Tuesday, July 27, 2021

2021 Summer Cruise, Days 8 - 10.

This is the last post in a thread, to start at the beginning, click here

The less said about this leg the better! But I will have a good moan 😈 The forecast was reasonable for Saturday and the strong winds of Friday died in the late afternoon so I decided to head for Fowey on Sunday leaving at 06:15 to get a few hours of favourable tide. 

There was little wind over night and when I left so I thought the sea conditions would at worst be reasonable and I decided to tow the dinghy for use at Fowey. I was very wrong, the sea south off of St Anthony head was evil, fairly high, very short and steep coming from the east against the rising wind. There was a risk of the dinghy being swamped and then lost so I expended a lot of energy getting it on board, deflated and secured, with the motion that made me both weary and feeling sea sick which lasted a coupe of hours. 

I tried sailing, rather than motor sailing, as the wind increased to about 14 knots but instead of making 4 or 5 knots which would be normal, against the waves I could only make about 1.5 knots on port tack. That would take all day so I put the engine back on. Until the tide changed adverse off of Dodman Point, the sea remained difficult and progress slow. After that I made good progress and arrived at 12:30 when moorings were still available.

24 miles in 6.5 hours.

Achilles 9 metre "Sancerre" at Fowey
“Hebridean Princess” arrived Saturday evening using 2 anchors
to secure the bow and lines aft to a buoy to secure the stern to
stop her swinging.
Note that the two yachts on the left are sharing a buoy as all the
others were taken
“Hebridean Princess”  was a Scottish 2,000 tonne ferry converted to the luxury cruise ship for a max of 50 guests with goodness knows how many crew, I didn’t bother checking on how much they pay for their short cruises! You would not want to be in Fowey during high season it was incredibly busy on “change over day” when I briefly went ashore for supplies.
Achilles 9 metre "Sancerre" at Fowey
Why I don't like rafting on a mooring, particularly at Fowey.
And it got closer than this as the two boats swung to the tide
in opposite directions, if there had been two 40ft boats on that
buoy there would probably have been a collision.
On Saturday night the met office inshore forecast suggested quite a lot of wind coming on Tuesday and their model as well as that from the European Centre for Medium Range Forecasting at Bracknell, down loaded as a "GRIB" file showed lots more coming on Wednesday or Thursday (it actually arrived late Thursday as Storm Evert), there was therefore a high risk of getting weather bound for some days in expensive marinas so I set off early on Sunday.

The forecast changed every 6 hours and none of them were right! Expecting fairly strong winds I decided not to go into Plymouth to anchor for a nights sleep as I could get stuck there, a couple of hours later the forecast changed to moderate winds but Plymouth was now "up tide" so I pressed on. Stronger winds did not arrive but remained very light, I did get up the cruising chute a number of times, once just to get some piece and quite for dinner, but with only 4 - 8 knots of wind I had to use the engine to have any chance of getting home without getting stuck somewhere due to weather or missing tidal gates, also tides did not favour going into Portland.

With a strong spring tide and a forecast strong wind it is advisable
to give Portland Bill a wide berth, in this case 6 miles, on really rough
days up to 12 miles is advised, even then you would still feel the effects.
Anvil point was a trial, not rough but with 3 - 3.5 knots of adverse tide.
I made the tidal gate at Hurst narrows, arriving a couple of hours after the favourable tide started which gave me a chance of getting onto the mooring during the "early flood stand" between 09:00 & 10:30, but it was going to be tight. 
A close rounding of Hurst, I didn't actually go over land, πŸ˜€the
navigation software was recording the position every 3 minutes
and I was moving very quickly.
The transition from the North Channel with c4 knots of tide into Hurst narrows with more, was complicated by a dredger coming down the Needles Chanel so instead of taking the easier route between  "The Trap" and the NE Shingles Buoy, I had to go close in, fortunately I knew the way and how close you can go as I usually go close in, just not at this stage of a big spring tide! I had my hands full manually steering as course changes were needed quicker than I could achieve with the autopilot, so regrettably no pictures of the over-falls.

