to find that the bellows had gone and we needed to get some major surgery done in a very short period of time. All credit must go to Mike at Purbeck Marine and Gareth at Marinautic for their sterling work in getting us back up and running with a day to spare.

Whilst the rationale for the rally for us was personal satisfaction Patrick decided early on that it would be fun to have each RIB support a hospice and raise as much money as possible. This seemed a great idea and we initially chose Julia’s House in Poole which is a hospice for kids. When we found out another RIB had chosen the same charity we decide to switch to an equally worthy cause - The Sparkle Appeal at the Victoria Education College in Poole. The Sparkle appeals aims to raise 5 million pounds to finance a new hydrotherapy pool for the severely disabled children that attend the centre both as day pupils and live there full time. We decided that 10,000 pounds would be a challenging but achievable target.

Our desire to achieve this amount was reinforced after a tour of the centre were we met some incredible children and carers. I defy any person/parent to visit and meet children who display such happiness amongst such adversity and to not leave with a tear in their eye.

We would love it if you or anyone you know would contribute via our Just Giving website

www.justgiving.com/gbribrally-sparkleappeal

(NB: We are funding all expenses personally, all monies raised go directly to the Sparkle Appeal.)

Visit our team website www.ribevolution.com

Track our progress - http://share.findmespot.com/shared/f...IMK0pjQylSe7Ue

The event: Open to RIBs from any manufacturer if over 7.5m and able to cruise at 30 knots. Read about the entrants and event here - www.greatbritishribrally.com

Our RIB: Evolution is a 9.25m Scorpion with a 315Hp Yanmar diesel with a Bravo 3 leg. Bennett Trim Tabs. Kit is as follows: Raymarine C120 Widescreen plus ST60 repeaters linked to a HD Radome. Twin Icom 505s, Cobra Bluetooth telephone handset, Flowscan fuel meter. McMurdo GPS EPIRB, Liferaft, Shock Mitigation Matting, Garmin handheld GPS units, Predator waterproof video. It is also fitted with a ‘Spot’ GPS tracking system.

Personal kit: Musto HPX Drysuits, Baltic Winner LJs, McMurdo PLBs, Icom M71s, Geckos, Nike Airs (!!), Musto/Gill waterproofs + lots of suncream. (Sadly none is sponsered - its not too late!! :-) )
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Old 16 June 2010, 18:56   #2
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Day 0 - Friday 11th June. Poole to Portland

We decided early on that we’d get the boat to Portland on the Friday and return to Poole for the Friday evening allowing a final night in our own beds plus certainly in my case trying to recoup some brownie points as by the end of the rally I will have only been home 2 weeks in 10! J

Departing Poole about 10.30 with a heavily laden Evolution we had an easy run to Portland. The weather was F3-4 and we had pretty flat seas. Arriving an hour or so later we had burnt about one litre of diesel per mile and had successfully tested the rebuilt leg.

We are the first boat there. Andy Haffenden and Paul Lemmer are around though and hoping their chariot ‘Skellig of Sark’ turned up soon. It seems it is a big Redbay cabin RIB - sounds rather plush!

Scooby Doo (a 8m Scorpion with an Evinrude outboard) turns up on a trailer and launches. I know the original owner of Scooby Doo and it’s a very nice boat so they should have fun although I wonder if trying to get petrol may be challenging on occasions.

The whole Portland area is hugely impressive with the National Sailing Academy and Portland Marina looking excellent. The marina really is first class with numerous berths, wide pontoons and all of the facilities you could wish for. The staff went out of their way to assist us which was hugely appreciated.

Back to Poole and a quick sort out of family/business things. Also was called by BBC Solent and chatted to the presenters live on the H2O evening show about the event - hopefully did not appear too much of a plonker!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p00867bh/The_H2O_Show_The_Great_British_Rib_Rally_and_Seawo rk_2010/
Thanks to: Dean and Reddyhoff (who own the marina) for giving the entrants free berthing and meeting facilities for the briefing the next day. Thanks to Patrick, Gail and Peta from Scorpion for organising things alongside Chris Strickland on behalf of BIBOA who has also invested a considerable amount of time and effort.

Log: Fuel used: 29 litres, Hours run: 1.6
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Old 16 June 2010, 18:57   #3
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Day 1 - Saturday 12th June. Portland to Falmouth (Mylor Harbour)

So it has arrived!! After months of anticipation wake at 4pm, switch radio on and bizarrely listen to a replay of the interview from the night before.

