It was just before Easter in 1966, that two of us arrived in Torquay, i had bought an A35 van, and we travelled down in that,it was very handy as it could be used to sleep in,.anyway, we parked on the sea front, and had a walk round the town,and into the harbour area,.as we were passing under the Harbour Masters office, there was a sign on the quay, saying,,"Two deckhands wanted, for life onboard ship ",.so we enquired about it, and went for an interview,. the job was looking after,.., and living on,.. the replica of the Golden Hind, which was moored way out in the outer harbour. It was moored near the sea entrance, and they wanted someone to take tourists out to it in a motor launch, and the other person to answer questions on the history of Drakes adventures and sell the odd souvenir on board. My Royal Navy discharge papers, seemed to swing it,.. and we got the job,which involved living on board, and maintaining the vessel.
Maintenance involved climbing up the rigging in a squall or gale, and walking along the spars with our feet in the ratlines ( rope ), to furl up a sail that had come lose, it was a bit scary, when you looked down, underneath was the sea on the port side, then when you looked down again,it was on the starboard side lol ( rocking motion ) .., but happy days eh ! We also had to keep the cannon balls stacked on the deck in a pyramid fashion, these were placed on a Brass Tray called a Monkey, (which didn't rust as the cannonballs would rust onto a metal one ,) and that's where the saying comes from,. " Its enough to freeze the balls off a Brass Monkey",.and I bet you thought it was rude eh !,
both of us then had to take a boatmans licence ,in order to carry up to 35 passengers out to the ship, now the adventure, begins.-
We soon settled in, it took two weeks of operating the launch, before we had to go out with the Harbour Master,on our test,.we both passed, and were granted a licence,. in the intervening time, we had acclimatised ourselves with the vessel, ie, learning some of its history, and erecting our hammocks, and sorting out the best and driest places to sleep etc , and were given the use of a rowing boat for our personal use in order to come ashore in the evenings,.,my that boat had some adventures,!,. but that will be in the next episode, as there isnt room in this one,.for anyone who is interested, The Golden Hind still lies in Brixham Harbour to this day, but is along side the harbour wall now,...google it !
Chapter two. Torquay continued -
We soon settled in to the "Rhythm " of Torquay, it was buzzing,, and to my mind, it is still one of , if not the best, English seaside resorts,. but first we had to help get the season started, which involved using the launch to tow lines of paddle boats to various beaches Anstey,s Cove, Watcombe, and Maidencombe included, which involved trips along some fine coastal waterways,.. we soon made friends around the harbour area, and used to get brekky at George,s Cafe on the quayside. At night time we used to drink in the Castle pub, or various harbour side dens of iniquity ,and clubs like the 400 ? or was it the 600,.? on the harbour, anyway. There was always Mods &Rockers using the place, and quite often there were fights, with a lot ending up in the water opposite,.. also the Walnut Grove Club the and Casa Marina springs to mind,. .later on, we were to use the Casino in Paignton, because of all the nurses that used it..
We had a great chat up line which was,.. do you want to come to a party we have a Boat in Torquay Harbour, ? , when we told them which one it was it seldom failed ! ( The Hind ), anyway, i remember we used to arrive with our guests at the harbour, our boat was moored on the concrete slipway, and we used to load the girls into it, then push it down into the water, and jump in ourselves ready to row out to the Hind for a party. Unfortunately, owing to the volume of alcohol intake, we often failed to notice, that at low tide, the water was some 4 feet below the bottom of the slipway,, with the result that the loaded boat, would get to the end of the slipway,, pivot for a second, before hitting the water vertically lol.., emptying everyone into the sea ,..,.that ruined many an ambitious night …. but not all !! .
Chapter three Torquay .continued -
Life on board the "Hind ", was mostly great fun, ( the record Sloop John B,.by the Beachboys, will forever remind me of her ) although we had to maintain her, swabbing the decks, cleaning salt spray from the stern windows, etc, ...,about mid season, we were asked to help crew a trawler, going out at night, from Torquay harbour, sailing to the lights of Berry Head, ( Brixham ) then shooting the trawl, ( dropping the nets ) ,and sailing towards Teignmouth, across the bay, we would haul in the nets, and sort the fish into different boxes, always throwing the small ones back into the sea, as quickly as possible,, then sail inshore, back towards Torquay, and catch Plaice near the sewerage outlets at Hope Cove near Meadfoot beach,. the smell of the oily sea, always reminds me of .the taste of "Plaice ", and I never ate them for years afterwards , it was a great job though, and we used to get paid on what the boat caught, a percentage scheme,.
The living was good that summer of 66, but all things come to an end, and we wished to stay on there,. so i got myself a job, as a carpet fitter with William & Cox, on the strand, and seeing as i had met a lovely girl,( a school teacher from Kingskerswell,)..I wanted to remain in Torquay, but my best mate Keith, who i had been with at Butlins, and on the Golden Hind, had to return home,,.I was devastated,. and was in two minds what to do,.,I chose to stay in Torquay, and was not to see him again for some 40 years. he now lives in Gt Yarmouth, and made a good living working on the North Sea oil rigs , and is married with two children.
I remained in Torquay for the winter, and into the new year, 1967 the summer of love ,lol, but that will be in the next..chapter.
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