Tin Tin's Sailing Calendar

Friday, 6 June 2008

That Sinking Feeling

Couldn't resist this little piece of video.!

Across the Atlantic

We sailed long days

Long dark nights

Bathed in star light

Careering through the midnight sea

Lit by the phosphorescent glow

Of ocean life


In sunlight, blue sea dreams

Sung by a lone whale

Echo through the hull

Heavy water surges apart

Split by the cutting edge

Three thousand miles run


Across the planet

We five ride each contour

Lurching in unison

Each wave rise

Each sudden drop

Imprinted on the brain.


Ahead lie volcanoes

Dead, dying or alive

Around each a coral ring

Flocked with rainbow shoals

Blue, yellow, red parrot fish

Grinding out white sands


Rasta boatmen stream to greet us

Bearing bread, fruit and lobsters

Red green yellow Ethiopian head rugs

Cajoling with slow eloquent tongues

Parting with complex handshakes

We touch Knuckled fists for Respect

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Planning Ahead

Our plan is to sail Round Britain this summer - that is to say late July - early August. But there is also a strong vote to avoid cold wet northern areas and turn left to Brittany again to warm weather and wonderful food. Critical to this will be the weather, which will make the difference between a wonderful cruise and a vile battle with the elements. So I have started to keep a forward eye on the long range forecasts. here's the first that I have found from TheWeatherOutlook http://www.theweatheroutlook.com/twoother/twocontent2.aspx?type=for_d90uk

Rather like a horoscope it covers every eventuality, but does stick its neck out to say that the summer will be warm and fairly good;

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Taxis and Trains

An early taxi picked us up on the quayside,and dropped us at Truro station. We had a lovely relaxed train ride, upgraded for a tenner to First Class seats, albeit with a quick flurry of excitement at W where we were due to catch a train to Fratton. However having lugged everything onto the platform we found that this was delayed so we hopped back on with all our bags, and went on to Reading, and then cross country to Guildford.

Unfortunately the last bit of the journey from Guildford was marred by screaming children with a single mother failing to cope, followed by a gang of young bully boys who were behaving abominably. To my shame I didn't stand up to stop them- I was pathetically mindful of the apparent propensity of aggressive yobs to knife anyone who gets in their way. They got off at Godalming to go and terrorise people there instead.

Finally home by taxi, where everything felt Alice-in-Wonderland huge and a little strange - I always feel so much more careful about running taps, after days being careful about water.

To recuperate I spent the next three hours giving the grass a much needed cut in the sunshine, and felt much more grounded as a result. Back to work tomorrow!

Saturday, 31 May 2008

A swinging mooring of our own

On Saturday morning we were up at 0515, and sailing at a brisk pace by 0550. We first raised the Dodman through the mist, and then the Nare and Gull Rock in early sunshine. Finally familiar beaches at Towan and Porthbeor (our Polar Bear Beach) were followed by St Anthony’s Head and Carrick Roads, and we sailed crisply into St Mawes, raising appreciative comments from the crew of a fine traditional looking 60 foot yacht. By this time I had already phoned Mylor and spoken to the engineer who we arranged to meet before noon.

Caught a mooring and went ashore to meet the St. Mawes harbour master, and explain our plans. Having fought hard to keep our sheltered position in the mouth if the Percuil, I was not happy to find that we were still allocated a place off the rocks of Summers Beach.

Later in Mylor we had a really helpful welcome, with a pontoon reserved, and two uniformed lads to help moor up. The engineer turned up promptly, and we arranged everything to my satisfaction. It’s going to be expensive!

Back in St. Mawes the sunny afternoon was perfect, and we enjoyed compete relaxation for a while, swinging to our own mooring in St.Mawes, before dealing with shore jobs, inflating another dinghy, testing the outboard motor, and generally getting everything ship shape.

Then as the evening turned grey and cold we headed back to Mylor to find our berth still free, protected by the talismans of blue traffic cones laid out by the cheerful dock hands. Here we packed up and then enjoyed a wonderful fresh fish meal of crab cakes, scallops, and whiting washed down with a crisp Argentinian Sauvignon Blanc at the buzzing quayside restaurant, Castaways, which is set in the old converted sail loft and chandlery.

Friday, 30 May 2008

Fish and Pesky Problems

We made a relaxed start in sunshine to investigate Plymouth Harbour, and see Drake’s Island. Offshore the battle ships were again letting loose with machine guns.

Without yesterday’s brisk northeasterly breeze we motored slowly down the coast to Fowey, and set out fishing lines with the new lures that I'd bought in Dartmouth, with which we quickly caught two mackerel of very different sizes for supper.

As we came through the narrow headlands, we met the Pilot cutter leading a large commercial cargo vessel out. Fowey competes strongly to ship out much of the China Clay mined nearby in St Austell.

Fuel is to be had at a dock to starboard inside the harbour, alongside a towering fishing vessel hauled out and freshly painted blue and red, dwarfing the houses of the village. In contrast the dock was dirty, rusty and rather decrepit. We almost forgot to hang out the ready-prepared fenders, but fortunately a bystander shouted to us as we came alongside, and they were kicked off the deck in time, saving our shiny blue paint. The bystander turned out to be an experience yacht finisher, who was very impressed with our new AwlGrip finish applied last year in St. Martin. We took 125 litres of diesel , which cost 77p a litre and I had to head round the little harbour to the post office shop and queue to get some cash out.

From there we headed across to the very clean new Town Quay pontoon which allowed us a couple of hours alongside to fill with water and get provisions.

Once ashore we augmented our David and Goliath mackerel with a visit to Fowey Fish to get some crevettes grises and fresh crab for a feast of a meal. I was amazed at their wine range, which included Cornish regional wine (2005) at 12 quid a bottle. I was tempted to try, but didn't feeling like lashing out that much on an experiment!

However that night we had to make a serious decision about whether to go on or turn back. The rudder gland was again seeping water at about 15 litres a day, and the generator now refused to function, claiming “oil pressure low”. Since the latter had been removed, serviced and replaced and rewired in Portsmouth this was a serious blow as we needed it to continue round Britain later this summer. If we put back to Portsmouth we could get the engineers to fix it. Going forward meant that someone else would have to deal with the problem, but at least we might get a second opinion. After a tense hour mulling this over the decision was made to continue west and the awful sick feeling of handling another time critical problem subsided. However i tightened teh ruddder gland again and the flow stopped completely.

We resolved to be in St. Mawes by 0900 and to contact Mylor to get their engineer to look at the problem. I set the alarm for 05:15.

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Secret Rivers

Set sail for Start Point in a grey damp dawn, pushing past the first of the flood tide at 5 knots on a close reach. We enjoyed the sight of isolated grand houses along the coast, set in rolling green fields that came down to shallow rocky cliffs and backed with steep slopes and deep wooded valleys. Passing savage reefs that stretch offshore, reaching for the keels of passing yachts, we came to the great stone arched chess knight at Prawle Point, and hardening the sheets creamed across the flat water at 7.5 knots to Salcombe, leaving astern the grim rusting wreck on the cliff that reminds one always of the savage sea’s power.

Entering Salcombe with more than a metre of water clear over the Bar all was peace, few boats out, and a friendly welcome from the Harbour master who took our mooring line to Buoy No 23 opposite the Ferry Inn, and charged us nothing for our lunch-long stay. The water taxi took us to the Town Quay, and we ambled through the streets, enjoying Salcombe’s holiday air, and bursts of warm sunshine, until we could sit on the terrace at the Ferry Inn and sip a pint of local ale enjoying the view of Laros sitting nicely to the tide. With its sheltered river, enlivened by rich golden beaches, Salcombe offers all sorts of summer delights to families. The shops have adapted to the flood of moneyed visitors and offer everything one could wish for from fine wines to the latest beach fashion.

Back on board we raised sail on the mooring, and then caught the ebb out of Salcombe and round the coast to Newton Ferrers. En route I was able to disappear below leaving the helm to my mate, and enjoyed a quiet read and snooze. Arriving off the River Yealm, I misjudged the extent of eth submerged rocks off the point, and was shocked to have the depth drop suddenly to 3.5 metres. Mental note to hold out further towards the jagged shark’s fin of the Mewstone in future. The entrance to the Yealm is always surprisingly narrow and, as one feels for a way in between the red port-hand buoys and the jagged rocks, the depth drops until there is just a metre or so under the keel. Following the leading marks, and then turning hard to port for the next red and white mark on the hillside leads one to Misery Point, where the river turns a hidden corner at a shallow patch to reveal the secret reaches and moorings winding up to the pontoon off the ferry steps. Here we rafted to another blue hulled ketch, Wishstream, with lovely lines and fine overhanging counter. The sun came out and flooded the valley with golden light, and after a happy chat with our new neighbours, and a quiet drink we rowed ashore and strolled along the wooded lane to the Ship Inn in Noss Mayo for supper.

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Steam trains and coastal trails

The weather turned foul again, promising gales and rain, so we took the Paignton & Dartmouth Steam railway from Kingswear and chuffed and puffed up the hill and over the top to Paignton, stopping at a couple of halts, and enjoying the elegance of the old second class carriage. Steam, smoke and rain obscured the view, and condensation misted the inside of the windows, but by opening the sliding windows wider than the two recommended draught prevention lines one could see glimpses of coats and rows of beach huts in pastel shades along the grey curve of small bays.

In Paignton we said farewell to our nephew, before shouldering a pack and catching a bus to Brixham. Here we furnished ourselves with a hot pasty and a map of the coast path and then set off in steady rain to Berry Head, looking down on the busy fishing port below. Struggling along in full red foul weather gear, I was soon drenched in sweat and finding it difficult to live with my energetic partner, who was fully committed to the 12 miles back to Dartmouth.

At Berry Head we headed out through the rain to the world’s shortest (2 metres) and highest (60 metres of cliff) lighthouse, and then sloshed back to the cafĂ© in the old fortified guardhouse, where baked potatoes restored the blood sugar. My new waterproof jacket appeared useless – either because I was sweating too much, or because water came straight through, so I tried the alternative of discarding my shirt and wearing the fleece next to the skin. This seemed to be a much better alternative, and I enjoyed the rest of the trek, although lugging our ludicrously heavy rucksack up one hill had me weaving like a drunk at the top.

Finally we found our way downhill along an ancient track between steep walls, with a stream running over the stone slabs, and this eventually came out into the cliff edge above the grand houses along the entrance to Dartmouth harbour.

That evening we ate on board, and fell asleep early.

An Old Flame

In Poole Marina we were delighted to spot Marta amongst the other Sigma 38s. The boys went round for a nostalgic look at her, and her skipper then came back to chat.
We were all so proud of Marta - they have done so well at racing- competing in the 2007 Fastnet Race and coming 2nd by 20 minutes, with most boats retiring.  We were holed up in Penzance during that gale I recall, walking the coast path!  Crossing the Irish Sea under spinnaker, with most of the crew exhausted below, Marta was logged by satellite tracker at 19+ knots surfing down waves as high as the second spreaders!!!
Given that our best ever was 12+ knots, shortly afterwards followed by a broach in Lyme Bay, and my dear aunt being helicoptered off to Dorchester with a broken arm, that was really impressive!  The skipper said that when he first stepped on board it was the crisp clean boat and the familiar smell of wood, varnish and diesel that made him feel so at home

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Racing Pigeons and Rugby Stars

With only a single nephew left as crew my mate and I set off westwards at 8 am to catch the tide at Portland Bill, and managed to sail past on a dead run with a reasonable light breeze before the tide turned. Lyme Bay was misty and we could only faintly see the shore at times.

We were suddenly joined by an exhausted racing pigeon coming home from France which landed on our jib sheet. I captured it gently between my two palms and brought it to sit on the deck where we fed and watered it. As we sailed further from land, we offered it a cardboard box in which to shelter. Some time later we had another visitor, this time flying straight at us from the Dorset shore. This pigeon, more Trafalagar Square than the elegant purple and russet French arrival strode round the deck before perching in the anchor windlass and eventually flying on south. Finally sailed into Dartmouth to be greeted by the wonderful sight of two dolphins cutting twin black bladed curves in the entrance. We berthed in Kingswear marina in lovely evening sunshine, enjoying the steep terraces of colourful houses reflected in the still water.

We caught the ferry to Dartmouth to stroll the streets, enjoying the lovely buildings and the old quayside station, now a restaurant. Nearby my nephew was delighted to see a pale blue VW camper van, back open to reveal a chic kitchen, with a film crew.

He immediately went over to ask to pose for a photo with the chef who was tidying up the remains of a crab and a delicious looking mayonnaise.

I took photos only to discover that the chef, was actually captain of the English rugby team, and much, much revered. Autographs kindly provided to queues of little boys and girls too. He is doing a series on cooking round the coast with local chefs.

To top off my nephew’s surprise we later bumped into one of his Shrewsbury school friends.

Monday, 26 May 2008

Secretive Red Squirrels

Monday dawned blowing a gale again and raining hard, so my grand daughter’s first sail was confined to moving berths to make way for the Challenger yacht fleet.

We then commandeered the Brownsea island ferry (the only passengers) and set off in our bright red foul weather gear to explore the island. The sheltered woodlands soon had us stripping off and enjoying the muggy warmth finding peacocks, and perky bantam cockerels but no red squirrels.

There is a large stone commemorating the first scout camp on the island, and there is still an actively used site where Scouts and Guides come to enjoy the magic of the island. It all reminded me of the many good times I had as a boy scout, and all the fun we had camping, learning to cook on open fires, and constructing complex tables and frames with logs and sisal baling twine. Baden Powell's bust stands proudly near the entrance to the Castle. He did very well - but it is sad that this is much less widely enjoyed by young people.

Sunday, 25 May 2008

Out of Africa

I arrived back from a long hot week in Nigeria on Saturday evening and headed straight for Portsmouth to sail to Cornwall. Lovely bright sunshine, but a howling gale.

On Sunday morning we woke reluctantly in the cosy snug of the aft cabin after a night of torrential rain and wind singing eerily in the rigging. It’s amazing how scary that noise can be - like a horde of banshees singing their different laments for the souls of drowned sailors.

However the morning was almost windless when my two nephews joined us, and we set off West towards Poole, motoring rather a lot of the way for lack of a breeze. The tide was running fast out through the Hurst Narrows, and we at last managed to pick up enough wind to sail out to the Needles, bright in the sunshine, but with the sea beyond a white cloaked mystery of fog.

Across the bay the wind freshened from the East and we arrived at Poole at 5 knots, before heading up to Town Quay. Here the lovely Lindsay said that "if we breathed in a bit" we could moor alongside right outside the Marina office in front of the UNICEF yacht. It was a tight squeeze,but we turned straight in, and stopped dead in the slot - engine off almost before the first mooring line was on. The position was perfect for greeting our granddaughter (6 months old) when she arrived with parents in tow to try out her own bunk that I had rigged in the aft cabin.

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Just the Two of Us

We woke on Sunday to wonderful weather again, although not a hint of wind. Anne and I made it down to the dock and were out sailing by 1100, which was wonderful. It all seemed so easy together. There was a perfect 15 knot breeze from the east, and a counter tide running from Cowes. We broad reached across the Solent in absolute bliss, and then gybed at the Cowes shore below the Italianate towers of Queen Victoria's favourite house. Here we considered dropping anchor for lunch and the enticing possibilities of a snooze in the aft cabin. However there was much else to accomplish that day so, having finally come up as far as Cowes, we turned and had a crisply cut tack back to Portsmouth making 6.5 knots in 10- 12 of wind true. En route we had an encounter with Beken of Cowes at which point, remembering the disappointing images produced when we last had such an encounter in the BVIs, I put my shirt back on! Altogether a delightful sail a deux.

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Team Sailing day

Taking your colleagues out for a day sail sounds straightforward but is fraught with potential difficulty. However Thursday dawned bright and sunny and I was on the dock by 0830 with provisions and plans for the day. My six colleagues arrived by train to Portsmouth Harbour and caught the Gosport Ferry. Although it says "It's Faster by Water" they arrived much later than I'd expected, so we weren't away until after 11.

As the team arrived the radio announced STRONG WIND WARNING FORCE 6 - so we popped in a reef before heading out. Despite having never sailed before I was impressed at the speed at which everyone picked up the principles. Hannah handled the boat superbly, holding her head to wind whilst the others got the mainsail up. Later when the jib needed to be winched flat, Gary immediately grasped the business of luffing up but not going through the wind to tack.

Having started late, and with a 5pm train to catch I cancelled a trip to the Witterings, and headed to Bembridge instead. By 1300 there was 1.5 metres under the keel over the bar, and we were able to raft up and get ashore. This was much welcomed by some crew who were feeling a little queasy. However we all perked up with some excellent Crab sandwiches.

Then a brisk sail home, followed by an evening cooking a gigantic paella and soaking in the hot tub. I think that everyone enjoyed it - I did!

Monday, 5 May 2008

First sail of the year

Bank Holiday Monday came and I was desperate to get out on the water. Called up my nephew Matt and he brought two great pals along who were up for a bit of boat maintenance and a sail.  However there wasn't much wind, but it was fun anyway. the crazy bit was getting back into the marina berth at Spring low tides.  we stuck fast - half in and half out.  Matt leapt ashore and got a rope attached, and then we had an hour to wait until the tide rose enough to get in..

Thanks to a great crew!