Thursday, June 30, 2022

I really, really did not want to do this.

Almost the last thing I wanted to do was paint the boat but there is not much choice given the high cost (many thousands) of having it done professionally. 

During lockdown the boat suffered whilst on the mooring, wind and tide meant that she was healing somewhat and, with the boot line rather low and me not having access to clean it, weed accumulated just above the boot line and punctured the gloss paint coat causing some blistering. Last winter there were a small number of areas where the paint was pealing but nothing major. 

When she was hauled out after my problem with the seacock she was power washed and suddenly paint was peeling off in a number places.

In March there was a very small mark at the left covered by the
off colour blue paint, one blast with the power washer and its 6
or 8" long, and this was not the worst.

Checking it out, along with the boss of the yard, it became clear that over several areas, mainly near the waterline,  the undercoat was not bonded to the filler or substrate which was very very smooth.

Sancerre being professionally repainted in 2015. The boot line
too low from previous work by someone. I had raised it, enough
in a marina, but as it turns out not enough on an exposed
mooring or loaded for a long trip.
Leaving it longer would make things worse, so with the boat already hauled out I am going to have to take drastic measures, strip off the loose paint and hand paint the topside after appropriate treatments.

July is going to seem like a very long month. Click here for the first 2 days of work.

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Potential disaster on the Hamble

I closed the engine seacock to change a hose and it started leaking then came off in my hand (Brass turned pink from electrolysis) water was then coming in at a great rate through the 3/4" valve (see pic right).

The aperture is rectangular inside so the wood bungs you are recommended to have and I had to hand, would not work but I managed to make up a pad (one handed whilst the other was over the leak) and fix it over the hole with cable ties.

With no cooling water I had no engine, so I called Deacon's who came 2 miles down river to tow me up to be lifted out and a couple of hours after the failure she was safe and dry. 

The pad held OK so I only had a few gallons of water in the boat that the auto bilge pump coped with easily.

A new composite sea cock will replace it, also the one for the sink which is also a gate valve, £48 for each valve and a new skin fitting, rather more to have it fitted (Edit: as it happened a LOT more, follow the thread for more). The (comprehensive) insurance will not cover the valve replacement as it was due to corrosion but does cover the tow and lift out.

You have been warned!

Sunday, June 26, 2022

What next?

Back for just over a week, its warm, sunny and breezy and I already have itchy sea legs. However I need to do some maintenance that I would rather not do during the winter, particularly some varnishing and to finish off repairs, mainly replacing the engine inlet water hoses. Update: this did not go well with a sea cock failing catastrophically and an emergency repaint suddenly being required; described in a series of posts starting with "Near disaster on the Hamble".

So, a departure late July or early August seems to be optimal and I have fixed on the Friday August 5th which will allow me to take part in the RAFYC rally to the Folly Inn on the Medina over the weekend and leave for the west country with good tides for the first few days on the Sunday morning.

Click here to jump to day one avoiding the pre-amble.

With likely weather in late September and October that really does not leave enough time to get back to the Scottish Islands. 

Pippen in Alderney May 2019, my pic
previously printed in YM and elsewhere.
With the time taken to get to the boat, prepared for sea, and limitations getting on and off the mooring single handed (explained a couple of posts back here) etc., I prefer to stay out for weeks rather than days so where? 

I really wanted to go to Southern Britany for the first time in years but having checked on the post Brexit procedures for entering France - which are a shambles and likely to remain so for some time with limited entry ports, much uncertainty about equipment rules and the need to search out customs etc. on arrival which would be tricky with having no French, I decided against that. 

Another trip to the Channel Isles is overdue (and young John, Jester sailor, would like me to take a look at the stink boat he has replaced Pippin with, more to the point he knows the best places to eat which is an incentive to go) but I don't want to do that during the school holidays when everywhere will be very busy. 

The Scillies and major attractions are likely to be crowded in August but if I keep to the less popular or larger anchorages shouldn't be too stressful if the weather is reasonable but would not take a month unless legs are kept very short.

