When a couple go out for a romantic meal at a floating restaurant to celebrate a wedding anniversary, you might expect one of them to spring a surprise on their other half.
But what John Wood and his wife found themselves treated to came more as a shock than a surprise when, as they raised glasses to toast one another, a river cruiser passed gently by - full of totally naked passengers.
It happened at the estuary to the river Exe as the River Exe Cafe, a custom built barge that floats offshore in the estuary, entertained the couple with drinks and a meal. The award-winning eatery comprises a barge and a pontoon, along which are laid tables offering al fresco dining plus some spectacular views - most of the time.
Mr Wood, of Seawood Yachts, a yacht broker's in Exmouth, was enjoying a meal with his wife at the café when the cruise ship, operated by the naturist Torbay Sun Club, passed by, revealing its passengers in all their unclothed glory.
The boat, which was operating its annual ‘Nude Cruise’ having embarked from Exmouth Dock with its passengers carrying little other than their "personal luggage", was cruising along the river.
The ship passed by with the top deck filled with naturists looking down at the restaurant and others below deck, so to speak, looking out across the water at the stunned diners in the café.
The aptly-named Mr Wood said: "My wife and I were having a lovely anniversary dinner at the River Exe Cafe when we caught sight of a boat full of naked people travelling slowly by.
"The reaction in the restaurant was mostly of amusement - but also concern for their health, as the wind was getting up. Luckily, that was the only thing that was!"
Torbay Sun Club's 'nude cruises' have become an annual fixture for nudists who enjoy getting down to the bare essentials and taking in all the naked attractions that the river and estuary have to offer.
Each year, members embark on the pleasure boat for a life-affirming trip on the water - and the sight of naked people enjoying the views and partying from the deck below has become almost second nature to those the nude cruise passes.
The club, whose website invites people to "come and visit us" and lists its "coming events", hires the boat, The Pride of Exmouth, from local firm The Stuart Line. Contrary to some interpretations of public opinion, being naked is not illegal, except for where it is intended to cause alarm or distress.
The Torbay Sun Club, which describes itself as one of the UK’s largest naturist swim and sauna clubs catering for people of all ages and walks of life, describes how it perceives naturism on its website.
It says: “Naturism is good outdoors too and, weather permitting, there are plenty of ways of enjoying it on the beach or at many other locations."
In terms of the legal position of being naked in public view, the club says: "Nudity would only be an offence if it were intended to cause alarm or distress.
"Away from clubs, private houses and 'official' or well-used naturist venues, we recommend sensible courtesy to anyone who might be upset by nudity.”
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