Salcomble to Mylor

Salcombe to Mylor

Wind vaguely south-easterly, f2 backing east to all of f3-4. Sea state – long languid swell rolling from the south-west, going very calm.
54NM

Pete had said that we had a decision point at Bolt Head (at the entrance for Salcombe), whether we would head west for Falmouth, or north-west to Fowey. This decision would be based on the wind strength and direction, because a southerly/southwesterly had been forecast, and we would therefore allow the wind to direct our passage for the ‘best’ sail. We’d lost confidence in the Met Office forecasts over the last couple of days – they were pretty good over the weekend (except wind strength) but there was little accuracy. One thing that had happened was that any fronts had moved across more rapidly than predicted. In fact, we decided before we’d left The Bag, as the inshore waters forecast suggested a front moving in on Friday – with gale force winds. We both agreed that we didn’t want to run into that if it came early, so the Met Office actually decided where we were heading even before we’d untied a single warp.

The weather was really balmy, and a bonfire somewhere on the south bank of the river suggested an easterly air flow – which we were happy to take! Unfortunately someone forgot to tell the wind that it was due to be f3 or f4, because it only just about managed a f2. This would have been fine for a gentle drift, but given the passage we needed to make, we decided that we would motor. Shame! The trip had all the hallmarks of being a beat east and motoring the entire way back.

As we headed out past Salcombe, looking out to the open sea, we could see breakers on the surface – which sent Pete scurrying down below to check his tidal calculations. All good, and the breakers were where the channel was marked, before getting to the narrow passage to get past the bar. It was quite striking, and we both commented that any photo would not do it justice.

So, we vaguely set up a watch system, with me doing a long stretch to the Eddystone Lighthouse, as Pete tried a couple of sodukus. It was a long 15NM watch, with these long languid rollers, a couple of meters, which saw us sinking up and down, quite gently, but quite a bit of movement. Such a shame that there was to little wind to drive us through it… but at least the sun was shining, the sea was a beautiful blue and the sunlight casting a million sparkles across the water was just breathtaking.

There were very few boats out on the water, a couple of fishing boats near the lighthouse (photo below, a feat of Victorian building prowess), but not a lot! I was determined to see us to the way point at Eddystone, and sometime after 13:30 we made it, so I went down below to make lunch. It had gone particularly ‘swelly’, presumably due to the change in topography of the sea bed, shallowing – hence the need for a lighthouse! The motion really disturbs me, not that it made me feel sick, and I can’t even say queasy, but just all discombobulated. With lunch plated up, back up on board to the fresh air, not that it stopped me eating! However, with lunch in my belly, I wedged myself in the sun in the cockpit for a long snooze. That sorted me out!

The wind tried to build, and we hoisted the yankee and managed to sail for a while, a half-hearted beam reach. When our speed dropped to below four knots, it was time again for the engine. I wanted to moor up in daylight!

When we finally rounded St Anthony’s Head and into the Carrick Roads we were both taken how simply stunning it was. The sea had flattened out to a lovely easy calm, there was a little bit of breeze. A small fleet of yachts were racing in St Mawes, the sun was casting warm light on the land, and it was wonderful. Pete looked at me, half worried because he knew I wanted to be back, but he really wanted to sail ‘home’. On such a beautiful evening, who was I to refuse him? I think it was one of the highlights of the trip. We’ve been to some lovely places, but the Carrick Roads are magnificent… and it’s now where we live! How lucky are we? We both arrived in Mylor with big grins; we were home, but really, how bad is that?

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Shore leave in Salcombe

Shore leave in Salcombe

Wednesday 23rd April 2014

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We decided that we’d have a day off of big boats to enjoy what Salcombe and the surrounds had to offer. Pete had spotted an advert in the harbour guide for a pub up the river, accessible at high tide in the dinghy, and as high tide would coincide with a lunchtime visit… well, he said it would be rude not to!

However, the weather this morning made it look like it would be no day to do anything very much, as it was miserable, presumably some muckly occluding front passing over, as it was just wild out there! Pete decided that he wanted a paper, and I stayed back to do boat cleaning – well, we do have a journalist on board next week (weather permitting). I also had a friend’s essay to review and comment, and I wanted to get this done and back to her.

