2017 part 1

Some belated blogging will mainly stick to the couple of holidays I took last year but I’ll start off with the first weekend of sailing since the weather was so splendid 🙂

Maid of Mettle is in the background on the right here, with the Cawsand Ferry offloading passengers in the foreground.

2017-07-14 #01 (Custom)

Having sailed down after launching I then walked a somewhat circuitous route to the Random Arms in Maker. First from Cawsand to Kingsand..

2017-07-14 #04 (Custom)

and then uphill in Mount Edgcumbe Country Park (the bay is clearly getting busier in the background!)

2017-07-14 #08 (Custom)

before heading back along the coast again. This is one of my favourite areas for walking, with some stunning views down to the Sound

2017-07-14 #09 (Custom)

and spectacular vegetation on the steep slope.

2017-07-14 #11 (Custom)

..before you come out into the open – briefly you could feel a long way from the water!

2017-07-14 #18 (Custom)

It doesn’t take long to cross though to where you can see across Plymouth Sound to Dartmoor..

2017-07-14 #23 (Custom)

..or to loop from there along the ridge back towards Kingsand..

2017-07-14 #26 (Custom)

..not forgetting the most important part of the walk!

2017-07-14 #27 (Custom)

The next day dawned fairly calm so while waiting for the tide I took the dinghy over to the southern side of Cawsand Bay for some exploring.

2017-07-15 #04 (Custom)

At this state of tide (and when it’s this calm!) it’s just possible to row right into the pool in the foreground there, giving a very odd sensation of having land almost all around you, closing around you from above as well as alongside and below.

2017-07-15 #06 (Custom)

I also did some catching up with the crew of South Star in the background who’d recently returned to the UK after wintering in Portugal. Funnily, the first time we’d met had involved a grey day in Cawsand..

2017-07-16 #01 (Custom)

“Fish, chips, a Hobgoblin, relentless rain and the clanking of chains. Good start to a holiday ” was how I described the beginning of this year’s first long sailing trip. While various people commented on the beer and the rain I was somewhat puzzled that no-one found the chains at all unusual.

In case anyone was wondering Maid’s mooring is very close to the Torpoint chain ferries, two of which haul their way back and forth across the Tamar all night. Given the downpour I decided I was best off washing down my fish and chips with a nice ale and settling in to enjoy it.

Happily by the next morning the front had cleared.

2017-08-15 #03 (Custom)

A fine sail down through the narrows, though the wind wasn’t ideal for going westward down the coast as I hoped. Still it was a splendid day to head out of the Sound and see what progress might be made..

2017-08-15 #04a (Custom)

2017-08-15 #07 (Custom)

..or at least to enjoy a splendid sail before turning round off Rame Head and heading back in again.

2017-08-16 #01 (Custom)

The weather forecast suggested going a bit further up the Tamar to West Mud might be prudent so I took the opportunity to row up to Millbrook and visit another friend.

2017-08-17 #01 (Custom)

Happily Millbrook is sheltered enough I could help out

2017-08-17 #02 (Custom)

Out in the channel though it was strong enough I could propel the dinghy nearly as fast as I could row by just standing up to act a sail.

The next day was similar – beautifully clear and sunny but very windy after a calm start.

2017-08-18 #01 (Custom)

The tides meant hauling the dinghy up clear of the water was rather hard work – and only feasible because it’s very tough indeed.

2017-08-18 #03 (Custom)

First a wander up over the ridge to peek at what was going on on Cawsand..

2017-08-18 #12 (Custom)

..and then explore the upper areas of the park – you never know when you’ll see some deer, though I didn’t that day.

2017-08-18 #13 (Custom)

I decided to do some exploring of bits of the Mount Edgcumbe estate I hadn’t been too before – there’s lots of activity now, with various galleries and workshops besides this one which is more of a museum piece.

2017-08-18 #25 (Custom)

I’d never actually been up close to the house before either – in fact I think I’ve only really seen it from the boat or down by the water’s edge.

2017-08-18 #30 (Custom)

After a bit more wandering round I decided to have a sail round to Cawsand – hard work with the mainsail reefed down to it’s smallest size and wet work even within the shelter of the Sound.

2017-08-18 #34 (Custom)

Though it did mean a shorter walk up to the bar later – good band on that night as well.

