Archive for Plymouth Sound

2015 Part III

Posted in Cornwall, Photographs, Sailing, Walking with tags , , on August 11, 2016 by maidofmettle

On my next trip there were strong easterlies, but unfortunately I didn’t have the time to sail west.

I did go and explore the possibility of anchoring just below Plymouth Hoe – a spot that’s marked on my chart, but where I’ve never been nor seen another boat. In a northerly it seemed like it would work quite well, though it wouldn’t exactly be a peaceful spot.

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Today I carried on to the far side of the sound and Jennycliff Bay, perfectly sheltered from the east, and with friend already anchored there. There’s quite a view from the top of the cliffs as well…

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Later that evening the easterly had died down so we decided to head over to Cawsand and up to the Random Arms. Unfortunately in making sure the wind dropped enough for it to be a safe anchorage we ended up waiting long enough that it dropped to nothing half way across. It was lovely at this point..

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..but ended up being a motor boat trip.

Still, the scenery on the walk up to the pub didn’t suffer from it getting late, and the bar was as much fun as ever.

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And Cawsand is still one of my favourite anchorages to wake up in, especially when it’s this peaceful.

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There’s also a great selection of footpaths in the area. This morning I followed the coast path towards Cremyll..

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before heading inland and up to the folly tower, before returning through the deer park.

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I was grateful for my light-winds sailing practice to make it up through the Narrows..

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…though there were some mishaps, notably carrying on slightly too close to the southern shore on one tack and getting swept rapidly seawards by a counter-eddy. The second time around I was fine on that score but ended up going sideways up the Tamar instead – time to put the engine on!

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Having got the boat secured for the night I took advantage of the calm conditions to row the mile or so up towards Millbrook to pay a call on Nick and meet up with a chap in the boatyard there who owned a sister ship of Maid – fascinating to see another.

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With strong winds forecast for the next few days I arranged to leave Maid on a more sheltered mooring near Mount Edgcumbe.


This proved useful for another reason the next Friday, as it meant I could dinghy ashore and walk across to the Random Arms without needing to take the boat anywhere.

This well and drinking trough are on the road up from Cremyll..

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..and this is the very from the top of the ridge out to Gull Rock and beyond.

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The next day was still blustery so I headed out into the Sound with two reefs in the main and just the staysail up. There are advantages – tacking is much easier when you only have one foresail to deal with.

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The easterly made it another good day for exploring that side of the Sound – I hoped to stop in Bovisand having never been there before, but the wind seemed to be funnelling right down a valley into the anchorage.

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So I went into Jennycliff Bay again, and this time went for a longer walk right round to Bovisand Bay by land.

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This is the view from around half-way there, at the highest point looking down on the Bovisand Pier, and out across the breakwater (barely visible on a high spring tide) to the Rame Peninsula.

There were a few boats in the anchorage in the day, but I had it all to myself in the evening.

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The next day I did a bit more exploring early on – first just checking out the nearby cliffs

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and then walking inland across the peninsula to Hooe Lake

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before joining the banks of the Plym and coming back round Mount Batten to a rather grey Jennycliff Bay.

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Sailing back to the mooring was still nice though – perfectly sheltered flat water can go a long way in compensating for a lack of sunshine.

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Unfortunately it was then time to start stowing things away for the winter again. I think the idea was to start the next sailing season earlier – which didn’t quite happen! But at least it has given me a chance to catch the blog up 🙂

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.

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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

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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).

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

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

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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.

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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

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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).

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

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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.

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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

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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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!).

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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 🙂

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And also nice for walking through shady woodland

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

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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

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and some fine sculpture.

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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.

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

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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!).

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The next day was time to head back home


with a bit of a detour up the Tamar to Saltash

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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Definitely time for a row ashore

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to see a bit more of the village

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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

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and then along woodland paths

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

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

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and back over the country park to Cawsand.

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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

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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

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and here it is again from further out in the countryside

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and now from the far side of Rame Head.

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Cawsand and Kingsand are just as lovely in the dark

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The next morning dawned fair

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and then had second, rather hazy thoughts about it

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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)

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

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as far as Hope Cove

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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 –

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to the anchorage in the mouth of the River Erme.

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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

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before creeping back out under sail

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

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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!

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

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admiring the waterside villages of Newton Ferrers

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and the even more wonderfully named Noss Mayo

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before sailing back out past the Mew Stone

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past the sights of Plymouth

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and home again to Torpoint.