The weather gods were smiling on us, because the wind dropped and the rains dissipated, so we were good to head upstream in search of The Globe pub – and a wifi connection to send off the comments. We took the dinghy, and both perched on the tubes, we motored up the river. It took about 30 minutes, and it was thoroughly pleasant. Low rolling hills flank the river, mostly farmland, with one or two striking houses, until you reach the village of Frogmore. The Globe was a good spot for lunch, quite a cavernous pub, but very friendly service and a lovely lunch – Pete had a steak burger and I had fishcakes. We’d go back, if ever we were around!

Having despatched some emails, we headed back down the river, slightly wary about getting stranded by a disappearing tide, but it was all good. We went straight on to Salcombe, for retail purposes (a piece of hosepipe for Pete and some summery clothes for me), so Salcombe served me well today given the balance of clothing shops spied yesterday!

Tonight we will take the water taxi for dinner ashore, Boatswain’s Brasserie, as recommended by our friend Nicki. That’s one of the great shames of being in Salcombe – our friends are out of town! We could have planned it better, but that’s always hard when you’re trying to make the best of the weather… Next time Nicki, we promise!

Dittisham to Salcombe, “The Bag”

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Dittisham to Salcombe, “The Bag”

Tuesday 22nd April

Wind – none to speak of, perhaps vaguely from the south-west, with smooth seas
20NM

It was a no alarm day, in view of the rather long day on the water on Monday, which I later learned put us at a distinct tidal disadvantage when it came to rounding Start Point. We were heading back west, having felt rather pleased with ourselves for getting as far east as we did given the headwinds all the way!

The forecast was for SE backing SW, and I was hoping for more east, because I really did not want to have another day beating to windward. Well, the latter never happened!

We slipped our mooring at a little after 10:00, with the Harbour Master chasing us down the river for payment. No one had been to collect a mooring fee from us, and from what we could glean, it was a free weekend for most boaters too! The main man didn’t look too impressed, and we certainly have no objection to paying what’s due. As we headed out into the mouth of the river Dart, there was no evidence of any wind, in fact a little sailing dinghy was drifting backwards and forwards across the water. Where was the wind?

The sea ahead was quite oily in ‘texture’, a kind of glassy grey. This did not bode well for any wind, and as we motored out of the harbour into Start Bay, there was a wall of thick grey on the horizon. No wind meant the metal sail was in operation all day, with AutoDoris doing the helming, because the wall of grey turned out to be very heavy rain. Pete and I tucked ourselves under the sprayhood and maintained watch from the shelter of the rain. One of the advantages of not looking at the chart plotter was that I couldn’t really assess our progress, and it was here that Pete announced that we were not making very good progress as we were plugging the tide. Ah well.

One of the advantages of not being welded to the helm, coupled with flat conditions is that you can make passage quite close to the coastline, and it’s such wonderful coastline to gaze at. Great granite cliffs, all rugged and battered by the elements. The photo above shows Start Point. It was really quite spectacular, and I felt so grateful that we live in a stunning part of the world. What’s not to like even on a day when you’re motoring? Well, I’ll tell you. The fickleness of the wind was such that when we came across the Bar at the mouth of the river, the wind arrived, and then blew up behind us. Typical. Pete had wanted to be across by 15:00, I think, so that there was enough water, and that was all very successful. The odd thing about the Salcombe approach was that the leading lines take you in, but not at the deepest water. Presumably not really designed for sailing boats with any draught! The channel beyond the entrance is well marked, but crossing the bar, it struck me that there was a surprising lack of aids to navigation. We always have reference to the chart plotter, and in new places, the charts and pilot book. Anyway, I digress. Once in, with a freshening south-westerly, we had the task of mooring ahead.

I had a nightmare trying to catch a mooring buoy. There were many to chose from, which always makes for a challenge, like an empty car park. The yellow buoys are marked with an LOA, so the first one we went for was for 11m maximum, so that attempt was aborted. The next one, well, the sea was running in, the wind was charging down, and the sea in the harbour was surprisingly lumpy. Pete managed to get a good approach, but the tide meant that the buoy was racing backwards, so I was trying to snatch the hook on top of the buoy, watching the buoy, whilst walking back down the deck… not looking where I was going, which is always disastrous on a boat. So, rather unsurprisingly, I hit the deck with a crunch, and the boat hook flew into the water. I’d tied it on, so I could recover it, but it was now wet, slippery, so it took several stabs before I had the device on. All good, except a smarting hand and a throbbing knee. It was too far from the deck for Pete to secure the mooring strop, so we had to deploy the dinghy, all the time bouncing up and down on this mooring. It didn’t bode well, really. I did not want to go down below, so whilst I recovered (in the rain), Pete made a scratch lunch – actually, it was very good – and we decided to head into Salcombe. I’d never been here!!

