The last leg home…

Malpass pontoon – Mylor

Friday 24th August 2012

S F6-7 and lashing rain!

5NM (Cumulative 782 NM)

Oh my goodness, was it ever wet when we woke?  We were expecting a storm to land over us around noon, so the plan was to head to port before then.  We checked the weather, and yep, still bad.  Pete went to knock on Little Dove to suggest that we left, so we set about preparing to leave.  Continue reading The last leg home…

Helford River – The Fal River, via Porthscatho

Thursday 23rd August 2012

S-SW F2-3 with slight seas

22 M (Cumulative: 777 NM)

We have one day of decent weather before it all goes “Pete Tong”, so the cruising party decided to venture forward on the Cornish tour.  Despite the benefit of much wind, Pete was determined to sail.  He lead the trend of yachts trying to sail out of the Helford.  We’d given up by the river mouth! 😉 Continue reading Helford River – The Fal River, via Porthscatho

The Helford River

Tuesday 21st & Wednesday 22nd August 2012

We had four hours sleep to top up the rest taken during the night.  We had some breakfast, and cleared the debris from the night’s passage.  Around noon, I thought I saw Little Dove at the mouth of the Helford.  It was Tim and Sally!  The Scilly Isles would have to wait; Helford was the place to be.  They came past us, and said that they were heading up to see if a visitor’s mooring was free.  They then radioed us that there were two free next to each other, so we upped anchor and motored all of the 200 metres up the river.  And so this became our spot for the next two nights.

On Tuesday, we took the river taxi to the Shipwright for lunch.  It turned out to be a very long lunch, but not of our own making.  We’re at springs, and very springy springs, meaning that the tidal range is greater.  A very low tide meant that the water taxi couldn’t get to the quay for three hours.  What were we meant to do?  We had to sit in the sun, having scrummy lunch and drinking beer – or Guinness in my case!  We were swapping news and stories, and it was a really great few hours.

We also shared supper, us having a collection of bits to make a Remoska Chicken Provencal!  Yummy! Sally created the most amazing Crème Caramel, so it was quite a feast.  Much wine was consumed, with banter levels high, and much laughter.  A wonderful evening with friends.   Each of the last three nights have followed a similar pattern.  On Wednesday night, we ate aboard Little Dove, where we “the cob do the job”!  A cob BBQ, which we’d looked out for, after Tim had messaged us, giving Pete gadget envy.  It’s a remarkable little device, and cooks beautifully (or perhaps that was Tim’s touch), and we will be looking out for one, I’m sure.

On Wednesday, I woke early and was rewarded by the most amazing sunrise!  No editing at all of the following photo, as I shivered in the cold, damp morning to take photos of the amazing skyscape (and Tim’s boat).  Anyway, our day was a shore day.  Pete got us all ashore on our dinghy and we walked and walked.  Tim was skipper of the walk, having the walk mapped on his iPhone (although during the few hours that we walked, it sucked the life out of his battery).  The route was about 13km, taking us around Frenchman’s Creek, and then inland.  We stumbled across the most amazing gallery, with a sculpture exhibition and gorgeous gardens.  It’s called Kestle Barton, a rural centre for contemporary arts (, and is well worth a visit.  I have completely fallen in love with the sculpted birds in glass, by Matt Durran, as shown in the photo below – giving more ideas for our garden at home….

Our walk took us inland, I think, via the village of Manaccan where we stopped for lunch.  This was another gem.  The South Cafe.  Pete had the best looking lunch, a mackerel sandwich (watered with a pint of Betty Stoggs).

The final leg of the walk was 5km back to Helford, with Tim’s battery having almost died, I was in the lead, and my instruction was simple.  “Keep the water on the starboard side”!  We were on the coastal path, and walking up and down overlooking the Helford.  It was glorious, and after our days on the boat, it was great to have a decent leg stretch.

Homeward bound!

L’aber-wrac’h – Scilies? No, Helford River!

Monday 20th August 2012

SW F2-3-4 with slightly swelly seas, sometimes more, becoming very slight nearer Cornwall

100 M (Cumulative: 755 NM)

After agreeing to an overnight element of the passage home, Pete had calculated that we should leave at 13:00, which would see us in Scily around 06:00.  We’d been in contact with Tim via text, as the plan was to meet them in Little Dove somewhere in Scily.  Tim had told us that they were not going – the forecast was not helpful for them heading west from Mylor, and it was set to freshen up.  I looked at the Met Office’s inshore waters forecast and it was marginal.  Pete had checked Simon Keeling’s Weatherweb, which was OK.  What to do?  Continue reading Homeward bound!

