Archive for March, 2014

June 2012 – Tales Of Gales

Posted in Cornwall, Photographs, Sailing, Walking with tags , , , on March 26, 2014 by maidofmettle

My next opportunity to get away for a while was just after the Jubilee weekend in June. This featured both a lot of fun and a lot of weather.

2012-06-06 #01

It began with a severe gale forecast, leading to a hasty trip to seek shelter on the St Germans River. Calm and tranquil now, but not forecast to stay that way

2012-06-06 #03

so I carried on up to the Dandy Hole. Several other boats had already acted on the same idea, including , who I’d met the previous autumn having recognised their boat from Horta in the Azores, and another arrived in the morning.

2012-06-07 #01

It is almost the perfect anchorage for winds of pretty much any strength from anywhere from south to west, with a relatively deep outside of a wide bend on the St Germans River well sheltered from those directions by high ground and trees.

I say well sheltered – still windy enough to flip the dinghy upside down once and create a lot of baling.

However, it’s not all that big, and having spent some time worriedly watching a boat anchored near me swinging quite close I decided I needed to move for a bit more peace of mind. Although I’d been there first I felt I was more likely to be able to move and re-anchor without incident, although it was rather exciting.

I went on a rising tide just in case I got blown onto the mud, and got the engine on the anchor most of the way up before waiting for a lull.. and then pulled very hard to get it aboard before getting going with the engine.

Turning the boat in that much wind took some doing, with the unplanned side effect of trying to run the dinghy under the water. Oops…

2012-06-07 #05

In hindsight I maybe should have had it astern rather than alongside, but there could’ve been some unpredictable issues with that as well, especially since it had already flipped one then. At least it was secure! This time I didn’t bail it out as much though, thinking a little water ballast would be handy.

I’d also taken the opportunity to re-anchor in a much better place, clear of all the other boats and tucked in closer to the western as well as the southern shore of the bend, giving Maid excellent shelter from the wind (the waves are not really an issue here as you can see).

2012-06-08 #01

In fact, conditions were fine to take the dinghy (temporarily minus water ballast) for a trip to explore up-river

2012-06-08 #02

with a very easy trip back – just me and the dinghy itself needed for the sails, and one oar as a rudder!

2012-06-08 #22

Getting back upwind from visiting Paul and Mo was rather more of a workout! By the evening it was still very windy but there was a bit of sunshine to appreciate the beautiful surroundings with.

2012-06-09 #03

The next day I took a shorter dinghy trip and a longer walk towards the village of St Anthony, enjoying some fine views across the river

2012-06-09 #09

and by the evening things had calmed down to a peaceful sunset (you can just see the St Germans viaduct which carries the Grest Western railway over the river below it).

2012-06-09 #17

The next day I sailed back a little way downstream and anchored just off Forder Lake, near another viaduct.

2012-06-10 #05

There are still some remnants (such as boundary markers?) from where there was once a wooden viaduct on Brunel’s original southern alignment of the railway here.

2012-06-10 #03

The village of Forder further up is very green and leafy- I went for a bit of a walk around here before heading back downstream

2012-06-10 #07

for a walk along the river – here I was checking up on Maid from the woods near Anthony Passage.

2012-06-11 #05

The next day I sailed down the Tamar, passing Paul and Mo in the Narrows. It looked like the black clouds behind them had passed us by, but there were some ominous ones upwind as well.

2012-06-11 #10

Having decided to continue rather than anchor in Barn Pool, I rather regretted this as the rain absolutely teemed down, stinging even with sunshine still visible out to sea

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and turning the water surface white.

2012-06-11 #13

I have very rarely got quite so wet so quickly, and was very glad to drop anchor in Jennycliff Bay on the far side of the Sound to change into some dry clothes and eventually stop shivering.

2012-06-12 #01

However listening to the evening forecast it now sounded like this wouldn’t be a comfortable place to be, so I decided I’d better motor back across the Sound past Drake’s Island

2012-06-12 #04

to Barn Pool. Humph (though incidentally, I did get told a while later that the wind had blown strongly all over the place here that afternoon causing a boat or two to drag – probably why it’s empty other than me in this photo – so perhaps not stopping here earlier wasn’t such an error after all!).

2012-06-12 #06

I spent the next day at anchor here, rowing ashore and walking on the Mount Edgcumbe estate. A good day for relaxing in the sunshine, as you can see below 🙂

2012-06-12 #08

And also nice for walking through shady woodland

2012-06-12 #09

to where I could see out to sea. Definitely a day for walking or motoring rather than sailing.

