And so it begins......
Friday 8th May 2015
We left Tollesbury at 14.20 after saying goodbye to all those we had become friends with. These included Angela in the bar, Roger and Penny aboard Dicim, Greg and Karen on Langland Lady. We had a very nice beer with the lads which included Paul, Martin, Brian and Jim unfortunately Adrian was elsewhere. Steve was also there and I hope that the launch of his 'Grand Banks' motor launch goes well next week.
We paid up the marina fees and walked back to the boat and were surprised to find Denise and Ron there waiting to say goodbye. Both Claire and I were itching to leave now. It seemed as if the last 12 months or so had come down to these final minutes as we waited for there to be enough water over the bar at the marina entrance to allow us to escape and begin our journey.
As you may have gathered if you have taken the time to read about our trip to the Friesian Islands last year, we get very nervous about manoeuvring in or out of marinas. Claire had been given a bit of a lesson in the finer art of this by Paul the day before, taking Red Rooster in and out of different berths as well as a three point turn all of which Claire completed faultlessly but I could tell that as our friends started to gather to say goodbye her nerves were kicking in. Ian aboard 'Ostara' made an appearance and bade us 'Bon Voyage' I took one last look at the marker pole and announced that we were off. We had lots of willing hands and with Claire at the helm we were given a good shove and we were on our way. Karen was at the end of the pontoon taking some nice pictures of our departure and we made our way slowly down the narrow creek to the Blackwater.
We were both very workmanlike in those minutes after leaving but when we looked at each other after all the fenders had been stowed and the mooring lines coiled I think we realised, perhaps for the first time, the enormity of what we were about to do. Claire and I smiled at each other as the rain started falling from the flat grey sky and I said 'shall we put some sails up' 'Yes' she said let's get going.
Monday 11th May 2015
We are bobbing around, safe and sound in Ramsgate Marina, tied up to a pontoon amongst a herd of Dutch sailors. The trip over here from Pyefleet Creek was exactly what we didn't want it to be. We stayed all day Saturday in that lovely creek tied up to a mooring buoy as the wind howled through the rigging reaching Beaufort Force 7 at times. Sunday morning dawned with hardly any wind but was quite misty. We headed out early as we had approximately 10 hours to Ramsgate.
We had a slight gap in our charts for the Essex side of the Thames Estuary as our Navionics electronic chart only started half way across the Thames. My good friend Julian Reese Had given us his passage plan for crossing the Thames to Ramsgate and although we were leaving from Brightlingsea a good two thirds of it was relevant. We were nervous as we were essentially buoy hoping and with poor visibility it proved quite challenging.
We had a shock almost half way across as we came across an area called Long Sands that was completely dry and had about a dozen seals basking in the sun on it. As we turned to port into Fisherman's Gat the wind started to fill in and within about 30 minutes we had two reefs in the main and two in the genoa. Fortunately we were out of the shallows and we could concentrate on sailing. It was a proper south westerly stonker!
All was okay though, the boat went well, Claire and I sorted things out when they needed doing and soon the channel markers for Ramsgate came into view.
Claire radioed the Harbour and the Marina for permission to enter and secure a berth for the night. We did our usual roles of me getting all the fenders and mooring lines out after we had dropped the main and furled the genoa but this time feeling slightly more confident after her lesson with Paul at Tollesbury Claire took Red Rooster in.
The Marina had quite a few spaces and it is reasonably well spaced out which gave claire the confidence she needed to bring the boat in without any issues. I jumped off and we had a struggle holding the boat steady as in a South Westerly this Marina is quite bouncy. I was really proud of Claire as I know exactly what she was feeling but we got in safe and sound and as usual gave each other a big hug and heaved a huge sigh of relief.
We sorted ourselves and the boat out, had a shower and headed off for some well-earned fish and chips followed by beer and wine in the Royal Temple Yacht club.
We slept well that night and had already decided to stay an extra day as the South Westerly's were due to arrive again the next day.
Today we completed jobs around the boat and explored the town. We will probably have a few more beers later and then plan to get up tomorrow and sail around the Dover.
Friday 15th May 2015
We left bright and early and skirted the notorious Goodwin Sands on our way to Dover. We were tempted to try and get from Ramsgate to Eastbourne in one hop but the wind was very light and going into Dover made sense.
The wind started to build and by lunchtime we had a nice force 4 from the South West, typical and we were tacking up the coast watching the steady stream of ferry's coming in and out of Dover.
Claire contacted Harbour Control and they gave us permission to enter the harbour after the nearest ferry had gone in. We dropped the sails outside the wall and motored through the harbour wall. We heard one of the ferry's saying he was ready to depart and he was told he would now have to wait until Red Rooster had cleared the entrance before he could leave.
There was a cruise liner tied up against the harbour wall, The one with the big eye on the front, and Claire and I are confident it was the same one we had seen in Palma and Amsterdam. With Claire at the helm we made our way into the visitors area in the marina and with growing confidence Claire took us in. We ended up in the wrong berth but that was neither here nor there as all we had to do was pull RR across to the right pontoon.