Arrive at Portland just before 8am. The pontoons are buzzing and we finish loading Evolution and doing the engine checks. Viv (Mrs G) sees Skellig of Sark wryly observing “that’s cheating - they’re going round in a floating hotel”. Without doubt the 11m cabin Redbay has a few amenities we don’t!

The briefing is at 9am so we wander up and join the 30 or so others for the briefing. Patrick and Chris brief us and allocate tasks.

Each boat is buddied to a comparable craft for safety. We are glad that Quickflash choose us as we seem a perfect match. Quickflash is a 9.75m Scorpion that has been trailed from Belguim by Patrick its Dutch owner. He is joined by Dominic Byrne (Patrick’s brother) as crew. Dominic’s son also joins for the first leg. We have a heart to heart with our new found buddies and are pleased to find that we have the same preferences - have fun, be safe, get round, survive, still be able to walk at the end, its not a race, cruise about 30 knots.

Time to kit up, there’s a bit of wind so there’s no doubt we’re in the dry suits. We look like bizarre teletubbies but I will be warm and should survive if I fall in so don’t care. Fire up the Predator Video to capture some footage - amazing how easily you forget you are being filmed and then do silly things in front of the camera!

We depart the berths and gather in the holding basin before departing. We file out into Portland Harbour behind Mike Deacon in Hot Lemon who has Paul Lemmer squating on board with a camera to gather footage. Outside the Harbour we run line abreast before setting off for the Bill. The big RIBs shoot off and we are left holding the rear although it seems Scooby Doo has engine/fuel issues so they are delayed.

Thanks to everyone who turned up to wave us off including David from Poole on (Stormbreaker - is that the right boat name?) and I think a RIB called Blue Ray with a father and son on board. We also passed a few other RIBs on route that waved feverishly but I’m not sure if they had made a special trip - thanks anyway

The Bill is flat calm (a good sign?) and Lyme Bay is pretty flat too. We make good time cruising at about 32 knots passing plenty of other craft and we are soon nearing Portsmouth. We stop adjacent to the Eddystone Lighthouse for a snack and marvel at how anyone manages to build these things. Even with the technology available to us today it is amazing but when you think how they managed decades ago it is awe inspiring. We crack on to Falmouth as there are press commitments to be met at Mylor. About an hour short of Falmouth the wind picks up considerably and we encounter some aggressive choppy conditions with continual white water. The waves are not big but are a real contrast to what we faced earlier. We enter Falmouth and it’s a hive of activity with yachts and dinghies racing around having fun in the more sheltered conditions of the harbour. We cruise up to Mylor Harbour and yet again I’m reminded that so many beautiful places exist that I haven’t visited and I should try harder to travel in the UK and Ireland.

I’ve visited many harbours and marinas but in all honesty have probably never met a team more keen to help us in any way they good. Engineers visited each boat looking for something to fix and there were constant offers to assist in any way possible, okay we were a charity event but the offers made were clearly made genuinely and even though we needed little I’m no less impressed for it . The other RIBs started to arrive some having stopped in Salcombe/Dartmouth on route, Bluewater Raven (one of the Redbays) met us in Mylor having travelled down from Lancashire. We fuelled and berthed the boat and went to the restaurant Castaways for a bite and to agree a plan for the morning. The weather reports varied and tended to show winds picking up from lunchtime to F4 possibly F5 so the decision was made to convene at the boats at 6am for a discussion and probable early departure. Into Falmouth for a bed and a very early alarm call - 4.30am!

Log: Fuel used: 128 litres, Hours run: 5.7
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Old 16 June 2010, 18:58   #4
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Day 2 - Sunday 13th June. Falmouth (Mylor Harbour) to Baltimore (Southern Ireland)

We get to Mylor at about 5.20am to ready the boat. A great sunrise awaits and we prep, enter waypoints and check the weather. The forecast is pretty much the same so the aim is to go immediately aiming to get to Baltimore at about 2-3pm. Falmouth Harbour is like glass and we get in a couple of hours out and past Lands End at about 40 knots. As we cross the TSS there’s bit more wind but nothing too much. The passage to Baltimore in total is about 210 miles with 160 of that crossing the Irish Sea. We figured an average of 25 knots making for 6 hours+ keeping us on track for a mid afternoon arrival.

