visits ago with my old 'yachty' and townie Dave Seed, it came under
discussion that at some point we make a trip up to Scotland and take
our tour around a familiar vessel that for some months was our home.
For those who know me and who attend our Portsmouth reunions and other
venues, it has been a great source of dismay that I have not been able
to attend due to a combination of family commitments and the extreme
difficulty of getting flights. Even though I have made the crossing
albeit after the said reunions (I'm still in UK as I write) I got in
touch with Dave and the proposition was made again………"do
you want to make that trip to the yacht Dickie?" and I said without
hesitation a resounding "yes!"
I travelled up from the nether regions of the Llyn Peninsula where I
am staying with my brother to Hesketh Bank and stayed with Dave and
Joan the Friday evening prior to a day return by Dave's car to Leith
which although may have appeared a little daunting, turned out to be
comfortable and not too terrible a time on the roads covering well over
400 miles. Sorry but I don't do kilometers!
After tea and toast in the early hours of Saturday we sped off to join
the M6 and without a stop we made it up to Ocean Terminal just about
the time HM Yacht opens for business. Free parking adjacent to the huge
terminal mall which is three storey's high and filled with all kinds
of shops and restaurants, we decided to have a coffee in a place that
literally was overlooking the yacht in her now prone position.
With our Yacht association membership cards with approached the pay
point and after presenting to the staff we were waved on free of charge
to begin our nostalgic tour. It has to be recorded that David has been
once prior but how long ago I fail to remember his saying. I must say
that the staff were very gracious and enthusiastic for our visit and
expressed to us that if there was anything they could do to enhance
our visit including access to places otherwise prohibited, they would
be happy to assist. We did take advantage of that only once when Dave
and I went through the hatch for'ard to the fo'c'sle, chains, cables
and all. We had to have a photo from the pointed end to the bridge.
Speaking for myself and after all the time that has lapsed since my
major trip of 1975 to the Caribbean, I found it hard at times to recognize
where I was but of course, so many huge plates had been cut out of places
for viewing through Perspex purposes that it changes the aspect radically
but necessary for making it easier to make it the huge tourist attraction
that she is.
After a thorough walk around and many photo opportunities, we disembarked
and visited the gift shop for the necessary keep-sakes although I am
bound to say that I am one of many no doubt that already have some collectables
that will never appear on the shelves from my time serving HM. Dave
politely enquired about discounts for ex Yacht personnel and at first
it appeared unlikely until a staff member studied the docket that had
some rules and reg's pertaining to sales. 20% off! The visit was more
than worthy of our time and distance traveled and in closing I must
repeat that the staff are very welcoming and ready and willing to accommodate
contrary to some past accounts and the combination of free entry for
being a member of the RY Association and significant discount on gift
shop goods, makes it a trip more than worth your while.
Dave was more than deserving of a wee dram or three upon our return
to the Preston area. My thanks to Dave and Joan for their hospitality.
My UK visit was truly embellished by being with them for a couple o'
nights to incorporate the memorable trip to a jewel in my life's history.
HM Yacht Britannia 1972 - 76