A mizzley sail…

Wednesday 7th July 2010

We were treated to Cornwall’s finest weather today, from the moment of waking until the evening rolled in.  Mizzle.  Somewhere between mist and drizzle; one thing guarunteed, it gets you totally wet!  What happened to all the lovely blue skies of the day before?  We were facing our first outing on our own, and we have mizzle!  It was a quick decision taken not to try launching the cruising chute between us (it lives under our bed in the fore cabin, so launching it on a damp day could seriously result in damp bedding… very much to be avoided)! We decided we’d sail to the Helford River, westwards along the coast from Falmouth, and anchor for our lunch stop.

Before all of that, we had to negotiate leaving our berth with just the two of us.  No action man Adrian leaping about.  That would be me today!  We set up a port spring to allow us – well, Pete on the helm –  to pivot on the spring to bring the stern out, so that he could then ease us backwards into the channel.  We were effectively parallel parked between two boats, alongside the pontoon, and we had to back out… only there is about 12m from where your point of steering is, so you really have to work it out!  At about 11:00 in the mizzle, we slipped out and headed downstream towards Falmouth.  I was on ‘string and bumpers’ duty, and as our mooring warps are 20m length (ridiculous) it was heavy going coiling the darn thing!  We may have had rain, but we were greeted by a super wind.  Too much for the cruising chute anyway!

It would be a day of minor problems.  Firstly, the flashy GPS system had us firmly in Falmouth marina… according to it, we didn’t move at all.  We were cruising!  It was quite gusty, and I was at the helm as Pete put up the sails (as usual), and I’ve often been known to scream as the wind takes us from motor to sail.  We were sailing into the wind, so were set to take a course that sees the boat ‘tilt’ the most, sailing close hauled.  Whinchat seemed to just lean against the wind, and we were up and flying… with no yelps from me.  I knew the wind gusts on the anenometer should set my alarm bells, but Whinchat wasn’t bouncing around and she was very easy to control.  I guess a feature of being a smidge over 20 tonnes!  It was awesome.  We tacked our way over to the Helford River, soggy but very happy.  The staysail having been fixed the evening before meant that we were able to deploy the staysail, and it made tacking the yankee much easier!  No sticking, it just slipped around as Nick had said.

Rather reluctantly we had to drop the sails as we came in the mouth of the river; there were divers down and people on sea kayaks.  Bringing in the sails worked well enough.  What then foiled us, was that when we came to anchor (Pete had to rely on charts, paper charts as the GPS still had us in Falmouth Marina) the anchor windlass just didn’t work!  I could hear the clunk of the mechanism, but nothing was moving.  Another thing on the list!  I had a genius idea for plan B, which was that I would go down below and make lunch, bring it up, and we’d turn back towards the open sea, with AutoDoris taking us out (AutoDoris is our autopilot).  Only AutoDoris wasn’t working either – she relies upon a speed input from the GPS, which was confusing her, because of course we were still in Falmouth Marina!  So, it was a snatched lunch, almost drifting down the Helford.

Our return sail to Falmouth was lovely, very gentle, but just lovely.  The photo of a soggy me is when we’ve come out of the Helford, and we were sailing just on the yankee, almost running downwind.  We were making a decent speed, not sure how much, as we’re convinced the log is under reading (another thing on the list).  Our final reckoning was our first go at mooring with just the two of us… again, back to the parallel parking along the pontoon.  Beautifully executed by the dream mooring team, with me jumping off at the shrouds to tie us alongside the dock and then rushing back to tie up the stern.  Once in, adjustments made, we were good for the day… apart from all the tidying of lines and tucking everything away for the night.

We had our first guest onboard this evening.  Linda, a lady who we’d sailed with when we went with Cornish Cruising to the Scilies… Linda’s brother and his family live in and around Falmouth (Mawnan Smith!), and she was over from Qatar… what an opportunity for a catch up, so we shared a glass of wine on board before going out to dinner.  A very fine day.