AEGEAN ODYSSEY 17th June 2018 Part 6
Thursday 21st June 2018
Very early this morning we sailed into the deep water entrance of the River Dart, to visit Dartmouth here in Devonshire (another of the Shire counties). We turned mid-river and were facing out to sea, which was almost out of sight because of the bend at the entrance. In olden times castles were built, one each side of the river entrance, to protect Dartmouth and Kingswear from enemy action, and they can still be seen.
Up on deck the sun was warm and the sky blue, which was all very welcome. Of course we could hear the incessant noise of our engines coming from the aft end of the funnel, which has been part of our life every time we have been ashore. It proved to be very noticeable today once we had gone ashore into the little towns of Dartmouth or Kingswear, set amongst the steep hills beside the River Dart.
My friend showed me a picture at the useful website of Micke Asklander, at http://www.faktaomfartyg.se where the 1973-built ship Narcis is listed. During part of her life as AEGEAN I in June 2009, what we know as AEGEAN ODYSSEY was being fitted out again in Keratsini; the website shows a lovely picture taken by Georges Koutsoukis of the ship having a new funnel fitted over the previous one, and this could account perhaps for the current noise.
http://www.faktaomfartyg.se (Micke Asklander)
I asked and was given permission by Micke Asklander to use this photo in my blog, and I am happy to acknowledge his help.
I was able to take some more on board photographs after breakfast and before leaving the ship.
This morning the excursion people left the ship by tender first and then we were able to do the same, on lifeboat number 7 acting as a tender.
They were all running to the Dartmouth side of the river and we were soon standing on a pontoon and walking to our first ferry of the day. We sailed on the KINGSWEAR PRINCESS across the River Dart to the Kingswear side. We could hear the whistle of a steam train as it left the Kingswear station pulling many carriages along the coast, and this sound mingled nicely with other sounds from craft on the river.
From the ferry we could finally get a photograph of AEGEAN ODYSSEY in sunshine, on the water.
Kingswear Station proved interesting with a good model of the paddle steamer WAVERLEY in a glass case, an Edward VII Royal Mail red post box still in a wall beside the platform, and a popular cafe.
We decided to try another ferry, which was heading towards us. This was unexpected to look at, as it was a tug attached to a pontoon, which crossed to and fro across the River Dart with vehicles, here at the lower ferry point. We went over on the TOM AVIS.
Because of the current the ferry cannot travel in a straight line, and has to take an angular course across the water. I think that's the only way to describe it, but it was very enjoyable for the few minutes we were on it. The other ferry doing the crossing was available so we went back again on that one - this time it was TOM CASEY, the tug and pontoon vessel.
By this time we were on the Kingswear side again, and needed to be back at the Dartmouth side ready for a treat at 12 noon. Fortunately the DARTMOUTH PRINCESS arrived at a nearby pontoon and we sailed on her back cross the River Dart to the Dartmouth side. We could hear our AEGEAN ODYSSEY noise all the time.
Our treat was a trip on the Paddle Steamer KINGSWEAR CASTLE, which lived in the river, tied up at yet another pontoon nearby. She came alongside and all the booked passengers boarded with great excitement. She was built in 1924 and is on the Register of National Historic ships; she is the only operational coal-fired river paddle steamer in the United Kingdom. We set off on this amazing little ship and headed towards the river entrance, and could see Kingswear Castle and Dartmouth Castle before we turned to head back and up river.
This was the most delightful and fascinating paddle-steaming along the calm water of this valley, with its steeply wooded sides and occasional houses, as we twisted and turned along the way. We could hear the paddles turning steadily and the Bar on board opened to provide whatever coffee, drinks and snacks were required. Many of us sat in the sunshine on deck and simply smiled at each other and enjoyed the surroundings. The ship is allowed to carry a maximum of 235 passengers but I don't think she was full today, which made for great comfort around the decks.
We had paddled for about 40 minutes when we reached another wide part of the river and KINGSWEAR CASTLE then showed us how easily and tidily she could turn, although she needed a big turning circle. It was all fascinating and lovely to see her circular wake after we started to paddle back to Dartmouth. I was told by another female passenger that the Ladies Toilet facilities were interesting, so of course I went to find out. Indeed they were, and I wasn't the only one to admire the sanitary ware on this little ship!
Back on the pontoon and then the quayside, it was pleasant to stroll along the riverside towards one of the few hotels further along. I liked the look of a sign outside a pub and decided to photograph that on the way back.
Instead of lunch today, we are going to have a Devon afternoon cream tea at the hotel, and that was very creatively presented. In Devon it is said that cream should be put on the scone first and then jam after that. The person I sat next to decided to do one scone-half the Cornish way and the other half the Devon way, but both tasted good. It is a matter of personal preference apparently.
There was another ferry in sight nearby and of course that had to be tried. It took vehicles and pedestrians across the river on what is known as the High Ferry. When we first looked at it, it could not unload on the Kingswear side because the steam train was coming through, and the road was shut.
The train passed and the road opened, and then the ferry could unload. It loaded more cars and then came across to our Dartmouth side to collect cars and pedestrians. We walked on board, paid the fares and looked around for the name of the ferry. It didn't seem to have one, but this is a cable ferry taking 5 minutes to cross and costing 70 pence per pedestrian each way.
The walk back to our ship tender was interesting, going through the town, and I know I would enjoy coming back here again.
We caught ship's tender number 8 back and were soon on deck again and ready for a cup of tea. We have been on 9 vessels today, including AEGEAN ODYSSEY.
AEGEAN ODYSSEY is due to leave Dartmouth at 5 p.m. and preparations were going on around us. We understand that there are about 250 passengers on board. Everyone is invited by Captain Panagiotis Giakoumatos and his Senior Officers to a Farewell Cocktail Party from 6.30 p.m. in the Ambassador Lounge, but there was time to stay on deck and watch 2 Sikorsky helicopters fly from the Naval College over the river and back again. We sailed away and left Dartmouth and Kingswear behind to enjoy the peace without us.
Ships seen: Sea Seeker, Kingwear Princess, Aegean Odyssey, tender number 7, Kingswear Castle, Tom Avis, Tom Casey, Dartmouth Princess, tender number 8, Dartmouth High Ferry, Prince Rock, Dart Explorer, Patricia out at sea passing Dartmouth, a Cobelfreighter, a Grimaldi car ferry
To be concluded...