'Dream Catcher's Summer Cruise 2010

N 50° 32' W 04° 56'

Lundy Island to Padstow - Sun 6th June 2010

June 06, 2010

Sunday 6th June 2010

0222hrs Departed Lundy Island for Padstow, distance 40 miles. All the books say approach Padstow just before HW to avoid rough seas over the ‘Doom Bar’ inside the entrance This meant an early start to catch the beginning of the SW stream at Hartland Point (-0440 HW Dover). I could then carry the tide a lot of the way to Padstow and have plenty of time to get through the gate into the inner harbour. The gate opens around 2 hours either side of high water and has around 2.8 metres over it when open. High water today at Padstow is 1250hrs BST.

The early start was worth it and I was under full sail doing 3-4 knots with a light wind from the WSW. Dark with damp air, but good visibility with Hartland Point light house clearly in view to port. Half an hour later the breeze is increasing and by 0420 I am putting the first reef in the mainsail and doing 6 knots in a WSW 3-4. Deliberately steering high of my course to build up an advantage for later when the tide turns foul and I can go on more of a close reach. A few ships around but all behaving well. Wind stays between WSW and SSW but manage to maintain around 5 knots. Great progress under sail for a change. As dawn breaks there are large dark clouds around, particularly over the coast and land. Another black seal pops up and a couple of dolphins played in the bow wave for a couple of minutes. Still don’t manage to photograph them.Very dark and grey everywhere but no rain and sailing along in a slight to moderate sea and swell. A cracking sail and the reef has not effected speed. ‘Dream Catcher’ starts to get over pressed when she exceeds 6 knots close hauled. A few spells of gustier conditions saw the Genoa rolled in a few turns to keep her well balanced. The heavy dark clouds over the coast prevent many glimpses of it but its dry fast sailing in the right direction.

Only have a foul tide for last 2 hours and can comfortably ease off onto a reach and maintain my course for my waypoint to clear the ‘Newland’ rock off Pentire Point at the entrance to Padstow. Arrive at the entrance at 1047hrs and the wind has decreased to a WSW 2-3 and I wallow in the swell as I run down to Stepper Point, determined to sail all the way. Find a nice bit of flat water inside Stepper Point and anchor at 1145hrs in glorious sunshine to drop and stow the main and get fenders and ropes ready. Very hot and humid in the shelter of the land and quickly strip off wet gear down to a t-shirt. A cup of coffee and a sandwich while I take in the view. Lots of boats out sailing off rock and pleasure boats taking visitors sight seeing. Set off to enter the harbour and call harbour on handheld. Instructed to tie up alongside one of two catamarans to starboard as I come into the harbour. Move lines over for starboard side too in outer harbour and enter. 1255hrs tied up alongside a catamaran in inner harbour.

The place is buzzing with people and almost frantic activity compared to the tranquillity outside. Glad I am rafted and not right alongside where everybody looks straight into your cabin. The other small yacht at Lundy came past me when I was anchored under Stepper Point, turns out they had left Lundy 2 hours later than me and had motor sailed all the way.

About a dozen yachts here with some moored bow and stern in the middle and several around the walls. A cracking sail and although still very cloudy its sunny and hot.

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Padstow Harbour

June 08, 2010

Sunday 6th to Tuesday 8th June

£1.60 a metre here with free wifi, showers and excellent facilities. The harbour staff are very helpful and will even take your petrol cans to the filling station and fill them up for you for a £2 fee. Great for me as I had four cans to fill and it saved me a half hour walk each way in pouring rain. It would seem they can organise most things for you here and the commercial and leisure users of the harbour seem not to conflict with each other. You need to have fenders ready and be prepared to either lie against the wall or raft outside of other boats. You will need to be able to move at short notice if required because yachts are coming and going at each high water, even in the middle of the night. Its well organised though and the harbour staff will try and put you somewhere you won’t be disturbed by telling them how long you might be staying as you call them on approach. You do need to call them approach on VHF channel 12 so that they can give you instructions on where they would like you to berth. I was the smallest yacht in the harbour but didn’t need to move once and was rafted outside of a 30ft catamaran from Bideford. I hadnt been looking forward to being in Padstow but once you get over the initial shock on arrival of thousands of tourists roaming the quayside it starts to grow on you.

The wifi was a bit intermittent when I was here but some of the pubs also have wifi available. There is a small Spar shop in the town, Boot’s chemist and an off licence. A larger Tesco’s store is on the out skirts of the town and has a free bus service from the harbour area Mon, Wed and Friday. It was torrential rain here on Sunday and the boom tent did some sterling service in a gusty SE wind but the harbour very secure. The depth in some places is shallower and a couple of 30 foot yachts just touched the soft mud when berthing ahead of me in around 1.5 metres. There are deeper areas and Harbour staff will ask for your draft on approach. Much nicer in the late evening when all the tourists head home. Padstow worked well for me as a bolt hole to shelter from the weather but the forecast looks like it will be another motor sail down to St Ives on Tuesday when the gate opens at about 1230hrs. Light SSW winds are forecast for Tuesday and light SE winds for Wednesday for rounding Lands End. They are then supposed to freshen NE on Thursday so might be in Newlyn or Mousehole for a day.

