Thursday, March 31, 2022

2022 St Kilda, Day 5 To Newlyn.

The forecast for later this week is not looking good so that even though there was no wind in the anchorage on Tuesday, but with the promise of some to come, I left at 07:45 to catch the tide, very light airs from the north set in as I passed St Anthony Head, so I tried to sail flying the cruising chute but essentially drifting on the tide too close to the Manacles. There was a danger of losing the favourable tide so on went the engine. 

With only a knot and a half of tide, a smooth sea and no wind I cut the corner and went fairly close into the Lizard. The wind stayed very light with visibility varying from less than a mile to greater than 6 miles. A few miles out of Newlyn some wind, up to F3 filled, in from the SW before veering to the NW as it was a head wind and variable and I was less than an hour out I continued under engine getting to Newlyn at 14:45.

33 miles in 7 hours.

When I arrived on Tuesday, the forecast had not been good, Force 7 coming in on Thursday night. As I write this bit (Friday lunch time) it is blowing a very cold F5 gusting to around F7 and the boat is rocking quite a bit in the harbour. The models disagree on what is going to happen from Sunday on, some show reasonable winds to get to the Scilly Isles, but this wind is likely to remain very cold so it is not an attractive option. The models diverge even more for next week with some suggesting strong winds but not agreeing when they will come, others showing reasonable conditions. There is no point in trying to guess what will happen at least until tomorrow and probably not for 2 or 3 days.

The view from Newlyn east on Friday morning, the sea relatively
calm in the offshore wind.

Slide show of pics from Portland to Newlyn:

2022 St Kilda Days 4 - ? to Newlyn

2022 St Kilda Day 4 & 5 to St Mawes.

The Portland inshore route, normally I would
be a little closer in heading towards the Bill but
I was sailing off a Lee shore so stayed a bit further
out which on a neap tide still gave me a smooth
ride over the Ledge which can be a bit rough.

Day 4

I left Portland at 05:45, half an hour late as the alarm did not go off, perhaps fooled by the change to BST, I motored past the eastern entrance as there was a merchant ship heading for it and I wanted to be well clear, I was then able to sail in 12 - 20 knots of wind and rather more for about an hour, all the way to Plymouth, although there was rather less as I rounded the Bill. 

Sailing down the Bill somewhat reduces the risk from lobster pots but you need the wind to be from the NE through to SE to make this practical as winds from the west are disturbed or blocked by Portland.

It was close to a dead run from the Bill with the wind about 10 degrees on the starboard quarter and then from about 11:00 with it from 10 - 20 degrees off to port. The sea was unfortunately well off the port quarter so the boat was rolling a lot with the occasional broach, especially in the middle of Lyme Bay when the sea was moderately high for several hours as the tide turned to be against the wind.

Making 5 and often more than 6 knots it was a quick passage, I could have gone a bit quicker but frequently reefed the headsail to better control the boat in the steep, breaking sea.

The timing was quite good as the foul flooding tide eased as I passed Start Point which saved me some of the grief you often get from rough seas off of Salcombe and I had a fair tide past bolt tail to Plymouth.

Entering Plymouth harbour was rather entertaining, naturally the wind freshened and I was reaching quickly whilst trying to sort out the lights complicated by a large RFA and HMS Somerset at anchor changing the pattern of background lights and a warship departing without AIS getting between me and a couple of key marks.

I anchored in Jennycliff Bay just after 22:00  in 20 knots of wind which disappeared a few minutes later and I had a quite night.

72 NM over the ground in 17 hours.

Day 5

I left at 07:40 with a favourable tide but the brisk northerly died as I was weighing anchor and was light and variable until I got just past Rame Head under engine, then it was again a run under headsail only all the way to St Mawes.

After the quite night the sea was smooth as I left and with winds generally at the upper end of Force 4 or a light Force 5 the sea never got to the heights I had the previous day but it was still tiring. Video of the SeaFeather working on a broad reach with a quartering sea, best viewed full screen

Entering the St Mawes anchorage and only 1 boat at anchor,
one on a visitors buoy and a few local boats up the river, come
Easter it will start to get busy with visitors and from 1st May
when many of the local boats launch it will likely be heaving.

A fairly quick trip, 39 mile in less than 9 hours at an average speed of 4.7 knots over the ground.

Click here for the trip round the Lizard to Newlyn.

Friday, March 25, 2022

2022 St Kilda Day 3. Crows and wind instruments don’t mix.

Today I learned not to write that it’s been a smooth 2 days before the day has ended.

Just after finishing I heard some loud squawking from the top of the mast. The crow flew off but not before doing some damage. Fortunately I checked and found the wind instruments were not working although the sensor is turning and pointing. Presumably it disturbed the connection or damaged the cable.

I am now in the marina waiting for a rigger to help fix it, apart from my arthritis and general decrepitude it’s really a 2 man job, one fiddling and one checking to see if it’s working. Hopefully it can be fixed otherwise I could be here for a while.

Fixed this morning (Saturday), off again tomorrow. The forecast is reasonable although it could be a bit blower at times, and F6 further west and east so I’ll need to keep an eye on the forecast. 

There is some seriously nasty weather coming in on Thursday with some models showing northerly gust of 50 knots so I’ll have to make sure I am somewhere very safe by then, Newlyn would be favourite and possible if the weather behaves itself, with Fowey or the Fal as back ups.

Click here for the trip to St Mawes

2022 St Kilda Days 1 & 2 to Portland

Day 1

Two days that went very smoothly, apart from finding that I had put one mainsail slide in upside down! 