It was a big spring tide for the time of year and north of Yarmouth it was still running at over 4 knots, through Hurst narrows it was a lot more.
The navigation display N of Yarmouth, motoring at c5.5 knots
but making 10.1 over the ground.
The Solent was remarkably quite for a July day except for commercial traffic, after dodging round several ferries and two small tankers I made it into the Hamble river comfortably ahead of a large container ship coming down Southampton Water and was on the mooring at 10:20. 

15 minutes later I could not have got on the mooring single handed and I would have had to wait until 13:00-16:30 or for a few minutes at 19:50.

102 miles in 29.3 hours.

Summary of the Cruise

Day #


GPS Miles

Sat 17 Jul

To Portland




Sun 18 Jul

To Lyme Regis




Sun 18 Jul

To Beer




Mon 19 Jul

To Hallsand




Tue 20 Jul

To Polkeris via Fowey for fuel.




Wed 21 Jul

To St Mawes




Thu 22 Jul

St Mawes


Fri 23 Jul

St Mawes


Sat 24 Jul

To Fowey




Sun 25 Jul

To Hamble


Mon 26 Jul

To Hamble







Only one night on a mooring, the rest at anchor πŸ˜€.

Just 10 days out of the planned 2 - 3 weeks, I guess the late summer cruise will be a bit longer than planned πŸ˜‰

Friday, July 23, 2021

2021 Summer Cruise - Boats racing off St Mawes

When anchoring off St Mawes you have to be ready for boats racing through the anchorage, mid week when these pictures were taken they get a good number of boats, at the weekends it get really hectic.

The guys in these work boats are very good and unlikely to get
things badly wrong, that may not apply to some others!
Having the dinghy tethered to the back of the boat on a longish
painter helps to keep boats away from the self steering!

There was a good fleet of Ajax class keel boats. The Achilles 24
is based on this hull, 4" more freeboard and a lid. 
And of Rustler / Piper 24's. It rather pleased me that the old Piper
boats were giving the 3 modern Rustler versions a good spanking.
I am sure that the more modern 2 spreader rig of the Rustler version
is better upwind but the main looks awful downwind (sorry no pic)
with the swept back spreaders distorting the main to the extent that
the main boom could not reach the shroud.
Click here for my trip home.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

2021 Summer Cruise, Days 5 - 7?

Apart from an hours motoring past Goran Haven to Dodman Point this was a very good days sailing although I did have to hoist the spinnaker twice, once as soon as I had the anchor up and again just after Dodman, and gybe it several times before the wind settled down a bit as I approached Gerrans Bay. It was also very hot but having opening windows in the boat, which is unusual, keeps the cabin cooler than on many boats.

Another boat leaving at 07:00, the towed dinghy is not huge,
the "square rigger" with the fake gun ports is small iirc 14 metres.
Very odd.
Achilles 9 metre "Sancerre" off Mevagissey
Tom Cruise going in towards Mevagissey in his super yacht "777".
Achilles 9 metre "Sancerre" off Gwineas Rock
The wind failed when I was approaching Chapel Point so I motored
inside Gwineas Rock. The ripples on the water are largely from the tide.
Achilles 9 metre "Sancerre" off Goran Haven
Goran Haven
Light winds just west of Dodman but I was able to sail to St
Anthony Head at the entrance to the Fal, generally only making
a knot or two through the water but hitting four or more on occasion
towards the end. Except off the main headlands the tide is not that
strong along this bit of coast, about 1 Knot, and on this occasion helpful.
Achilles 9 metre "Sancerre" off St Anthony Head
St Anthony Head. St Mawes extreme left.
Fortunately St Mawes, which a fellow round GB sailor had reported as very busy the previous day with more boats than he had ever seen there, had thinned out a lot, even with some buoys available. I was able to pick a spot to anchor with an easy row from the harbour. I arrived at 13:00 so had plenty of time to do some shopping, although the tomatoes had sold out which was annoying, and in the early evening I rowed to a beach on the north side of the anchorage for a swim - swimming from the boat is no longer practical as climbing the bathing or emergency ladders without shoes on plays havoc with the arthritis in my feet and toes. I'll need to get some bathing shoes, if I can find some stiff enough to give support.

20 miles in 6 hours.

