Disaster at Dartmouth

Boat Float

Although we shared much Fun and Laughter in Retirement, some incidents were less enjoyable.

One autumn afternoon, following some tempestuous weather, Eric and I went over to Dartmouth to check on our original small Dayboat Lutena, which we had sadly neglected for a while. Eric wasn’t wearing his boating clothes, which he left in the car. As we approached the ‘Boat Float’ compound, we saw the boat drifting in the middle of the compound instead of on our mooring beside the wall, and Eric insisted on going down the ladder and precariously stepping across three boats to reach her. She clearly had a lot of water on board and my heart was in my mouth as Eric stepped aboard while the boat tipped sideways and he clung on. A fascinated crowd gathered to watch…

Expertly using the mooring ropes, Eric manoeuvred the boat and, with my help from above, pulling the main rope towards me with my crooked umbrella handle, eventually he reached the wall safely and he told me to go shopping.

When I returned, I found Eric standing mournfully on the promenade, dripping from the chest down. ‘Look’ he said, and I saw our little boat submerged below us; it was such a sad sight. Eric decided we’d wait until the tide had gone out fully, so he could bale her out.

Crossing the road we entered the cosy foyer of the Royal Castle Hotel. Eric squelched away to the Gents, dragging a bright blue recycling bag containing his boating gear which he had refused to change into before the escapade, despite – or maybe because of – my entreaties to do so. I adjourned to the bar and Eric joined me looking forlorn and chilled. After a warming brandy, he agreed he was too cold to do any more so we hastened home with heater on full blast, planning to return at dawn the next day to bale out the boat at low tide. Before bedtime I used the washing machine cycle twice, getting into bed at 12 am.

At 5.15 am I awoke to find Eric getting dressed. ‘I’m going alone’ he said firmly, but I sleepily insisted I would come too. I daren’t let him go without me! Just as well; it was the highest of low tides, and there were still a few inches of water. Although we wore many layers of clothes I was unprepared for a gale-force wind – a foretaste of what was to come – and I could hardly stay upright it was so strong. The plan was to empty the boat of everything we could and we had gone well prepared. I found myself at 6.30 a.m. lassoing a rope down to Eric whilst he, with icy fingers, knotted it around first the anchor and then the various items of (brand new) cushions etc, which weighed a ton having been waterlogged. Up on the promenade I braced myself and heaved away time after time until everything was piled up soggily beside me; the umbrella handle was invaluable for the task and a man nearby kindly assisted, instead of just watching us. A magnificent sunrise over the timbered rooftops took my breath away, but Eric was crossly disinterested when I called for him to share my delight.

Fun and Laughter in Retirement

Eventually, we wearily stowed the bulging sacks in the car and repaired to the Royal Castle Hotel which was open to serve breakfast, and at 8 am we sat beside a log fire sipping strong coffee and feeling restored. Baling out had been impossible but, to my relief, the Overseer of the Boat Float agreed to finish the job, and Eric later took an engineer friend to retrieve the engine. The Insurers paid up, so a memorable adventure ended happily and, after a while, Lutena was afloat once more and ready for action.

Author: Lutena Yates

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Eric Yates Epitaph to ‘Nickle Eck’: Cider in Making

Eric and his friend Steve enjoyed many hours together on various hobbies, one of which was brewing their own cider.   This was done annually in our garage, so I had to remove my car for some time whilst Eric set up the brewing kit, all of which was tracked down and purchased in the locality.  The end of the garage was the home of a very substantial cider press, and he and Steve spent happy hours collecting apples from various places and chopping them up.   This made a considerable mess and the scent of cider filled the air and drifted up into the garage loft space, where it remained for some time afterwards.

Eric was renowned for producing strong cider, and all male visitors were usually beckoned into the garage where it was stored to partake of the brew – one or two making an excuse to avoid a second invitation.

At home one morning, Eric was fixing the catch on our loft door when I heard a loud thump, followed by silence.  Hurrying anxiously upstairs thinking he had dropped something, I found a bemused Eric picking himself off the floor with a lump the size of an orange on his forehead where the trap-door had struck him.  He was bleeding profusely and staggering a bit, so I put him to bed for a while and we then went to the surgery, but thankfully he didn’t have concussion.   He spent the next day in bed but later escaped back to the task of cider making, returning alone from a nearby farm with several full sacks of Bramley apple windfalls.

The following morning I glanced at my husband, anticipating the bruised bump but, to my horror, below it was a black eye – which became progressively blacker as the week went on before both wounds became an interesting shade of yellow; the villagers in the local pub had a field day!     Eric told me he’d been carrying a full sack through the orchard on his own, and a branch had grazed his eye.

Both injuries must have hurt terribly but, to my amazement, Eric acted as if nothing had happened.  He always prided himself on being stoic and maintained that he said nothing to stop me ‘freaking out’.   I must say he was always the easiest of patients – but would ‘fly off the handle’ sometimes over something so trivial I never saw it coming!


Author:  Lutena Yates

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Eric Yates Epitaph to ‘Nickle Eck’: Working at Windsor

The recent wonderful Royal Wedding brought back many memories of Eric when I first knew him. At the end of his working life, he became a warden at Windsor, stationed in various parts of the castle, inside or out, ready to assist visitors and tourists and answer their questions. this new role brought him plenty of fun and laughter in retirement. At that time many of the wardens were army veterans, so during breaks, he enjoyed the camaraderie and interesting conversations relating to their experiences in various campaigns. Continue reading

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Epitaph to ‘Nickle Eck’ – The Nostalgic Memories of Eric Yates

“Epitaph to ‘Nickle Eck,’ Childhood Mischief in Wartime Birmingham” by Eric Yates has carved its place distinctly in the vast world of children story books. This particular book by Eric has been concertedly received with sheer enjoyment and delectation by the readers. The inimitable humour and wit of Eric’s style of writing and the exceptionally entertaining story-lines aid to create vivid images in the mind of the readers which he has described flawlessly in his book. Describing meticulously the hair-raising situations he had faced in his life, getting led astray by the umpteen dangerous activities created by and shared with John, his elder brother, Eric captivates the attention of his readers, keeping them glued to the pages of the book. Continue reading

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Eric Yates’ Epitaph to ‘Nickle Eck’

Not only did Eric have many Laugh-out-loud evacuation adventures, in his retirement years living in beautiful South Devon he continued to get involved in many hair-raising mishaps and escapades. frequently on (and even in) water.

In the Spring of 2003, Eric saw a Harbour Master’s notice in the Dartmouth Gazette, asking for offers for a boat which had been abandoned in the town’s ‘Boat Float’; they needed it removed to reclaim the fees which had remained unpaid. Eric knew it was a better boat than the one we already had, as it had a cabin and was more suitable for seagoing fishing trips, so he put in a very low tender and it was accepted. Continue reading

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Eric Yates’ Epitaph to ‘Nickle Eck’ – Blossomfield Club and the Theatrical Reverie of the Stories

Where there was War, Ego, Bloodshed, Death, and stories of Conquering Armies, Blood-quenching war-zones, and Songs of Violence and Bravery, and even Cowardice – there was a part where ordinary lives were dwelling in danger. Continue reading

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