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N 50° 12' W 05° 02'

Padstow to Falmouth - Tuesday June 8th 2010

June 08, 2010

Tuesday 8th to Wednesday 9th June 2010

The forecast isnt giving any favourable wind direction for the forseeable future so time to move on or be stuck here for quite a while. What wind there is supposed to be is light NW or W possibly SW later. So it could be a motor sail again. St Ives is 32 miles down the coast and I could anchor off the harbour or in Carbis Bay if there isnt too much swell. Winds are due to go SE or E during tomorrow so might just press on for Falmouth and get around Lands End and the Lizard headlands in one big push of 87 miles. Well rested after my stay in Padstow so the latter will probably happen as I probably wouldn’t get much sleep anyway if I am rolling at anchor in St Ives bay. Should keep up a reasonable speed motor sailing as I follow the wind around tomorrow and hopefully get past the Lizard before it goes SE.

Departed Padstow at 1337hrs as soon as the gate was lowered followed by the catamaran who I had been rafted to. He was heading up the coast to Bideford. I negotiated the entrance channel and hosited sail in the Pool where the channels split to either Rock or Padstow. Some local moorings here and a couple of buoys used by visiting boats too early or too late for the gate at Padstow.

Its a beautiful sunny day and a light westerly wind is blowing. Manage to sail out past stepper point but the wind drops away and after a hour playing around trying to make headway against the last of the flood tide pushing me north I give up and start to motor sail. I cut into the bay before Trevose Head with the intention of going through the gap between the ‘Bull’ and the headland but the swell was big and the tide runs fast causing a disturbed sea. Lots of pot buoys between Stepper Point and Trevose Head most well marked, some sporting England football flags! Lovely sunny weather and the tide and disturbed water subsides once past the ‘Bull’. Visibility is good and I can see right down past Newquay to St Agnes Beacon. Heavy rain showers are forecast and ther is lots of cloud moving up from the West over the land. Small showers are coming along the coast but I am now 5 miles offshore and it remains nice and sunny. Its going to be a long trip so I keep the engine revs a bit lower than usual while the tide is with me now and averaging 4.5 knots. This should give me a good reserve of fuel for pushing around Lands End and the Lizard later. The impressive cliffs along the coast are lit up by the evening sun and what with the cloud and showers over the land makes for a fascinating view. Ticking off the towns and villages as I move steadily and comfortably onward adding another 5 litres of petrol to the main tank every four hours. Rainbows are forming between me and the coast and a great sunset is on the cards.

1955hrs A solitary Dolphin joins my bow wave with 22 miles to go to my waypoint off Cape Cornwall. Ten minutes later I am in the middle of a big pod of twenty plus dolphins who take it in turns to ride my bow wave in small groups. I even manage to get some photos and footage this time. What first looked like an oil rig being towed appears on the starboard bow and as I get closer it becomes apparent it is static and not under tow. It is in fact a ‘jack-up rig’ that is in position over the site of the new ‘Wave Hub’ that is being constructed off St Ives’s. The Lands End shipping lanes have actually been extended to protect it from any shipping cutting the corner. Strangely though as it gets darker it appears to be very poorly lit by a low white light. A structure of this size should surely have lights on the top of huge legs that tower above it? The sun has set and the air is getting damp and cool so on with the foulies for the night. The cloud has been getting heavier ahead as my course takes me closer in towards the land and showers I had been watching earlier. Looking decidedly black behind the loom of Pendeen light house ahead. Hope to round Longships light house around midnight. Close inshore off Pendeen the tide is strong and eddies collect rubbish into little small patches here and there.

I spot a pot buoy in my nav lights dead ahead and alter course sharply just as it takes off! Sleeping birds always catch me out like that, still it keeps you alert. I hate motoring at night when there is a good chance of being near pot buoys. I didn’t want to be coming around here in a south easterly tomorrow though. 2350hrs Heavy drizzle once past Pendeen light which continues until clear of the Longships light house off Lands End at 0202hrs. I had intended to save a few miles and cut inside of Longships but in the dark and with the heavy drizzle bringing visibility down I chose the more sensible option of following the lights and not relying on a chart plotter. I passed about 1 mile outside of Longships and although a pretty flat sea there was still a significant slop and tide. A miserable couple of hours but nice and dry behind my sprayhood as the tiller pilot took the strain. All the lights unfold in order before you and the only one that might fool you is ‘Wolf Rock’ light house which appears to the left of Longships as you appraoch and then quickly glides past behind it and to starboard as you round. The Runnel Stone Buoy light is visible as you pass Longships and then te Lizard Light as you pass or approach the Runnel Stone. Its June the rain has stopped and it will be getting light soon as I push on across Mount’s Bay towards the Lizard 18.6 miles ahead. The wind has turned Land’s end with me and is now Easterly right on the nose. Passed the Runnelstone Buoy as a cruise ship glided very slowly past well to starboard, heading for Scilly no doubt. 0400hrs The first signs of the sky lightening, 13 miles to Lizard Point.