So, the plan is to head west, visit the Isles of Scilly then, if the weather co-operates, hop across to Ireland direct or via Milford Haven then cruise the SE coast for a week or two covering the area between Baltimore and Carnsore point. Next year I plan do the Jester Challenge to Baltimore then head north towards St Kilda for a third attempt, west of Ireland taking my time if the weather is helpful or rushing up the east coast if it is not, either way I'll not be staying along this piece of coast which I have not seen, except for Baltimore during the 2019 JBC.

Jester Sailors in Baltimore, 2019. Including three A9m sailors
and one A24 sailor

Then I plan to head back east, probably via the Scillies as far as the Salcombe / Dartmouth area and head for Guernsey from there returning at the end of September or early October, possibly in time for a RAFYC rally to the RYS on the 1st October.

Click here to follow the thread.

Monday, June 20, 2022

2022 St Kilda, statistics, 10,000 solo miles, gear problems. etc.


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

I didn't make it to St Kilda and looking at the weather in May and early June I made the right decision to give up when I did, although doing so a couple of weeks earlier would have in retrospect been a better decision. 

During the trip I passed 10,000 solo natical miles in Sancerre in less than 5 seasons, I'm not sure what the total will be for the year, probably less than last year despite more days, but on this cruise I:

  • Travelled 1,774 nautical miles
  • Sailed on 44 days out of 86, a disappointing ratio.
  • Stopped at 37 different anchorages, moorings or marinas, some more than once.
  • Spend 398 hours at sea, averaging just over 9 hours and 40 miles per day.

Gear Problems:

Generally, for the distance sailed and the time taken, I had few problems but a couple were fairly consequential although cheap to fix and a third was precautionary costing a bit more.

Wind generator fixed 21st June. 15 minutes
to replace the brushes and the best part of an
hour to remount with the help of a ladder
which attracted some quizzical looks when
being transported on the dinghy.
Wind Generator: a slip ring brush broke in difficult seas off of Milford Haven. The engine and solar kept me going but with extended periods of no sun (and lots of wind with which the generator would easily have kept the batteries topped up) the service/domestic batteries did go down more than usual but with lots of capacity not below about 60% charged. Not expensive to fix (less than £30 incl postage) but getting the repaired unit back into position single handed is always going to be a challenge.

Engine Water Leak: In the end I fixed this at no cost but it did cost me a day in Bangor trying to find replacement hose before shortening the damaged ones and moving the anti-syphon valve. 

When cleaning up the engine I found some minor rubs on an inlet hose so replacing the water hoses is now on the "to do" list, again not expensive with hose at £6.48 / metre, new stainless clips were rather more in total cost at £2.67 each. More time consuming was getting rid of all the salt on and around the engine and repainting where the salt had removed the existing paint.

Update: This turned out to be very expensive, when I started to change the inlet hose the inlet seacock failed threatening to sink the boat, I suppose it was good that it failed on the mooring and I was able to recover the situation, rather than at sea but at the time it was rather stressful, this and some knock-on problems are described from here.

The two original issues are covered in more detail in a single post here.

Engine Starter Motor: A slightly dodgy starter solenoid would probably have been OK but I did not want to risk it at the start of a long trip so whilst weather bound at Newlyn I changed the starter motor and solenoid which made more sense than changing just the solenoid.

Wind Instrument Plug and Socket: Leaking and causing a poor connection, it was fine from Newlyn outbound but will need replacement and will cost twice as much as fixing the wind generator!

That's it!

Saturday, June 18, 2022

2022 St Kilda Day 85, Studland to Hamble

As is often the case passage making along the south coast, this was going to be a race to make tidal gates. Firstly I needed to go through Hurst Narrows on the flood tide and preferably carry the flood up the Solent, this was particularly important as it was a spring tide. 