The weather is now doing me no favours, as I write (Thursday, day 6) there is a very good sailing breeze from the east (but a bit much for the dinghy without the outboard which is an effort to get on and off) so I could easily get to Newlyn ready for a quick trip around Lands end to visit north Cornwall or Devon, perhaps even Lundy which was my original goal. But there is a big problem, the met office forecast:
"24 hour forecast: East or southeast 2 to 4, increasing 5 or 6 later. Smooth or slight, occasionally moderate later. Fair. Moderate or good.

Outlook for the following 24 hours: East or southeast, backing northeast, 5 to 7, veering south or southeast 3 to 5 later. Slight or moderate, becoming smooth or slight later. Rain or thundery showers developing. Good, occasionally poor."
Newlyn is not the place to be in a strong wind with east in it, so the only options are to stay put or to go back to Plymouth or to Fowey, which given the number of boats that have left here in the last couple of days is likely to be full. So I will sit it out here and decide what to do in a day or two, but it does not look promising with winds coming from all directions over the next week and models are indicating some very strong winds at the end of next week (Update: I was right to be wary, this turned into storm Evert (F8-9 winds, perhaps 10 at times) that caused serious problems for yachts in the far south west with a good number dragging their anchors in the Isles of Scilly with 2 life boats and a helicopter working all night to help them, but by then I was home having made a dash for it). 

Certainly Lundy is out if I am to get back in a week or two which I need to do, in part to leave time for a longer late summer / autumn cruise. The Isles of Scilly are going to be packed with France out of bounds so I suspect I'll be heading back east fairly soon, timing legs to have suitable anchorages available given the wind on any given day, and of course working the tides.

Slide show of all my pictures from Polkeris to St Mawes, page through by clicking the arrows or click in the centre of the pic to view from Flickr in a new window or full screen:

2021 July Polkeris - St Mawes

2021 Summer Cruise, Day 4.

Off at 06:45, again to catch the west going tide.

Achilles 9 metre "Sancerre" off Prawl Point
Approaching Prawle Point at 05:30
Dolphins almost always bring a smile, but not this time off of Bolt
Tail just west of Salcombe
Achilles 9 metre "Sancerre" in Bigbury Bay
Slow progress across Bigbury Bay, and yes the inner end of the pole
should be lower to make it horizontal for maximum effective length.
Another topsail schooner, I have lost count of how many I
have seen this year. this one is Anny of Charlestown, Danish
built in 1930, 63 ft on deck and 89 ft spared length.
Achilles 9 metre "Sancerre" entering Fowey
Entering Fowey for fuel, I had hoped to do a bit of shopping and
refill the water tank but someone beat me to the short stay pontoon
so I'll have to make do with the Co-op in St Mawes.
Fowey was very hot, would soon be full and you have to pay, so I moved a few miles to anchor off of Polkeris just west of Fowey, it is very good anchorage in settled conditions with an offshore wind and there is room for dozens of boats. Only 7 or 8 were there overnight whilst Fowey only had 8 or 9 spaces when I left at 14:30 with many boats heading that way, so they would have been rafting up on the buoys. 

There are several small beaches hidden along the coast by the anchorage, one of which I rowed into for a swim, it was COLD! but refreshing after the heat of the day.
Achilles 9 metre "Sancerre" at Polkeris
Polkeris anchorage.
Achilles 9 metre "Sancerre" at Polkeris
Polkeris anchorage approaching low tide.
Achilles 9 metres "Sancerre" at Polkeris
Looking NW towards Parr Sands and the sunset at 21:15.
Achilles 9 metres "Sancerre" at Polkeris
Looking south at 21:15, a very peaceful night.
48 miles in 9.5 hours with a fair bit of very slow sailing helped by 1 - 2 knots of tide.

