Daydream was an East Coast 27-foot shallow keel vessel, but when she arrived at Castle Cove, she was the largest craft on our moorings. At that time, I was Hownam Meek’s assistant secretary and he had received a request from a Major Kenyon who was looking for crew to bring Daydream from Woodbridge Haven, on the East Coast back to Castle Cove. Of course, I jumped at the chance for a bit of an adventure.
After quite a long train journey and then by bus we had our first glimpse of Daydream who was just about half ready to sail. We left the following morning, and I wired up some navigation lights whilst crossing the Thames estuary (my first experience of that area). We got as far as Margate pier where we anchored util we grounded. Some lads from Margate college came along in a dinghy and obligingly gave me a lift to shore to get some bread. The next day we headed West towards Ramsgate, on the way I recall that I rescued a pigeon and also dropped my new fountain pen, which I guess still remains on the seabed.
The following day there was a fair fresh wind and we continued our voyage past Dover where we were ‘pooped’ (the only time I have experienced that). The tide had turned against us and the sea had become extra rough. This big wave just rolled over our somewhat flat stern deck half filling the cabin. We made the decision to sail back to Dover in a very rough sea as we had sprung several stem planks. She was left in the hands of a local boat builder – Bert Crowcher. A few months later, together with my lifetime shipmate Mick Venning we made a second attempt to get Daydream safely back to Weymouth. On arrival at Dover we found a very grubby coal-dust covered Daydream. We set about getting her a bit ship shape ready for sea, then spent recovery time in the local pub. Early next morning we left port faced with a hard beat. We rounded Dungeness and the sea was really rough and we had no life jackets. Neither of us were feeling too good but Mick was worse than me, so I anchored him to the mast. We had no charts but the nearest port was Rye and more by luck than judgement got over the bar and missed the training wall. At low tide we realised just how fortunate we had been.
Early next day we continued our voyage down the channel with wind on the nose. After several hours we heard a Gale warning South West imminent. Oh law! Where to go? Another port – Eastbourne – big puzzle – there were two entrances so which one should we take? We turned to starboard only to see there was a lock gate. Mick managed to throw a rope around a parked dredger where we left her before returning home.
Later with Major Kenyon I returned to pick her up to continue the voyage. This time we had a slow but mostly trouble-free sale back to Weymouth arriving after midnight. I gleefully thought “now for a drink and into my bunk”. Not so, as major Kenyon was anxious to get back to his wife, so we rowed to shore in a very cranky folding dinghy.
On arriving at the family home in the early hours without keys, I decided to clamber over the lean-to into my bedroom (a not uncommon occurrence). Unknown to me, my mother was using my bedroom for a summer visitor, so as I was squeezing through the window, this poor chap awoke in horror. Whoops!