0717 Abeam Lizard point in a rolly 2-3 metre sea and swell doing 2.5 knots. Well I couldnt expect to get the tide right for all the headlands but this was a slow rounding of the Lizard with a foul tide now all the way to Falmouth. Its a warm morning though and speed improves to four knots once past the Lizard. Pretty tired and looking forward to a sleep. Tempting to pull into the Helford River and anchor up but with the winds now being ESE and forecast to go NE fresh to strong by tomorrow I will press on into the assured shelter of Falmouth. 1100hrs dropping sail just inside  St Anthony’s Head light house at the entrance to Falmouth. St Mawes was where I had thought to anchor but on looking in there I decided to go a few miles further on to the end of the Carrick Roads. Channal’s Creek under Trelissick House is one of the best anchorages for some peace and quiet and a good sleep you will find. 1200hrs at anchor Channal’s Creek, Phew! Its a bright and sunny with a few clouds and the wind is already NE. The picturesque scenery here makes the long night all worth it. Glad I didnt anchor at St Ives last night and have to face beating around to Falmouth today. A long trip but the right decision in the end and now I can relax here for a few days with a choice of sheltered anchorages.

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N 50° 09' W 05° 03'

Channal's Creek, Falmouth - 9th to 11th June 2010

June 10, 2010

Wednesday 9th June

Got four hours sleep after arriving at 1200hrs from Padstow. Four other yachts anchored here as well and its a lovely sunny afternoon sheltered from the now NE wind. Feeling much better for a sleep and enjoying the fantastic views of Trelissick House on the hill over looking the creek, the high wooded banks at the beginning of the King Harry passage and the view all the way back up Carrick Roads to Mylor, Falmouth and Pendennis Castle. Can even see a couple of oil tankers in Falmouth Bay beyond. Slowly prepare some dinner and watch the sunset. My mind starts thinking of jobs to be done but they can wait until the morning.

Thursday 10th June

0900hrs Awoke after a nice long sleep to a another sunny day with just the odd cloud. The forecast is for the wind to freshen from the NE and cloud to build with the risk of heavy showers later. Have a nice relaxed breakfast and set about a few jobs on the boat. The poor little 8HP Yamaha outboard thats pushed me many miles now is running rough at lower revs again. Remove carburettor and clean out the jets and check all fuel cans and tank for water. All completely clean with most of them empty now. Need to get 30 litres today or tomorrow from Mylor who are cheaper than the fuel berth at the Visitors Yacht Haven (VYH) at Falmouth. Engine starting and running fine now but not convinced it is a dirty fuel problem. I check the breather screw on the tank and it is seized and breaks off as I try to ensure that it is unscrewed. The remaining breather hole looks clear but I rod it through to make sure. The wind freshens and some cloud cover develops but still warm with some sunny periods.

I blow up the dinghy to go ashore and get some much needed exercise later. Lunch onboard first and then at 0200hrs I row against the fresh NE wind in my tiny little dinghy. Not room for two in this one! The National Trust own Trelissick House and grounds and have created some lovely walks around the shoreline. It took an hour each way to walk from Trelissick via South Wood walk, North Wood, Lamouth Creek and onto Round Wood Quay on the opposite side of Lamouth Creek. Some very impressive scenery and woodland along the way including huge ships laid up in King harry Passage waiting for an upturn in the economy. The paths are relatively shaded but it was still  a warm day. Get back to the boat at 1600hrs and rest for a few minutes before jumping in the dinghy and cleaning all of the hull. It was covered in black marks from the divers inflatable coming alongside me at Lundy Island. A slow relaxing dinner follows and then the family phone calls, before watching another sunset.

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N 50° 20' W 04° 37'