Then I had to arrive at my mooring when I would be able to get on to it single handed, on the Hamble this gets a little complicated because of the complicated tides in the Solent.

The tidal curve for the lower Hamble on the day, rather more complex
than those found outside of the Solent! On the ebb, tides of 3 knots or
more through the moorings can be expected.
If the wind is not strong off the beam I can usually get on the trot mooring single handed without much fuss when the tide is slack or not running strongly, in theory I could get on with the tide ebbing but this is not practical, firstly because for the majority of the time it is running very fast - notice that on this spring tide the ebb proper starts at about 15:40 and ends at 18:48, only three hours when all of the water that came up from 06:25 to 15:40 goes out. Secondly I need to be pointing down stream so that I can leave at any time during the flood or stand, it often not being safe to do so on the ebb because of the boats close up and down stream being in the way.

So, on the 16th the best times to get onto the mooring would be between approximately:  

  • 08:45 and 10:15 (The "Young Flood Stand")
  • 12:45 and 13:15
  • 14:30 and 15:30
  • 18:50 briefly
  • etc.

Any time between 06:30 and 15:30 would be straightforward two handed but can be challenging single handed, Sancerre is "only" c 3.5 tonnes but holding her against a strong tide can be difficult for this 70 year old with boats only a few yards ahead and astern. And if your timing is not spot on, it is quite likely you will have to hold her on the pick up line whilst reaching and securing the first mooring line. Then the stern has to be pulled onto the aft buoy against the tide which on my mooring is not aligned with the direction of the tides flow.

So the first order of business was to get into the Solent, if under sail getting in any time on the flood was acceptable and achievable with quite light winds, a 15:00 arrival would be most likely under sail with 18:50 or 22:00 as fall back and if I was lucky a space to wait on the RAFYC short stay pontoon.

Under engine an early start might mean using one of the earlier windows with the chance of getting home on the same day. 

I set the alarm for 04:15 and was away by 04:45 with no wind and none was to come in that morning. I made Hurst castle just before 06:00 with the flood just getting into full swing.

Good progress repairing the collapsed end of the castle.
Not yet at full strength and with no wind the over-falls through the
narrows where mild but still needed care with one of the eddies turning
the boat through c45 degrees before I caught her, I always hand steer
through here, the autopilot not having full authority on the tiller.
There is a moving exclusion zone around large ships in the Thorn
Channel and there is not a lot of room between the edge of the channel
and shallow water, fortunately this one was on the far side of the deep
water channel. A Cowes Ferry was much closer as there was another
 coming in the opposite direction.
I made a consistent 9 knots over the ground until well up the Solent and was on a mooring at 09:30 in the middle of the first window.

Approaching the third pile going into the Hamble at 08:40.
The down side was that someone was on my mooring and I had to pick up the only spare operated by Hamble Ferry which, being directly behind a large motorboat with long forward mooring lines, left little room for me and that was to cause me some grief moving the boat next day as things got sorted out, a newbe had had problems getting onto his mooring and it turned out had cut one of my mooring lines and some of his. 

But, I was on my way home, I secured the boat grabbed the main valuables and the trash and got the water taxi to shore, a bus to Southampton then the train and a taxi and was home by mid afternoon ready to go down with the car the next day to start clearing out the clutter.

2022 St Kilda Day 85 Studland to Hamble

30 miles in 5 hours.

Click her for some stats and a summary of mechanical issues.

2022 St Kilda Day 84 Beer to Durdle Door and Studland

I left Beer with no clear idea as to where I would end up or which route I would take, it would all depend on the weather and the tidal gate around Portland. The inshore (inside) route around the Bill would open after five in the afternoon so would clearly be practical but would probably mean anchoring up somewhere, probably West Bay, to wait for the tide. On the other hand the tide would turn westward on the offshore (outside) route at around twelve by which time I really needed to be past the East Shambles, especially as it was only a day off of the spring tide. That would require an early start and almost certainly given the weather forecast extensive use of the engine.