The train was on time and I opted to take the Bus from Southampton rather than train to Netley then picking up the same bus service, I was fortunate to cover the half mile walk in time to catch the bus with about 2 minutes to spare and I was in Hamble an hour or two earlier than would have been the case if I had continued by train.

One thing that puzzled me, I got to Southampton with one change of train and it cost c £25, the alternate service (2 out of every 3 trains during the day) involved three changes, tales longer and costs £42!

A very short hop on the water taxi out to the boat and I was underway at 14:20 more than an hour ahead of scheduled with the boat fully prepared for sea, to make the tide I had expected to have to put on the sheets etc whilst underway. It was a pleasantly warm afternoon with about 10 knots of wind a little east of south.

Hamble to the anchorage behind Hurst.

Entering Southampton water there was some commercial traffic so I continued under engine on the east side until it was past then headed towards Hurst, sailing from Calshot point and making good progress on the ebb tide. The wind started to veer when I was halfway and then died, I gave it an hour then motored the last few miles arriving at 17:35 for a quite but short night. 15 miles in five and a half hours.

The Hurst anchorage, I was much closer in then when I stopped
off here last year.

Day 2

A very early start was needed and I woke up an hour before the alarm and thought I might as well get started and was underway at 03:00. I have compensated a little by changing ships time to BST a couple of days early, partly to make tomorrows early start seem better but mainly because the instruments are still on BST from last year.

Leaving early turned out to be a good move. Going down the Needles channel the wind was only 4 or 5 knots from the north but with 3 knots and more of following tide there was not enough to maintain steerage in the strong tides of the channel so I motored out to SW Shambles when I got there and turned towards Anvil Point the wind piped up to c 10 knots and I had a Force 4 N - NE breeze  all the way to Portland vs the forecast E or NE, that was good news as I was going much faster and covered the 35 miles in 7 hours on one tide.

It was a bit chilly but not really cold and it warmed up quickly from about 9:30 and by lunch time it was 28 degrees.
Dawn off of St Alban's Head.
I was the only one in the main anchorage, not even a single
resident boat on the moorings, and just one boat on the moorings
outside of the marina.
Tomorrow is likely to be interesting, a breezy day is promised and I'll be using the inshore route rather later in the "gate" than I have done before, with a N or NE wind forecast I should even be able to sail round which at least will reduce the risk from Lobster pot floats. However the forecast wind strength for Saturday has been increasing over the last couple of days and if that trend continues it could make the inshore route iffy and I could be delayed,

Slide show of photos so far:

2022 St Kilda Days 1 and 2 to Portland

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

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Thursday, March 10, 2022

2022 towards St Kilda: launching.

As in previous years I will be posting as and when I can, it would be best for new readers to check out my new (Nov 2022) introduction to the blog (Opens in a new tab / window) that explains how I go about writing the blog, its limitations whilst I am writing it whilst cruising and what some terms mean.

St Kilda (left) about 45 miles west of Harris in the Outer Hebrides.
In a small sailing boat, the lack of a protected anchorage and
a safe all weather passage back through or around the outer Isles,
at least a week of fair weather it required to safety visit.

I will probably have Iridium tracking on around the Scottish Islands and the Outer Hebrides but have not yet made a decision as to when I will activate it. I will turn if off when I am confident of getting timely weather reports and some email connectivity by other means for the rest of the trip, again see my "Tracking Sancerre page" for the Iridium tracking reports.

The Launch

Sancerre was launched on the 9th of March and I took her down river to one of the RAFYC's berths for a night before putting her on the mooring. 

Quite a pleasant 2 mile trip up the river in the dinghy. This is
the easiest way to get the car and the boat down to the RAFYC
 single handed. Pic about half way between Port Hamble and
Mercury marinas looking upstream on the first of the flood tide. 
Looking downstream from about the same point. When I came back
down, against the tide, there was also a force 5 wind on the nose
which would not have been pleasant in the dinghy..
Nicolson 55 "Lord Portal" moored near the top of the river, I sailed
on her in the 70s when she was one of 2 Nic 55's used by the RAF
for adventure training.
Launching at Deacon's yard, once a very traditional boat yard but
now under new ownership it is being modernised and homogenised,
probably not for the better, prices are certainly going up quickly so I'll
probably not be there next year, or at least not for as long.
Sancerre was launched @ 10:00 an hour and a bit after low water, 2 hours ahead of the orriginal schedule, I was told the previous afternoon so had to leave early to get down in time. Its a long drop to the water even two days off of neaps, I don't think they launch so near to low water on spring tides. The yard was busy that day so they moved the boat launched before Sancerre (On the pontoon at the end of the jetty in the pic above, waiting to be towed over to Swanwick marina, AKA Moody's) into the slings the previous day and parked Sancerre right behind for a quick start, when I left at c 10:45 a third boat was going in.

Whilst moored at the RAFYC I loaded heavy and awkward sized items that it was not sensible to do when she was ashore, set up the running rigging that was removed for the winter and fitted the mainsail, stack pack and lazy-jacks. I was lucky with the weather this morning, the wind being much lighter than forecast, so I was also able to get the 150% genoa rigged as well, a bit of a struggle single handed in any wind.

Most of the tinned food is loaded so after a few more hours of work and loading the rest of the food, clothes and bedding suitable for spring, and hopefully summer, I will be ready to go. 

Update 20th March: With the revised start date (see update at the end of the previous post) I loaded the rest of the non-perishable stores today and finished the odd jobs and the boat is ready to go, I just need to load clothes, perishable food and get the car home. to leave on the 25th or 26th.