It’s a very pretty town, and the golden sandy beaches around the harbour make for an idyllic setting. You can imagine it heaving with families in the summer – a sort of Home Counties by the sea by all accounts! We weren’t sure that it would deliver the re-provisioning that we needed, as the number of designer and clothing shops far outweighed anything ‘useful’ to us. However, we found an excellent butcher, as well as a little grocers selling vegetables. An ice-cream each and that completed our excursion to Salcombe.

Whinchat was still being chucked up and down on the mooring, so we decided that we’d abandon it and head upstream to “The Bag”, and the visitors pontoon. It is tucked behind a little headland, and the waters looked calmer… and it was! There were a number of boats on the pontoon, but none with any obvious signs of life. We were to have it to ourselves, well, us and the sheep and lambs on one side of the river, and cows on the other! Better than a rocking and rolling mooring.

Were we ever glad to have moved, as the wind really whipped up in the night. It was miserable weather, listening to the rain on the coach roof and the wind howling through the rigging… thank goodness we didn’t have to contend with the bouncing of the sea too.

River Yealm to Dittisham, River Dart

River Yealm to Dittisham, River Dart

Easter Monday, 21 April 2014

Winds SE 6, 5, 4 then nothing with roly-poly lumpy seas and then nothing
43NM

You wouldn’t think that it would take so long to reach Dittisham, or Start Point for that matter, but our journey today took a full working day, 8.5 hours. We started off with an alarm call so that I could hear the inshore waters forecast. Not so bad, potentially, especially if the wind was more E than SE, and the wind strength wasn’t so bad either, f4-5, and the seas were to be smooth or slight. All of that was not strictly accurate.

We slipped out of the Yealm around 09:00 to very calm conditions, not much evidence of the wind at all, but it was soon apparent that it was around somewhere. Great lumpy seas out in Wembury Bay, and when you have no sails up, it’s just the engine trying to drive the boat through the water, slam, up, slam, down. The seas were rolling in with great frequency, again, so it was wholly unpleasant. The wind strength was more than expected, so Pete hauled a reefed main, and deployed the staysail. This crucified him, making him overheat, and I thought succumb to seasickness within half an hour of departing, but he’d just got too hot. We were, of course, beating into the wind again. There was no leniency for us, the wind was wholly SE with the S not letting go pretty much all day. This was exactly the course we wanted to take to get around Start Point, and so it was a day of some long old tacks.

The motion of the sea was hard work. I will say it again, but I don’t do fairground rides. The quote of the day has to go to me… “I feel like I’ve been over a thousand humped back bridges” Yuck.
Actually, I didn’t feel queasy at all today, but that might have something to do with me not releasing the helm. I helmed a straight six hours, not once taking my hands from the wheel. Self-preservation, although when I did come off it, I was dog tired, and after making lunch (the seas were calmer by then as the wind had died) I had to have a nap.

It was another day with many sail configurations. We simply didn’t have enough sail out to punch through the waves, so the staysail was tucked away, and the yankee launched. More grinding of the winches for Pete. It made a massive difference, and we had a better motion through the sea, but it was still a punishing motion… and we had hours ahead, I just knew. It was a bit “Dory Fish” equivalent – just keep swimming. Just keep sailing. My job was to sail as close to the wind as I could, and not get bounced around by the waves too much. In the stronger winds of earlier, it was very physical work. I can’t honestly say how time passed, no watch helped, and with the slow progress, it was probably wise! I was just watching the coast and the seas and the wind-dial. It was an immense relief to make the first tack, partly because it indicates progress (a decision!) but because we were on a starboard tack and Whinchat sails so much better on starboard (to windward) and we were sailing across the direction of the sea and not into it. No more being knocked by waves head on, somehow when they come across you, almost underneath you, it’s better. This was the best point of the day, sailing wise.

