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2020: Sun in The Isles of Scilly

Plymouth to Cawsand 5m
It was four years since I’d visited the Scillies, and then for just one night at Hugh Town before returning to the mainland, and I’d very much wanted to get back there. I’d been waiting for a weather window since I’d had to leave ‘Freya’ in Plymouth at the end of my previous cruise. I drove the four hours down to Plymouth in the rain, wondering if I’d jumped the gun. I managed to fill up with water in QAB and with diesel in PYH, before a gentle beat under genoa across to Cawsand, dodging a Brittany Ferries ship and a frigate. I tucked in close under the woods to the South to keep out of as much of the SW swell as possible, and once safely anchored looked around at the surprising number of other yachts there for the night in the dismal conditions. A heavy motor-sailor, equipped with a substantial flopper-stopper, rolled hardly at all, while a round bilged classic anchored further out rolled horribly. ‘Freya’ was somewhere between the two, bouncing around enough to make cooking supper a gymnastic experience.

Cawsand to Helford, 43m
It quietened down overnight and when I woke at about 03:00 it was calm and I fell back to sleep – for a little too long. The anchor was nevertheless up by 05:00 and the main was up and pulling us gently out towards the Draystone by 05:10. Plymouth was bathed in the orange glow of pre-dawn in a largely cloudless sky. There was a swell still coming from the WSW and not enough wind to steady us, and we flopped around on the last of the ebb, making just nine miles in the first three hours, despite the help from the tide. But then a NNW wind filled in, as predicted, and we accelerated for the rest of the day, despite the foul flood, and even after reefing the main and eventually dropping it and sailing under genoa. An end-of-the-day lively sprint brought the average speed back up to 5kn.

Dawn at Cawsand

I’d experienced rough water off Dodman Point before, and a wind shadow under the headland that left me thrown around while going nowhere. So this time I headed well offshore, outside ‘The Field’, disregarding all the local yachts heading inshore in both directions. In the event it looked calm under the cliffs and I was left behind by the yachts that took the shortcut and kept out of the tide. My conservative goal was Helford, and my slightly more ambitious goal was Coverack, nearer to the Lizard for the next day. But the wind was gusting too strongly and from too varied directions to risk the roadstead outside Coverack. I’d had to abandon my anchorage there once before, as the wind shifted at dusk, and I’d been forced to run back to The Voose just inside Helford, and had to anchor again, but by then in the dark. My most ambitious goal was to make use of the afternoon ebb and get round the Lizard into Mounts Bay for the night. There was enough daylight left, but it would have required a beat straight into the wind to Penzance or Newlyn at the end of the day, and after nine hours at sea already I couldn’t face it

Arriving at Helford

So I anchored just inside Helford at Durgan on the North side. It was surprisingly crowded and more yachts continued to feel there way in between those who had got there before them, hoping to find space, and not always succeeding. The NW breeze was still gusting to F5 even inside the estuary, and swirling around, and I was anxious about having enough swinging room. A beautiful 45ft classic anchored much too close to me, right over where my anchor was, and would have prevented me from leaving in the morning. The skipper realised his error and moved, but to somewhere too close to someone else. Eventually the parking quietened down and I relaxed with a PPP (pasta, pesto and parmesan) and a Rioja, in the warm evening sunshine.

Helford to The Scillies 59m
I slept badly and got up at 03:30 and pottered around with breakfast and tidying, waiting for the light. I was worried about motoring through pot markers I couldn’t see in the gloom, and there seemed to be too little wind to sail without the motor on. I got off, with eel grass all over my ground tackle, with nav lights on, and having acclimatised my eyes, not long after 04:00. Long before the sun rose over St Mawes I felt a breeze and gratefully turned the motor off. The breeze filled, and with the last of the ebb behind me I rounded the Lizard before 07:00 in lovely gentle morning light, just as the ebb faded. My sailing progress was short-lived. The wind died and didn’t return in a useful form all the way to the Scillies. I took a Northerly arc route as I was hoping to anchor in the Eastern Isles, and the South-going tide in the afternoon would have made that difficult if I had followed the three other yachts that had started early, like me, to get round the Lizard before the flood was established. They must have been heading for St Mary’s Sound at the South end of the islands. The tides worked badly and I motored slowly. I had fitted my Hydrovane rudder as I would have run out of battery power if I used my autopilot without shorepower overnight. But the Hydrovane rudder is offset and interferes with the thrust of the prop and knocks a knot off my speed under power. The ‘Scillonian’ appeared out of Penzance and overtook me near Wolf Rock. The Northern route meant I would have to cross the TSS. I’d counted 13 tankers and other redundant ships anchored off the Lizard and as expected the shipping lanes were deserted. I saw just three ships in the distance in six hours. The anchorage that Nic Beck, the skipper of the pilot cutter Amelie Rose, had suggested to me was in the Eastern Isles, tucked between Great Ganilly and Great Arthur. It turned out to be idyllic, with white sandy beaches and crystal clear water. I could watch as my anchor set in 4m. It was more like the Caribbean than England. It had rocks, reefs and islands all the way round my chosen anchorage spot, giving perfect protection – until the tide came in and covered the reefs, disturbing the sunbathing seals.