We had a nice spot with views of the castle on the hill and we were surprised to be visited by James Willmott who took some nice photos of us.
We planned to leave early the next day and James agreed to come down to see us off. We motored out of the Western entrance and as there was no breeze we motored all the way to Eastbourne.
We were lucky to see porpoises along our route and we were unlucky enough to be warned twice by the Firing Range Control Boat to leave the firing practise areas that are along that coast near Dungeness and head out to sea.
Entering Eastbourne was another new challenge for Claire as it involved a large lock but again we did this without any issues and we were told that we could pick our own berth once we were inside the harbour. The fact that we picked the biggest berth goes without saying and Claire bought us in alongside the pontoon perfectly and all I had to do was step off and tie us on.
We were lucky enough to have a steady stream of visitors while we were in Eastbourne. These included Greg, Heather, Clive, Patrice, Francis, Rob, Sarah,Derek's Mum and Dad, John, Sue and Matt as well as a work friend Tony. We were very flattered that so many people had made the effort to come to visit. It made us realise once again the most important thing we will miss while undertaking this trip is our family and friends.
After having a quiet day on Friday we intend to leave early Saturday morning to make our way to Hayling Island where we hope to meet up with the Elliott’s.
Eastbourne to Hayling Island 20/05/15
We woke up quite early as the trip to Hayling Island was going to be a long one.
The forecast was for force 4 slowly dropping during the day and we anticipated that we may be motoring again. We were sailing in lovely sunshine past Beachy Head where we tacked, we made Brighton pier by 12.30.
We could see Selsey Bill in the distance and decided to push on as we thought it too early to go into Brighton. That proved to be a mistake! As we passed Worthing the 3-4 built up to a solid force 5 from the south west and with the tide against us made for a very lumpy sail.
I would be quite happy if I never saw Selsey Bill again. It seemed to take forever to get there and when we did it was surrounded by shallows, wrecks and overfalls. We got there just as the sun set and we still had another couple of hours to go.
In desperation we furled the jib and turned on the motor. I had been looking forward to sailing our own yacht in this famous stretch of water but unfortunately that meant little by this point because we just wanted to get in. We decided to stay at Sparkes Marina as this was the first Marina we came to!!.
We were both very nervous as we had never been here before and it was pitch black. We had already been informed by the marina that they had no leading lights into their complex. I was busy preparing the boat for berthing and we had been told we were starboard side too which makes it a bit easier.
Claire suddenly gasped and said there were boats everywhere. On looking up we were going down a very narrow channel of moorings and posts, all unlit. I got the big torch out and shone it around to help Claire, but it was really quite challenging. We missed a large unlit post by inches as we turned into the marina. The electronic chart plotter proved invaluable as it gave a very clear image of the pontoons and Claire used that to make her turn in when all I could see was darkness.
Fortunately the night attendant at the marina came down to our pontoon and waved his torch about so we could finally see where we were meant to be and he also caught our lines which was a bonus. We both heaved a massive sigh of relief as that was by far the worst thing we had ever had to do whilst sailing Red Rooster.
We did nothing more than to get into bed and go fast to sleep. The wind was still a solid force 5 but we slept like babies.
Sunday saw us both giving the boat a good clean as we were expecting more guests from Hayling Island and by 10.30 Kerry and Poppy had joined us on the boat and they decided to stay with us all day as Nick was away and Zac was sailing with the Shearwaters at Minis Bay. Kerry, Claire and Poppy went of to get some supplies and when they returned we all had a lovely day sitting in the sunshine although the wind was still blowing. Zac joined us upon his return and we had a very nice meal and I showed them the secret of Muller Corner yoghurts with crumbled rich tea fingers.
During our stay at Hayling Island I tried hard to fix the fresh water leak we had been suffering from for several weeks. I had finally discovered it was the water tank senders that were leaking and I managed to order some new ones that were to be delivered to the marina office.
On Monday we spent some time working on the boat and then Claire and I went for a long walk along Hayling Island seafront. We returned by 4pm so Claire could join Kerry and Poppy at the Lifeboat Station where Kerry was taking her Rainbow group for a visit.
I left Claire there and by the time I had walked back to the boat Neil and Sue were waiting for me. I spent a pleasant hour with them chatting abroad Red Rooster. We had booked at table at the Piranha Bar and Nick, Kerry and the kids joined the rest of us and we enjoyed a very nice evening with moulles and frites.
We were hoping to sail to the Isle of Wight but the weather was still bringing strong winds and rain so we asked Nick if we could go with him in the morning as he now works on the Isle of Wight.
We had a very enjoyable day in Cowes visiting the chandlers where we bought a new chart, an LED flare and a few other bits and pieces that we needed. We also visited the Sir Max Aitkin Museum and enjoyed watching Sir Ben Ansley aboard his foiling cat playing in the Solent.