2012-06-13 #15

I stopped in at the Edgcumbe Arms on the way back – a very nice pub, though I imagine it must get pretty quiet in the winter, being one of those places that’s easy to visit by boat but relatively hard to get to by land.

2012-06-12 #23

There was time for a run ashore (though not involving a pub this time) the next morning as well, with a slightly different route for the walk, this time taking in Milton’s Temple. The inscription from Paradise Lost on the back wall is certainly apt:

“Over head up grow
Insuperable height of loftiest shade;
Cedar and fir and branching palm,
A sylvan scene; and as the ranks ascend
Shade above shade, a woody theatre
Of Stateliest view.”

2012-06-13 #04

Another slightly surprising structure in the park is the Folly Tower, which offers fine views over Plymouth and the northern part of the Sound.

2012-06-13 #10

Walking further round, the view southward became rather sunnier, and brought a fine sea breeze as well.

2012-06-13 #15

Very fine for going sailing in fact – here Maid is heading south from Barn Pool

2012-06-13 #22

before turning round Drake’s Island having decided I’d like to finally pop into Plymouth for a bit.. The Barbican area is certainly well worth a visit, with an attractive and busy harbourside

2012-06-13 #30

and some fine sculpture.

2012-06-13 #33

One of the chimneys of the Plymouth Gin distillery is just visible in the background here, in a very nice old bit of town, though I was more interested in the fish and chips.

2012-06-13 #34

Delicious eaten under way, with a fair wind and a fine sunset to go and drop anchor in Millbrook Lake.

2012-06-13 #35

The next morning, after a bit off a row up the nearby creek towards Millbrook, it was time to go and hide from the next gale in the Dandy Hole. This was a rather exciting sail on the way in, with barely any water under the keel and the already strong wind giving quite some speed with just the one jib up. I was glad I’d sailed the same way earlier in the week so had some idea of the channel from experience as well as looking at the chart, and even more that luck seemed to be with me!

2012-06-14 #07

The warm sector of the depression certainly lived up to its name on this occasion.

2012-06-15 #01

As well as catching up with Paul and Mo who’d also returned to ride out the forecast gale, I went for a (rather energetic as the westerly started building) row up to the village of St Germans, just next to the impressive railway viaduct on the London-Penzance line.

2012-06-15 #06

If I’d kept count of how many attempts it took to take this photo, I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t believe it anyway. It seems hilarious that ‘selfies’ are suddenly news now – if you write a blog about travelling on your own they’re fairly essential, whatever your personal vanity (note the artful blurring, takes years off!).

2012-06-15 #10

The next day was time to head back home


with a bit of a detour up the Tamar to Saltash

2012-06-17 #02

which happened to be having a regatta – probably good for the spectators that the gales had passed, though I’m sure no self-respecting pilot gig crew would be bothered.

2012-06-17 #06

May 2012 – Once More Unto the Yealm

Posted in Cornwall, Photographs, Sailing, Walking with tags on March 23, 2014 by maidofmettle

I liked the Yealm so much I sailed there again on the next Bank Holiday weekend. Surprisingly, the anchorage at Cellar’s Bay was relatively empty this time.

2012-05-05 #05 The Yealm - Copy

This time I walked a different route, along the coast path rather than up the river – more exposed but just as beautiful, just heather-covered coastal slopes and sea views rather than a wooded river valley. This is the view across the entrance to Plymouth Sound, with Penlee Point and Rame Head somewhat indistinct beyond the Mew Stone.

2012-05-05 #11 The Yealm - Copy

Eventually I turned inland and to the villages of Noss Mayo and Newton Ferrers, which I think I was seeing with the tide in for the first time! Lovely but I don’t think I’d want to live right on the quay..

2012-05-05 #19 The Yealm - Copy

I also spent a night anchored just north of Drake’s Island. According to local legend this is where Sir Francis Drake’s ship waited at anchor so he could ascertain his reception following their three year circumnavigation. He recieved a knighthood but if relations with Spain had changed significantly it might have been rather different.

The island was once a key part of the defences of the Plymouth area but is now in private hands. It was an adventure playground for a while and that certainly looks a good use – various schemes have been proposed and not come to fruition. A popular area for kayakers to paddle around though.

2012-05-06 #03 Drake's Island - Copy

I had no major concerns about my reception at work after three days away and no piracy, though it would’ve been nice not to  go back!

Easter 2012 part 2 – Cawsand, Erme and Yealm

Posted in Cornwall, Photographs, Sailing with tags , , , , , , , on March 12, 2014 by maidofmettle

I had a few options in mind sailing eastward, between Polperro a few miles down the coast and the most exposed, and the most shelter in Cawsand Bay back round Rame Head. Though I’d not stopped there before it’s a wide open bay with deep water and no hazards, so I’d had no worries about the fact I was likely to get in in the dark if I carried on that far.