Great Ganilly, Eastern Isles, The Scillies

Great Ganilly to Great English Island Sound, via New Grimsby Sound and Bishop Rock 27m
The next morning I did not have to get off early and I had a lazy breakfast in the cockpit, greeted as I stuck my head out into the sunshine by seven seals looking at me balefully before swimming over to sunbathe on a reef that gradually covered as the tide came in. It was a simply sumptuous day and I abandoned my plans to anchor all day in a pleasant spot somewhere and instead worked out how I could have a gentle sail in the lovely conditions. I also wanted to fit in a treat I had promised myself. Some years before on a walking holiday on the Scillies I had joined an al fresco party, including jazz bands and food outlets, in the middle of Tresco Flats. It was the lowest LW of the year and it dried out completely between Bryher and Tresco, hundreds of holidaymakers in wellies trudging across the sand to the middle for a “bottom of the sea” event. On this cruise, whimsically, I wanted to sail over the spot on which I had sat and eaten my sandwiches. HW was 10:22 so I set off at 08:30. The route to get there involved a series of dog-legs round cardinal buoys, over sand bars, and round rocks and shallow areas, interpreting poles and markers with one eye always on the chart. The Scillies sure keep you on your toes. The SE wind was light and fickle but I had timed it right and crossed the flats at exactly HW and to my relief still had plenty of depth under my keel. The West end leads in to New Grimsby Sound and I photographed Cromwell’s Castle as I ghosted past, casually gybing in the light airs.

Cromwell’s Castle, Tresco, The Scillies

Exhilarated by this feat I, typically, overreached myself, and decided I’d circumnavigate the entire Scillies anti clockwise, and head back in to pick up a visitor buoy near the castle that evening. It started well, with 10knots on my beam and then close-hauled, whisking me South round an extraordinary sequence of islands, hazards and rocks. The names are very evocative: Biggal, Westward Ledge, Nundeeps, Tearing Ledge, and Bishop Rock lighthouse, after which there is nothing until the US of A. Crebinicks, Gilstone Ledges, Old Bess, Black Rock, Rags, Seal Rock, Wingletang Ledges and finally St Agnes and Gugh islands. Between the two is an anchorage in St Agnes Cove. Too much mentioned in Pilot Books I fear. It is not very big but had 21 masts in there as I arrived, with two more yachts gunning their engines to beat each other to the last postage stamp sized spot. No thanks. It faced directly into the SE swell and the masts looked as though they would become tangled. I fancied something out of the way, with an anchorage in better shelter. The wind had been dying so I cut my circumnavigation short and motored NE past St Mary’s and stopped just inside Nornour, a small island famous for its Bronze Age remains. It was an extraordinarily wild and remote spot, but felt completely safe in the very gentle conditions. I took a video 360 degree panorama on my iPad: islands and rocks and white sand beaches all the way round, not a boat in sight, and Lands End visible on the Eastern horizon between clusters of rocks. A truly stunning spot and a memorable day.

Nornour, Eastern Isles, The Scillies

Scillies to Helford, 57m
The tides are complicated beyond Lands End, tides in and out of the Irish Sea confusing tides up and down the Channel and boxing the compass rather than setting one way and then the other. However they would work tolerably well to get me to Newlyn and anchor in Gwavas Lake, where I had anchored comfortably on my way back from Scotland three years before. I’ve never managed to secure a berth inside Newlyn – it always seems so full of fishing boats that there is very little space for visitors. The tides, being neaps, turned out to be not much of a problem even when foul, and after a lovely gentle start a SW breeze picked up, along with a SW swell, and I was just S of Lands End near the Runnel Stone much earlier than planned.