We met Nick at five, travelled back home with him and enjoyed a lovely evening with the Elliott's before saying our goodbyes as we were leaving Wednesday morning.
Hayling Island to Lymington 20/05/15
Wednesday was forecast southwesterly again but dropping and as we motored out of the marina into the Solent we saw the Hayling Lifeboat launch as we sailed out into these busy waters.
We decided to stop at Lymington and Claire brought us in faultlessly to the Yacht Haven there. This was the best marina we had ever been in for showers and facilities with a pleasant walk into town and a nice restaurant where we had a tasty meal before retiring for the night.
To ensure the tides were right for the next hop we had a lazy morning and left the marina about mid day. We tacked out and went through the gap at Hurst Castle and as we bore away towards Studland Bay the wind steadily increased, yes you guessed it from the southwest and it was a solid force 5 gusting 6. With two reefs in the main and jib we tacked along the coast towards Bournemouth heading for our intended anchorage at Studland bay.
When we arrived we had trouble setting the anchor at first but on the third attempt it held and we shut up the boat and had a cosy night in our floating home.
We discussed at length the next leg and we knew that unless we got up at 3am we would be fighting the tides but we were both exhausted from a hard days sail so we decided to sleep in and deal with the tides as we headed towards our next destination of Weymouth.
We both slept well and woke to a rather chilly, misty morning. We left as soon as we were ready which was around 09.00. We turned to starboard as we cleared the standing columns know locally as 'Old Harry and Old Harry's wife' and spied two tall ships sitting in the bay at Swanage as we ghosted along on a light breeze. One was the training vessel 'Lord Nelson' the other was shrouded in mist and we couldn't read her name.
Of all the elements I have personally sailed in fog / mist is right up there with gale force winds. It's really weird how quickly you loose your bearings and sound seems to be amplified. We saw the hills shrouded in the stuff and some of it was trying to make its way towards us.
I know we should have tested our radar before we actually needed it but on it went and the results, overlaid onto the chart on the plotter were very pleasing to behold with a solid return exactly where the land was shown.
It gave us a bit more confidence as we sailed passed Anvil Point lighthouse. The tide as expected was pushing us the wrong way but we were sailing well in the South Westerly force 3.
We passed St Albans head as the mist started to clear but unfortunately the wind started to drop. On we went motor sailing in sunny clear waters, we went into Lulworth Cove for a look see. It was quite small in there and we turned RR around and headed for Portland.
The harbour at Portland is huge, the last time I was here was to see a speed sailing event back in the late seventies, early eighties.
The Olympics had definitely put this place on the map with Sir Ben Ainslie taking gold. The results of this legacy were clear for Claire and I to see with lots of kids in dinghies on the water racing in different fleets across the harbour.
Portland was a great place to stop, 'pick your own spot ' is now Claire's favourite response to her request for a berth for the night. Good showers, Doombar and a nice restaurant was all we needed.
We stayed for two nights leaving on the 24th May for the long crossing of Lyme Bay.
The night before we left we fell into conversation with a couple of local sailors as we wanted to discuss the ' rounding of 'Portland Bill' this can be a bad place if wind and or tides are wrong. We were advised to 'be at the Bill 4 hours after high water Portland' that way we could take the inner route. And the tide will be under us all the way to Dartmouth. The outer route around the Shambles Bank puts an additional 5 miles onto an already long passage, apparently!!
The inner route we both said at the same time! Yes they said, in this weather you'll be fine. Just stay very close to the rocks, close enough so you could hit them with a well thrown stone (I know a lot about well thrown stones !!) and keep the top of the obelisk in the centre of the red band on the lighthouse as you go round. Claire and I looked at each other wishing we had never asked!!
Well neither of us slept very well but we could have a lie in as '4 hours after high tide Portland' meant our departure would be around 12.00hrs. The only downside to this was that it was a 10 hour trip so it looked like we would be entering another strange port in darkness.
We motor sailed in silence towards the 'Bill' the day was 'grey' everywhere you looked out to sea the grey sky met the sea, it was a cold sad kind of day.
We were close in but there was no way I could hit the rocks with a stone so I asked Claire to take us closer still.
There were a lot of people on the headland as it was Bank holiday Sunday and Claire commented that it's 'as if they're waiting for something bad to happen'
The lighthouse came into view first then the obelisk, we were still to far out and Claire took us in even further. You could here children screaming and I am sure I heard a woman say ' if they fetch up on the rocks I want the outboard' !!
Now we were about right, the obelisk lined up with the centre of the red band and we went around the headland with out any problem, we turned Red Rooster onto her new heading towards Dartmouth.
Now if sailing with the wind 'right on the nose' was an Olympic sport we would definitely have a podium position!!! I could not believe it, I was getting fed up now.
More than a few people had warned us of the possibility of prevailing South Westerlies as we made our way down the South coast but it's been more than two weeks now!!
We started the long tacks either side of our way line but even with the tide under us it was obvious that unless we motor sailed directly towards Dartmouth we were going to be out here until the early hours of the morning.