Falmouth to Fowey - Saturday 12th June 2010

June 12, 2010

Saturday 12th June
Beautiful morning, blue sky with the odd cloud and a fresh breeze.
Departed Visitors Yacht Haven (VYH) anchorage 0930hrs and motored over to the head off Flushing to anchor in more space while I hoisted sail. My anchor was under the stern of a yacht at the anchorage by the VYH and it was tricky with the yachts veering around in the gusty NE wind to break it out without colliding with the other yachts stern. The wind accelerates down the Penryn River at the anchorage and it can feel fresher than it actually is in Northerlies. Looking forward to a good sail today with a NE 3-4 forecast. Undecided whether to put a reef in or not, but put it in anyway as it is easy to shake it out.
Depart 1020hrs for the 20 mile passage to Fowey and head out of Falmouth under sail doing 6.5 knots with the last of the ebb on a broad reach. I pass close under St Anthony’s Head and turn onto my course for ‘Dodman Head’ and a close reach. Keeping as close to the shore as the wind will allow so that I can bear away later and hopefully have a weaker tidal stream closer inshore. The wind is NE and force 3-4 as forecast but gusts off the land for the next few miles past St Anthony’s Head are laying me right over and I have to spill the main in the fresher ones and also have to roll in some of the Genoa. A slight sea and a moderate short swell are slowing the boat down to 3.5 knots with the odd bit of spray coming aboard. An invigorating sail with salt in the air but the tiller pilot isn’t happy with the gusty winds and keeps over compensating. Its half way across the bay to the Dodman that I get a steady wind and things finally settle down allowing me to bear away a little. Slower progress than I had expected and a little more East than forecast meaning I am having to pinch to windward where I can. Nice to be sailing for once though and not motor sailing.
1315hrs Rounding the Dodman 1\4 mile offshore in a NNW 2-3 but gets gusty again the other side of the Dodman as the wind accelerates off the tall cliffs and starts laying me over again. Holding my course for Fowey but pinching too hard and slowing to 3 knots. A short sea with some wind against tide as the flood pushes me into St Austell Bay. This allows me to free off a little a get back up to 4 1/2 knots and makes things much drier. Other yachts departed Falmouth around the same time and are ahead of me thanks to their longer waterlines not being effected by the short seas. A couple of Gaff rigged boats are also coming up fast behind. A bit of a beat with lots of spray flying but laying my course for Fowey entrance okay. As I get past the ‘Gwineas’ buoy and half way across St Austell Bay the strengthening tide set into the bay allows me bear away onto almost a broad reach and speed finally gets up to 5 knots for the last few miles into the ‘Cannis Buoy’ of  Gribbin Head’ that you must leave to port. The short seas also eased off to a more regular moderate swell and the wind returned to the NE. Once past he ‘Canis’ buoy you can line up for the entrance to Fowey and if like today a northerly wind it is sheltered and a suitable time to drop sail and ready fenders and lines if you are short handed. In other winds it can be challenging to drop sail here in short seas and you may need to enter the harbour and drop sail in the fairway which can be quite busy.
I motor into the harbour and up to the ‘Under Hill’ visitors pontoon where the engine decides to start running rough at low speeds and threatening to stall. 1615hrs alongside visitors pontoon Fowey, no wind, blue sky, hot and sunny. When you enter Fowey which is easy by day or night the visitors pontoons and moorings can all be found to starboard in the area around ‘Pont Pill’ creek. There is no water or power at these pontoons. There is another pontoon much further up the river which offers more shelter in strong southerly winds. Most people use the water taxi to get ashore but you can use your dinghy to cross to the town but there is a strong tidal flow here and large commercial ships are regular visitors to the port.

The boat and me are covered in salt and the hot sun is baking it too my face and I feel very wind burnt. On reflection it was a good sail but I should have freed off earlier once at the Dodman and allowed the cross set of the tide to sweep me back onto my course. Must stop myself pinching too hard in shorter seas and have a much easier time of it! Another stunning bit of coastline to sail.

I heard after arriving that it had been a busy day for the RNLI in the area who had to launch to four different incidents.

1. An elderly woman fallen from a catamaran sailing off Looe, recovered with difficulty to the boat by two others onboard and then airlifted to hospital sadly died. Believed to have been dragged over by putting a bucket over the side that was tied to her wrist. A lesson for us all.

2. A diver near Falmouth separated from his support boat after coming up too far away was rescued safely.

3. Four children on a beach near Falmouth were blown out to sea in a dinghy were rescued safely.

4. A person in a capsized sailing dinghy, struggling in fresh winds off Fowey entrance was rescued safely.

I unscrewed the fuel tank cap one turn and ran the engine after I tied up to the pontoon and it seemed to be fine, suspect it might be the tank breather not venting the tank and causing a vacuum reducing fuel flow at low revs. Will make sure the tank filler cap isn’t over tightened in future.

Helped a couple of yachts arriving with lines, one of them Plymouth Sailing School. Had a brief chat with the instructor and went ashore for some fish and chips! A nice overnight stay in Fowey which I have visited many times and another attractive harbour. Will depart for the Plymouth or the River Yealm tomorrow. Ports and harbours are conveniently spaced about 20 miles apart along the coast from Falmouth eastwards and a procession of yachts can be seen departing and arriving with the tide each day. Its a popular area and you can expect to have to raft up at pontoons at weekends or high season. There are no great navigational challenges and the coastline is stunning on all but the greyest of days. 