Dolphins played with me near Wolf Rock

The forecast was for rain in the far West, and it could be clearly seen all along the Mounts Bay coast. Penzance was invisible. I didn’t fancy sitting down below all afternoon with rain in the cockpit to I set a course further South for the Lizard, along with about a dozen yachts that, like me, had left the Scillies early. While I eventually reached The Lizard before the ebb had set in, and so avoided the rough seas you usually get there with wind against tide, I didn’t avoid the rain. It started later than further West but made up for it in increasing volume. I thought about Coverack as an anchorage, just so I could stop – it had become a day when most people would simply want to stop – but the swell had hooked round The Lizard and was rolling NE all along the peninsula. After 10 hours bracing myself in the cockpit I was approaching Falmouth. Mylor had contacted me to tell me they were full, as their distancing policies reduced the number of visitors they could take – so no shower. I turned left for Helford, or what I could see of it through the rain. Helford often channels and amplifies any SW, W or NW wind, and it was by now lashing it down, with 22kn on the nose. There is a shallow bay on the S side as you head in, almost opposite Durgan where I had anchored six years before, called Ponsence Cove, which I thought ought to provide some protection from the wind. There were three yachts already there, trying to tuck in out of the blast. My chart and my depth sounder showed that there was plenty of room well inshore of them, quite close to the rocky shore. Anchoring solo without a self launching anchor or an electric windlass is not straightforward. Anchoring in a F5 when your eyes can hardly see for rain, where you are on a close rocky lee shore, requires brisk action and no mistakes. Heavens knows what I’d have done if I’d got it wrong and had to re-set the anchor, as I would not have been able to haul Freya’s 5 tons back to it, nor rush back to the cockpit in time to power away once the anchor was clear of the bottom, before the wind drove me ashore. Luckily I didn’t get it wrong. I had 3m depth to spare at LW, plenty of swinging room for when the wind shifted to NW overnight, and was well clear of the other yachts. Quite a relief, and I thought I deserved a beer – even before I hung up my dripping oilies. Two Cornish Crabbers arrived and anchored, rafted up, even further inshore, almost on the beach. They got their dinghies out for a trip ashore before common sense prevailed and instead disappeared below and closed their hatches. Helford to Plymouth 46m The tide would be foul all the next morning but I could set off late and reach Fowey in the afternoon, so I intended to have a lie-in and rest a bit. But annoyingly I was wide awake at the first glimpse of the light of a grey old day. I decided I might as well head off and see if the passage to Plymouth were feasible, as the tides should be modest. I just needed a reasonable breeze. Well it was reasonable as I raised the anchor and reasonable as I left the Helford estuary, but utterly unreasonable as I reached past the entrance to Falmouth. I had squalls in the high 20’s and I was over-canvassed and heeling far too much. And steering erratically. I hove to and put two reefs in the main – and even that was too much. Five miles into the passage and I was down to just my genoa and clinging on. But then the wind wandered off somewhere else and I slowed to a sedate 3kn, keeping well inshore. I persisted, under-canvassed, until Dodman Point where I decided to hoist the reefed main again, to cope with the anticipated overfalls, only for the wind speed to then double as it blasted towards me past Mevagissey under accumulating clouds. Instead of heading straight for Plymouth I sailed close-hauled towards Fowey to get some protection under the land from the chop and the wind. I had to drop the main again but after an hour things eased and I enjoyed a pootle under the cliffs past Polperrow and Looe. Rounding Rame Head the wind picked up again and it was clear that it was going to be channelled out of Plymouth Sound and hard on my nose. I double reefed the genoa, adjusted the genoa tracks to keep it flat, and waited to see what would happen. In an average of 20kn of wind close-hauled Freya stayed almost upright and glided along at four knots. She wouldn’t manage that in a chop as there was not enough power in the genoa to drive her through the waves, but in flat water she just gently accelerated, without drama. We sailed straight past a wildly over-pressed Contessa 32, spilling wind from its full main and billowing genoa, and over on its ear, probably carrying four times as much sail as ‘Freya’. It has taken me many years to learn that often less is more when it comes to canvas. Jean Socrates, the 70-odd year old circumnavigator, argues that if you are not upright then you’ve got too much sail up, and I’m finally realising the wisdom in that, though I’ve been a slow learner. Wind was spiralling around inside QAB so inevitably I was required to move from the berth I first took, but the lulls were cooperative and I’d finished the cruise without drama. And then, after four nights anchoring, I found the marina showers were closed.

Total distance sailed 235m
Graham Gibbs, Freya of Shoreham

2018

Single-handing to the Scillies

Ever since I bought Tranquillity last year I had been dreaming of revisiting the Scilly Islands whose white sands and blue seas are so reminiscent of our dreams of south sea paradise. So it broke my  heart when the CCC cruise there clashed with a must go family event. The fact that the club didn’t make it wasn’t going to discourage me, nor was the lack of willing crew so on Sunday 8th July I was up at 05.30, packed and drove down to Plymouth. After victualling at Morrisons, lunching on tea and pork pie, the afternoon was spent topping up fuel and water, checking the engine and otherwise preparing to sail. The early evening was devoted to drinking in The Bridge discussing the differing attractions of diving and sailing with Freddie whom i got to know while being reberthed to N pontoon during dredging operations over the winter. Finally a couple of cups of tea with Sandra settled me down for an early night.

Monday 9 July

Awoke at 04.30 and left the pontoon by 05.20 in order to catch the west setting tide. There was enough wind to sail nearly up to Rame Head but it dropped to a Force 2 leaving me no option but to motor nearly to Falmouth while reading happily in a sunny cockpit as the autopilot buzzed away in the background. I saw few other boats on the whole trip and no interesting birds  though an enormous flock of gulls near Looe suggested a shoal of fish near the surface..The Northerly F4 that eventually appeared, gave me 5.5 kts into the Helford River where I dropped the main and tied up to a green visitors buoy in the Pool at 14.45 under a blue sky and 28 degrees. Tea and a book whiled away the afternoon leading to a peaceful evening devoted to ringing and texting family and dining on tinned pie, leeks, orange and beer. Bed at 20.15 ready for another tide catching early start.

