Plymouth to Salcombe

There’s a few things that I wanted to get sorted before we venture much further.

I was concerned about the engine vibration at low revs, and the rudder pintle.

We had one guy over to give Excalibur a gas safety check. For just over £100 Excalibur’s gas lines were checked, the cooker serviced, and a shut off valve installed under the sink. I wanted to get the gas checked out for peace of mind. The cookers quite old, a Flavel Vanessa. But I’m very happy with this retro bit of kit, and it’s shown no sign of giving up the ghost since I’ve had it. I definitely recommend Tim Beck if you’re in Plymouth and fancy having your gas looked at 😉

We also had a guy over to check out the engine vibrations, heat exchanger and a couple other bits. The engine vibrated quite a bit at idle, so he increased the idle time. He also took off the heat exchanger cap and said it looked fine without taking it out, as the gunk is normally visible from the side nearest the bow apparently. He suggested that the engine mounts be replaced, and that he’d have to slide the engine out to get to the back mounts. He also said he could get the fuel injectors looked at, as the back of Excalibur is quite black from engine fumes.

He charged a pretty penny for what felt like an hours work, £114 to be precise. We both felt this was quite excessive, given that he really didn’t do much. He scoped the engine out and gave us a quote for replacing the engine mounts and getting the fuel injectors serviced, coming to the total of £1,577.19. He didn’t reply to my email with a few questions, so needles to say we definitely won’t be using this company.

Anyhow, we decided to crack on. We’re considering replacing the engine mounts ourselves once we’ve laid Excalibur up for the winter.

We fitted a new ensign and bought a super magnet.

The next weekend we headed up to Scotland for a bit of a family motor boating holiday (parents 49th wedding anniversary), courtesy of Trina’s contacts. We motored up and down Loch Ness. Here’s a few pictures from the trip. So nice to switch off for a while. Dad loved being captain and many thanks to Trina and Caley Cruisers.

Back to Plymouth. We were hoping to meet a previous owner of Excalibur who had sailed her to the Caribbean, so we gave Excalibur a quick wash down and made her respectable.

With rain forecast we set off for Salcombe. As we left Plymouth a yacht race was just about to begin, and just as we were threading our way through it the horn sounded, which was exciting.

Big rain clouds formed in the skies as we made our way to Salcombe. Looking back, Plymouth was engulfed in what looked like sideways rain. Eventually the rain came for us too.

Arriving in Salcombe we went over the bar, and made our way up river. A very posh and annoyed yachty tried on numerous occasions to get hold of the harbour master over the radio, and got no response. All the visitor mooring buoys were taken up, so we found a an empty mooring buoy and gingerly tied up. Turns out the harbour master clocks off at 4pm. I put my name and number on the boat, in case the owner of the mooring buoy returned, and we headed off  for a couple of beers in town, and met Trina’s friend for dinner.

I didnt’ sleep very soundly that night. I’m sure someone came along and shone a torch into the boat, and as each boat came close, I was sure someone would come knocking telling us we’d need to move. The next morning we spoke the harbour master and it turned out we were fine.

Later we moved onto a floating pontoon up river called ‘The bag’. We left Excalibur there for a mere £70 a week! and after a slog against the tide in the dinghy, Trina called up a water taxi to get us to shore. I’ve been reluctant about getting the outboard fixed, as we’re both happy to row, it’s a bit of exercise and usually trouble free. But fighting the tide is a pain in the ass when it’s strong and you’re a mile or so away from land. Note to self, get the outboard fixed.

We soon realised why Salcombe is so cheap. Salcombe is miles from anywhere. We had to take a £50 taxi to Totnes, and then took a long and pricey train ticket back to Reading. What we saved in mooring fees we made up in taxi fares. Doh!

Author: Tim Butler

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