When Jonty Pearce switches sails for 115 horse power and an inflatable boat, he discovers that long passages, and the gaps between social engagements, can be reduced to minutes

I’ve never really been into RIBs. I’ve seen them skim about, always in an awful hurry and leaving the irritating sort of wake that always threatens to spill your Pimms, but I’ve never really experienced a proper ride in one. Until this weekend, that is, when Neyland friends Norry and Hutch suggested a trip up to Dale for a pint on the Griffin wall. The Indoor Dragon and I swiftly accepted, checking that it would be OK to bring Zeff, the Border Terrier/Collie(?) cross who I am dog sitting for two weeks while my Practice Manager suns herself in Reykjavik. Norry and Hutch were perfectly happy with an extra dog – their own Beagle, Fender, actually runs round the RIB tubes at 40 knots…

We set off sedately from the marina comfortably lounging in the warm sun. We started to feel a 25 knot wind chill when Hutch opened up the throttle and came up onto the plane to revel in the thrill of speed. Zeff the seadog’s long flowing locks streamed back as he developed a severe case of ‘RIB hair’ while the short haired beagle pranced about on the bow showing off her agility. Milford Haven passed by at a speed unfamiliar to us cruising types – 6 knots is a world apart from 38. ‘Fancy a pint at The Old Point House?’ asked Hutch, not waiting for an answer as he peeled off into East Angle bay to tie up at the slipway. Zeff made the most of the beach stop to have a swim, washing out his RIB hair. We enjoyed a nice sit in the sun, and returned to the slip nicely refreshed.

Next on the agenda was a gentle motor past Thorn Island as Hutch regaled us with stories of past revelries from its Hotel days. It seems empty and unloved now, though there have even been plans to install a cable car to improve the access as the leap from dinghy to the steps is not to be taken lightly in any swell – during storms the island is totally cut off. Such isolation is not ideal for a hostelry. Leaving Thorn Island behind, Hutch took us up on the plane again across to Castlebeach Bay where Norry produced refreshments and nibbles while we put the world to rights.

Our next port of call was busy Dale where, having tied up at the pontoon, the main problem was getting past the crowds of oblivious crabbers. I’m sure that there is a community of career crabs living below the pontoon whose source of food arrives on the end of a line – they resignedly get manhandled into a bucket for a while, but apart from that it must be an easy life. Our own lives were certainly more comfortable after a convenience stop, and Zeff and Fender welcomed a run on the beach and another swim. Hutch and I secured a beer on the Griffin roof terrace, and before we knew where we were it was time to return to participate in Neyland’s Berth Holder’s party.

This is where a RIB holds the advantage. A passage that would have taken Aurial nearly two hours took a mere 15 minutes – Zeff’s RIB hair was a sight to behold at 38 knots as Hutch drove the motor’s 115 horses flat out. A quick wash and brush up, and it was time for the party on the patio. The hog roast and salad was washed down by some very nice Felinfoel Double Dragon, and even Zeff enjoyed dancing to the band. All good things come to an end, but the night was still young as Janet and Jeremy invited us all aboard Coelocanth to sample the type of clear, colourless schnapps that rises again like the Phoenix during the morning attempts at rehydration. I hate to think how many shots Jeremy poured out as we watched through a brain numbed fog, but Carol and Zeff were discovered crashed out on the master bunk before we all wove our way back along the pontoons to bed.

The Indoor Dragon’s furnace was temporarily quenched by a headache, but was re-ignited after ibuprofen when she emerged at 1pm the following day. It gave me the chance of a peaceful morning mooching round the boat jumble and classic car show. While we might not have managed a proper sail, we did have a great time and showed Zeff some of the pleasures of Pembrokeshire. I think he’s addicted to RIB riding now, and the daily drudge of Surgery life seems very mundane compared to life in the fast lane.

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