Tuesday 10 July

Dropped the buoy at 05:20 and sailed out into a NE F5 which gave me 6 kts past the Manacle Rocks. A rising wind and difficult gybe which spilled my bowl of cereals and cup of tea all over the cockpit persuaded me to play safe and put two reefs in the main. This only reduced my speed from 7 kts down to the original 6 kts. By 07:15, though, the wind had eased to F3 and so I took them out again. At 08:00 I was due S of the Lizard in NE F4 which, with the tide gave me SOG of 7.3 kts. Shearwaters flew past close to the wave tops as usual. At 09:20 a racing Catamaran passed me with foam flying from his lee hull. An hour later the wind had died away and clouds developed so I had to resort to motor. The day was young and I felt fresh so I decided to abort my original plan of breaking the journey in Newlyn, so set course for Wolf Rock which I passed at 12:00 noticing 3 more yachts on the horizon seemingly also heading for the Scillies, With an E F3 and a pronounced Northerly swell the sea was confused now which left me wondering if such a long leg was a good idea. I was getting tired and my stomach was upset and so, using my phone as an alarm, I managed to get several 5 minute doses which helped. At 17:15 I made a clean entry in sun through St Mary’s Sound, could find no buoys in Hugh Town harbour and so anchored in what proved to be an illegal spot. Despite a friendly greeting from a woman in a dinghy, I felt too tired to get the dinghy out and  go ashore so tidied the boat and sat admiring the scenery. Due to my upset stomach, al I managed for dinner was soup and water followed by an early night.

Wednesday 11 July

After a good night’s sleep I looked forward to a good breakfast but found that my milk had gone off so had to put up with mint tea followed by a boiled egg and marmite toast. While waiting for the Harbour Master to charge me £19.50, find me a buoy and tell me off very gently for anchoring within the harbour area, I rang my son Ben who was in hospital with a fractured spine. He was very cheerful since they were pleased with his progress and were starting to sit him up. It was time to pump up the dinghy and head ashore to explore St Mary’s beginning with tea and toasted tea cake in the first and best cafe that I found. A good walk around the southern half of the island included a visit to the RNLI Station, the Porth Cressa beach and anchorage and a circumnavigation of the Garrison peninsula. One thing that surprised me was the extraordinary number of cars there were on a small island with few roads. It was a warm day and so, after shopping in the Coop I treated myself to a locally made ice cream. Lunch on board consisted of a BLT sandwich and water before casting off at 13.30 and motoring across over the shallows to New Grimsby Sound between Tresco and Bryher. All of the mooring buoys had been taken so I had to anchor which took 4 attempts due partly to the weed clogging the anchor and also the way different boats were hanging at so many different angles. Doing that single handed involving lots of hauling of chain and rushing backwards and forwards from stem to stern left me exhausted so I settled down in the hot sun, ate the second BLT sandwich washed down with milky coffee while admiring the views of the castle and the scaffold on the top of Hangman’s Island. By 16.30 I felt recovered enough to explore a little of Tresco past the Town Hill pub and along the western shore where 3 kids carelessly let their blow up unicorn blow away to sea. It didn’t seem to unduly worry them. After a San Miguel at the Abbey Farm pub I had a long motor against the tide back to the boat. Dined on fishcake and salad, finished my book and bed.

Thursday 12 July

Up at 05:30 and discovered that England had lost so after a gentle breakfast I took the dinghy to the Bryher Low Water Quay struggling with the sea weed which kept try to tangle the outboard prop. Nevertheless I was able to drag the dinghy up onto the beautiful fine white sand and went exploring. The island is obviously set up for tourism but, apart from the hotel complex by Hell Bay you still get a sense of an old fishing community where everything is done on a small scale. The walk to Hell Bay and its rain starved lake was exhilarating and passed several surprises such as a modern shop, an old fire station, a grass tennis court which doubled as a football pitch and two uses for retired red post boxes – one as a micro museum and the other as a greenhouse for sunflowers. The only birds seemed to be gulls and sparrows though later I did see a pair of oystercatchers on Hangman’s Rock. After tea and newly baked scone at the Ivy Cafe I had a look at Fraggle Rock Bay and was back on the boat by 12:30. At 17:30 I again went ashore again hoping to have dinner there but, luckily as it turned out, they were all fully booked so I went to the fishmonger by the quay and bought the first freshly caught mackerel of the season plus a lobster sandwich and crab quiche. Just as I was arriving back at the boat I heard shouts from several boats to discover that despite having been at anchor for 24 hours without trouble, spring tides of 4 kts and weed on the anchor had caused be to drag and I was heading back into the moored boats at speed. Thank god for responsible skippers since two of them dashed across to me and helped to get up the anchor and show me where I could safely anchor in Green Bay with shallow water and low tides. Since getting home, the purchase of an extra 40 metres of chain should stop that happening again. Dinner was a grilled mackerel with bread, butter and tomatoes followed by a short sleep until 22.00 when the boat grounded as expected. Once it had settled I slept until 02.00 when the boat had lifted but somehow wrapped the anchor warp around the keel which involved pulling it up at the anchor end then releasing the bitter end, unwrapping and retying it. Back to bed.