If I went the inside route I would go into Portland Harbour to anchor, if the outside route my target was Chapman's Pool just before St Alban's Head with Lulworth Cove and Worbarrow Bay possibilities. But if the Lulworth range was active and as I did not want to exercise "my right" to ignore the range and barge straight through disrupting operations (not a few do), Worbarrow would only be accessible with the range closed and Chapman's Pool awkward to get to, although that was likely to be less of an issue as the range tends to close around 17:00 and if there is night firing it reopens at dusk which would be late.

The plan was therefore not to set the alarm and to set off when I woke up and see how things went. As usual at this time of year on the boat I woke early and was off at 05:30 with 12 knots of wind from the north, quickly freshening to 15 knots, with the tide turning favourable I was making good progress but it could be tight for the outside route and I would be very early for the inside route.

This resolved itself when the wind died to almost nothing, did not look like returning and was not predicted to do so on the 07:00 inshore waters forecast. I stuck at it for a couple of hours but if I was going to use the engine I might as well do so in time to make the tide past the Shambles, so when I calculated that it was the latest moment to get through at a sensible cruising speed on went the engine.

Just west of the Bill as close as you are likely to see it from the
offshore route on a spring tide.
Just east of the Bill. The ripples on the water were caused by
the tide, not a wind!

Rounding the Bill, the blue shading to the east is the Shambles Bank.
 The westward drift in my track was the tide turning and rushing SW
between the Shambles and the Bill.
It is recommended in the Pilot, Reed's etc. that you should either pass within c300 yards of the Bill (during a narrow time window and hugging Portland for at least 2 miles on the east side and on the west side when going eastward) or between three and five miles and much further out is usually preferred in bad weather. The Shell pilot (Ed Tom Cunliffe) describes the Portland race as the most dangerous open stretch of water in the Channel, worse even than the race of Alderney and those along the French coast, so it deserves respect!

A day off of springs in very benign conditions I opted for 3 miles although a motor boat went round inside me, I was hoping that I would get a good push north as the tide turned but I was perhaps half an hour to late for that to be a major factor. 

I now had to decide what to do next. The range was active, the tide foul and the sun hot so I decided to park up for a while and move further east to Chapman's Pool when the tide turned at around six. It would also give me a chance of diving to see if the propeller was fouled, since Cawsand I had noticed a lack of oomph at low speed and a bit of vibration. I decided on Durdle Door as on a hot day I suspected Lulworth Cove would be chock full of boats.
Durdle Dorr (right) and the main beach. I had planned to anchor
off this beach inside of some large rocks but there were paddle
boarders all over the place and it would be noisy so I went to
the east beach.
Durdle Door, why anyone would want to jump from the arch
I have no idea. It is easy to see why so many are badly injured
and some killed doing so.
Durdle Door from the east where I anchored, not something to do
unless it is very calm, the bottom is largely rock but in these
conditions the weight of anchor and chain would probably hold the
boat even if the anchor did not bight. 
A cooling swim was now in prospect, but I did not need that much cooling so on went the emergency wetsuit, fins etc. but in such calm weather for a quick inspection I did not bother with the crash helmet (three and a half tons or more of boat coming down on your head when there are waves is not recommended),
As I thought, easy to remove by hand its is surprising how weed
can stay attached with the shaft turning. Subsequent analysis showed
that fuel consumption increased dramatically, probably between 30% and
50%, whilst the weed was there. Nice to see little erosion of the zinc
anodes, the Galvanic Isolator doing its work. 
Also nice to see that the antifoul has been doing its work with only
a light covering of dead growth. I suspect a month or so on the
Hamble, the highest fouling area in the country according to test
by Practical Boat Owner magazine, will soon change that.
The water seemed much colder than on my 05:30 dive off of St Ives, it was refreshing but I did not stay in any longer than necessary!