Back on port tack, and somewhere approaching the French border (I jest, but even Pete commented on it), we had to deal with two fishing boats. One was on AIS, and the other not (naughty, naughty). We changed course for one, and the second altered course for us. Certainly a note of drama in the day! The wind was starting to drop, so Pete shook out the reef in the main (read more winching and grinding). He looked totally shot, so I suggested that he take a nap. Perhaps that came a bit later, as we were definitely back on starboard tack by then, because he lay out in the cockpit, and the wind continued to die off, and I wanted to deploy the staysail, giving us as much canvas as possible, and I had to disturb him to do it.

The wind just gradually died off, and I was then handling difficult sailing conditions for other reasons – too little wind. The seas had abated, but we were still bouncing around, making the holding of a course challenging. This was immensely frustrating, and I’d done such a great job of pinching the wind for about five miles, and then the wind left me meaning that I just couldn’t hold a course, sending us towards the rocks off Start Point. I could’ve screamed at the weather at that point, because it had been such hard work, and the decision point was to tack (on to port, slower and therefore even more frustrating) or deploy the metal sail and get going. I was not going to tack, so it was the engine. Pete later said that he was surprised that I hadn’t ‘given in’ earlier – well, I actually had a lot vested in it.

It’s always a depressing moment to put on the engine, because it is a kind of defeat. Pete might still be out there, wafting across Start Bay, but I was shattered, hungry and had an overwhelming urge to be near land! After six hours, I released the helm to Pete, having got us around Start Point. Food was my next need, and so I offered to make lunch. It was a good call, even if it was a little bit tippy and a little bit bouncy. It was worth it. Within about five minutes of eating the Jules wrap specials, I’d wedged myself in the sun and shut my eyes for 40 winks… Lovely. I drifted off somewhere very pleasant, and woke as we were approaching Dartmouth.

We are truly blessed by some of the landscapes in the UK, and there is a whole different beauty when you approach from the sea – particularly, somehow, if you’ve had a bruising ride. Why do I do this sailing lark? Well, it’s partly because it’s testing, growthful and immensely satisfying. Partly because the person I adore above all else loves it. But mostly because of the places that it gets you and the views you have. The view of Dartmouth appearing through the bold mouth of the river was astonishing. By now the sun was out in full force, the water was true blue and the steep banks of the river climb down to meet the sea. What’s not to love about that and forgive the elements for bouncing you around? We could have pulled in at Dartmouth – so much space – but we wanted to explore further up the Dart to Dittisham (pronounced Ditsham by the locals). What a reward! The views from Whinchat were gorgeous. Steep tree-lined slopes, with fewer and fewer houses. We heard the sound of the steam train from behind us, and saw wisps of steam through the trees showing us where she was. Dittisham is a very pretty village, perched on the side of the river, as it bends around and gently winds onwards. We picked up a mooring (brilliantly, again) and have views that cannot easily beaten. It is quiet, so still and right now, as the light of the day has faded, there is the sound of owls in the trees. Yes, I’m still rocking and rolling at my keyboard, and I am so bone tired that I cannot stay awake much longer (a very un rock ‘n’ roll 21:30). We’ve had a great pub meal in the Ferry Boat Inn, where we digested the day and thought about the plans for tomorrow.

Tomorrow? Who knows what it will bring, but I’m sure that it will bring its challenges, but always its rewards.

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Fowey to River Yealm

Fowey to River Yealm

Easter Sunday 20th April 2014

Winds N-NE f7,6,5 and then 4, with slight/moderate seas
25NM

No alarm clock this morning saw us wake at 08:00 = a very good sleep. Waking up to a lack of boat heating was less fun! Getting dressed after a hot shower was even lower on the scale of boating highlights! Everything seemed damp, and cold. The weather forecast that we’d had on Saturday wasn’t great for today, and it was with some surprise when Pete said that he just wanted to get going instead of having bacon for breakfast. Where were we going?

I was very reluctant to untie anything until we’d heard a weather forecast, very reasonably, so we got a sort of one from the Harbour Master, who assured us he remembered it properly – N 3 or 4, didn’t sound so bad. We were about to pay for an hour of wifi before we saw him, and in any event, in preparing Whinchat for the sea, we heard the Met Office Inshore Waters forecast on Channel 16 – which always makes me feel better about things. It was better than had been forecast yesterday, even though there was a strong wind warning. NE veering E 4 or 5 occasionally 6. That was liveable with – especially with a little prayer for more N than E… as we were still planning on heading east.