Friday 13th July

Awoke at 05:00 and away by 05:30 which allowed me to get back through the shallows and round the northern coast of St Mary’s before the tide fell. I did pay for this later when I had adverse tides between Lands End and The Lizard, but a different route out of the islands would have been even slower. Anyway, the weather was fine with a northerly F2 and slight sea so motored out  on a 75 degree course for the mainland. At 07.30 3 dolphins briefly danced around the boat followed by 2 dozen gannets diving for fish so perhaps I had sailed through a mackerel shoal. At 08.40 I passed an 11 storey high P&O cruise ship dawdling down the shipping lane at no more than 5 kts. The wind slowly improved and so at 10.40 we were able to make 5.4 kts  in a northerly F4 and shortly after with Lands End on the beam, 6 guillemots flew up in front of the bow and I saw the first yacht of the day. Unfortunately by noon the wind had died again so we needed engine for a couple of hours during which time I was able to enjoy the luscious Bryher LLCT sandwich for lunch. (Lobster, lettuce, cucumber and tomato) 15:00 saw the wind die again and so the faithful old engine saw us past the Lizard ant 16.00 and into Helford by 18.30. Once again there were no buoys but luckily I found the Mooring Master who helped me raft up on “Panacea” whose skipper, he assured me, was miles away. As soon as he was gone, said skipper, called Graham, who keeps his boat in the Tamar, popped his head out of the companion way so we spent the evening chatting and drinking a bottle of Rioja between us. Dinner was the Bryher crab quiche.

Saturday 14th July

At 06:00 I helped Graham unmoor, had a milkless breakfast (a fridge would be nice) and was away by 06:30 passing through a large flock of black headed gulls in the entrance. Motor was needed again since the wind was only 4 kts but at least it gave me a flat sea with only the slightest of ripples. This lasted until the Draystone buoy just after Rame Head which allowed me to keep the binoculars out and observe 5 shearwaters flying past, another cruise ship on the horizon, 3 small fishing boats going in tight circles towing what I assumed were purse seine nets and a small stationary power boat with 2 rods out of the back with two guys seemingly asleep in the cockpit. The SW F4 which saw me into Plymouth, gave me some enjoyable sailing through the excitement if the Plymouth Regatta – it was a good thing that I had some knowledge of the racing rules, especially when I got caught up in the start of a big boat race. At !6.00 it was time to fill up with diesel, settle in my home berth, clean up and shower before going up to the Bridge to celebrate. Dinner was beautifully braised belly pork and 2 pints of bitter by which time Sandra had joined me, insisting that the beer needed washing down with a double whisky. If that was not enough, Colin and Val joined us on Tranquillity for Pimms, Tonic and wine as  we closed what, for  me, was a truly successful week.

Tranquillity (red hull) anchored in New Grimsby Sound with Hangman’s Rock on the left

Paul Mack

Shakura summer cruise, 2018

2016
Sea Walker cruise report

On the 16th of July 2016 at 10.30 am Sea Walker and I set off from Plymouth bound for Roscoff. The weather was perfect Force 3, beam reach and Sun.  With a 100 miles to go single handed and with a preference to be through the shipping lanes before dark I had the Main, Genoa and Engine on doing 61/2 knots. I read some chapters of Game of Thrones on my Kindle marked my position every hour on the chart and after about 5 hours saw my first ship. I saw 25 ships all together that day but I only had to alter course twice. These two where defiantly on collision course so I took appropriate measures early. It became dark about 10.30 when I saw the last 2 ships on my stern. AND WAS IT DARK!! Thick cloud, No moon very few stars’ Blackest night of my life. The wind died to nothing, I furled up the genoa, slowed the engine down to 2 knots kept regular chart positions and read more of my book, a page at a time. The tide was getting stronger and I altered course by 20 degrees, the lights off France looked very close and I [ waited for the dawn] and it was a beautiful dawn, sun and blue skies.5.30 am and 15 miles from Roscoff. Roscoff”s new marina is brilliant. It as a huge pink granite breakwater. The pontoons are cushioned, no damaging your hull here and the cleats are movable with a spanner. The sun shines all the time, it never rains and Beaugelaise  is £3 a bottle. Needless to say, I stayed 3 weeks. Just one complaint. They spent millions on the marina but the showers are awful. When I complained other British Yachty”s  said OH NO These are really good for France?? And when I went to the laundry I could only find sinks? No Washing de machones. Yes I was really in a foreign country and the food was horribell. And the seats fell off ze bowls. And the trains and the buses do not work and everything stops for 2 hours for lunch even le bus and also the tourist non information centre. And they have too many rocks and the tides are enormous and yet I still loved it there and I really want to go back next year. Vivre le France. And so after 3 weeks in France I set off at 3 pm bound for ST Peter Port, Guernsey. There was not a breath of wind, not a cats paw. I have never seen the sea so gentile. It was like sailing through pillows. .It  was really beautiful.

It was almost dark when I saw bright lights on my eastern horizon. I thought maybe a cruise ship but no slowly a huge red ball came out of the sea, like Mars, only of course it was the moon. I had never seen the moon rise before. It was fantastic. My companions for the night was the Roches Douvres light flashing 5 and Les Hanois flashing 2 and I was glad to see there comforting flashes all night. I never saw St martins light ,bit worrying, but the dawn came and there was St Martins Point directly in front of me and the Little Russel. AND for the first time in 30 years of sailing dolphins swam on my bow. It says in the Imray Pilot, St Peter Port is   a yachtsman’s Mecca. I will never trust this encyclopaedia of untruths and misconception’s again. In July and August it is a yachtsman’s nightmare. Its best to be in the marina where you can enjoy pontoons more suitable for your dinghy and handles  instead of cleats. Stressed out and angry marina staff and showers circa 1971.Its expensive. Do bring all your own food and drink and if you want to survive the return journey all your own fuel. If you want to sail through the shipping lanes back to England in daylight then the sill can be a problem.