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N 50° 21' W 04° 07'

Fowey to Plymouth - Sunday 13th June 2010

June 13, 2010

Sunday June 13th

1100hrs Depart Fowey for Plymouth approx 20 miles with a forecast of NW 4-5 with cloud building from the west and showers later. Another glorious sunny morning and I opt for going close inshore again to get a good view of the huge cliffs between here and Looe. Light westerly wind as I leave along with a steady stream of other yachts mainly heading East also. Cloud building behind in the west as forecast, but very clear and sunny here. Hope to get into Plymouth ahead of the rain. Ambling along in a slight sea and swell at 3 to 4 knots and enjoying the scenery. By 1400hrs I am off Looe Island and a SSW 2-3 has developed and cloud has filled in over the land but still bright offshore. Its 10 miles to my waypoint off Penlee Point at Rame Head where I turn into Plymouth sound. A couple of Gaffers are slowly gaining on me and we round Penlee point together. The cloud is coming in thick now and I tuck into Cawsand Bay just behind Rame Head at 1525hrs to drop sail and prepare fenders and lines.

I opt for Plymouth Yacht Haven at Turnchapel on the Cattewater, opposite the Barbican and Queen Annes Battery Marina. I assumed that as they are part of the Haven group that run Neyland Yacht Haven they will charge the same. How wrong I was and this has been the most expensive berth to date for this trip. Didnt realise until I started to pay after checking in at the Marina office that they were 50% more expensive than Neyland Marina! Very nearly cancelled the second night and moved around to Mayflower Marina who are cheaper and just as remote. It was the most sheltered of the Marinas for the fresh winds overnight and I had the usual shore power for the laptop and free wifi. For such a large marina there was incredibly little activity on the boats or pontoons, compared to other places I have been. Perhaps they cant afford to use their boats here after paying for their berths!

Monday June 14th

I stayed two nights and the next day caught the Mountbatten ferry over to the Barbican to do some shopping. The ferry runs every 30 minutes and costs £1.50 each way and is a ten minute walk from the marina and runs until 2300hrs each day from June to September. I walked right into Plymouth City Centre to get a cheap 240 volt reading lamp for the boat so that I had some decent light for when I had shore power. Up until now I have been trying to type emails and blogs by oil lamp even when I had shore power available. Should have done it sooner but now I don’t have any excuse for all the spelling mistakes! Walking into a busy city centre after being on the boat for 3 weeks was quite a shock to the system and I was glad to return to the quieter Barbican are for lunch before heading back to the Marina. The facilities at Plymouth Yacht Haven were fine but it seemed to lack the usual marine atmosphere you get in most marinas. It served a purpose during the fresh showery weather and I am well rested and stocked up for my next move up the coast to Salcombe. 

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N 50° 14' W 03° 45'

Plymouth to Salcombe - Tuesday 15th June 2010

June 15, 2010

Tuesday 15th June

Plymouth to Salcombe 18 miles, forecast is for light NE winds up to 10 knots. Made sure I got my full 2 days at Plymouth yacht haven and had the assistant help walk me back out of the berth while pulling my stern around on a rope. My outboard being behind the rudder means I have little steerage until she has good weigh on and I didn’t have enough room to execute the turn with the NE wind blowing me back onto the berth. Its also quite shallow immediately behind the visitors berths and it was low water when I wanted to leave.

1430hrs Departed Plymouth Yacht haven for Salcombe in a light NE breeze and glided slowly down the Cattewater into Plymouth Sound under just Genoa. Hoping to be able to sail the whole way so that I don’t need to get any more fuel at Salcombe. Havnt used much lately and want to keep it that way. Hoist mainsail with reef still in as I head out on the Eastern side of the sound past ‘Rum Bay’. Seems to be a favourite afternoon anchorage for local yachts, providing good shelter from North and East winds, must remember that one. Running downwind in flukey and patchy winds as I pop out of the Eastern breakwater entrance. Nice and sunny with a little cloud and lots of boats out and about in the sound and six warships playing further out.

1550hrs Abeam the Mewstone off the River Yealm entrance and the wind has finally picked up to a nice NE 2-3. A nice steady wind of the land for the next half hour then it went East on the nose and died. Engine on for half an hour and then the wind was back but more ENE and just managing to hold course for my waypoint off Bolt head at the entrance to Salcombe. Wind remains light and flukey up to Bolt Tail and then a fresh breeze off the very high cliffs allows me to claw my way back onto my rhumb line. Tide with me now seas becoming moderate to rough, getting up to 6 knots as the wind lays me over in the bigger gusts. Glad I left the reef in the main now and the wind is giving me enough drive to press through the disturbed water that seems to reside here between Bolt Tail and Bolt Head. 1945hrs passing Bolt Head and turning in for the leading marks at Salcombe which clear the notorious sand bar in the entrance. You need to keep well over to the port and line up the easily distinguished leading marks that will become apparent as you get closer in. I have been here in the dark with no problems and the bar is only rough in strong southerly winds when the tide is ebbing. Sandy Cove is to starboard as you pass the bar and a favourite anchorage in fair weather, although you will still be charged by the harbour masters launches which patrol the whole area inside the bar. I had already dropped sail before the bar and proceeded up to the town moorings. The visitors moorings are immediately off the town pontoon outside of a line with the rubbish skip. Do not come inside of this line as it gets very shallow and dries on spring tides. The tide can swing visiting boats around off the town and not always all at the same time. It is possible that you may touch other yachts on these moorings as the tide turns you. There is a large amount of motor boat traffic here as the water taxis are constantly in and out as well as many speed boats, so expect to be tossed around in the wakes they create.