Over the next couple of hours the wind picks up but nothing too bad, we slow and the ‘TTG’ (Time to Go) on the chartplotter starts to rise rather than drop as we chomp miles but do so at less and less speed. By mid channel we are starting to take a real battering as we head into conditions starting to exceed what was predicted. One of the other RIBs (Cool Runnings) has decided to head back so returns to Falmouth which is a real shame for them. Quickflash (our buddy RIB) seems to be having an easier ride by far than we are perhaps because it is 0.5m longer, has a heavier engine and is carrying a 50% bigger fuel tank and thus more weight. We pass through a few minor rainstorms but are concentrating so hard on driving the waves and bracing ourselves for the repeated hits we’re taking that the fact that we are over 70 miles from shore passes us by. I notice that the steering system is loose (unusually the nylock nuts had worked loose) so when we stop for a break I spend time in the front locker trying to get to the steering system. Ironically the great fit out in the Scorpion is a real hindrance as I need to remove a bulkhead cover and the depth sounder module to get at the steering. I find the loose nuts but decide that the system is safe and I’ll fix it later as some waves are breaking over the tubes and I don’t want to get the stuff we have in the locker too wet.

Getting behind the console seems to have disturbed the plotter as it crashes it. So now we have no electronics and are on a handheld GPS - ummm! I trip the plotter and after about 10 minutes it comes back up - phew!

We get going again but conditions are constantly worsening and the conditions are now NW F6 (Reports shoreside at Kinsale put the conditions at F8) with 3m wave height (according to the mid channel buoy that was being watched by the support crews). 3m might not sound much (but bear in mind this is actually half the real height (top to bottom = 6m!) and whilst the conditions we’re well within the ability of the boat but we still had over 90 miles to run straight into it. Our speed was down to anything between 8 and 22 knots and the battering was intense and relentless. TTG just kept saying 6 hours with no sign of dropping, if anything it just kept rising. About 70 miles out we contacted Quickflash to suggest a change of course to bring us round from 300° head us on about 330° - 360°. This turned the head sea into a beam sea and we managed to increase speed to about 25 knots the plan being to head up into the lee of Ireland before heading SW down to Baltimore in hopefully calmer conditions. Passing a couple of gas rigs south of Cork we were making real progress but had to slow again as we entered an area of confused sea coming at us from various directions. In light of this we came back round onto about 300° to head up to ‘Head of Kinsale’ as it made no real difference what direction we headed in these conditions.

It was now about 5pm and we had been running for about 11 hours. Then the moment we all dread, as having taken many thousands of waves we came off one and there was a grunt from Andrew as his back took a wave badly. He was clearly in real pain so we got him to one of the rear seats where he continued to be really struggle. We were about 12 miles due south of Cork so I made the decision that we would contact the Coastguard with a view to a helo or All weather lifeboat evacuation as the weather continued to worsen and our TTG to Cork was about 2 hours. Quickflash handled the comms (which was really tough as were a good distance out and it was very difficult to alleviate wind noise) and eventually the Coastguard understood the predicament. We set a waypoint for Cork and headed that way but could only make 4-5 knots to ensure the smoothest ride for Andrew. About an hour later I had the RNLI Crosshaven ILB visual and they put their medic (Kevin) on board (in a hell of a leap - frosbee flop more like J ) to assess Andrew. There was clearly no point in Andrew transfering to the ILB as the Scorpion offered a smoother ride anyway. The ILB requested a helo evacuation but this was not forthcoming so over the next two hours we made slow and steady progress towards Cork. I agreed with Quickflash that they should crack on and they headed off towards Cork although later they changed course and headed back down to Baltimore as they started to benefit from the lee that the land afforded.

Eventually we got to the Station pontoon and the Doctor and paramedics dealt with Andrew. An amusing moment ensued as the RNLI guys tried to figure how to get Andrew’s drysuit off without cutting it as the paramedics wanted - the paramedics won the day and off came a 900 hundred pound drysuit L - never mind!

Andrew was shipped off and I sorted the boat and experienced first hand the truly brilliant way in which a boater is dealt with when on the end of a ‘shout’. Literally nothing was too much trouble from food, many teas, people offering me rooms in their houses to Phil the local Fundraising Manager who took her time on a Sunday night to drive me to book a hotel then to the hospital to meet Andrew. After a 4.30am start I left Andrew at Cork Hospital to spend the night there and got to the hotel about midnight exhausted.