There are walk ashore pontoons outside the marina but as in the marina you must let the marina staff escort you to a berth or they have a flying fit. I don’t mind rafting up at all not like some but l have  never seen anything like this.I went in at 2pm at 8pm I was blocked in by about 25 boats. I squirmed out at 11am past 60 foot yachts and huge big power boats pouring with sweat,  no crew to fend off, the most difficult manoeuvring of my life having watched one yacht, motor, smack bang into another at high speed and then just carried on out of the harbour. I went back in the marina. I know now that if the sill is no good for an early morning start I could go for a sail the day before come back late and be one of the last to tie up outside the marina and I could go early in the morning.

After 6 days of strong NW winds NW3 was forecast Up at 4.15 I was away buy 5.30 40 minutes to spare before the sill locked me in.The first 3 hours were horrible. Motoring into a strong head wind, choppy seas and grey sky’s. Beware of Hanois rocks,  They are evil and no matter how you try they seem to draw you in towards them. After 3 hours I could crack off onto a fine reach bound for Dartmouth. The Genoa came out, the Sun, came out , evil Hanois  on my stern.  After 6 days I was free. I had a brilliant sail  to the shipping lanes   where the wind died completely and I motored on steadily at 41/2 knots.  I saw an incredible 35 ships that day and never had to change my course till the last 2.I guess most of these ships where coming from or going to China where everything is made these days. Why did they let that happen. GREED What do they take back. Gold and technology? Ships full of money? Soon as I got through the shipping lanes the wind filled in and I close hauled back to Dartmouth I just made it into Dartmouth before dark. What a day. Next day I sailed back to Plymouth feeling great. No breakdowns no mishaps. The best sailing holiday I have ever had. I am looking forward to next year.

Alan Farnworth  Sea Walker Leisure 27

2016

Sea Walker’s 2015 cruise report

It was not a good summer but in late July I finally  set off for Fowey wearing 3 fleeces and a balaclava. The next day I sailed to Falmouth and stayed at Port Pendennis Marina which has the best pontoons I have ever come across. Even the fingers are made of concrete.  I keep my boat at Plymouth Yacht Haven which I think is the best Marina in the South West for price, parking, trolleys, showers shelter and position but it does have the wobbliest finger pontoons I’ve ever come across.  Pendennis does however offer only 2 male showers and 6 trolleys for a whopping £29 a night.  I enjoyed my stay of 2 nights and there is a Tesco’s near by but I think I prefer Falmouth Marina.  It is a 20 minute walk in to town but it is a nice walk and there is a Sainsbury’s nearby.

I sheltered from very strong winds for the next 4 days in the River Truro and then spent 2 nights at Falmouth Marina.  The next day I motor sailed to Newlyn.  I found I was very welcome and  stayed for 2 nights as it was very foggy.  It is best to arrive early as it soon fills up.  The showers are awful but I believe you can use the Seamen’s Mission. I had my now famous bucket showers.  Only 1 day away from the Scillies but with strong winds forecast (which did not occur) I sadly sailed back to St Mawes.  Maybe next year.  I then spent three nights in Fowey then home.

My best holiday however this year was in September when we finally got some summer. I sailed to Salcombe in lovely sunshine and rafted up.  I then got the usual response.  The couple on the boat were very unhappy and told me they were leaving early in the morning but as it was getting dark I stayed.  Am I unlucky, I nearly always raft to unfriendly people?

Once in Dartmouth I rafted up while the Red Arrows did their display.  The people next door told me they where leaving at 5 am and when they left threw my ropes in the water.  Surely they know at times we have to raft?  I then sailed to Torquay and stayed at the Town Dock.  The showers are awful so I used the Sailing Clubs.  I really enjoyed 2 days in Torquay then sailed to Teignmouth. I stayed on the visitors pontoon for £11 a night.  What a bargain.  I think we are getting totally ripped off these days in the South West.  I stayed for 2 nights and then sailed  to The River Exe I estimate that the tide was doing about 50 knots as I entered the harbour.  It was really scary.  I got one of the big yellow visitors buoys near Dawlish.  No rafting up here.  It is a beautiful river but I wish it was deeper.  Coming out was no less scary.  1 mile off shore in the centre of the channel I had 6 feet under my keel at times.  I want to go again but would like to do it at springs next time.  I then spent 3 nights at Dartmouth and 1 night at Dittisham where I was spotted by fellow CCC”s having a bucket shower on the foredeck.  There is no better way to start the day but I do advise warm water!  Then back to Plymouth. In October I spent a night at Dandy Hole and a night in the Yealm. 
 
Looking forward to next year. 
 
Happy Sailing. Alan Farnwoth Sea Walker ,Leisure 27

2014

Calcaria: Summer cruise
I had been anxious to go, to France, and my son Dan had agreed to crew for me, overnight on Thursday, 19th June, to return home on the ferry on the next day.