With a bit of a swell running, Polperro looked pretty but not attractive from a mooring point of view  – the harbour is pretty much a crack in the cliffs, with the deep-water moorings likely to be very rolly and uncomfortable indeed.

2012-04-11 #63

Checking out Looe would have required tacking northwards and I thought the anchorage there was also likely to be a bit rolly, so decided the best option was to continue onwards

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past Rame Head

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on a rather glorious evening

2012-04-11 #77

and finish a fantastic day by tacking into Cawsand at dusk.

It’s quite special to wake up in a new place and see it for the first time in daylight, especially somewhere like here.

2012-04-12 #01

Definitely time for a row ashore

2012-04-12 #07

to see a bit more of the village

2012-04-12 #09

and then keep walking through Kingsand (not a typo but the neighbouring village) and towards Mount Edgcumbe – first along grassy slopes looking over Cawsand Bay

2012-04-12 #15

and then along woodland paths

2012-04-12 #22

until I could look out over Maid’s mooring off Torpoint and further up the Tamar

2012-04-12 #26

returning via the church (and former signalling station) at Maker

2012-04-12 #28

and back over the country park to Cawsand.

2012-04-12 #30

The strange-looking on the left is the Breakwater which was commissioned around the start of the Napoleonic Wars to transform Plymouth Sound from a relatively open harbour to a safe anchorage for the Channel Fleet. It might not look all that imposing at high water from up here, but stretching about a mile across the harbour and built in 10 metres or so of water it was a huge engineering feat requiring about 4 million tons of rock.

Back in Cawsand, I rowed out to the boat again

2012-04-12 #36

and had some dinner aboard before an evening stroll out the other way onto the Rame Peninsula. This is the view back over Plymouth Sound just leaving the village

2012-04-12 #39

and here it is again from further out in the countryside

2012-04-12 #42

and now from the far side of Rame Head.

2012-04-12 #61

Cawsand and Kingsand are just as lovely in the dark

2012-04-12 #71

The next morning dawned fair

2012-04-13 #01

and then had second, rather hazy thoughts about it

2012-04-13 #08

before providing a nice wind for sailing east and visiting Devon for the first time in some years. I sailed close past the Mew Stone (many Cornish headlands have a rock named after a gull off them, and I nearly always think they look much more like a whale)

2012-04-13 #11

but decided to carry on past the Yealm for a lovely sail along the coast

2012-04-13 #16

as far as Hope Cove

2012-04-13 #17

before sailing back and then motoring in under the cliffs – rather tensely due to the unmarked rocks I was leaving somewhere on the starboard side, almost certainly with a wide berth but with a small element of doubt –

2012-04-13 #18

to the anchorage in the mouth of the River Erme.

2012-04-13 #20

Unlike many south Devon and Cornwall harbours and river the Erme is very much undeveloped – partly because the shores are largely owned by a private estate which has kept it that way, and that probably partly because upstream of the anchorage shown the river beyond the bar is very shallow indeed.

2012-04-13 #43

The SW Coast Path does provide access along the shore, and with the occasional horse and rider galloping across the flats at low tide it does feel like it could be another era entirely.

2012-04-13 #47

In the right weather conditions – northerly wind and no swell – it’s a lovely place to stop, in anything else the fine coastal scenery

2012-04-13 #36

wouldn’t be a consideration as the anchorage itself is very exposed to anything from the south. It did in fact get a bit rolly in the evening with just a little swell- nuisance enough for me to haul the dinghy up into the cockpit to stop it banging on the hull, but not a problem otherwise.

2012-04-13 #27

It was still peaceful the next morning, so I took the opportunity to explore up beyond the bar in the dinghy

2012-04-14 #05

before creeping back out under sail

2012-04-14 #21

to anchor in the mouth of the Yealm, and walk through the woods alongside the river.

2012-04-14 #28

This is a rather more popular spot, with many boats moored in the Yealm and within easy reach of the huge numbers in various places in Plymouth Sound, and doubtless the absence of unmarked hazards as well!

2012-04-15 #05

This was the last day of the holiday, but there was time enough for another walk alongside the Yealm

2012-04-15 #27

admiring the waterside villages of Newton Ferrers

2012-04-15 #12

and the even more wonderfully named Noss Mayo

2012-04-15 #19

before sailing back out past the Mew Stone

2012-04-15 #33

past the sights of Plymouth

2012-04-15 #37 (Custom)

and home again to Torpoint.

