Monday, 16 June 2014

Dartmouth Cruise Part 1

Our annual attempt to cross the channel was abandoned before it started.  The forecast for Saturday was for Southerlies so another plan was hatched.   We decided to go West this time as in addition to crossing the channel in Ciao Bella I also wanted to go around Portland Bill.... it's off the map... There be monsters :)

GPS plot of the cruise.
Saturday 7th:   Poole to Weymouth.  I was joined by Paul in his Corribee and my neighbour John crewed for me.  We had a bit of a late start from Poole, not getting away until about 10am.  We had enough breeze to sail out of the harbour and around Durleston Head, due to the late start we were now fighting the tide and had to motor around St Aldelm head. Amazingly a yacht race was tacking around the head against the tide!
Racing yachts tacking against the tidal race.

Lapwing motor sailing against the race.
 Out of the race we were able to sail again, eventually arriving at Weymouth around 8pm.  The harbour was absolutely rammed, we managed to get rafted out in the Cove.  We grabbed some food at 'The Old Rooms' before heading back for an earlyish night... Sunday would be a long day.

Rafted out in Weymouth

Sunday 8th:  Weymouth to Dartmouth.  We were up and away by 7:30 in the morning.  Today was the big one for me as we were heading around the Bill.  Sails were up and we were making good speed but couldn't get the direction without tacking, we needed speed and direction to get across Lyme Bay in one hit so the engines went on to get us around the Bill.
Hello Bill

  Once around we could easily make 255 degrees on the compass so off went the engines again as we started the long slog across Lyme Bay.

Following the compass across Lyme bay
As the afternoon came around the wind started to die and the tide turned against us, it was time to start the engines again.   Mid afternoon and the weather turn a tad wet but at least the wind picked up, you can see the change of direction on the track, bizarrely despite the rain it was great to be sailing again.  It didn't last long, 40 mins latter the rain had stopped and so had the wind... back on with the engine... and back on course :)
As the Devon coast came into view I saw a flock of gulls dive bombing a school of fish.  As we approached I could see a pod of Dolphins also in the fray.  Ever sociable the Dolphins came to say hello, they stayed with us for several minutes before heading off in search of lunch again.

We eventually were within grasp of Dartmouth.  It had been a hell of a slog across Lyme bay and I wasn't looking forward to doing the same on the way home.  
Dartmouth entrance in sight
Another late arrival had us struggling to find a foodery.. After traipsing around every pub in Dartmouth we eventually found food at the Bayards Cove Inn.  The evening was finish off with some great music in the Windjammer pub.

Monday 9th:  A river cruise.   Despite having had a really long day on Sunday we had to be up early as we'd moored on the short term mooring, we had to vacate by 0845.  A motor up to Totnes for lunch was planned before coming half way back and picking up a mooring at Dittisham.   The main sail cover stayed on all day but we manged to use the genoa on and off.  We went up on a rising tide which was a blessing as I managed to find the mud a couple of times.
Totnes does not put itself out for sailors,  there are very few places to moor up and they are not advertised.  We did find a nice place for food with a good beer garden over looking the river.  As we left Totnes John heard someone calling me,  My friend Nick was doing a survey at a yard there and had seen me going past.  We stopped for a quick chat before plodding on again.
Leaving Totnes.. Cheers Nick.
We picked up a swinging mooring near to the jetty at Dittisham and rafted up for the night.  Dittisham is a lovely spot.  With both Paul and I only having tiny inflatables we had to do a bit of ferrying, I paddled over in mine then Paul took mine back for John.  Once ashore we checked out both of the pubs, both great, but settled in the Ferry Boat Inn for the evening.

John getting crabby in the FBI

The paddle back to the boats was an amusing affair but was eventually completed with no dramas.

Tuesday 10th:  Back to Dartmouth.  Although Dittisham was beautiful, it had no facilities so we decided to go back to Dartmouth, below are a few pics from the mooring.

  Dartmouth Yacht club has it's own pontoon near the lower ferry and the prospect of a walk ashore and hot shower was too good to ignore. Despite the benign look in the photos, by the time we got to Dartmouth the wind had really picked up and it was a bit fruity trying to get on the pontoon.
Paul and I both needed fuel so loaded my tanks onto Lapwing and motored over to the fuel barge, only after filling my main tank and two 5l tanks did I find out that they were charging £1.96 per litre... Ouch!  Motoring back to the pontoon and the wind was ferocious now.  It took us two attempts and some fending off before we were safely rafted up on Ciao Bella.
Dartmouth yacht club is very hospitable and besides providing showers it has a friendly bars with good coffee.
A day of relaxing followed, my Brother and his lad popped down from Plymouth to say hello and have some fish n chips  in the evening.  John, Paul and myself had a table booked at the Anzac B&B.  Good to see Simon and Aga again.  This was followed by a beer or two in the oldest pub in town.. with a comedy landlady... like a sketch from Alf Garnet.

