from 'The Journal of Alacazam', by Mary Swift...
It's Tuesday 10th July 2001, and what a day is in store for us. Dick got up at 0500 hours in preparation for Phil and Anna's arrival at Falmouth at 1000 hours to drive us to the Eden Project. Our new inflatable dinghy was being used for the first time today, and needed to be blown up ready to take us ashore when they arrived. In hindsight of course this should have been done when we bought the dinghy, but what could go wrong with a new dinghy? Plenty!!!
The valve in the inflatable floor proved to be different to those in the three compartments of the dinghy and was totally incompatible with the fitting on the end of the pump.
The wooden floor that came with the dinghy had been stowed at the bottom of the watertight compartment under the forpeak berths in case it was ever needed. Unfortunately the forepeak was being used as a stowage area and everything would need to be moved to get to the compartment, the top of which would have to be unscrewed, and then everything taken out of it to get to the wooden floor.
Crew (me) was still in bed and Dick decided he would use his spares kit to make the valves and pumps work, but guess where the spares kit was stowed; yes, the watertight compartment.
Dick decided not to wake me but instead would disconnect the non-generating wind generator to check out the fault. Unfortunately for me, he realised that all the tools he needed to carry out this task are stowed under the aft cabin berth and I was rudely awakened at 0700 hours. The tool box was removed from under the berth in readiness to tackle the generator but ...... back to the dinghy.
Everything was shifted from the forepeak to the saloon and the spares were retrieved from the watertight compartment. It should be noted that the top of this compartment was to be removed (i.e. the wing-nuts unscrewed and re-screwed) all in all about three times, however finally the job was done and the dinghy was blown up and launched. It was time for breakfast to calm down an exasperated and very sweaty skipper.
A phone call at 0900 hours told us that Phil and Anna were about an hour away. Panic stations, we remembered that they were staying the night and needed the forepeak to be clear for them to sleep in. The wind generator would have to wait until later.
All tools and spares etc. were re-stowed. Spare carpet was laid flat under the forepeak cushions. A roll of carpet and rolls of material were stowed in the aft cabin under the cockpit and proved to be a not too uncomfortable sleeping companion for me and much less demanding.
Fishing rods (five in all) were stowed in the aft 'walk-in' locker. We decided we had better complete our toilette and change our clothes in readiness for our visitors' arrival.
Another phone call advised us that they were five minutes away. We confidently told them we were adjacent to the Town Quay and to contact us when they had arrived. After much too-ing and fro-ing organising money, bags, clothing etc. we were finally ready to put the engine onto the dinghy only to discover that the dinghy was going down.
Many more phone calls followed when Phil and Anna discovered there was no such place called the Town Quay and had stopped in every car park in Falmouth before realizing that we were adjacent to the Prince of Wales Quay. Much arm waving from shore and boat and we had made visual contact. "Give us five minutes" we said "we have a problem with the dinghy". It was very difficult to reinflate the dinghy whilst it was in the water (not made any easier by the fact that it was by now pouring with rain and the wind was trying to blow the dinghy away from the boat).
Phil and Anna had watched this fiasco with much amusement and phoned us again to say it would be much safer if we took our dinghy to the visitor's pontoon and that they would meet us there when we were ready. This was to be at 1045 hours. It is difficult to believe that Phil and Anna had travelled from Plymouth, some 70 miles away and had arrived early, and that Dick had been up since 0500 hours and still we were late.
Anyway, the rain had stopped, and we were on our way to the Eden Project. Much to our dismay this turned out to be a long drive as the Eden Project is much nearer to Fowey than it is to Falmouth. Dick used this to his advantage and we could be excused for wondering if the car had become an office as Dick made all the necessary phone calls to help sort out our 'shake down cruise' problems.
Traffic was very slow moving through St Austell and it soon became abundantly clear that a damp Tuesday had not deterred thousands from visiting the Eden Project. The two men were twitching with impatience to 'forget it' but undeterred we women said "lets give it twenty minutes". It has to be said that the organization of this project was commendable and within the allotted twenty minutes we had parked the car and were ensconced on a double decker bus heading downhill to the entrance. We were all glad we waited, this Project was fascinating, the two Bio-Spheres were amazing and even at this early stage there was a lot to see. The tropical rainforest was beautiful with a high waterfall, palm trees, banana trees and many other well-established plants. It will be interesting to visit it again in a year or two. Although crowded, there were no queues and drinks and ice-creams were easily acquired.
We headed back to Falmouth and a drink at 'The Chain Locker' for a planning meeting to decide where to eat. It was nearly 1700 hours and as we were all very hungry, not having eaten since breakfast, we decided on a pub-meal at 'The Kings Head' (another good choice) before heading back to the boat (after blowing the dinghy up again ....... yes we had remembered to take the pump ..... and after Phil had moved his car to yet another car park) for a few drinks in the cockpit and a light supper before retiring to bed for a well earned rest. Heavy rain only momentarily prevented a good night's sleep for all.