[Easter 2012] Part 1 – bunny dating

Posted in Cornwall, Photographs, Sailing, Walking with tags , , , on March 3, 2014 by maidofmettle

I think this is a new low in titles bearing little resemblance to the post. I won’t ask what you’re thinking of, but it actually refers to the fact that my camera appears to have had incorrect date settings for most or all of this holiday, and having mislaid the corresponding logbook pages I only eventually straightened the mess out by working all the confusing bits back and forwards from a picture of the Easter Bunny doing its rounds on the Helford River by RIB.

Having done that I suppose we might as well take advantage and begin at the beginning, with the winter having flown by, and Easter starting with a trip up the Tamar to the St Germans River

2012-04-02 #01

The weather had been beautiful a few days before when I’d gone down to take Maid round to her mooring after being launched, but was now rather grey

2012-04-02 #15

though some of the graffiti was rather heart-warming. You can’t really complain about that, can you? (though I must confess to wondering what the crossed-out bit said..)

2012-04-02 #07

I wouldn’t say either was the peak, but the next day was definitely an improvement, once the sunshine broke through the clouds over Devonport dockyard.

2012-04-05 #02

along with a beautiful breeze for sailing back down the Tamar, past Drake’s Island

2012-04-05 #10

and out to sea

2012-04-05 #14

and along the coast to Fowey (pronounced as Foy), one of the most well-known of the Cornish harbour-towns I’d passed by the previous autumn.

I moored on the short-stay pontoon the next morning to give me a chance to look around

2012-04-06 #13

including what is reputed to be the model for Toad Hall

2012-04-06 #08

The Sea Rat would undoubtedly have found it much changed, but still quite possibly been at home here, with every waterfront home seemingly having some direct route down to the water

2012-04-06 #01

though ‘little grey sea town’ seems less apt now

2012-04-05 #15

but the passage as a whole is certainly timeless:

‘And now,’ he was softly saying, ‘I take to the road again, holding on southwestwards for many a long and dusty day; till at last I reach the little grey sea town I know so well, that clings along one steep side of the harbour. There through dark doorways you look down flights of stone steps, overhung by great pink tufts of valerian and ending in a patch of sparkling blue water.

The little boats that lie tethered to the rings and stanchions of the old sea-wall are gaily painted as those I clambered in and out of in my own childhood; the salmon leap on the flood tide, schools of mackerel flash and play past quay-sides and foreshores, and by the windows the great vessels glide, night and day, up to their moorings or forth to the open sea. There, sooner or later, the ships of all seafaring nations arrive; and there, at its destined hour, the ship of my choice will let go its anchor.

I shall take my time, I shall tarry and bide, till at last the right one lies waiting for me, warped out into midstream, loaded low, her bowsprit pointing down harbour. I shall slip on board, by boat or along hawser; and then one morning I shall wake to the song and tramp of the sailors, the clink of the capstan, and the rattle of the anchor-chain coming merrily in.

We shall break out the jib and the foresail, the white houses on the harbour side will glide slowly past us as she gathers steering-way, and the voyage will have begun! As she forges towards the headland she will clothe herself with canvas; and then, once outside, the sounding slap of great green seas as she heels to the wind, pointing South!

‘The Wind in the Willows’, Kenneth Grahame

In fact I sailed west that afternoon, to a beautifully peaceful anchorage 30 miles or so away on the Helford River.

2012-04-07 #06

where I launched the dinghy and went for an evening stroll ashore.

2012-04-07 #14

The next morning saw the aforementioned arrival of the Easter Bunny.

2012-04-08 #02

After that I popped round to Falmouth for a day or two

2012-04-10 #15

before returning to the Helford. There is something about the view of Nare Point below that I seemingly never tire of – it’s not particularly big or dramatic, just a small headland with rolling fields to landward, but somehow especially beautiful, whether coming or going from the river.

2012-04-10 #18

In fact, even when it was just a silhouette the sunset behind was dramatic.

2012-04-10 #22

There was a rainbow as I headed back eastward the next day

2012-04-11 #01

but the clouds quickly cleared leaving splendid weather passing St Anthony’s Head

2012-04-11 #05

on a fine sail

2012-04-11 #09

back to Fowey

2012-04-11 #23

which was even prettier in the sunlight this time.

2012-04-11 #25

But this time I heeded the Sea Rat’s call even sooner, and after a walk ashore to admire the views of the harbour, and the village of Polruan on the eastern shore..

2012-04-11 #28

..I headed out to sea again, this time continuing eastward.

2012-04-11 #71

To be continued 🙂