Aboard by mid morning, with a pan of stew prepared by Barbara, I had plenty of preparations to see to ,but had no idea when Dan would arrive. At 18:00 hours there was bump alongside, and Dan, his gear and, to my surprise, swiftly followed by Zeb, his seven year old son. I could hardly refuse to take him, so at 18:20 we slipped out
of the river Yealm and set a course 170 for Roscoff in a NW/4. I put the stew on as soon as we were settled on our course, sailing at 5/6kts, and by the time Zeb had had two big bowls of stew, he was ready to settle down in his bunk, and was happy to stay there until dawn.

At 21:35 the Eddystone light bore 340 distant 6.5 miles, by which time the wind was up to 5/6 kts,and we were doing 7/8, but just before 11pm the instruments packed up, complaining the battery was low. This was a recurring problem. due, I think, to the self steering needing a perfect charge to work. There was no alternative to running the engine on idle to sustain steering as neither Dan nor myself fancied steering through the night.

At the glimmer of dawn around 05:00 we found the visibility reduced to less than a mile and were glad of the radar to pick up the occasional fishing boat. By 10:15 visibility had improved as we closed the land and identified the approach buoys, and at 10:30 the Bloscon pier head was abeam. We were all fast by 11:30.

We all walked over to the Ferry terminal, Dan and Zeb to catch the Armorique, after having a drink with Barbara,who had just landed, and I. Zeb was disappointed to be going so soon, as in the marina were 40-odd boats on the Figaro Regatta, due to leave on Sunday 22nd.

On Saturday I caught a bus to St. Pol de Leon to shop, and, weighed down with vituals, caught a taxi back. There was a free bus from marina to Roscoff while the Figaro was in, and Barbara and I went into town for a meal that evening.

On Sunday the Figaro race boats left in a carefully managed procession. When each left its berth, a commentator with a loud speaker told the crowds of spectators a sailing history of the sailor, then the band played, the crowd cheered, then the next boat left its berth. It was really quiet when they all left and we started sorted things out for our passage, spending Monday in port, and enjoying the warm sunny weather which we had the good luck to delight in throughout most of the cruise.

On Tuesday, 24th June, we cast off at 12:45 and sailed under genoa and main, wind NNE 4/5, only putting the engine on off the entrance to Trebeurden at 16:00, and all fast in the marina by 16:30. This is a favourite port, I instigated a race here about 25 years ago, and so we were here to welcome this year’s race as they came in on 27th, including my son crewing on “Keronimo”, an open 40.

So the weekend was an enjoyable time with friends from France and UK, some of whom we only see at this time including crew from four out of the thirty six yachts which were from Britanny. About two years ago, Newton and Noss Mayo twinned with Trebeurden reinforcing the friendship of the annual race. So Friday night was
BBQ night, with wine freely to hand; Saturday midday was prize giving, with snacks and wine again, after which some boats left for the Yealm, Dart and Tamar. With a few other yachts we stayed till Thursday catching up with friends, when we left for Treguier at 09:20. Weather was fine and clear, with a 3/4 WNW breeze which carried us along the coast in a relaxed way, mooring up in the marina at 15:15. We have had many happy days at Treguier, and I can remember thirty odd years ago, being there when the skull of St. Ives which is a relic in the cathedral, being processed round the town with a bishop leading the way, followed by the local great and the good.

I replaced the troublesome battery which cost 206 euros! On Saturday, 5th July our friends from the Yealm on Sancerre Rouge join us and on Sunday we had dinner together at the restaurant at the top of the gangway. It was full of diners and there was a little music combo which, amongst many other tunes, played Dave Brubeck modern jazz beautifully. Our dinner there was the best meal I have had in France for years, the lobster must have been a happy crustacean to be so succulent.

We left Treguier at 08:15 on Tuesday 8th. July, bound for St. Peter Port, while Sancerre Rouge headed back west. Another light NW wind, 3/4, took us along easily on an ideal summer day. By 16:40 we had anchored in Havelet Bay, but then endured the most miserable night, rocking and rolling like I have not experienced in Havelet Bay before.

Next day at 13:50 we weighed anchor, motored to the fuel berth, and then into Victoria Harbour for the rest of our stay in peace and quiet. We always find plenty to do in Guernseey and this trip was no exception. A ritual is to have at least one meal at Da Nello’s, which was founded nearly 40 years ago, the year I first visited Guernsey on a race from St. Malo. It has got better and better with each visit.

On Monday 14th July we moved out to Havelet Bay again and anchored in 10m. and put up with the discomfort which was much reduced, so we were able to weigh anchor and leave at 07:50 on Tuesday. It was a motor sailing day in a light 2/3 WSW wind bound for Salcombe. a thankfully uneventful passage and we were able to arrive in daylight, anchoring off Frogmore Creek at 20:45. Then on 16th July we weighed at 11:30, crossed the bar at 12:00, and with the wind SE 2/3 motor sailed home to the Yealm, being alongside the pontoon by 13:30. To be able to do this trip when the combined ages of Barbara and I total 151 is not bad.

Roll on 2015.

It does not pay to get ”Stoned” in Kingsand.

Having total disregard for Rear Commodore Sails Cruising Schedule, the Skipper and Crew of Peal Fisher decided with wanton disregard for protocol to undertake their own little day cruise to Cawsand Bay.

Having arrived at the boat the night before with eight year old Grandson in tow preparations were made!