I had gone to the east beach for peace and quite but an hour later there were three inconsiderate people playing loud music, one very loud from a newly arrived powerboat. I noticed on AIS that a range guard boat was heading back to Portland so I gave him a call to see if the range had closed, it had, so I left earlier than planned against the tide but well timed because when I reached St Alban's Head where the tide gets strong, it had changed and I decided to press on and go to Studland for the night, that would put me in range of the Hamble on Thursday so I could get home to fetch the car on Thursday or Friday and not have to risk public transport at the weekend.
St Albans Head, Anvil Point in the distance.
As I rounded Anvil Point a breeze came up from the southwest so I put the cruising chute up (it had been sitting on deck for most of the day after a brief use earlier) and sailed quickly on to Studland where I picked up the last available free "Eco mooring" recently installed (by Boat Folk marinas) to help protect the sea grass beds and the Seahorses that live in it. 

Studland is very attractive but I would like it a lot more if people stopped driving noisy powerboats through the anchorage at high speed, their wake threatening to spill my sun downers.

Sandbanks and Bournemouth from Studland anchorage.

2022 St Kilda Day 84 Beer to Durdle Door and Studland

60 miles in twelve and a quarter hours.

Click here for the last leg.

2022 St Kilda Day 83 Cawsand to Beer

This leg needed an early start, like many on this trip, in this case to make the tide around Start Point, so I was off at 03:30 and for a while it was a mixture of sailing and motoring with variable winds. A better wind set in off Bolt Head and took me a good way east to take advantage of a forecast easterly wind. With good progress and no sigh of the wind veering I toyed with the idea of going all the way across Lyme Bay rather than north as planned, but decided against it as it would almost certainly mean an overnight sail and the need to rest at the next stop.  

Passing Salcombe at 05:30.

That was a good decision as not long after the wind started to head me and at 10 o'clock I tacked on the veering wind but east of Dartmouth the wind died to nothing and I motored on. I had not decided on an anchorage as the overnight breeze was forecast to be N or NE which would mean I could anchor almost anywhere. In the end I decided on Beer as a recognised anchorage albeit one know to often be unexpectedly uncomfortable. As it turned out  the sea remained smooth all night .

Branscombe where the Devenshire red Sandstone starts to give
way to the Limestone of the Jurassic coast. 
Beer Head
Beer Head and the anchorage off the beach.

2022 St Kilda Day 83 Cawsand to Beer

67 miles in thirteen and a half hours.

Click here for the next leg

2022 St Kilda Day Day 82 Fowey to Cawsand Bay

A 6:45 start with a visit fuel berth on the first of the ebb, a good time to get onto it although the current was a little more than ideal, but mooring port side to, going into the tide was not difficult and puts the fuel cap on the shore side for access. Rarely could you sensibly berth single handed going down tide on this berth.

It was a nice sunny day with variable winds often very light and sometime non-existent, but I managed to sail all the way except for using the engine for a total of half an hour to leave Fowey and to anchor at Cawsand. 

Passing outside off the Udder Rock south cardinal buoy a few
miles east of Fowey. One of the few buoys I can reliably
remember the name of. The rock dries 0.6 metres at LAT
but I have never seen it.
The Portuguese "Bartolomeu Dias" one of many warships from
several nations exercising off of Plymouth, I also identified HMS
Diamond (T45 Destroyer) , HMS Somerset  & HMS Kent (T23
Frigates),a German Frigate I can't remember the name of, plus a
couple of logistics ships and a small British warship not advertising
its name on AIS and too far off to read it's pennant number. 
The Cawsand anchorage
The anchorage was quite busy when I arrived (not as many as
shown, at least half of these boats are local on moorings), and got
more so. There was a certain pleasure in recognising several larger
boats that had motored past me as I sailed.

2022 St Kilda Day 82 Fowey to Cawsand

23 miles in ten and a half hours.

Click here for Cawsand to Beer.