By the end of the day most boats had made it to Baltimore although a few got there about 10pm. Rooster (the Goldfish) was in Kinsale. A tough day!

Log: Fuel used: 248 litres, Hours run: 13.4
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Old 16 June 2010, 18:58   #5
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Day 3 - Monday 14th June. Carrigline Hotel to Crosshaven RNLI Station to Hospital to……….

Andrew stayed in overnight was x-ray’d and drugged up on painkillers and by lunchtime the next day was able to walk again albeit in some pain. We went back to the station to reiterate our thanks and sort the boat.

The question then was what was the new plan of action. Andrew (rightly) decided he was going to return to Poole with the aim of rejoining a few days later if I decided to continue. I had been considering my options and chatting to the crew of Rooster who needed a lay day to fix an issue on their boat. Our tentative arrangement was to head east and up the east coast with a view to possibly going through the Caledonian Canal possibly hooking up with the other RIBs in Bangor or Newcastle.

My keenness to continue comes from a mixture of the desire to finish a job (although the family might debate this rationale in the context of DIY jobs at home!) plus particularly raise as much as possible for the kids in Poole. Andrew is happy with this and my long suffering wife is totally chilled about it not least of all by running with Rooster we give each other some cover. Subject to any final changes tomorrow we head east to Wexford.

Thanks to: Crosshaven RNLI for being an exceptional group of people and showing us true Irish hospitality - it was greatly appreciated and we’d happily reciprocate when they are across at the college in Poole. Thanks to Cork Coastguard for co-ordinating things and thanks to Andrew for being chilled about me carrying on with the rally.

Log: Fuel used: 0 litres, Hours run: 0
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Old 16 June 2010, 18:59   #6
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Day 4 - Tuesday 15th June. Crosshaven RNLI to Kilmore

After Andrew departed for home to recuperate I headed to Crosshaven RNLI where the boat was and headed round to the fuel berth at the adjacent marina. 282 litres later I’m refuelled and spend an hour or two sorting the boat. Turn the key to fire it and nothing but a clicking sound from the solenoid. It’s dead! Spend five minutes wondering if I’m being a muppet and missing something obvious. Doesn’t seem so. An hour later plus a couple of calls to Mike at Purbeck Marine and two marine engineers later we’ve tracked it to a loose connection on one of the many battery terminals. Runs like a dream again.

Depart Cork in blazing sunshine and flat calm seas. I run at about 28 knots and am chomping the miles towards Kilmore. Kilmore is situated just before the bottom right hand corner of Ireland and looks a far easier entrance than my original plan of Wexford. It gives me longer to run the next day but the ease of access makes sense. To look at Kilmore on the Imray charts I’m carrying or the Navionics on the RIB you wouldn’t bother with Kilmore as it shows it as drying but consult the almanac and it’s a different story. The Harbour Master confirms at least 1.9m at MLWS.

Am progressing so well that I take a peak into Waterford. A huge expanse of water and just about no-one using it. As you get further upstream its reminiscent of Dartmouth with a snaking channel and trees rising either side. However there are no boats so its not quite Dartmouth!

I have a short break and continue my run to Kilmore. The entrance is easy although quite tight and I wouldn’t want to meet any of the really big fishing vessels head on as I enter. And what a revalation Kilmore is. A busy commercial port with a little marina it’s a great place with great beaches and a very Irish atmosphere. Rooster is already there and we get adjacent berths before sorting the last 3 B&B beds and heading to the one and only pub for supper. Dinner done and we explore the commercial port before retiring to plan the next days and write my blog.

PS: Andrew texts to say he’s back at home and subject to continued improvement with his back aims to rejoin the boat in Newcastle.

Log: Fuel used: TBA litres, Hours run: TBA
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Old 16 June 2010, 19:00   #7
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Day 5 - Wednesday 16th June. Kilmore to Bangor via Howth (Dublin)

Another fine day dawned and after a welcome Irish breakfast it was off to the marina to prep the boat and get going. Steve and Stuart from Rooster came down too and got ready to head off to Wales and the South West where they planned to spend the remainder of their time. This meant me running solo to Bangor - a 180 mile passage.