I prefer to continue a few minutes up the estuary and take the branch to the left into an area known as ‘The Bag’ where there is a popular visitors pontoon mid channel amidst the local moorings. There is no water or electricity here but it is a lovely spot with rolling hills coming down to the shore. I arrive at ‘The Bag’ at 2015hrs and have to raft up outside a larger yacht. I pick the one with the flattest sides that isn’t going to bend my stanchions. It can get very busy here at weekends and you can be rafted 3 deep. Its a beautiful still evening and all you can here is the sheep bleating on the hill sides and the odd fish jumping. Took a bit longer than anticipated to get here but at least I managed to sail most of it leaving me with plenty of fuel to get to Guernsey in a day or two.       

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N 50° 14' W 03° 45'

Salcombe - Wednesday 16th to Thursday 17th June 2010

June 16, 2010

Wednesday 16th June

Awoke at 0730hrs to a lovely sunny with a fresh NE wind here in ‘The Bag’. Moved alongside the pontoon after the yacht inside me departed. Had a leisurely breakfast taking in the views. The local ‘Island Cruising Club’ has its unique base here in an old ship across the estuary called the ‘Egremont’ and runs all sorts of sailing courses for youngsters and all RYA courses up to Yacht Master. You can go across by dinghy to use their showers for a donation and there is also a bar onboard. Its a long dinghy ride round to the town but the harbour operates a water taxi service which picks up and drops off anywhere in the harbour for a fee, until 2230hrs. Call them on VHF Channel 12.

Got talking to a man aboard a little Jaguar 21 in front of me. He had been anchored off the town on Saturday and had a gas fire onboard! Fortunately for him it was only a portable stove with a gas cartridge and he was able to put it out. He did burn his legs quite badly but he still had his boat and he was alive. A very lucky man indeed. After raising the alarm a first responder was with them in 3 minutes and an ambulance within 7 minutes. The fire brigade were a little longer as they had to travel from Kingsbridge. The man runs the brokerage at Retreat Boatyard on the River Exe and also had his wife and a dog onboard. We joked that he ought to rename the boat ‘Flash Dance’. There is a good phone signal here and I was able to look up the weather forecast for him on my laptop as they are leaving for the River Exe tomorrow and want light winds as his legs were quite painful.

An older couple on a Vancouver 37 were waiting to get across to the Channel Islands but the forecast was still giving force 5 the Channel islands on Thursday easing to force 3 later and becoming light and variable by late Friday. Was hoping to depart myself at 2100hrs today but will leave it until tomorrow night when it will be force 3 around the Channel Islands. Did a few jobs on boat instead including fitting a new VHF plug and raking the mast further forward and tightening the forestay. The rigging looked a little slack in the stronger gusts coming in yesterday. Took the water taxi ashore and had fish and chips! Returned to pontoon later and a 35ft yacht had managed to squeeze into the space behind me with inches to spare. So close that a fender was mounted on his stern to keep us from touching. Got chatting to the skipper and they had just arrived from Lyme Regis where they had an uncomfortable time in a fresh force 6. They had lost the main halyard on the way to Salcombe and it had gone right down the mast, so they needed to thread it down the mast in the morning. I offered to help winch him up the mast as he was sailing with his wife and didn’t think she could grind the winch.

Thursday 17th June

Awoke to another clear blue sky and gentle NE breeze. Getting used to these lovely sunny mornings and its really quite hot today, summer is here. My offer to help Hugh go up his mast was gratefully taken up and we set about the task. I winched him up on the main mast winch while his wife tailed a second safety line on another winch. It was hard hot work as I could only get a quarter turn at a time on the winch and we had to get someone else to help tail my rope while I concentrated on winching. A mouse line made up of short lengths was fed down first with a a number of nuts tied to the end to weight it. Inevitably it broke while pulling the halyard through and we had to start again. A bit of jigging and poking at the base and we had the halyard back in place. A very relieved Hugh later insisted on thanking me by taking me to lunch and after refusing was told I had no choice. He pumped up his dinghy and and set the outboard running. I always use last years petrol he said and have never had any problems! Needless to say this was the engines first run this year and half way to the town it started running rough and he was struggling to keep it running. We got there and had a laugh about it but it was clearly not going to manage going back against the strong tide that runs here. We had a lovely lunch in a pub courtyard and I succeeded in buying them a drink as I felt guilty about them taking me for lunch. I always like to help where I can and hope others would do the same for me. Hugh set about finding somewhere to dump his fuel and find some clean fuel. Not an easy task in Salcombe as no petrol is available in the town. He dumped his fuel at a recycling point by the trailor park and rowed all the way out to the fuel barge who do sell petrol, but its a fair row in a dinghy against the tide on a hot day. We returned to the pontoon mid afternoon and they thanked me again before setting off for a coastal walk. An unexpected really nice day and Hugh and Wendy were a lovely couple and great company for the day.