Sunday, June 12, 2022

2022 St Kilda Day 80 The Fal to Fowey

A very pleasant sail with sun most of the way but not hot with the wind. I was under sail soon after weighing anchor, but expecting a dead run or very broad reach I did not bother with the mainsail which would just get in the way. And with the promised force 4 -5 winds it was unlikely that I would want to put a spinnaker up.
Pendennis with a couple of fishermen right in the middle
 of the narrow buoyed channel, they will have got a close look 
at lots of boats coming out of the Fal.
Old quarry works just east of St Anthony Head, getting the
barges in and out would be a challenge in poor weather.
I arrived at Fowey at 2 o'clock in time to see the the Saturday racing.

Below: A rather ragged start for the Fowey "Troy" 18ft one design keel boats:

With their big mainsails these look to be a bit of a handful in the usually gusty winds in the Fowey estuary. Designed in 1929 there are 26 know to exist many of which are raced. The small wooden dinghy with the red and yellow sail is a Fowey River class clinker built 15ft foot dinghy.

The moorings were quite busy with only a few empty by early evening, the town was also fairly busy but not the heaving mass you get during the school holidays and I was able to get a good, albeit expensive, dinner at the King of Prussia. By Sunday afternoon there were few boats left on the visitors buoys, some of which were on a rally from Mylor and presumably had to get home.  

My planned meet up in Plymouth with a fellow solo sailor planned for Monday / Tuesday is now off so tomorrow (Monday) I will probably head for Cawsand Bay (Plymouth) or Hallsand (behind start Point) if the wind permits - the models differ. Winds are likely to be light for several days with little or no rain so after that I'll probably go round Lyme Bay in 2 or 3 days then take the inshore route around Portland Bill, the gate for which will be open late afternoon / early evening, anchor in the harbour for a night and I should be back in the Hamble after two more days or possibly three if the easterly wind promised for Thursday materialises. 

2022 St Kilda Day 80 The Fal to Fowey

25 miles in five hours 45 minutes for an average speed of 4.4 knots over the ground, not bad under headsail alone with an adverse tide until Dodman and less than a mile and a half under engine and that generally below the average speed.

2022 St Kilda Day 79 Newlyn to the Fal

After a day fuelling the boat, getting washing done and restocking fresh food, I spent a day visiting Ron, a sailing friend, and helping with some heavy work on his boat that injury and illness was a bit beyond him. I had intended to leave the next day but although the forecast wind was reasonable the maps looked as if that might change, also it was due to be raining most of the afternoon and seas could be rather rough, so I delayed a day and started getting the blog up to date - I had little time since leaving Tobermory.

Leaving Newlyn, The Lizard in the distance.
It was the right decision as F6 winds returned to the forecast at midnight and it was indeed damp and cool in the afternoon. On Friday I left in a F3 under all plain sail with calm seas in the shelter of the land, and a decent amount of sun. 

The wind and sea increased to a solid F4 / F5 and I had a reef in the main and variable amounts in for the headsail. Approaching the Lizard there was a big Atlantic swell and 4 metre waves - which never looks as high in photographs - but reaching it was not a problem, although somewhat lively.

I reached the Lizard a little early with wind still against tide so I stayed well out and then made good speed up the Lizard peninsular with a following tide.

Its amazing how often a single anchored ship is right on the 
track I want to follow.
The sea calmed as I moved north but it was less comfortable at times because until I reached The Manacles and was able to head up, I was on a dead run.

I anchored in St Mawes at 14:40. The wind was now over 20 knots having increased to F6 as I passed downwind of the Helford estuary and it was rather uncomfortable. On Ron's recommendation I moved up the Fal to an anchorage just south of Mylor marina and Penarrow point.

The obelisk by the anchorage marks the boundary between the
Truro and Falmouth port authorities and as I later found out
one end of the start line for local racing.
This was a lot more comfortable although in the morning with less wind, the boat was broadside to some slight waves and as I had experienced in Sorrento Bay, Dublin the previous week she developed an uncomfortable roll, but I had a decent nights sleep and was ready to press on.

