Wednesday, September 25, 2019

September Cruise to Fowey

I was planning to go to the Channel Isle but for the 2nd time in a month that did not look like a sensible option with strong east or north east winds which would have made Braye harbour and a number of planned anchorages very uncomfortable or untenable, so I headed off for the west country at lunch time on Tuesday the 17th with the help of a near spring tide running down the Solent from 13:00.

Hurst Castle
The Needles
Heading towards Anvil Point

Probably SBS boats heading home to their base in Poole after
exercises with the warship (or RFA?) in the background.
The weather started to deteriorate shortly after with variable winds but it remained dry. At one point,  7 miles south of Portland Bill (being given a wide berth with the wind against a spring tide) in the dark, the wind changed 60 degrees and went from F3 to F5 in just a couple of minutes. I had been on a very broad reach with the 150% genoa boomed out to windward, the SeaFeather could not cope with that and I was soon heading north with the genoa aback.  That took a bit of sorting out.

The rest of the now long night was a bit uncomfortable, a dead run in  F3 - F5 rolling all over the place at times, things improved through Wednesday but Hallsands, a favourite passage anchorage, does not work in an easterly and Hope Cove would probably have been a bit rough given the conditions so I went on to Plymouth to anchor at 16:45 in Jennycliff Bay on the eastern side of the Sound and inside the breakwater. Passage time 28 hours, almost to the minute.

Lovely weather on Wednesday evening at anchor in Jenneycliff Bay, Plymouth.

The assault ship HMS Albion entering Devonport

Thursday dawned as nice as Wednesday evening, about 8 knots of wind from the east passing Drayton ledge and very warm until the wind started to increase a few miles from Fowey. Passage time just under 6 hours.

Bessie-Allen coming alongside in Fowey

For the third time this year I was "storm bound" in Fowey with very strong easterlies but this time only for one extra night rather than two.

A comfortable evening in Fowey 

Fowey Lifeboat crew on Friday just as the "Shout" was cancelled.
The forecast on Saturday was a bit iffy but suggested the wind veering from E to SE or S, F4 - F5 around mid day and later possibly to the SW. More worrying was the forecast for very strong winds on Tuesday and Wednesday so despite the prospect of a lot of rain I slipped at 11:30 heading East, with a good passage time in fresh winds the tides would be good to go direct to the Hamble (flowing up the Solent until 17:00 on Sunday).

Unfortunately the forecast had the timings all wrong and the next couple of forecasts predicted the veering wind before it actually happened and I was beating against a F5 and a short chop, uncomfortable but not as bad as the start of the Jester earlier in the year.

Broken Furling Gear

The jib furling gear jammed when I was letting out a reef at about 16:00. The only way of clearing it was to take the Genoa down, a bit of a task given it's size (300 sq ft), 10 - 15 knts of wind over the deck and a small tossing foredeck. It took a very tiring hour and a half to sort out and I found that the top of the drum that holds the line was in two pieces floating around inside the outer case which had to partially come off to get some of the line out, worrying in case I dropped one of the screws over the side.

I got it reassembled without the top of the drum, end for ended the line, put the sail back up, hand rolled it and with only a few turns on the drum had it set reefed for a beating in a F5  with one slab in the main and with the possibility of rolling in a bit more if necessary. But letting out the reef was no longer a sensible option as I might not be able to get the reef back in. So I set off again over reefed making even slower progress.

The top of the line drum, the pieces that should hold the two parts together
broken off.
The gear minus the outer cover and the top of the drum. (taken later!) 
There was a lighter moment, whilst I was working perched in the eyes of the boat, a pod of dolphins came to investigate and rather than swimming along or around the slow moving boat they hung in the water watching me, often from just a few feet away as the bow almost went underwater.

At the end of the season I was running down my reserve stock of diesel and after getting out of Fowey I had enough for a maximum of 27 hours motoring with a small reserve, not enough to get all the way home, especially against a head sea and with a dirty hull, but sufficient to go into Portland if I had another failure. So rather than go into Plymouth or back to Fowey and get stuck there for days with the approaching gales and possibly not being able to fix the Furling gear (The Hood Sea Furl is no longer sold in UK but is in America).  

After some lulls, when I used some of my engine time to motor sail, the wind eventually started to free up just after Start Point, passed at about 01:45, and I hoisted the storm jib as a staysail which gave me an additional 0.5 Knts in F4.

I was south of Portland at 12:15 by which time the wind was southerly, mainly F5 but with a few F6 squalls necessitating a second slab in the main at times, the storm jib was down and I making good speed but with the slow start, an hour and a half spent making repairs and being under powered in lighter winds I missed the tidal gate at Hurst by about an hour.

But there was more drama, as is my habit in strong winds I dropped the mainsail approaching North Head buoy (turning close to and in the lea of Hurst Castle in a strong wind and with 4 Knts of tide or more, is no time to have an accidental or messed up gybe when single handed!). The wind was now bordering on F6 with the odd F6 gust and beam reaching things were getting a bit lively so I tried to roll in a bit more of the jib when it let go and the full sail was flogging in 20+ knots.

Fortunately heading into 2 knots of tide and with the engine at low revs and the autopilot holding me in the centre of the narrow (c150 yard wide) channel I was able to drop and secure the genoa before getting to the turn into Hurst Narrows.

I did not fancy attempting my first night pick up of the new crowded trot mooring in 20 - 25 knts of wind, rain, at midnight, at low water and after a tiring trip so I headed for Osbourne Bay having dinner on route. By cheating the tide, making use of the neap tide and going over Pennington flats, and hugging the north shore close until Leap Spit I was at anchor by 21:45 with a passage time of 34.25 Hours, a lot of it in rain πŸ˜’.

Next day I went over to Hamble and was pleased to get on the mooring first try despite 20 Knts + and the tide making early with the strong wind. I was even more pleased to get in early enough to get ashore with the bundled up genoa to flake and bag it just as the rain set in again which continued for the rest of the day and all night.

It was too wet and windy for photography on the way back but there are more pictures from the trip here. 

Repair to the Sea Furl drum, the pan head screws heads will cause 
some wear to the line but it should not be severe, the trashed 6 mm 
Dymena which kinked excessively will be replaced with 8mm 
Polyester, with the core removed for about 5 meters  so that it 
will fit in the drum. 

It will be kept as a spare when I get a replacement from the USA.
I image this will be the last cruise of the year in which I did about 2,400 NM and 57 days on board and away from the home berth / mooring and many more on board before and after trips, when doing maintenance etc. plus a few day sails. A lower mileage per day than previously due to time anchored or moored during the Jester and being storm bound for several days on multiple trips.

Slide show:
2019 Sept - Fowey

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