Saturday morning arrived and a leisurely start was the order of the day with the dinghy being inflated for rowing practice. The safety of the Marina outweighed the need to issue the very strict instruction to Grandson “Stay away from Isotope!”

After much fiddling and orderly delay whilst the new genoa was fitted, yet another cup of coffee for Glenda, the crew of three departed. A glorious day to be had, the sun was shining the winds were light and Grandson was behaving.

A gentle trip across the sound was enjoyed, easing the new Genoa out to be admired by all but not risking “blowing it out” on its inaugural flight, Pearl Fisher arrived in Cawsand Bay well in time for a late lunch. Having pirouetted around the bay assessing and rejecting several anchorages we came to rest just outside the bathing area of Kingsand Beach with about 9ft (2.74m) of water under the keels.

Grandson was straight into the dinghy to persue an endless circular row around (he was firmly secured by an old halyard), books and magazines came out, a light lunch was produced and all was well with the world.

Following lunch an expedition was called for and after much preparation we rowed ashore (no mechanical assistance for these salty sea dogs). An hour or so on the beach followed by the obligatory ice cream.

And so back to Pearl Fisher, a somewhat slower journey as Glenda elected to row some of the way. Back on board preparations were made to weigh anchor, sails were hoisted and with only 3ft (0.91m) of water it was decided to start the engine and have it running in case of need.

All set to go, crew briefed on beach avoidance tactics and so to start the engine! NOTHING!!! Scratching of Skippers head followed as he tried to work out why the Key would not turn in the ignition. Those familiar with the Yanmar ignition barrel will know that the key fits onto a spindle, so why was the key not turning, close inspection of the ignition system revealed nothing, pulling and twisting the spindle with thin nosed pliers had no effect.

A bit of ingenuity was called for, the console’s rear cover was removed down below in the aft cabin to reveal the electrical connections, (they hot wire cars all the time don’t they). Paddy quickly realised he did not have a clue about hot wiring. (Must be the sign of a well brought up lad).

So to plan 46B, the dinghy was already inflated, the out board was fitted and fuel was checked – full tank. The dinghy was lashed to the stern quarter by way of fore and aft springs and a stern line.  

Following puzzled looks from the crew the concept of self-rescue was explained and looks of severe doubt and apprehension was the response.

We proceeded to sail away from the anchorage, creeping closer to shore than we would have liked, but Hey – Bilge Keels, a Rising Tide and a Kettle – no problem.

Having made our way out of Cawsand Bay, with no immediate danger to other shipping, it was time to put theory into practice. Into the Dinghy and start the outboard. Passing Melampus, Grandson reported a SOG of 3.5knots, the engine stayed in a central position and with Glenda helming we made good speed for about 10 minutes before deciding to revert to wind power and save the outboard.

And then into the Plym, warning Yachthaven by radio of our dilemma and requesting an outside berth option be available if required. We proceeded to put out fenders and warps and then the moment of truth – stow the sails and start the outboard. This is where very careful briefing of the crew was necessary, as an eight year old was placed firmly into the dinghy and given instructions on the throttle – Up to the Rabbit to go fast and down to the Turtle to slow down and that red curly plastic stringy thing must be pulled out when I shout stop. The more astute of you will have spotted Paddy’s lack of classical education, as did Glenda who pointed out that the symbols on the outboard actually referred to The Hare and The Tortious.

Having waited outside the Marina entrance for a gap in the traffic, we proceeded. All went smoothly, Grandson was a Star and we came along side without incident.

The next stage was to strip out the ignition barrel and have it examined by men of knowledge. Three highly skilled individuals who with the exception of Rear Commodore Sail Nigel Vaughan-Smith will remain nameless, inspected the offending item, it was shaken, prodded, glared at, had the key twisted, pushed, hammered and generally given a thorough assessment but alas – all to no avail. Despite offers to strip it down as there was nothing to lose, it was returned to the Boat to await inspection by Mount Batten Boathouse the next morning.

Sunday Morning and at 10.00am Gavin at MBBH was greeting customers, helpful as always he too pushed twisted, hammered prodded and in the end glared at the unit stating he had never known one to fail. But also advising things do fail and that is just life!

So to a resolution, Gavin had a spanking new Yanmar Console in the shop and among all the dials and switches lurked a similar looking Ignition. Leaving Paddy to fend off other customers he took the unit into the work shop to strip out the part required, returning to the shop a check was made and it was confirmed to be the correct part. There was hope of a sail that day!

Gavin inserted the key and turned – NOTHING!!! Frown, scratch of head and back to the workshop. The new key fitted into new ignition and turned All Works OK, new key into Paddy’s ignition and turned All Works OK. Careful examination of Paddy’s key, looks exactly the same – then a look of disbelief, a wry smile and a few words not to be repeated later, all was clear! A very small stone from Cawsand Beach had lodged itself up the shaft of the key preventing it from locating correctly and allowing it to turn in the ignition. Back on board and a 3mm masonry bit and a drill and the problem is resolved without giving Yanmar any of the well protected Boat Budget.

A quick count up would suggest that it took five grown men about three hours to resolve this problem and the moral of the story – DON’T GET STONED AT KINGSAND!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!