We’d slipped our mooring shortly after the weather forecast, and within about five minutes our Skipper had the mainsail up, and was sailing out of the river, at a rate of knots. The yankee followed soon after, and then somehow I was on the helm, ah yes, Pete had to go and tie down the dinghy (stowed on the coach roof). “I think we’re a bit over canvassed”, says I, as we are steaming in excess of 9 knots in winds that are now 27 knots, scurrying through the water. That wasn’t forecast! So, we reefed the main, but there was still too much sail out, so the yankee went away. It was mental! The whole ride today was around 8 knots, sometimes a little less, but sometimes a little more.

I was still on the helm, enjoying the ride. The sea was so much kinder than yesterday. The north in the wind meant that the fetch was less, and therefore just less sea to move around or pile up to the same degree. No chop, just some curling little waves. Enough to get yours truly dunked occasionally, as they were coming across the port beam. It was the third time that it got me that I’d really had enough. My cap had been lifted by a gust of wind, clipped on at the back so it didn’t take off (like Pete’s third and last Pendennis Cup cap), and I was just reaching to pull it back on my head when I was caught by a rogue wave. BLAM! Hair, inside my collar, all wet. I yelled at the sea, quite hard. I decided that it was Pete’s turn to go on the helm, so what did he do? Put AutoDoris on!!

We had just about every sail configuration going on today, because when I came off the helm, the wind dropped, and Pete was debating whether to add some more sail. I suggested the StaySail, and so it was. Just the job. The wind was gradually dying throughout the passage, no bad thing when you begin with a f7! There was also more east edging into it, and that was more concern. I really didn’t fancy beating again after yesterday’s passage to Fowey, The winds were feeling generous, and although there was some east, it wasn’t so bad, and never on the nose, so we were sailing a beam reach for some of the passage, and about 45deg for the remainder, according to my Day Skipper instructor, this is sailing “full and by”. Soon, the StaySail wasn’t enough, so we shook out the reef on the main, and then deployed the Yankee. We hardly lost speed at all, Whinchat was again amazing.

The weather was very gloomy today – no photos again, partly because it was grey and rainy for a lot of the time. The land went in and out of sight, depending on the severity of the downpours. I have to say, as much as I like to be on the helm, in rain, I’m happy to let AutoDoris do the work (and Pete certainly is). There were no other boats in view for most of the passage, people had more sense! Eating roast lamb and pigging out on chocolate Easter eggs presumably! We did see a few boats as we crossed the mouth of the Tamar at Plymouth, including a trip boat. Madder fools!

We had two options today for passage, Plymouth or the River Yealm. Both of us love the Yealm, and so it was number one choice, but it’s limited around low tide for us with a bar to navigate. Earlier today Pete had called that 14:15 was his cut-off time, when he was comfortable that there would be 3m of water to get us through the navigational hazards. We were making great time, and when we were approaching the decision point of Rame Head, Pete went down below to check the tidal calculations. He conceded that we could go to 15:00. It was about 14:15 when we dropped the sails and motored through the narrow channel. In fact, I didn’t see the depth gauge drop below 3.4m, so there was ‘plenty’. We had the choice of tying up on the visitor’s pontoon, or picking up a buoy. We opted for a buoy, which we’re technically a bit long for, but the Harbour Master was cool about it. Since we’ve tied up, it has poured with rain and neither of us felt like going ashore… even though it’s such a lovely little spot and there’s a great pub in Noss Mayo. We are wimps!

In fact, I decided that I’d try and look for the part in the Eberspacher (??), only I hadn’t realised that you couldn’t actually see it! It was all by contortionist positions to get your hand in to work it out – all by feel. We needed a combination of the two of us, because I could reach my hand into the machine (blind, as it’s behind the Whisper Generator), but my arms were too short to do very much! I managed to get a screw driver in, but knocked the piece even further into the casing. Pete in thinking more clearly, I believe, was able to use a tool to remove the glow plug (whatever that is) and replace the new one. The risk was whether to fire up the heating with a rogue piece of metal in it – would it matter? Well, let’s just say the towels are now dry, and I’ve taken off my fleecey hat and foulie trousers, and I’m no longer freezing. All good. Except it’s still raining, very hard, so we won’t be going to the pub. Best open Whinchat’s bar!