Looking at the almanac the previous night had indicated a great result all the way with the tide. Up to Howth (just north of Dublin) the tide was to give me a couple of knots of extra speed and just as I arrived at Howth the south going tide north of Howth in the morning would turn to also push me north. The seas were flat calm, not glassy but flat enough to maintain an easy 30 knots. 30 -35 knots seems the best cruising speed for Evolution else much faster and the fuel consumption rises rapidly. At 30 knots we get about 1 mile per litre.

After about 12 miles I turned the corner at the foot of Ireland and started heading north - a welcome progression after the previous couple of days. Keeping about 5 miles offshore gave me enough searoom such that if I did have an issue I had time to deal with it. Passing Arklow the windfarm rose impressively and the construction boats served to highlight how few boats were out. Including the 4 windfarm boats I probably passed no more than 15 craft in a 90 mile passage. In Poole I’d be lucky to not see 15 in 5 minutes!

Thinking about it I probably saw more dolphins than boats!

By the time I reached Dublin Bay the seas were glassy and the sun created a wonderful shimmer across the sea. For a few years I had visited Dublin regularly but have not been back since then so it was like visiting an old friend. Howth was a particular favourite and it was great to enter the yacht club again to refuel. The area around Howth is incredibly pretty with the island known as ’Ireland’s Eye’ watching carefully over the town.

After a refuel and a spot of lunch it was back on with the drysuit and off up to Bangor. Yet again the coastline was stunning and the seas flat calm so I made great progress. There were certainly far more boats around and as the Isle of Man and then Scotland came into view I knew I was properly back on track. The great conditions allowed me to cut inside Copeland Island through the Donaghadee Sound cutting a few miles off the planned route. Just past Briggs red lateral mark the chartplotter threw a wobbly and showed me ½ a mile behind where I knew I was. It didn’t matter too much as I knew I was in safe water but it acted as a useful reminder how dangerous it can sometimes be to rely on electronics exclusively. I could only sort the issue by tripping the fuses and rebooting the plotter. I wound the throttles up and waited for the turbo on the Yanmar to kick in at 2000 revs and I was off. There was about a mile to run and I blasted straight towards the entrance of Bangor Marina. Entering the marina I took the opportunity to refuel again (after a close call a few years ago with fuel I tend to err on the side of caution and always refuel whenever I can) then berthed next to Quickflash - the only other boat to have arrived and of course our buddy for the first couple of days. Alongside I get to work cleaning Evolution and doing the engine checks. After the previous days issue with a loose battery connection I take the opportunity to remove the storage boxes and open the hatches to check the bolts keeping the engine mount brackets attached to the RIB’s frame. There are 10 bolts in total and every one of them has worked loose, whilst needing only a small tighten it’s a stark reminder of the impact that rough water can have on even the best craft.

The local Scorpion dealer had taken the opportunity of so many Scorpions to host an impromptu open day and there are plenty of people wandering the pontoons checking the boats over. As ever in Ireland you get to meet some lovely people and chat about boats - a nice end to another great day.

Updates: Scooby Doo has retired with engine problems, Rooster is now in Milford Haven and heading for the Scillies, Cool Runnings may be joining up tomorrow. Evolution (me) is back in the fray and heading with the other boats round Scotland. The Redbays have popped into Redbay HQ for a service but will rejoin tomorrow. Andrew is aiming to be fit enough to join up at Newcastle.

Log: Fuel used: TBA litres, Hours run: TBA
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Old 17 June 2010, 04:21   #8
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Back in 2008 I took a friend down to Scorpion to meet Patrick Byrne who had just bought the business from Graham Jelly. Andrew was quickly smitten and committed to buy a 8.5m diesel inboard. This was quickly stretched to 9.25m to accommodate the first in-console toilet (yes!) fitted in a non cabin Scorpion. (The ladies of the family weren’t keen on hanging over the side in Studland Bay!).
thankyou for your posts, it brings back memories, i'm assuming that this was a first for Scorpion as toilets in ribs were about a lot earlier than that
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Old 17 June 2010, 08:09   #9
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Thanks Paul, cracking read, very entertaining. Rather jealous of the adventure.

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Old 17 June 2010, 08:22   #10
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great stuff and I'm also envious.

Stormbreaker and Blue Ray and both Biboa/ribnet boaters of Paul & Trevor , with David in Grimalkin from Poole also a member on here.

Slighty worried you were off Portsmouth on day 1 so hope you mean Plymouth ? ( Both boaty, Navy, with a P in so hope I'm right.)
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