We reluctantly started the engine and sat back as the autopilot took control. On the plus side the 'grey' finally started to lift and patches of blue could be seen. I started thinking about the prehistoric animals that once roamed this bay and hoped that I would see a creature, it didn't need to be prehistoric, just something to relieve the monotony of motor sailing.
As we entered the buoyed entrance to Dartmouth at around 22.30 we were both thinking about Hayling Island, but this could not have been more different. It was like sitting in the little boats at 'Disney World' singing 'it's a small world after all' it was so pretty, so fantastic to enter this famous port in our own boat. What made it perfect was the fact that we had booked a place in the nearest marina to the entrance and the attendant came down with a torch to see us in..........time for bed.
I awoke the next morning to the sound of a steam whistle and smiled as the memories came flooding back.
I have been to Dartmouth before. I started my first Tall Ships race here back in 1974, Claire hadn't even been born yet!!!
Back then me and the rest of the crew of Rona traveled by train to Paignton then caught the steam train to Kingswear where a tender picked us up and dropped us at our boat. We had a reception at the Naval college with the rest of the crews that were joining us in the race to La Curruna in northern Spain. More about that race later.
We had a morning of jobs on the boat, then took the ferry over to Dartmouth.(Kingswear where the marina is, is on the opposite side of the estuary to Dartmouth) we had a pleasant day wandering around, Claire and I wanted to visit the Dartmouth museum in 'The Butter Walk' a line of 4 shops / buildings that had been built in the 1600's. Inside we found a wealth of interesting artefacts and information including the very room that King Charles II, the monarch that started sailing for pleasure, had stayed in when his royal yacht needed repairs.
My parents had visited here only a few weeks beforehand and my father passed on the vital information of where to get the best pasties from, he wasn't wrong it was delicious. Doombar was also on sale in the town. I like Dartmouth!!
On the 26th May (my Dad's birthday by the way) we took the steam train to Paignton, caught an open topped us to Totnes and then the paddle steamer called Kingswear Castle back to Dartmouth where we had a drink in The Cherub Pub built in 1380 ! Another pastie was required to be eaten as part of a survey I am conducting and to finish off the perfect day we found a bench in the park and listened to a very good busker.
We planned to pick up a mooring in Salcombe when we left in the following morning, so when we got back to RR I spent some time ensuring the RIB was OK. We decided to test it, as it was the first time we had put it in the water!!! another Ebay purchase, I clamped the engine on the back gave it a few pulls and it started but would not idle.This was a bit annoying as Adrian had serviced it not 3 weeks ago and I watched him do it so as to learn a thing or two about the thing and it was running fine.
In frustration I rammed it into gear and we shot off up the river Dart, against the tide so if the engine should stop we could row/drift back to RR. It ran fine at full throttle but stopped as soon as I shut the throttle. It was starting to get dark now so I packed it all away and added it to my 'to do' list. On the plus side the RIB was great.
Dartmouth to Salcombe to River Yealm
We had a very pleasant sail / motor sail from Dartmouth to Salcombe it took us about 4 hours with a light wind from the S.E. Which gave me a chance, at last to try out our new asymmetrical spinnaker or cruising chute. These are a lot easier to set than a symmetrical spinnaker as they do not require a pole and they can be used in in differing wind directions. Once the sheets were sorted it went up and set really easily and I was very pleased, another success for EBay!!
It was nice to see The Start Point Lighthouse again. The last time I was here I was a very nervous young man about to start his first offshore ocean race in deteriorating weather. This time it could not have been more different. Light winds, sunshine and blue skies.
We picked up the entrance buoys to Salcombe passing the South and North sand beaches to Port. We wanted to pick up a visitors mooring to keep the costs down and were about to radio the harbour master when his launch approached us asking for our details and requirements. He quickly jotted down a mooring number and gave us directions to a buoy in a very nice spot for about £50 for three nights. All very easy and completed in minutes. Once tied up we put the kettle on and tidied the boat.
We wanted to go into Salcombe in the morning so I sorted the RIB out and decided to have a look at the outboard as we were going to need this more often if we wanted to save money by mooring or anchoring off. It would not idle but was OK at full revs? Answers on a post card please!! I checked the plug gap, changed the fuel and swore at it!! Non of these worked so it must be a blocked slow running jet in the carburettor. I didn't want to take the thing apart bobbing about on the back of the boat. So, the next morning we got ready to go and got in the RIB, I started her up rammed it into gear and shot off at full speed hoping that the thing wouldn't stop. We made it to the rear of a line of boat yards on Island St stopping at the first one. A nice bloke called Mark said he would have a look at it. We thanked him and promised that we would be back before 5.