2022 St Kilda Day 79 Newlyn to the Fal

36 miles to St Mawes in eight hours then another hour changing anchorages, all under sail from clearing Newlyn harbour until passing St Anthony Head.

Click here for the short hop to Fowey

2022 St Kilda Day 72 Milford Haven to Newlyn

My track until midnight.
This was always going to be tricky with the tidal gate around Land's End, last year I got well ahead of myself after making 5 knots largely under sail and then got smacked about off Land's End with a freshening wind against tide. This year even with an early start I would have to make 4 - 4.5 knots to get past before the tide turned adverse.

An added complications was lack of fuel; I had not refuelled since Tobermory and had used a lot going down the Mull of Kintyre and crossing the Irish sea. 

My rule around UK, which I have never broken, is to always have sufficient diesel to reach a place of safety, and there are not many of those around the Celtic Sea / Bristol Channel, the St Ives anchorage is only tenable in good weather and the harbour is tidal so the options are to return to Milford, go to the Scillies, continue to Newlyn or head for Padstow - not the easiest place to get into in some conditions and tidal.

I had planned to refuel at the nearby marina but at the last moment I found they do not provide fuel during free flow through the lock, due mid evening on Saturday, that would mean locking through and possibly staying overnight and strong winds were forecast so I gave up on that idea.

With about 30 litres (this is the first season with a fuel gauge so I remain sceptical of readings although they do appear to be accurate), probably 20 - 25 usable depending on the sea state, and a bit more in the heater tank and can, the actual amount available, etc, I had a range of 85 miles under power with a small reserve. In practical terms that meant after clearing Milford I should not use the engine until halfway to Cape Cornwall. 

I weighed anchor at 03:10, the wind was as forecast, ENE F4-5 and the sea state reasonable and I was off to a flying start running under headsail alone. Then, when about 10 miles offshore the wind picked up to F6 and the sea turned nasty as it had when I was going the other way through this piece of water back in April. 

With a quartering sea I could go very fast surfing the waves, but it would be precarious with a serious risk of a broach, I could probably avoid that by hand steering but only for a limited time, under autohelm or the wind vane it was not safe so I reduced sail and continued at around 4 knots through much of the morning taking shelter below during rain squalls when the wind occasionally gusted to F7. 

With the strong wind the SeaFeather wind vane steering again performed better than the high-tech autopilot which, trying to predict unpredictable waves, worked hard but achieving little and was using a lot of amps that were not being replaced due to the failure of the wind generator and lack of sun for the solar panels. The SeaFeather just steered to the wind and Sancerre took care of the waves.

Some light relief was provided by a large pod of Dolphins that unusually stayed with me for about 2 hours rather then the more usual 30 - 45 minutes. They seemed to be spread over several square miles and taking it in turns to play around the boat frequently jumping out of the face of often breaking waves. Another solo sailor has experienced the same a bit further south a few weeks earlier.

The wind started to moderate mid morning and then became variable and by lunch time Southerly F3 then an hour later SW F2. With the limited "fetch" the sea quickly calmed down. At 3 o'clock with light and variable winds forecast it was clear that I would not make that evenings tide around Land's End so I decided to head for St Ives, anchor there for a few hours sleep then leave for Land's End at about 07:00.

A few showers were still about in the evening, but I didn't get wet.

Winds remains light and variable so to ensure some sleep and having fuel to reach Newlyn with a reasonable reserve I put the engine on hoping to arrive Newlyn at about 13:30 next day. By now it was a pleasantly warm evening with a bright moon. Just no wind.