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Mylor Yacht Harbour – Fowey

Saturday 19th April

Mylor Yacht Harbour – Fowey

Winds E f4-5 and lumpy seas (short channel chop whipped up by the easterlies)
26nm

We decided that we would set an alarm and leave around 07:00. It was glorious first thing (as shown by the photo), taken just before sunrise and had the promise of a really good day, although you wouldn’t believe how different it would be at sea! Now, for my first serious sail in a couple of seasons, you thought that the sailing gods would be kind to me. Na. They must’ve gone ‘well, let’s have her just where we left her…’

There was barely a breath of wind as we slipped our berth, no dramas. We motored out into the Carrick Roads, and I was beginning to think that was going to be the pattern for the day. The sea was so calm, the winds puffing around. At the Percuil, a sniff of a breeze, funnelled down, I thought. I was right.

We had raised the mainsail driving out to sea, irrespective wind, not even heading to windward (technicality for all the non-sailors), there was that little wind. That would change when we approached St Anthony’s Head. Hello wind, as the easterly was there to greet us. Pete was expecting a F3-4 today, but we were given more like F5-6. And that glassy sea? Gone. Straight into a very lumpy sea. It was the word that best fitted the conditions, we decided. Not exactly ‘moderate’ given the wave heights, but the waves kept coming and coming as if they were in a hurry, making this lumpy, choppy, nastiness. Fortunately, Whinchat makes short shrift of it, slicing through it, so that we weren’t stopped in our tracks (as some boats we know of would be, as was the Moody 50 that Pete and Chris delivered a few weeks back). Nevertheless, it felt a bit wild out there. Wind on the nose, heeled over, bouncing through waves. There was a a Grimaldi ship to distract me for a while, and then I caught sight of the water running over the toe rails and along the decks. Holy Moly! I decided that it was better to laugh about it, because it must’ve been happening for a while given the conditions, but it meant that we were at quite an angle. Laughed? Yes, because it was exhilarating and because had I noticed it earlier, I would have freaked, demanding a reef (a sailing technical term, and not a demand for drugs). Whinchat had me totally fooled, and totally in awe of her.

Pete had gone down below to attend to something and had come up a little pale, so I was gracious and put him on the helm. It was earlier than I’d planned to, as I had wanted to see out the long tack (Pete had said L’aberw’rach next, and I hadn’t known if he were joking or not), but his paleness and my nearly being frozen to the wheel saw an end to that. So, after an hour or so, my husband timed the tack perfectly, and we turned through the wind and headed back to alnd. I say he timed it perfectly, as will be revealed…. Agh, a brief divergence. Our destination was due east, exactly where the wind was coming from and it is impossible to make this course when the wind is coming straight at you, on the nose, as we say. Don’t ask me to explain it, please. It’s mechanics, physics probably, but all’s I know is that you can get to about 30deg off the wind, so in order to head in an easterly direction, when it’s on the nose, you have to head 30 to the south (else the sails start flapping and you go dead slow) and then you steer through the wind (tack) and sail about 30 off the wind to the north… and you have to do it that way around because if you didn’t, we’d have sailed straight into the Cornish coast, so we had to head out to sea before we could make land. Follow?

Anyway, my generosity in handing over the helm meant that I had the wench-winch role, and that wasn’t exactly fun with your nose looking at the water hoping that the sea wasn’t going to wet your boots… It’s a miracle that I put to sea, really it is. Whinchat sails so much better on a starboard tack, and I was a little envious that Peter might have all the really fast stuff. However, I was bone cold at this point and needed my feet and my hands to remember what circulation was so I was content to huddle under the spray hood to catch some sun…
Actually, I didn’t really get much warmer, and I had a bad need for a pee, so I gave in and headed down below. Relief was brief before I paid for it. It was very bouncy and way beyond my sea-legs acclimatisation process. It’s just such a pfaff with the layers, and I’d decided to add a layer of waterproof trousers to ward off the cold. I came up with a slight hue of green, so that was that, Pete put me on the helm… and there I stayed.

I had reached the point of the metallic taste in my mouth, which is a sign of being well on the way to sea-sickness. However, being at the helm can really help and it was a good move for me. We were flying along. The wind began to increase, and Pete turned to me and said ‘do you think we should reef?’ It hadn’t occurred to me, and it’s usually me that’s screaming for one. He was right, because with a reef in the main, we didn’t lose any speed and we were more consistent, stable through the water. All good fun, particularly helpful because the sun was shining and the sea was trying to be blue, or I think it was, I didn’t really look long at it. Occasionally I would catch sight of a wave looming at us, and they did seem to be growing as the day went on.

Pete and I reckoned that out of five hours sailing, I was on the helm for four of them. It was very physical, because of the forces involved, so by the end of the day I was pretty tired and cold. I should have opted for another layer sooner, as I would struggle to warm up.

Our destination was Fowey, a very pretty harbour, and as we approached a whole flotilla seemed to be leaving port. Plenty of mooring buoys to be had! The entrance to the harbour is quite tricky, with rocks all around, so Pete was giving out instructions as I helmed us into the calmer waters (a relief) and we began the process of stowing the sails away and preparing to moor. We moored very neatly under the southern banks of Fowey harbour, looking towards the town, the sea was calm and although the wind was still blowing, it felt warmer. We decided that we’d go ashore, which meant pumping up the dinghy, which I offered to do in an attempt to get warmer. Usually it is a real hassle to launch the dinghy overboard, but Kate (my wonderful PT) and I have been working on upper body strength for sailing. I surprised Pete and myself when I picked up the dinghy and went to toss it aside. “Bloody Hell Kate!” were Pete’s words.

We went ashore, merely to get the paper. Fowey was rammed with holiday makers, wearing too few clothes and consuming either pints of lager in plastic glasses or massive ice creams. It somehow spoils the charm of the place, but at the same time I understand the appeal. We decided to head back to Whinchat and read the papers. Lovely.

The excitement of the evening was the failure of the Ebesbacher (??) boat heating system. Bone cold by now, and deciding that I needed the effect of the diesel heating system to help me out, I fired it up. Nothing. After searching for the manuals, Pete discovered that it was error code 20 – the glow plug. He said it was a bugger to change, and descended into the bowels of the engine room. He emerged shortly afterwards saying that he’d dropped part of a socket set in it, and couldn’t retrieve it. It was nearly time to start cooking, which needed the generator (in the engine room and that would have deafened Pete totally), so we decided that we’d be brave and go without the heating…. It wasn’t so bad with a belly full of my spicy Spanish chicken, chorizo and chickpea stew. In fact, with the bed being the potentially warmest place to be, it was an early night.

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2014 Shake Down Cruise – Mylor to Mylor

Friday 18th April 2014

Mylor Mooring to Mylor Yacht Harbour
(yes that’s it!)

Our set-sail date was Saturday 19th, but due to a change in circumstance (the ill-health of a friend and therefore a cancelled dinner appointment) we both had the idea to leave on Friday. Especially as the sun was forecast, and it’s always nicer sailing in the sun. A few days (more like about 10 for us here in Cornwall) of good weather and we forget how fickle it can be here in the UK. We were lulled into a false sense of security, imagining a balmy trip to the Scilies (sailing gold)… We then were invited to see the newest Rustler 42 in the fleet, Whinchat’s baby sister, Margansie. How could we resist, and it also meant catching up with other Rustler owners (Whinchat’s older sister) Mike and Trish. Well, a couple of hours sitting out on the sunny terrace of Falmouth Marina’s bar is no hardship, and it softened the blow of a Sainsburys run before loading up Whinchat and heading off.

Nothing happened very quickly that afternoon! We saw a friend outside Castaways (superb harbourside bistro) who’d been there some hours. “My God!” he said to Peter, “how have you managed the journey?” Full of jovial sarcasm, as the one of the joys of living in Falmouth is that we now live about 5 minutes from the boat, and not 55 minutes. So when we’d closed the gates, and I said to Pete, “you have your sunglasses?” and the answer came back “I’ll manage.” Two seconds later, “we’ve no red wine!”, the answer came back, “I’ll drop you with a load and come back for some.” Easy.

So, the loading (so much stuff as we’d taken everything off when Whinchat was overwintered) to a while, the effort magnified by the gradient of the gangway down to the pontoons, which were at low tide of a very springy spring! That tested my muscles! It was 17:30 by the time we’d unloaded and unpacked, so it felt more like beer o’clock than heading off somewhere for the night… and there were still weather forecasts to check, and plans to make. Mylor Yacht Harbour may only be a stone’s throw from home, but it was lovely to spend it onboard.