That's enough for today, I'll write up the return journey soon :)

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Night sailing

Back on the weekend of the 16th 17th May I'd planned a night sail to the Isle of Wight to meet up with Liam so we could practice with his cruising shute before the Round the Island Race.  I was really looking forward to this as the prospect on sailing with a full moon for visibility appealed to me.
The trouble with full moons is that they accompany the biggest tidal ranges.  I'd wanted to be off the mooring as the the tide ebbed but I could quite make it so ended up having a leisurely walk around the harbour.  
It wasn't a bad thing as it meant I could spend time stowing everything and setting up before setting off.
Waiting for the Tide

Below, in red, is an extract from my log,  I use the notes app on my iPhone to keep the log.

Poole to Yarmouth. 
 Off mooring 1935. LW 1818bst. SW F2 
Ripped genoa. I noticed this just after unfurling, there was an 18 inch tear along the edge of the UV strip.  My Genoa is turning into a patchwork quilt!
2000. At entrance on motor. 
2030. Engine off,  pushed flood through eat looe thenhave 1 knt with me.  Chat with Liam, arrange to meet at Yarmouth. Liam said he had some stuff to make a temp repair on the genoa.
21:20. 12 nm from hurst need 4knts to make gate, only getting 2.6. Started engine and motor sailing. 4.7 knts on idle. Aiming at TV mast on iow give heading 088. 
Auto helm works great but don't want to flatten battery. Will consider putting plug on outboard charging lead. 
Autohelm holding a steady course.

2200 5knts 080 motoring. 8.3nm to hurst.  Southborne aiming for Hurst light. 
2220 starting to get misty from south. Checked position. Confirmed bearing to Hurst. 5.6 knts motoring 080. 
2300. 3.6 nm from hurst.  4.7knts. 080. Mist held off seen phosphorescence for first time and have been rewarded with seeing orange moon rise over Tennyson down.. Stunning. This was the highlight of the trip and made the constant motoring worthwhile.
2330. 6.2knts (3knts tide) 1nm to hurst. Clear sky getting colder. 

I arrived at Yarmouth around 12:30 and anchored outside the harbour.  After spending sometime ensuring that the anchor was holding, there was a heck of a tide running past, i retired for the evening.  I set the alarm for 6am as I ran the risk of drying out if I stayed too long.

Beautiful sunrise at Yarmouth

The next morning, up with the sparrows, and after admiring the peace and quiet and the gorgeous sunrise, I pulled up the anchor and motored out into clear deeper water.  There was no wind and the tide was fairly slack so I just let her drift while I made tea and Porridge for breakfast.  Porridge is great to keep onboard as you can make it with water and it keeps the hunger away for quite some time.
I picked Liam up from Yarmouth quay around 7:30 and we made our way towards Cowes.  We had the sails up and engine off but you couldn't call it sailing. We just spiraled our way in the general direction of Cowes with the tide.  As more boats appeared we decided that it was too embarrassing to be floating backwards with the sails up, so we adopted the Solent trim (Jib furled and outboard on) and plodded on to the Folly.
My base for the weekend.

The complete lack of wind had us confined to the Folly, where we consumed what seemed like vast quantities of fried food washed down, first with coffee, then later with beer.  Later we decided to at least go out to Peggotty and go through the process of raising and lowering the Cruising Chute.  Amazingly when we did, although we could not feel any wind, it filled.  The chance to use it was with us so we motored out to the Solent and gave it a go.  It's a tremendous sail and not too tricky to use. We spent an hour or so hoisting, pulling it down again, gybing and generally getting used to using it.

Such a pretty sail :)

Liam at the helm of Peggotty

Sail bag clipped to pullpit.
Returning to the pontoon, I made arrangements to meet Liam and his good lady for dinner at the Folly, before taking the opportunity for afternoon kip.
After a splendid evening I managed to get my head down for another hour before motoring away from the Folly at 11pm.  I had another night passage planned and was hoping for a reasonable breeze to help me home. It didn't really happen and I ended up motor sailing back to Poole.  It's a passage that I will never forget as it was on this leg, around 3am when I stopped to make a brew, that I'd learned of my Mothers passing.  As I put the phone down I looked up and saw the space station arcing through the night sky.  It made me smile and think that it was Mum saying goodbye.

Entering Poole Harbour

The rest of the journey home was contemplative, I eventually picked up a mooring around 6am and got my head down for some proper sleep.  A few hours later, and wide awake, I was able to get back to my mooring.  
I noticed Bede was tinkering on his boat so decided to paddle over and say hello.  He was setting up his sails so I said I'd help, I think I was probably more of a hindrance :).   Seemed a shame to go home with the weather perking up and a good breeze present so we had a quick lap of the harbour on Shadow Fax before transferring me back to Ciao Bella so that I could take a few pics of Bede aboard.

Check out the Seagul!

Bede on Shadowfax cutting a groove.

RIP Mum x