We looked in a few shops, Salcombe is a 'to posh to push' kind of place the people seemed to be wearing what they were expected to be seen to wear, trendy yachty type clothes with expensive sunglasses, Dubarry sailing boots and Quba jackets even though the day was very warm! I asked someone where we should eat and the 'in' place was the 'Winking Prawn' honest!! At North Sands beach. We had a pleasant walk along the coast and found the beach front restaurant, it was already crowded but we found a seat in the sun and enjoyed popcorn prawns and chips with a sweet chilli sauce. Walking back we heard someone talking about an RNLI demonstration and decided to watch it from the garden of the Salcombe YC seeing as we were members, albeit temporarily. It was great with a helicopter from RNAS Culdrose flying in to winch 'casualties' on and off the RNLI launch.
When we returned to the boat yard, Mark confirmed that the engine was fixed and the issue was............dirt in the slow running jet, also there was debris in the petrol tank. It started first pull, we paid and thanked Mark and enjoyed a pleasant run back to RR.
On the 29th May we planned to use the RIB to go to Kingsbridge which is at the head of the estuary. It was quite a long way but I needed to get some confidence with the outboard and there was a music festival on in the town so taking care with the tides as it dries out at low water we set off a few hours before high tide. The wind was blowing quite hard and we both got soaked!! Claire was OK because she had her thin wet weather oilies with her, I on the other hand didn't. I had shorts on but had packed some jeans in the dry bag but forgot my pants!!!! Anyway we found a spot to hide the RIB and walked into Kingsbridge. Claire kept reminding me about the tide and how we had to be back in the RIB by 18.30. Anyway the music played, sea shanties believe it or not! we had a very nice time, the Abbot ale was very good as was the lamb wraps and pizza from the food area and to finish we had lemon and sugar pancakes mmmmm.
Bugger it was nearly 1900 hrs and we had to go. We walked fast back to the dingy, when we got there it was a lot father from the waters edge than when we left it. The tide had been going out for a while now and it was still running fast.We quickly put on life jackets etc and lugged the boat to the waters edge through thick black smelly mud. It was then that Claire noticed that the oars were missing!! They were there when we left. Squelching back up the beach in bare feet because the mud had sucked off my flip flops..... Hahaha that sounds funny!! I searched everywhere for them. Claire called and pointed to something laying on the mud further down the beach, they were there, probably kids mucking about. I got back to the boat covered in mud the tiny stream of water now was only about 3 meters wide and too shallow for the outboard so Claire tried to row. Well round and round we went I burst out laughing and asked her how drunk she was. We finally got into the main channel and I started the engine which took us faultlessly back to RR.
Saturday May 30th
We left Salcombe in the morning about 10 ish to sail round to the river Yealm which is very close to Plymouth. We had a nice force 4 and yes it was on the nose but I must admit that by the half way point it came round more to the South and we were able to ease the sheets. Most boats love this point of sailing, just off the wind ,it's as if the boat relaxes and flies. Red Rooster is no exception and for a couple of hours we were making 7 knots + with the tide under us.
We nearly missed the entrance as it was tucked away in a cleft between the rocks, there is a very shallow sand bar at the entrance but Claire had planned it so that we were going in on a rising tide. Even so it was a bit tight but on turning the final bend it opened up into a very nice, very sheltered spot which was perfect as we intend to stay here for 4 days to let a rough, unsettled bit of weather blow through before we headed for our next destination,Fowey in Cornwall.
We picked up a visitors mooring £76 for four nights, got the dingy sorted had a nice shower on shore then walked to the pub. Otter ale, very nice.
The are two villages, one either side of Newton Creek which leads off of the Yealm, Newton Ferrers on the North bank and Noss Mayo on the South both are very nice. There is a thriving yacht club, three pubs, post office, butchers and a co-op and you can walk between the two of them at low tide over a Voss, (causeway) between the two.
It rained hard all night and we awoke to the boat getting shoved around by strong North westerly gusts. We both had a jobs list to get on with, Claire made some bread dough in her funny bread thing and left it to prove ?? When all the jobs were ticked off I emptied the dingy of rainwater and we took it to the shore, tied it up and went for a nice walk along the coastal path through National Trust land up onto the headland. It was sunny and there was a good 5-7 blowing. We could see Cornwall stretching away on the other side of estuary into Plymouth. The sea looked a beautiful shade of blue with shadows cast by the clouds racing across it.
It did look nice but we both agreed that we were glad to be onshore, if we could be on days like these.
River Yealm - Fowey
If anything the wind was building the forecast mentioned gale force 8 It was making a whistling, moaning sound as it passed through the masts of the boats that were all tugging at their moorings and moving around like dogs pulling on their leads.I got up a few times during the night to check the mooring lines everything was fine but my mind wouldn't settle.
We got up in the morning and stayed on-board until early afternoon both looking forward to the meal we had booked at the Yealm YC for 6 and after spending the day aboard RR I was glad to get in the RIB around 5 and head to shore for a shower before we walked the half mile or so along the creek to the YC.
The YC was bigger than I expected. We went there because the Harbour master said the food was good and they had free WiFi. We were behind on posting updates on this site and we didn't want a big backlog. The food was delicious, especially the profiteroles. Tribute ale was being served so I was happy too. The Internet was playing up and the barman said it was because the weather was so bad. The wind driven rain was battering the windows overlooking the river.