Slide show of all my pictures from Hallsand to Polkeris, page through by clicking the arrows or click in the centre of the pic to view from Flickr in a new window or full screen:

2021 July Hallsand - Polkerris

2021 Summer Cruise, Day 3.

Generally more of the same with very light variable winds in very hot weather but still pleasant with some sailing and great scenery as I hugged the coast to get the best views.
I was close in except for a brief diversion to keep clear of the
Straight Point range, I was 30 minutes too late to get past before
firing started.
I'm glad I was not on the beach when these land slips happened
west of Beer Head.
Achilles 9 metre "Sancerre" off Ladram Bay
Ladram Bay, 60+ years ago we had holidays there.
Achilles 9 metre "Sancerre" off Dawlish
Rebuilding the sea wall at Dawlish
Achilles 9 metre "Sancerre" off Dawlish
"The Parson & Clerk" between Dawlish and Teignmouth, looking
smaller than I remember them from holidays at Dawlish Warren
in the 60's.
Achilles 9 metre "Sancerre" off Exeter
Teignmouth, I would have liked to stay overnight here but the
tide was wrong to get in and out of the tricky entrance.
I was surprised to see the Queen Mary back off Babbacombe 
where she had been a few weeks back as I had seen her
in Lyme Bay on day 2, confirmed by AIS.
Going close in around Start Bay put me in a counter current
saving quite a bit of time.
Achilles 9 metre "Sancerre" off Slapton
A low flying military Helicopter over Slapton Sands.
I anchored off of Hallsand, tucked well into the cliff at 17:30 after 42 miles and more than 6 hours motoring and almost 5 hours sailing in the very light winds.

Slide show of all my pictures from Beer to Hallsand, page through by clicking the arrows or click in the centre of the pic to view from Flickr in a new window or full screen:

2021 July Beer - Hallsand

2021 Summer Cruise, Day 2.

Yet another of my cunning plans that did not work out! All started well with another early start this time at 04:10 to catch the tidal gate for the inshore route round the Bill, according to Reed's Almanac this is 3 hours long but its normal to try and get there as early as practical within that to get the calmest conditions and the longest west going stream across Lyme Bay. But you need to do it under power and in daylight to avoid the numerous lobster pots, so on this occasion I and crews of half a dozen other boats got a little more time in bed and aimed for an hour into the gate.

Achilles 9 metre "Sancerre" at Portland
Portland in the pre-dawn with not a breath of wind.
It was much darker than it looks in the photo.
Achilles 9 metres "Sancerre" heading for the inshore route around Portland Bill
Heading for the inshore route around the Bill.
Achilles 9 metres "Sancerre" leaving the inshore route around Portland Bill
Dawn over the Bill.
Achilles 9 metre "Sancerre" leaving the Portland inshore route
Boats spreading out to cross Lyme bay to various destinations.
Having got round the Bill the question was which way to go, directly across Lyme Bay or along the coast? It was apparent that going direct would mean a lot of motoring and a very long day possibly requiring a rest day afterwards. Going along the coast might give a bit more wind and, spread over two days, more opportunity to wait for the wind, also some scenery. I opted for the scenic route but as things turned out there was very little wind and a lot of of motoring.
Achilles 9 metre "Sancerre" off Charmouth
Golden Cap, east of Lyme Regis and Charmouth is not as
golden as it used to be within my memory with lots of greenery. 
Achilles 9 metre "Sancerre" at Lyme Regis
Lyme Regis was already busy when I arrived at 09:40. It was
also noisy, some from the beach but mainly from power boats
charging around creating wash, It was also hot. I stuck it for
over an hour  when a very light breezes came in so I moved out.
Nice clear water at Lyme, the anchor in more than 3 metres of
water, with the heat wave visibility reduced substantially over
the next couple of days as algae and plankton bloomed.
The light breeze did not last long, I made less than 2 miles in over
3 hours, much of it in the wrong direction so on went the engine
and I reached Beer at 15:40. 
Achilles 9 metre "Sancerre" at Beer
Beer anchorage, not the most comfortable one around - the
current tends to keep the boat pointing roughly parallel to
the coast and waves curl round the head causing the boat to
roll, fortunately the sea was very calm and I had a reasonably
comfortable night.
Achilles 9 metre "Sancerre" at Beer
Looking towards Beer Head from the anchorage.

Portland - Lyme Regis, 20 miles in 5.5 hours.

Lyme Regis to Beer, 9 miles over the ground (6.5 if motoring in straight lines) in 4.8 hours.

Slide show of all my pictures from Portland to Beer, page through by clicking the arrows or click in the centre of the pic to view from Flickr in a new window or full screen:

2021 July Portland - Beer