Archive for August, 2011

Home (or thereabouts) on the Helford

Posted in Cornwall, Photographs, Sailing with tags on August 23, 2011 by maidofmettle

I’m now anchored on the very lovely Helford River, after a brief stop at Mullion Cove on the other side of the Lizard peninsula.

Maid may well actually think of this as home, since her previous owner bought her just upriver at Gweek and then moored her just round the corner at the top of the Penryn River near Falmouth.

I don’t think she’ll actually be stopping just here, but it’s a very nice spot to spend a few days.

(nautically-minded readers will probably be appalled at the lack of an anchor ball in this picture – the omission has since been rectified..)

Plans from now on are a little uncertain. I know I have a fair few blog entries to catch up on, not to mention finding a job, somewhere to keep the boat and somewhere to live..

0945: Land ho!

Posted in Sailing, the Atlantic Ocean on August 18, 2011 by maidofmettle

That’s great Horace, but remember it doesn’t count for the competition, right?
What? That’s Scilly…
Exactly, not the UK mainland..
Oh, never mind. I’ll just get on with steering, shall I?

1200: position 50 degrees 2 minutes north, 6 degrees 29 minutes west – it’s a long story, and involves at least one Cunning Plan.

1600: Land ho! – either Land’s End or Cape Cornwall, either of which definitely qualify..
Hey, just because you saw it first this time…

Same result either way though – Caroline wins with her guess of the 20th (though David was very close, later that day), not far off in the end! Thanks to everyone who joined in.

Now to see if I can find a handy harbour…

Nearly home, and a lot drier than yesterday

Posted in Sailing, the Atlantic Ocean on August 16, 2011 by maidofmettle

Nearly in terms of distance, anyway – over 1,000 nautical miles travelled now and I’m less than 150 from Falmouth, or the Helford.

It gets tempting to start thinking in terms of times rather than distances when it gets to this scale, but since you’re not averaging over a long period of time a spell of head-winds or calm can actually have a huge impact on how long it might take to arrive – the difference between doing 6 knots in the right direction, 2-3 knots at a big angle away from it or going nowhere at all is pretty significant.

My current position is 49 degrees 31 minutes north, 7 degrees 27 minutes west. The Scillies are actually only around 70 miles away, but I don’t plan on stopping there at the moment – still aiming eastwards for Lizard Point and hoping to turn north-north-east from there. With good wind, I could be in in a couple of days. However, the latest weather forecasts suggest even sighting land might take a while longer.

However, the weather is decidedly changeable at the moment. I’ve made excellent progress for most of the last week, including a very windy and spectacularly wet day yesterday with spray crashing all over the boat on a few occasions. A group of dolphins loved playing under the bow in it though.

Today has been much slower, but I’ve been very happy with the progress I have made since I’d been expecting the wind to turn against me by now, Of course, it may well still do that at some point in the near future. So from thinking Caroline’s guess (the earliest time) was a certain winner of the ‘land ho!’ game, I’m now starting to think it might be rather more open.. personally I have my fingers crossed for her though!

Carolyn – hehe, there might be a prize for the first people to find me…

Getting there..

Posted in Sailing, the Atlantic Ocean on August 13, 2011 by maidofmettle

Just today and tomorrow left for getting contest entries in – I have a few but I think it’s still very open.. I won’t say much more than that yet, position updates can resume next week. Chris has added a comment on one of those entries for anyone having trouble with the password – thanks!

There seems to have been a pattern of slow-and-steady during the day and swift progress at night lately – pity it’s not been the other way around, but miles gained are miles gained. Today has been pretty good with a lot of tweaking – reef in, reef out, change course & adjust sails, change course again – satisfying when it’s working.

And I did get a very nice surprise when changing the sails very early this morning. It started with me hearing some very strange noises… This is by no means unknown but usually it’s just an odd trick of gurgling water or something. This time it was a school of very big dolphins (don’t think they were big enough to be pilot whales) all around the boat – well worth missing a bit more sleep for!

A little competition?

Posted in Sailing, the Atlantic Ocean on August 9, 2011 by maidofmettle

Noon position 08/08 44 degrees 15 minutes north, 24 degrees 48 minutes west
Noon position 09/08 45 degrees 45 minutes north, 23 degrees 26 minutes west

Going very fast lately though it’s quite splashy outside and gets uncomfortable at times. Sometimes it feels very good, at others the continuous noise and motion can get a bit much.

If it gets too bad I can always pause and heave to for a while, but generally I prefer to be making good progress all the time I can – after all it may not last!

I have some more direct ‘competition’ as well now – it was a big surprise yesterday evening when I saw another sailing boat passing ahead of me – the first other one I’ve ever seen in open ocean! We had quite a chat over the radio and will hopefully meet up in Falmouth.

Seriously, racing of that sort isn’t really a factor (easy for me to say as Maid is slower!) compared to trying to make a quick passage avoiding any bad weather, but it will be fascinating to compare notes along the way and hopefully when we get there. Currently he seems to be taking the low road and I’m taking the high road in terms of route there – we’ll see what happens!

On that note, does anyone care to try and guess when I’ll sight land?

The prize is a bottle of Madeira, or Canarian honey rum, or the best imitation I can make of some kind of delicious Azorean pastries, to be delivered next time I see you in England or soon after at least.

If it’s close the first guess made will probably get priority, or there might be a second prize or something. The judge’s (my) decision is final!

Departure from Vila da Praia on Graciosa was 2000 GMT on the 3rd – I’m heading for the UK mainland, probably Falmouth so at a guess I’ll see The Lizard first whether it’s night or day.

A few tips if you need a hand..
The total distance is about 1200-1250 nautical miles according to the pilot book and I’m about 770 nm from the Lizard now, though my route may take me slightly further to get the best wind and current I can.
Average speed was..
about 3.3 knots from Faro to Porto Santo
about 3.3 knots from Madeira to Tenerife
1.8 knots (mostly very light winds) from Gran Canaria to Madeira
3 knots from Madeira to Santa Maria
and if you want to get serious of course there are my position reports up to now, weather forecasts….

Enter by sending a free message to my satellite phone by Sunday night – details of how in the last couple of posts.

I’ll try and post an entry list at some point..

Protected: Contact details

Posted in Uncategorized on August 8, 2011 by maidofmettle

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Contact details password

Posted in Uncategorized on August 8, 2011 by maidofmettle

I’ve been meaning to share these before the last couple of passages, but as this is easily the longest it’s certainly better late than never. They’re actually on the next entry which needs the following password –

three words, the name of the boat, with spaces, first and third words capitalised