Posted by: lucylastic | May 30, 2012

All aboard the Amelie Rose – Day 1

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What did you do last winter?  Dream of sunnier climes?  Me too!!!  Back in the dark, gloomy days of February 2012, and finding myself unexpectedly unemployed, I did what any food-loving, boat-loving woman would do – I hunkered down in front of the telly with a glass of wine, wondering if 4pm was a bit early to be drinking, but rationalising that there was no doubt that the sun was more than over the yard arm, it was actually out of sight!!

And what caught my eye on the magic box in the corner?  Well, the ‘Hungry Sailors’ caught my eye – I am an avid Masterchef viewer and knew who Dick Strawbridge was/is, (former MC ‘celebrity’ finalist) – big man, strange accent, pretty good cook, off-putting moustache……….if it means nothing to you, check it out at http://www.itv.com/food/programmes/hungry-sailors  So, I hunkered down.

Those who know me, know that I will watch virtually anything about cookery and food, (sorry, LH), but reader, I have to admit, the food element of the Hungry Sailors soon paled into insignificance, (in fact, I think I’d be hard pressed to recall a single recipe made in the series).

Instead, I fell in love with Amelie Rose – a replica Scilly Isles Pilot Cutter, built in 2009, (by a man called Luke Powell who we met, but more of that in a future post) to a plan conceived in the Victorian era when she was sailed only by a skipper plus a ‘boy’ – frantically racing to reach the big ships looking for safe harbour and grabbing the ‘please pilot me in between your vicious rocks’ contract before any other cutters made it ahead of them – speed and manoeverability.  In snug TV land, I warmed to Nick the Skipper and Steve the ‘boy’, (sorry Steve) far more than I did to the hirsute Dick and his somewhat fey son James…………..though I’m told they’re jolly nice chaps in real life.  It was the boat that was shouting to me with a siren call, not the food!

I watched every day, I recorded it so LH and I could watch it together at a decent hour, when wine was a more acceptable drink and I even watched some episodes twice………….I got to the end and thought – ‘I’ll bet that boat’s for hire somewhere’.  I was right – a couple of quick Googles later and I landed at http://www.topsail-adventures.co.uk/  home of the Amelie Rose.

I did what any self-respecting boat lover did, I booked a trip, in fact, I booked 2 – back to back.  A ‘Hungry Sailors’ tour that promised the opportunity to re-visit some of the stunning locations featured in the series, plus the recipes, plus a ‘go’ at some of the ‘tasks’ that James & Dick featured each day.  I was hooked.  Then the promise of 4 days sailing in the ‘annual Pilot Cutter Review’ in and out of Fowey & St Mawes, with a couple of truly breath-taking bits of scenery en route.  If you’ve never visited Yealm, (pictured below), you shoud.  I’d never even heard of it, never mind visited it before, put it on your list………………

Anyway, I promised you Day 1, and I haven’t even left the house yet!!!!  OK then, Day 1, Lake Yard, Poole – after sampling the best of what First Great Western had to offer, (Swindon to Reading; Reading to Basingstoke; Basingstoke to Poole – 3 hours – we probably could have walked more quickly, but the bags were heavy) we finally arrived in a drizzly Poole.  Grey and gloomy.  I had realised on the way down that I had failed to pack a sheet, but delight of delight, in Poole town centre there’s a sheet shop.  Problem solved.  Then there was a Wetherspoons, (sorry, just couldn’t see another pub for at least, oh, 20 yards) as we had a bit of time to kill.  Enough time to compalin about how awful Bombay Sapphire Gin tastes when you add cheap, own label tonic to it – but hey – £7.50 for 2 large ones – stop moaning.

Finally, we arrive in Lake Yard – Nick texts me, (that’s TV star, Nick Beck texting me) I feel a rush of excitement – they’re still on the boat, out in the bay somewhere – we’re told to go into the Yacht Club and use his number for ordering drinks at ‘member’s prices’ – in contrast to Wetherspoons, it’s £13.50 for 2 G&T’s here, I knew I shouldn’t have moaned!!!!  And that’s ‘member’s prices’, heaven knows what they would have charged ordinary punters.  (Cynically, LH says a tenner)!!

Then, it’s weird, I text Nick, a man I’ve never met and tell him where we’re sitting.  Shortly afterwards, he walks in, followed by Steve and for me, it’s like meeting old friends – I feel I know them well, coz I’ve seen them on the telly – they are just like they are on the TV, smiling, friendly, patient and full of tales, so many tales…………..but I can sense them eyeing us up and down – they want to know how much we’ve sailed, (a little bit and not really, for me and LH respectively).  Nick says he’s never met anyone who’s ‘not really’ sailed before and presses for details………..’OK’, LH admits, ‘have sat on a sailing boat, crewed by other poeple in the world’s warmest bath-tub, the Caribbean’.  Hmmmm.

So, finally, it’s time to board the Amelie Rose………………a little ferry takes us out onto the water, we have also learnt that the other (not known to us) people who were meant to be aboard have had to change their plans – so it’s just us and them!  I am reminded that these boats used to be sailed by a Skipper and his ‘boy’ and feel reassured.

On board, it’s ‘compact and bijou’ to coin an estate agency phrase.  I have previously agreed with Nick that LH and I will share a double berth and have packed a duvet and (new) sheet accordingly.  It’s a big bunk, but the entrance to it is small and involves a scramble across the fridge and a strange sort of double shimmy at the top to reverse in backwards.  It’s looking a lot more athletic than either of us had bargained on.  We’re offered the ‘foc’scle’, (pronounced ‘foke-sole’ apparently and a shortened version of ‘forecastle’), which is roomier, (in boat terms) but means separate bunks and sharing out bedding – I get the duvet, LH gets lots of blankets and the new sheet.  There’s another blanket dangling between us and the rest of the cabin, but I fear it won’t drown out our snoring.  In a desperate attempt not to keep the rest of the boat awake, LH and I have invested £30 of our hard-earned cash EACH – yes, £60 in total – in ‘anti-snoring acupressure rings’ – the blurb carries many endoresements – the one we like best is ‘it worked so well, my wife thought I’d died’, said Mr RC.  Sadly, I can’t say the same was true for my husband.  Far from dying, he was loud and echoey.  I tried to convince myself the snoring wasn’t as bad as usual, but I think I was being optimistic.  The ring makers promise a a full money back guarantee if you wear it correctly and it doesn’t work after 21 days.  So far, so good – shame is that I only got round to buying it the day before we left, so it’s not exactly tried and tested.  The Skipper and his ‘boy’ assure us that they can sleep through anything, not only that, they have ear plugs to boot.  I am reassured, again.  And, I know I snore too, I just never hear it!

We have a drink, (nice cup of tea), chat some more and head for bed circa 10pm.  Yes, really.  Never in my life have I gone to bed so early, so often, or drank so little and especially not on my holidays.  But more of that to come…………………

Next installment soon I hope – Days 2-6, The Hungry Sailor’s revealed, (or, as much of them as we know) 😉

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Responses

  1. Wow – what an adventure! Looking forward to the next installment.


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