Planning the passage home…

Sunday 20th August 2012

A little earlier than we initially thought, but today it’s all about preparing to get across the Channel.  Hurricane Gordon, currently pounding the Azores (or thereabouts) will come north, losing its identity as it passes over cooler waters.  I’d love to be able to track what its doing, as hurricanes/tropical storms seldom move eastwards, but that’s a digression!  Anyway, Hurricane Gordon will get absorbed into the UK’s weather systems next weekend (not bringing hurricane winds, but possibly strong ones), so we’ve decided to be clearly back in port by then.  Our friends on Little Dove are planning a trip to Scily, so that’s where we will cross to.  Pete tells me that it’s only another 6NM further than Falmouth!  Of course, then it’s another 60NM back to Falmouth, but we’ll do that on Thursday.  So, a couple of days in Scily to end our trip.  Exciting!  The down side is that the days are shorter than they were, so we can’t make the 18 hours in daylight – and unlike the crossing over, there’s not much wind forecast, so we can’t rely on being sped along by the winds.  We will head to L’aber-wrac’h today, and there is NO wind whatsoever…  We’re sitting under mizzly mistiness.  Preparing us already to be back in the British climate!  I find myself agreeing that the best passage time means an overnight!  Eek!  However, after three night passages, I think I’ve earned one when I’m not left on the helm all night (sea sick husband).  Or I’m sea sick myself, or I feel sea sick.  I would like to feel fine this time.  Not even great, just fine!

Anyway.  Just a quick blog whilst we have a decent connection.  We should have one later in L’aber-wrac’h, but we’ll compete for band width with the kids in the sailing schools.

Oh swell!

Concarneau – Ste Evette

Friday 17th August 2012

SSE F4-5 to nothing! Seas all about the swell – around 3m at times

38NM (Cumulative: 592 NM)

Woo-hoo! We’re good to go!  Both of us were very relieved to be on the move, but the omens were good.  I’d had an email from Elisabeth saying that none of the 13 were sea-sick the day before, and that the swell had been under 2m.  The sun was shining in Concarneau, the seas were returned to blue, and it looked really inviting.  Continue reading Oh swell!

The gentle art of mooring

We have long been amused by mooring techniques adopted by the French, ever since we were in Corsica. We were in the port of Calvi, in a marina berth, when a boat came hurtling in, sails flapping, the guy on board crying “no engine”, as his boat crunched into the pontoon of the berth beside us. He tried a line onto his bow, tied it to the cleat on the pontoon and went off. That’s how we remember it.

I sometimes wish that we could be a little more French in our attitude – I don’t mean by being prepared to mount a pontoon, or t-bone your way through a marina – but, perhaps I mean in being a little less British about things. I am sure it’s been through the course of the sailing qualifications, but there’s a routine, a discipline about it. Many a time have we quietly tutted to ourselves if someone leaves port with their fenders still dangling over the side. It is considered very bad form, in a British judgement, although I have no idea why. In France, no one cares, or judges. “Where will we moor”, is one of the most stressful parts of sailing – will there be room, will we be rafted, will it be a catway, will it be into the wind – many things that trip through the British psyche. All things you want to know, so that you can be prepared, and execute manoeuvres without incident or raised voice. The French just don’t seem to carry the same level of anxiety, and that’s why it would be better to be a bit more French.

We, Brits generally, approach a mooring with all available fenders out, set to the height you believe to be right for mooring – high to protect the toe rail if you expect to be rafted, lower to pontoon height if you’re expecting a berth. We have our lines tied. Bow, stern, midships. All prepared, and neatly laid out so that you can easily step off with a coil, throw a coil, or if you’re me, the bow trailed down the rails so that once ashore you can simply pick it off and secure as quickly as possible. There is a routine, a rhythm which gets you ready to arrive. Our friend Rachel won’t leap ashore. If Chris hasn’t brought their boat close enough, they go around again. All of it very British.

None of this seems to enter the French psyche. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not sure that I want to stray very far from being prepared. The French have a very different approach. They have fenders, mooring warps, but not often do you see them actually deployed until after the boat has stopped. The weapon of choice seems to be a boat hook, so that you hook a passing cleat, which acts as a brake. Invariably it relies on someone, a stranger, on the shore, to hold the boat as the crew find the ropes, chuck them ashore and then think of securing them to the boat. It is completely different. Once in berth, every fender seem to come out, and they carry a lot of them. I actually believe this is as defence against other boats mooring, rather than in the protection of their own boat in their art of mooring. The other thing they seem to do, is approach at great speed. Startlingly so. We have seen so many people t-boning pontoons, and other boats. I’m not going to tempt fate by writing what I’m thinking…

Our guide book warns of the habits, and in part advises to be a bit more relaxed about mooring. The funniest is an entry about the French ‘catway’, or finger berth. These tend to be about 2/3 our boat length, suitable for most French boats (which are smaller, and lighter). The catways are short, and extremely bouncy. The writer warns not to jump onto them, as the danger is that you just get bounced back off. Which is the moment of hilarity to a woman on a French boat, when I was standing on the catway with a line, and Pete leapt off to assist, nearly ricocheting me into the water. At home a finger berth is a nice to have, but here, am not so sure! It is fascinating watching at the best of times as people come into harbour, but in France, it is even more exciting. Someone told us of a boat causing chaos (I can’t remember where we were), having mounted the moored boat, causing some damage. Apparently the cavalier boat went around again, trying to come alongside, but was being repelled, until it was understood that he wanted to give details of the ships papers and insurers. It usually ends with people as friends, but Pete has often muttered that he should check the French for “what is the name of your insurance company?” Let’s hope that we don’t need this anytime soon.