2017-08-18 #37 (Custom)

The next morning the weather was still rather blustery  – time for walking again rather than sailing.

2017-08-19 #03 (Custom)

This time I headed west across the Rame peninsular to Whitsand Bay..

2017-08-19 #12 (Custom)

..before turning left for Rame Head..

2017-08-19 #18 (Custom)

..and then continuing the loop round the coast path to the east (picture below is looking back again to Rame Head)..

2017-08-19 #21 (Custom)

..and back through woodland..

2017-08-19 #29 (Custom)

..to Cawsand and Kingsand (pictured).

2017-08-19 #31 (Custom)

The Cawsand beach was pretty busy by now.

2017-08-19 #34 (Custom)

The next day was mostly rain. I took advantage of the ferry to pop over to Plymouth and do some shopping. Probably a bad decision in hindsight as the forecast southerly wind first came in light from the south-east and then increased to kick up quite a chop in the bay  – much more of an increase and it might have become untenable.

Still, it did mean that when the next day started drizzly I could begin cleaning the decks – quite a difference even in the gloom!

2017-08-21 #04 (Custom)

By afternoon the front had cleared – suddenly it looks like we are in a different country!

2017-08-21 #11 (Custom)

This is probably my favourite view of Kingsand.

2017-08-21 #14 (Custom)

Part of my rowing around was seeking a beach with a bit of shelter from the wind to go swimming – there might have been some on the south side but quite shady – I eventually found somewhere on the north before catching up with Nadja and Nick on the way back.

2017-08-21 #16 (Custom)

The next day finally brought a good wind for sailing westward – and sail we did!

Out past Penlee Point…

2017-08-22 #03 (Custom)

..and then a following wind down-Channel

2017-08-22 #04 (Custom)

There was a bit of rolling, but nothing the Hydrovane couldn’t handle.

2017-08-22 #09 (Custom)

before freshening in the evening to send us flying into Falmouth Harbour and up to St Just.

2017-08-22 #13 (Custom)

The next day the easterly had died down so I sailed into Falmouth to see who might be about before heading over to the Helford to rejoin South Star, passing an interesting pairing of ships at anchor south of Falmouth..

2017-08-23 #09 (Custom)

Life on the Helford usually seems relaxed, but with an agreeably slightly bonkers tendency – the Easter Bunny speeding past in a RIB springs to mind. This time it manifested itself in a rather splendid little party on the beach at Durgan..

2017-08-23 #10 (Custom)

..complete with fire-breathing mechanical dragon.

2017-08-23 #12 (Custom) (2)

On another note, quite often I despair at the future of seamanship when tacking past people who are motoring with the wind behind them. This father and son sailing down the Helford in company restored some of my faith, interesting people too.

2017-08-24 #03 (Custom)

The next day was a bit brighter – time for some swimming..

2017-08-25 #09 (Custom)

..before walking into Helford for provisions.

2017-08-25 #10 (Custom)

That afternoon I hauled the anchor up and sailed slowly over to the other side to wave cheerio to South Star

2017-08-25 #12 (Custom)

before turning out to take the very last of the ebb out of the Helford

2017-08-25 #14 (Custom)

and the first of the flood up into Falmouth Harbour. Relaxing sailing…

2017-08-25 #15 (Custom)

..which nearly got me in trouble actually – the tide was stronger than I’d thought and I needed a swift change of course to avoid going sideways onto August Rock. With extra impetus when I realised I could see the bottom very clearly 😮 (this is especially terrifying if you have grown up sailing the muddy waters of the Thames Estuary)

With calm restored and pulling the largest sail available out of the forepeak we resumed gliding steadily towards St Anthony’s Head (the white blob is the lighthouse).

2017-08-25 #19 (Custom)

Which is where I eventually ended up – although I initially sailed to Trefusis north of Falmouth, before being somewhat stymied by a change of wind as soon as I’d dropped anchor swinging me out into the channel. The rest of the anchorage was largely occupied by one boat which had warned me they had a huge length of chain out, which meant they could swing all over the place. While I was trying to work out where to go instead I saw Dormouse motoring out and Dave invited me to supper back over at the Molunans just by the lighthouse.

It had just taken at least an hour to sail the mile or so from there, and it would be dark well before we got there, but still, why not?

