The sail from Torquay to Plymouth started with a dull downwind leg that made me decide to buy that whisker pole we still need, no matter the cost. Then it got more exciting with every headlead we rounded, until we were going hard upwind into 25 knots and more from the NW and it seemed we were the last boat into Plymouth sound (although Hissy Fit seemed to be just heading out to sea while everyone else scrambled for shelter).
Plymouth is where I bought the boat in 2015. It seems a lifetime ago. Plymouth is a very maritime town, and a great place for buying boat parts and supplies. Which is convenient, because things have been breaking left and right since we left Brighton. The AIS receiver was only working intermittently, despite fitting a new VHF aerial on the stern gantry in France. The Raymarine chartplotter had developed a black hole in the LCD screen, which was not fatal, but probably heralded its coming demise. And coming into Portland the GPS receiver had packed up and this time it was beyond resuscitating. We had a backup, but there were issues with converting the data back onto the Seatalk network most of our instruments were on.
So we needed to get some parts and then stop for a while to fix things before we could tackle Biscay. Plymouth was the place to get parts. I'd also found a replacement GPS receiver on eBay. It's no longer manufactured, and newer models would not work well with our system. Replacing the entire system is a huge job and would cost many thousands of pounds, so we'd rather keep the old one going for as long as possible.
Receiving post is somewhat difficult when you're constantly on the road, but not impossible. Amazon delivers to parcel lockers and post offices for collection, some eBay sellers let you collect your items at the Argos counter and Marinas can receive and hold parcels for you, although often only grudgingly. Everything else we could hopefully find somewhere in this town.
As before, we anchored after arriving, then headed into Plymouth Yacht Haven the next day. Saves a day of marina fees when all you want is a meal and some sleep after a long day sailing. We're getting much better at docking — made it into a gap on an alongside berth on the first try, despite the strong wind quickly blowing us off the pontoon. Took the water taxi (£1.50 per person!) from Mount Batten to the historical Mayflower steps, from where a bunch of English separatists sailed west to settle some place or other. They too stopped in Plymouth for repairs (and for some dirty water that gave them cholera - oops).
We went into town to find the local Argos and retrieve our replacement GPS receiver, which was soon fitted in its new location on the stern gantry. We also stumbled onto the local Polish import food store, something that seems to happen suspiciously often in every new town. Either there are a lot more Polish import shops than I thought, or Elvyra can smell the tasty Kabanos from miles away. We stopped at Harbourside for some fish and chips and then wandered all over town to visit various chandleries and hunt down parts. We found most of the important stuff, including some bits to mount our newly acquired fishing reel with.
I had also given up on the flawed AIS receiver, and splurged on an AIS transceiver, which can not only show us other ships locations, but also transmit our own to them, so that they may be aware of our little boat and not crush us under 300m of cold steel without even noticing. This took most of Saturday to fit, as cables had to be squeezed through already stuffed conduits and fiddly coax connectors assembled, but in the end it all worked and we now have better collision avoidance tools than ever before. Reassuring, when one plans to sail in busy shipping areas during the night. Picking up that parcel took us on a nice walk around the Lake Hooe area. We even found a park with a few cherry trees, which Elvyra promptly plundered.
Other parts we acquired were an additional cheap backup GPS dongle that can turn the little Toshiba convertible into a standalone chartplotter (a backup for the backup), and an RTL-SDR unit that can be configured as an AIS receiver or used for a number of other radio shenanigans. The rig also wanted some attention. We ordered a spare gooseneck swivel and some parts for the boom outhaul car, which looked like it had worn a bit thin (upon closer inspection, it was revealed that this was due to some of its wheels having shattered long ago, causing the car to bang around more than it should while furling the main sail). I also coughed up the money for that Selden Telescopic pole I'd been lusting after, which should vastly improve our ability to sail downwind - somewhat important, as we don't have an extra downwind sail. This might be a good time to point out our new begging page, ahem.