We got some shopping in the co-op just before it closed at 22.00 and made our way back to the RIB. We were soaked by the time we reached it having to search for it in the pitch dark was a pain. The wind was really blowing now with the rain being flung at us like sand, when we found it the tender was ankle deep in rainwater but there was little point in trying to empty it.
A lot of boating accidents are attributed to when crews try make there way back to their boats especially when they've had a few pints and the weather is bad, that'll be us then!!
The engine started and luckily Claire had a little Cree LED torch on her life jacket, oh yes we had life jackets. When she shone it on the water it didn't look good, white water everywhere which was being flung in our faces making it impossible to see where we were going. The wind was roaring now and I had to concentrate as there were a lot of unused mooring buoys in the water which were hard to spot. After what seemed like ages Claire shouted that she could see RR in the beam of her torch and hoping that the engine kept going we made our way to her stern.
I began to relax when we were both safely on-board, I am sure that was the most dangerous thing we had done since leaving Tollesbury. I knew we were in for a bad night as the boat was being pushed around all over the place. We were safe though and that's all that matters.
We had a better night and spent the following day on-board reading, relaxing and getting RR ready for the hop in the morning to Fowey in Cornwall !!!!!
We left at 08.30 after filling RR up with water and having a shower. When we got out to sea the swell was still quite big after the bad weather and there were huge islands of seaweed everywhere. We saw a couple of warships out of Plymouth and a submarine, on the surface obviously!! But I had never seen one at sea before. An Anzac ship warned all vessels that he was conducting 'live firing' exercises requesting we
clear the area to the West of his coordinates. We were OK but you would not believe how many boats he had to radio requesting that they clear the area!!
The sail to Fowey was lovely, two tacks out to sea and a nice beat/reach into the harbour in glorious sunshine. We picked up a mooring opposite the harbour masters office. £50 for two nights.
Fowey to Falmouth - June 3rd - 5th
Fowey (pronounced Foy) was another one of those ports that I was pleased to be sailing my own boat into, it sounds odd to me reading that sentence back and I am unsure if all that read this will understand but there is something very satisfying about it, not boastful or flash but a sense of achievement mixed in with our seafaring history in an odd way. I'm not even sure if Claire feels the same way?
Anyway, it was nice.
After sorting ourselves and the boat out, we took the RIB over to the pontoon next to the harbour masters office, we tied up and also used the wire strop I had made up as additional security. We need to get into the habit so we started in Fowey, no offence meant of course.
We had a little walk through the town, all very nice and back tracked to the Fowey Gallants S.C. Wednesday was their race night and they had a very good turnout including 8 or so Troy one design keel boats built locally.
Fowey is a working port that has a lot of commercial traffic mainly exporting the famous China clay from the pits at Par. They also have very large cruise liners in with the majority of the passengers being bussed to the Eden project whose large domes are built in the pits formed by the removal of the clay.
The club was very friendly with, yes you've guessed it good beer (Tribute) and even better food. The WiFi was very good and we managed to update this site. We went back to the boat and had a very good night’s sleep, I am not sure what it is about this life we are leading but I have never slept so well or for so long.
The next morning we showered at the S.C. and went for a nice long walk through the town past Readymoney Cove and up to St Catherine’s castle on the headland overlooking the entrance. It has been there for a long time with King Henry V11 improving it during his Reign.
We were off to Falmouth in the morning and by chance we bumped into a couple that was holed up in the Yealm with us whilst the storm battered Red Rooster and their boat 'Duet', they came from Falmouth and they told us of a couple of nice spots to visit when we get there.
We left Fowey on the 5th bright and early to catch the tide, well early for us these days, around 08.30 we wanted to top up the diesel tanks but there was a very large fishing boat at the fuel dock and he looked like he may be there for a time so we headed off. I carry 40 litres of fuel on deck in jerry cans so we were fine.
The day was dreary, with the coast constantly disappearing in the mist / fog I had my yellow Musto sailing suit on that makes Claire laugh for some reason as I was getting soaked. After a couple of hours the wind began to fill in and as we rounded Dodman point it started blowing 4 - 5 from the N/W which was perfect. We put a reef in each sail and headed for St Anthony's Head which is at the Eastern entrance to the Carrick Roads.
In the distance there was a huge amount of black sail moving at some speed across the water, with a massive white kite that popped out when they went down wind. They were obviously practicing their sail handling, it was impossible to make out what was under those sails but it was something special and hopefully it would go into Falmouth for the night.
We rounded the Black Rock cardinal buoy and dropped our sails, we are trying hard to fold the main the same way every time we do this and it seems to be paying off as it is getting easier.
We called the Yacht Haven Marina but we were told they were full as were the other marinas? We couldn’t book a berth either as they had a first come first served policy!!
Apparently the AZAB (Azores and back) race fleet were in. Their start was at 12.00 the following day and we were told to pick up a mooring and to try again after they had left!!
The AZAB seems like one hell of a race. It’s for single or two handed boats only and the race as the name suggests is to the Azores and back. They do get to stop there for a bit but it’s a long way on your own. The weather for their start was perfect but I am not sure what they will meet in the Atlantic. Google it for more information and you can follow the boats as they all have trackers fitted.
So, we picked up a visitors mooring, sorted ourselves out, I couldn’t be bothered to get the RIB off the front deck etc so we cadged a lift to shore from a passing tender. We walked through the high St towards the sailing museum and sneaked into the Port Pendennis marina. There in front of us was not one but three J Class yachts. Now even if you hate the thought of sailing or if you have a strange aversion for anything to do with water I defy you not to look at these yachts and marvel at their beauty. They cross the boundary between classic and cutting edge by looking like they were made in the twenties but you just know that every single tiny little piece has been considered and constructed utilising the latest developments in carbon composite and fibre technology. I wouldn’t mind betting that the heads (Toilets) had been designed in a wind tunnel!
We walked back through the town, (I must say there are some very strange people in Falmouth) and enjoyed a drink in the RFYC. The club were the hosts for the AZAB race and they were hosting a dinner for the competitors so we didn’t stay long. We got a lift back to RR on the very nice club boat and I might have omitted to tell the helmsman that we were not starting the race in the morning!!
We planned to be ready to move into a vacant berth once the AZAB fleet had moved to the start line. we got RR ready with fenders etc and called the marina around 11.00 We were told there were now a few spaces but they were going fast.....We needed to get into a marina as both sets of parents were paying us a visit and we didn’t want the hassle / risk of ferrying them back and forth in the RIB.
We slipped the mooring ASAP and motored over to the marina there were a couple of boats jostling around and we spotted a free berth, well in we went and we were tied up before the others knew what was going on.
As luck would have it we were next to a boat, Mick and Fiona in Follyfin that we had talked to via Email over the CA (Cruising Association) Web site regarding crossing the Biscay together for moral support.
Now that we were in we took full advantage of the facilities, Claire washed everything that wasn’t bolted down, I busied myself around the boat clutching my shorts and t-shirt in case she tried to get them in the wash bag.
We went into town, visited the strange world that is 'TRAGO MILLS' what’s all that about?? Had fish and chips a couple of pints and we ended up in a cocktail bar called 'The pirates' where I had a 'Dark and Stormy and Claire had a Margarita and a cosmopolitan.
Getting back to RR was easy this time and we had a good night’s sleep.
In the morning (Sunday 7th) we went back to Trago Mills with a large shopping list of bits and pieces most of which unbelievably they had, this ranged from a new boat bag for Claire, (I know another one!!) a small tin of red paint, a diesel funnel with a filter, stencils, shorts for me and a baking tray?? there was lots of other really random stuff (as Joy would say) but this shop has the lot.
We took it all back to the boat and had a walk to Pendennis point, past the docks where we think Al used to work. We had a look around the castle and spent a pleasant hour looking at the boats sailing in the 'Roads'.
It was then back to the boat via a bar where I sampled a pint of Betty Stogs, a Skinners ale. Lovely.
Back on board now, Claire cooked a lovely dinner, pork chops and we are having a quiet night in which for me means writing these words.
Falmouth Monday 8th June.
Up at the usual time, actually we don’t have a 'usual time’ anymore when we are in a harbour. The time to get up is when one of us gets out of bed to make the tea/coffee.
I wanted to give the boat a bit of a clean and get a few jobs done as for the next few days we will be entertaining.
Claire's Mum and Dad, Wendy and Alan were due down that afternoon and my parents, Betty and John are due on Wednesday.
I changed the towing eye on the RIB for something more substantial and painted t/t RED ROOSTER in red on the transom. (t/t means tender to)
Later that afternoon we went along to meet Claire's mum and dad outside Rick Stein’s restaurant and as we were there we decided to have something to eat. It was very nice to see them as they were away on holiday when we left Tollesbury and they missed our departure.
We met up again on Tuesday, we all went on an open topped bus tour around Falmouth and out to Pendennis Head. We walked along the pier and ended up back on Red Rooster for a cup of tea.
I know I am ever so slightly biased but there is something about sitting on a boat, in a marina watching the world go by. It doesn’t even have to be your own boat! In fact sometimes it’s even better if it’s not your boat!! I don’t think I will ever get bored of this as a pastime, and in Falmouth at this time of year the pleasure was heightened by the fact that there was a classic yacht event arranged for this coming weekend. Watching these wonderful old gaff rigged vessels of all shapes and sizes collect in the harbour was fantastic; we had over twenty of them tied up in our marina.
My Mum and Dad were dropped off in Falmouth by the wonderful 'Tam' Tam is my sister Julie's, husbands Mum, got it?? and Tam like her son Steve (Steve known on my stag do as 'Sea sick Steve') doesn’t like water and we had arranged to go on a river trip up the Fal to Malpas, it was a shame but Tam decided to give it a miss but we would meet up later for something to eat.
We all walked along to the main pier in Falmouth where we caught the ferry for the 2 or so hour round trip up to Malpas. It was a sunny blustery day, OK for sitting outside as long as you had the right clothes on. We did so we did.
The trip was very enjoyable and it’s great to see both sets of parents getting on well with each other even though we did look like the outing from ‘one flew over the cuckoo’s nest’!!
When we got back we spent an enjoyable hour or so on RR. I had to borrow a set of steps from the fuel barge so that the older members of the ‘crew’ could get on board but it worked out well and we had tea and Claire’s home (boat) made scones, they were delicious.
We had arranged to meet Tam for fish and chips around 18.00 and after that we had a drink at the chain Locker before we split up for the night.
The following day, Thursday 11th we all met up at the Gweek seal sanctuary and had a nice few hours there. The weather had started to deteriorate so my parents went back to Tam’s and Claire and I went with Wendy and Alan to the maritime museum. It’s a nice place with lots to see and do.
Claire’s Mum and Dad were going back in the morning so we borrowed the car to get all of the heavy items we needed for the crossing from Tesco’s back to the boat. The heavy items consisted mainly of alcohol and a few tins of beans!!
We had a nice meal out with them afterwards and we said our goodbyes. It was a bit strange this time as we were staying in Falmouth and they were the ones leaving for home. It was great to see them and we were very pleased that they took the time to pay us a visit.
Friday dawned windless and very foggy. The classic racing was due to start today and to give the fleet their due a lot of boats drifted away from the marina into the thickening fog. It soon became so bad that we could not see 50yds and I felt sorry for all those that were out.
We had to get gas for RR and the easiest way to get to the shop was to row across to a set of steps that bought you up into the middle of the High St. I suggested to Claire that she should row as she needs the practice. Steve and Caroline our neighbours aboard Patience a 32ft Classic Rossiter Pintail yacht offered us their old and much loved aluminium tender for this momentous voyage. Now I know how generous that must sound to those reading this but I witnessed Steve just the day before drilling out lots and lots of rivets and replacing them with new ones because it was leaking so bad and I think we might have been the crash test dummies.
Well Claire rowed very well……..compared to the last time and very soon we were back on the pontoon with full gas bottles and only a few drops of water in the bottom of the tender.
My parents came to see us in the afternoon and we spent a pleasant hour or so in the café in the maritime museum watching the fog lift and the classics slowly drift back to their pontoons.
It was hard saying goodbye to my mum and dad, it took a lot of effort to come and see us having to get trains, and the National express coach from Victoria was not easy for them and both Claire and I appreciated seeing them. They got home safe and sound and I would like to thank Tam for her part in making their visit possible.
We hope to see both sets of parents somewhere in the Med before the year is out.
As luck would have it and to coincide with the classic yacht racing, I am not sure which one started the combined weekend but there is also a Sea Shanty festival being held in Falmouth with over 50 groups singing in over 50 venues around the town. The groups sing for about an hour at each venue then pack up and move onto the next?? It must be exhausting for them and whoever organised such a monumental undertaking should apply to run the country. A character that is there every year apparently is ‘Betty Stoggs’ and ‘she’ dresses up and strolls around Falmouth from morning to night raising money for the RNLI. She took a shine to my dad when he was here!!
A marina is a bit like a camp or a caravan site in that you can be very lucky or extremely unlucky with your neighbours. You have no real say in the matter unless you move on of course but in busy ports you sometimes have to grin and bear it. On this occasion we were unlucky!!! No, I’m joking we could not have had better berth partners. After we brought back their tender in one piece we arranged to go into town to listen to the shanties with Steve and Caroline. Midget and Gracie their border terriers came along too and we had a very enjoyable evening.
The next morning Steve and Caroline invited us out onto the water to take part in the parade of sail aboard Patience, what a treat and we couldn’t thank them enough. At a guess I would say that there were 60 + boats taking part in the parade with many of them staying out on the water to take part in the racing that was organised for the weekend.
We all went out again in the evening; we had a nice meal which Steve paid for I wasn’t happy but he insisted. A few more Shanty’s, to be honest I’m Shantied out now and after a couple of Doombars we went to bed. What a great day.
Sunday morning and the sun is shining, Steve, Caroline and the pooches were off to spend a few nights at anchor and we bade them a fond farewell with promises to meet up again in the near future.
Claire and I have started thinking about leaving too, we have had a great time here and its proved to us that we need to find out when and where these sailing events are being held as we carry on with our travels, being in Falmouth with the J class yachts, the classic regatta and the Shanty festival was a complete stroke of luck but it made a frustrating wait for the weather to clear into a very enjoyable week.
Our thoughts are on the crossing of the Biscay now and if the weather stays reasonably settled we intend to leave on the morning of Tuesday 16th.
Big deep Breath!!