Here’s Dave heading back after breakfast on Maid the next morning.

2017-08-26 #01 (Custom)

After he’d headed off I went for a swim and a wander ashore.

2017-08-26 #05 (Custom)

This is one of my favourite areas for walking – relatively quiet and beautiful scenery.

2017-08-26 #12 (Custom)

I even had an isolated spot to swing around on the anchor – admittedly in part because I’d been fairly cautious in my estimation of where I was when anchoring in the dark!

2017-08-26 #16 (Custom)

The next day was rather greyer. After doing some jobs on the boat I spent a while in the dinghy peering into the (shallow) deeps..

2017-08-26 #20 (Custom)

..before heading off on another light-wind sail up the Fal. Slow going as I left at slack water – if I had much tide going with me I probably wouldn’t have been able to steer!

2017-08-26 #25 (Custom)

That was being almost borne out by the time I was ghosting up to Turnaware Bar, even with the wind seeming to be from ahead now – at least as far as two out of three sails were concerned.

2017-08-26 #28 (Custom)

I made it round the bar and then just about into shallow enough water to drop the anchor with a reasonable length of chain for the depth. It held… but the tide was due to rise another few metres. I needed to borrow another 25m of chain from the secondary anchor and shackle it on to be confident, even on a beautifully calm night.

2017-08-26 #31 (Custom)

The next morning was beautiful – but completely calm.

2017-08-27 #01 (Custom)

I went ashore for a woodland stroll and some blackberrying first..

2017-08-27 #03 (Custom)

.. but there still wasn’t a breath when I got back, so I was glad I’d sailed up yesterday rather than having to motor the length of Carrick Roads.

The Ocean Cruising Club party I’d gone upriver for was a splendid occasion as usual – always a pleasure and inspiration, and for a change the weather was roasting hot.

The next day I sailed down to St Mawes..

2017-08-29 #04 (Custom)

And then the next day round into Veryan Bay to anchor off the Nare Hotel.

A very peaceful spot in the early morning – too much so nearing slack water with a long way to go to meet some friends off Looe, and barely a breath of wind.

2017-08-30 #01 (Custom)

Given the perfect stillness I thought I’d try an experiment in how easy it is to tow roughly 6 tonnes of boat with a rowing dinghy. Certainly possible – and good exercise – but not actually practical as a means of transportation.

Still, the breeze was gradually appearing; eventually we crept out past Nare Head.

2017-08-30 #02 (Custom)

It was still very very slow going for some while…

2017-08-30 #03 (Custom)

..so much so that by the time there was a decent breeze I decided I needed to haul the dinghy out and fold it up to eliminate the drag of towing it. Not something I’d ever considered doing before at sea before, especially not off the Dodman (a rather fearsome headland in the wrong conditions).

2017-08-30 #05 (Custom)

By now it was a splendid sail. We were making good time against the tide and also hastened on by getting a text saying ‘we’ve got rum, beer and bananas – it’s just like the Caribbean!’. No sign of palm trees but the scenery is beautiful.

2017-08-30 #09 (Custom)

Though looking to windward while beating round the end of Looe Island I did think it was about time I got in – I may have done ok before the tide turning but that cloud looked ominous!

2017-08-30 #13 (Custom)

I made it in to anchor off Looe just before a brief shower, though it quickly passed & Nick rowed over

2017-08-30 #14 (Custom)

Nick headed off westward the next morning…

2017-08-31 #06 (Custom)

…and a bit later I did the same eastward.

2017-08-31 #11 (Custom)

With the wind from behind it felt very light – the largest sail out once again and poled out on one side helped pull us along, but it was pretty slow going..

2017-08-31 #13 (Custom)

..even turning the corner into Cawsand, which normally gets a bit exciting if you’ve been having a gentle passage downwind till then.

2017-08-31 #15 (Custom)

Still, it did make for a rather beautiful evening..

2017-08-31 #17 (Custom)

..would’ve been rather silly not to row ashore and visit one of the pubs really.

2017-08-31 #18 (Custom)

The next morning was equally beautiful

2017-09-01 #01 (Custom)

though sadly time to head round Drake’s Island (below) and back up the Tamar to moor up.

2017-09-01 #04 (Custom)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: