Tin Tin's Sailing Calendar

Monday, 5 October 2009

Equinoctial Gale

The return voyage from Cornwall to Portsmouth started and finished easily, but included a full gale and mountainous seas - distinctly challenging!

On Friday we set off at 04:50 and drove down to St Mawes, arriving at 09:00. Loaded up with bags and provisions and said farewell to Anne, who took the opportunity for a swim off Summer's Beach.

We set sail just before midday to Salcombe, but with rather light winds we had to motor sail, past the Eddystone light eventually navigating in with the leading lights over the bar and up the river after dark. Emily turned out a great lasagne for us all shortly after she helmed us to a mooring. We eyed the pubs on shore, but it was cozy and convivial on board, so there we stayed.

Then I got everyone up at 0700 on Saturday to howling wind in the rigging. Outside we found large breaking seas and set off across Lyme Bay on a full run, with jib poled out and making 8+ knots down the waves. Neil was amazing as he helmed out of the river into the rough water with excellent anticipation and correction of the boat movement, and an almost unheard of solid stomach he was able to sit and read in the cabin.

The wind increased from 7 to a full gale 8, and by the time we arrived off Portland Bill the sea state was quite threatening. Fortunately the crew all were enjoying it and no one sea sick. In fact Antaeus, Tim and Matt sat in the bow, without getting wet at all. Got some good shots of mountainous seas for once - always difficult to capture the effect of a stormy sea as it always seems so unremarkable in a still photo. It was rather too rough to head the 5 miles past the Shambles into Weymouth so we raced on down under double reefed main towards Poole, eventually flying the jib again.

As darkness fell we closed on Durlston Head with the winking lighthouse guiding us, and as we turned in towards the red light of the buoy off Swanage, the seas eased down, giving us all a wonderful feeling of contentment. The skies cleared enough for the full moon to light the water like a searchlight, and the Plough, Cassiopeia and Cygnus could be seen in the clear evening blue between the clouds. We made our way past the gleaming moonlit sands of Shell Bay, past the brightly lit chain ferry and through the confusing reds and greens marking the many channels up to Poole Town Quay arriving at 9pm. Meanwhile delightful smells of coq au vin began wafting tantalisingly out of the galley.

We were lucky to spot a spare berth at the entrance to the marina and, in a bold (and only slightly botched) manoeuvre, swung in a tight circle to end up bows head to wind, with Matthew smartly ashore with the bow line, Within a moment we were moored alongside with engine off and a rather startled dinner party in a large gin palace, as our stern had just missed them.

Had one too many drinks (one) in the Jolly Sailor, on top of gin and tonic and wine for supper, which made the 06:30 breakfast hard to handle. However the wind was light so we motored over to Hurst Narrows, with a brief but futile attempt at fishing. Once in the Solent we had a then great sail , despite the foul Spring tide most of the way. We dined in the cockpit on the previous day's lasagne and then a great apple and blackberry crumble, while George helmed perfectly under poled out jib and full main.

We arrived back in Haslar at 4pm and were hailed by a neighbouring yacht which recognised us from St. Mawes as we joined the melee of yachts fighting through the turbulent tide into the harbour. It was comfortably familiar, to be back in Haslar again, and strange to be only a few berths away from Marta still in her old berth.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

St Malo

We set sail from St Helier at 1100 with a light southerly wind and the soft remnants of a long swell. We sailed out to Passage Rock in hot sunshine, glad to feel the breeze, and then set our course for the NW Minquiers cardinal buoy. The tide was setting west with all the power of Springs, and so we ferry glided our way south.

At the buoy I discovered that the SW Minquiers was wrongly shown on the Navionics Chart plotter and correctly on the paper charts, so we changed course to verify the exact lat long position.

Then we motorsailed to St Malo until the exciting rock-scape grew into view and we passed the Grande Jardin lighthouse and exclaimed in awe at the view of the old City. The high walls with beautiful elegant tall Parisian townhouses lined up behind and staring out to sea.

We were the last boat to enter the lock, and were hoisted many metres up into the huge stonewalled City Basin.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Cross Channel a Deux

Having had a hectic weekend with the U2 360 concert on Saturday and vast amounst of grass cutting and maintenance on Sunday we finally headed for St Mawes on Monday mrning arriving about 1730. Got out the dinghy and shopped in Spar before eating on board. Blissfull.

Tuesday dawned and we headed to Falmouth for an Almanac and bits and pieces before setting sail at 1400 for Guernsey some 120 miles to the South East.

This was not without some trepidation on both our parts - it was the first Channel crossing that we had done double-handed. The forecast for SW 4-5 occasionally 6 added a bit of extra spice, but the skies were clear and we settled into a nice close reach at 7.5 knots in 14 -16 knots of true wind in a relatively calm sea (normal white horses everywhere of course)

Night fell and Anne stood the watch from 2100- 2400 calling me occasionally for the shipping. The star lit night was wonderful, and we saw many shooting stars. I took the next watch from 1230 - 0430 and enjoyed my solo time, only once shining a poweful torch on our sail and then bearing away as a large ship passed on a close course ahead of us. On Anne's next watch the wind died and we motorsailed to arrive at the North of Guernsey before the tide began to ebb south. We sailed down past La Platte to Herm Island at 0830 and took the narrow rocky channel across to Herm, anchoring in brilliant sunshine between Herm and Jethou.

Here we walked round Herm, still rather exhausted and headachey from the long night, but exhilarated to have acheived the crossing. We came across Belvoir Bay and dashed into the clear cool water to swim. This sorted out all tiredness and left us feeling in great shape for the rest of the walk round the island. We retired to Laros and read and snoozed until 5pm when we took another narrow passage through the reefs to St Peter Port where we rafted up for the night.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Etchells 22

Just heard that friends in Eire have bought an Etchells 22 to restore, and it reminded me of a great Christmas Eve sailing 2003 when Anne & I sailed with Steve Joseph and his skipper friend, in his wonderful boat, running under spinnaker up to the Sydney Opera House, and then out to the Heads to anchor for lunch.  On the way they were pulling my leg (so I thought) about sharks and then, incongruously, penguins - none of which could I see.

We swam ashore, and as I staggered up the beach I eventually focussed on a sign that said "Do Not Disturb the Penguins" ............

The swim back to the boat was nervous (ominously the skipper had firmly refused to swim).  When Steve said - "It's alright mate - just don't pee in the water" there was a strangled squawk and a spluttering from Anne - who had done just that.  It seemed a very  very long way back to the boat!!