Just the right time left to make up some sandwiches and snacks for the passage to Guernsey tonight. Checked the latest forecast for the channel and the force 5 in Guernsey was going down to a 3 by 0800 tomorrow and then going light and variable by evening. Will probably have to motor sail some of it but it should be a smooth crossing at least. Shared the forecast with another boat heading for Guernsey and grabbed a few hours sleep, well rest might be a better description as I never manage to sleep during the day. Plan to depart around 2200hrs to give myself a good 18 hours to get to ‘Platte Fougere’ a mark at the NE end of the Little Russel Channel. The Little Russell needs to be timed for slack water, which is half tide in Guernsey. The SW stream will start in the Little Russel tomorrow at 1500hrs (- 0130 HW Dover) and then turn NE six hours later. If I get better wind than expected and arrive early I will ‘heave-to’ and wait to make my approach. I will then at least have wind and tide in my favour and hopefully light winds, so should be the perfect conditions for my first passage through this notorious channel.

I have had a few nice stays at ‘The Bag’ and highly recommend it and as a bonus this time the harbour authority under charged me and I seem to have got one night for free. I didn’t realise until after I had departed of course!         

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N 49° 27' W 02° 32'

Salcombe to Guernsey - Thurs 17th to Friday 18th June 2010

June 17, 2010

2100hrs Thursday 17th June

Ready to get moving now and just want to get going. Winds are going to be light and I could probably delay until midnight as I can predict my speed if I am going to be motor sailing in light winds for some of the passage. Its 70 miles from the Bar at Salcombe entrance to St Peter Port in Guernsey and I hope to arrive about 1700hrs tomorrow.

2145hrs Can’t wait any longer and depart pontoon and stow fenders and lines. Motor down past the town and hoist main just before the bar. Its very light still and the wind is coming from the West at the entrance as it comes down off the land.

2210hrs Out from the shelter of Bolt head and close to the eastern shore off Prawle Point. Light WNW wind and a slight sea and swell. Full sail 4.5 knots with a lovely sunset and moon. Manage to keep up 4.5 knots for next hour but know most of this speed is tidal assistance from the last of the ebb out of Salcombe. Start point light house appears to port and by 2320hrs I am becalmed and have not even the slightest breeze. Oh dear motor sailing already, hope its not going to stay like this. Lots of big shipping cutting the corner a couple of miles ahead, six of them one behind the other then nothing. Must be rush hour.

0200hrs Engine off and making 3.5 knots under full sail in a light NNE 1-2. Nice and peaceful  and enjoying the stars on this clear warm night. Slipping along steadily on a broad reach nice and level. I zoom in on the Little Russel with the chart plotter and look at tide strength and direction (1.4 knot NE stream right now). A great tool to be able to see what the tide will be doing around the same time on my approach in 12 hours time. 42.7 miles to Plate Fougere mark at the beginning of the Little Russel.

0400hrs Its starting to get light and I keep up 3-4 knots until 0500hrs when I get a nice red sunrise. Down to 2 knots now in an ENE 1-2 and time to put the engine on again and push on. 0706hrs Blue sky and a nice warm sunshine, 30 miles to Plate Fougere and lots of shipping ahead in the TSS lanes. Need to keep up a steady speed motor sailing while I cross the end of the shipping lanes. A steady uneventful motor sail in a calm sea across the shipping lanes with a basking shark swimming up my wake at one point. Gannets and Guillemots busy hunting. Shipping behaving itself and altering course to pass ahead or astern of me at a safe distance.

1220hrs Guernsey in sight for a while but disappears in building cloud. I was able to stop engine and sail in a light breeze since clearing the shipping lanes and I even reduced the Genoa to slow down a little but I am still too early for the tide at the Little Russel 12 miles ahead. ‘Heave-to’ in a moderate sea and swell thats been building with wind against tide here and put up ‘Q’ flag and States of Guernsey courtesy flag. Making 6 knots if I bear away for my course but not sure if overfalls will be present if I get to the channel an hour early. A fresh NE 3-4 breeze here and a few white horses, must be bigger sea nearer the Little Russel. Decide to drop and stow main as well so that I don’t have to try and reef or mess about in any overfalls I might come across. The Genoa is plenty in these fresh conditions and at 1320 I start my run in to Fougere 10 miles ahead. Grey and cloudy now and fresh wind making it cool. Foul gear on and boots at the ready. Three sails coming up on a similar course behind me but a strong westerly cross set as I close means I have to start to motorsail to keep up 3 knots across the tide. Could have done with that mainsail still up for a bit more drive. The wind is also dropping and the sea state is levelling off all the time and the Tower of Plate Fougere is clearly visible against the golden sands of Herm behind it. The cloud has cleared and I am stripping off the foul gear as I continue to motor sail hard across the strong westerly stream. I could have come in early after as I am now slipping behind a little but being my first time in the Little Russel I was a bit over cautious of timing my approach for the best possible conditions.