At 01:08 the moon set and about 15 minutes later in pitch black, I was looking ahead to identify the anchorage when, at the edge of the pool of light from my steaming light, a lobster pot buoy (at the time I did not know for certain it marked Pots, it could have been marking a net or dead / night lines which complicated later decision making) appeared a couple of boat lengths ahead on the port bow and a Dan buoy on the starboard. There was no way to change course quickly enough to avoid them so I lunged for the power / gear leaver to at least mitigate the likely tangle of rope around the propeller and shaft. I  quickly came to a halt, anchored by the propeller or skeg to the pots or whatever, in 20 metres of water. A quick check hanging over the side with a torch and pulling on the Dan buoy showed the propeller was involved.

Fortunately the sea was smooth and the wind very light so, after alerting and consulting with the coastguard who would keep watch on my position from my AIS transmission to back up my anchor drift alarm, I decided to get some sleep and get help in the morning, it not being safe to go over the side in the dark and with the probability of the boat drifting off down wind if I cut the rope leaving me trailing on a safety rope.

Forty minutes later the anchor alarm went off and I was drifting quickly west with the tide and now in 28 metres of water, either the line had parted or the pots were dragging with some possibly suspended below the boat. Putting the anchor down was risky as, if the pots (or nets) were still attached, it could land on one or more of them or tangle with the line, further complicating things, also with a rode of 40 metres of chain and 40 of nylon it was by no means certain the anchor would hold, although I could drudge (the anchor slowing progress but not holding, a technique sometimes used to slow down in Fog but making progress). 

With essentially no wind I could not sail either - not good!

I informed the coastguard and they called the lifeboat which arrived in double quick time, very impressive given they had to launch a "D class" from the dried-out harbour to ferry the crew out to the all weather boat. Standing someway off they were able to see that the line to the pots had parted and they were able to tow me close to the harbour where I anchored. 

Crew working with the boat hook from the D class were unable to free the lines so the coxswain said he would come back out at high tide (I assume in the D class) to tow me into harbour to dry out against the wall to remove the rope at the next low tide. I agreed but said when the light improved I would dive on the boat to see if I could free it. Not wanting to keep them hanging about I said I did not need them to stay, I would be properly equipped and within easy swimming distance (at least in a wet suit) of the harbour but agreed to contact the coastguard after diving to let them know I was OK. 

RNLI Facebook post with some nice pics here.

At 05:00 I donned the wetsuit, fins & mask I have on board for the purpose, plus a water-sports crash helmet to protect me from banging my head on the hull and went for a swim with the boat hook and emergency knife. 

Once in the water I could see what needed to be done, although the buoy was hard under the boat trapped between the hull, propeller and shaft, the line was only loosely round the propeller but you had to pull the loops off in sequence, 3 short dives and I had the line free and pulled the simple buoy to the same side of the boat as the Dan buoy then swum them to nearby mooring so that the rig would not get lost, it was undamaged apart from the main line being missing, the connector or a knot had probably failed as there was no loose end of rope. I had got to the gear lever just in time and the shaft "freewheeling" had only turned a couple of times before being stopped by the rope. 

At 05:30 I called the nice lady at Falmouth Coastguard by phone (after the initial call much of our comms were on the phone keeping the airwaves clear) to let her know I was OK and free of the fishing gear and got a heads up on the weather forecast not yet on the web which was good for the morning but with F6 coming in overnight, so I decided to move on so as to be in Newlyn before it arrived. 

I was off at 06:40 and with no wind motored round Land's End, I was somewhat early for the best tide but calm seas allowed me to cut some corners although, being tired, I did not do the same as another boat that took the short cut inside the Longships. I did get some sailing in from the Runnel Stone towards Newlyn arriving at 13:30, dead on the time predicted the previous afternoon, to find a vacant berth and a shower.

Approaching Cape Cornwall a little early for the tide. A threatening
looking cloud was forming further south but did not develop further
and dissipated quickly
Approaching the Longships, the buildings on Land's End left of
centre Gwennap Head behind.
Passing the Longships, Cape Cornwall in the distance

131 miles in thirty four and a half hours.

2022 St Kilda Days 73 and 74 Milford to Newlyn

Newlyn to St Mawes and on to a better anchorage.