Finally round Plate Fougere tower at 1600hrs but you need to get well beyond it before you pick up the SW stream in the Little Russel down to St Peter Port which was now 1.6 knots. A slight sea and very light breeze now so Genoa furled and just under motor as I take in the impressive sight of Herm, Jethou and Sark. Alderney is just out of sight in cloud but the leading marks are easy to spot and I make my way down the channel. I keep to shallow water outside the main marks as two Condor fast ferry’s speed in and out and create a huge wake that I have to turn the bow into. The shallower areas on the chart can clearly be seen on the surface as the tide disturbs the water and creates small eddies and over falls. A cruise liner is at anchor along with a merchant navy ship. The three yachts behind me have now caught up and pass inside me to get in ahead of me. Lots of motor boats out and about enjoying the sunny day. A very smooth crossing and virtually text book Little Russell first passage. Sure its not always so calm.

Enter the outer harbour at St Peter Port at 1715hrs an hour before LW but there’s enough water for my little yacht to get to the fuel berth to port below the ‘Boatworks’ chandlery as you enter. Filled up 4 petrol cans and went across to the visitors waiting pontoon for the marina just outside the sill. Several boats already there and instructed to move forward alongside another smaller French yacht. A 3hr wait until the sill is open so rustle up some soup and coffee. Another small French yacht rafts outside me and the distant sound of cheers from a pub by the harbour is a reminder that England are playing in the world cup! Civilisation?

The sill is opened at 2125hrs and the very efficient harbour staff in their dory’s come around and tell you when it is your turn to enter. There were around thirty boats to get in and it is a pretty slick and fast operation by the harbour staff. They go ahead of you and point to exactly which berth they want you to go to. Fortunately I was able to have a finger berth which means you don’t have to raft and keep moving for other boats during your stay. Finally tied up in Victoria Marina at 2145 and connected to shore power. Getting dark fast and temperature dropping but your well protected in here and can finally relax. A quick stretch of the legs ashore around to the harbour masters office to get the shower and free wifi codes before getting some sleep.

Paid for three nights which gives you a fourth night free all for £32.00. Excellent value and very good facilities. Petrol around a £1 a litre and no duty at all on diesel.

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N 49° 27' W 02° 32'

St Peter Port, Victoria Marina, Guernsey - 19th to 23rd June 2010

June 22, 2010

Saturday 19th June

Slept in until 0900hrs and then had a leisurely breakfast in the glorious sunshine again. Went ashore for a walk around the town and to top up supplies from the co-op store. Took some photo’s and spent the afternoon people and boat watching in the marina. Quite busy here at the weekend and hardly any space left. Amazing how the harbour staff manage the steady flow of boats in and out at the top of each tide. Its a 24hr operation and quite an usual experience for me as I am used to being on a swinging harbour mooring. Very few incidents occur and most people show a good degree of boat handling to get in some of the tighter berths. I suppose most of them are used to marina’s. A hot and sunny day catching up on little jobs and relaxing.

Sunday 20th June

Another long sleep and a slow breakfast. Sunny and hot again. The first thing you notice is the reduced volume of traffic on the seafront road next to the marina on a Sunday. A lot of shops here close on a Sunday and local families appear for walks along the front. I go for a long walk down to ‘Castle Coronet’ that looks over the harbour entrance and then on along the coast past the seawater pools and up onto the coast path to St Martin where you get incredible elevated views out to St Martins point and back to St Peter Port and St Samson beyond. Looking out to sea you can see all the channel islands and lots of private power boats and yachts mainly heading to or from Herm for the day. Its a very popular destination for the day if your a boat owner. I took a ferry trip to Herm on a Sunday last time I was here and the pub over there and the moorings off the little harbour are over whelmed with boats. Hope to get over there and anchor myself on this trip if the weather permits.

Spent the evening aboard having dinner and trying to update the blog. The blog site however was experiencing some problems and I was unable to update it much. Even lost a couple of posts somehow. Due to this I am writing posts for the blog offline and publishing them when I can. Photos will be added later when the blog site problems are sorted.

Monday 21st June

After another lie in I start catching up with blog posts which takes all day. The hottest day yet and actually glad to be in the shade of the cabin most of the day. Ashore for fish and chips tonight and then did some laundry. A lovely sunny day and getting used to the usual turn around of boats as the sill opens. Help a few of them tie up. Will start to think about moving on tomorrow and look at the forecast and do some shopping for provisions. Its been nice to have the luxury of spending a few days here instead of rushing to move on. Even managed to do my laundry this evening.

Tuesday 22nd June

Ready to move on now but some bad family news means I will be staying at least one more night so I can remain in touch via email and phone. Cant guarantee I will have a signal at Herm or Chausee. Manage to resolve the problem with adding posts to the blog and get some shopping done.

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