Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Some stats: Over 200 visits & 11,000 miles in 5 seasons.

Plockton, May 2022, Sancerre centre.

2022

The 2022 season weather was a disappointment, I was weather bound for 52 days or 39% of the days I spent on the boat away from the Hamble. I could have reduced that somewhat at the expense of a lot of discomfort but as is often said, gentlemen do not go to windward, and that is especially true for septuagenarians with small lightweight boats in strong winds!

Unfortunately much of that time was on a mooring or in a marina so that overall I spent only 41% of my nights at anchor down from 56% last year, 40% in 2020 (one round GB cruise, Covid & weather affected and time limited), 62% in 2019 and 67% in 2018, which made this years trips significantly more expensive than budgeted for.

2022

Days

Hours at Sea

GPS Miles

Days Sailing

Places Visited

S.Uist

88

398

1,774

45

40

Celtic Sea

44

199

1,011

23

19

Total

132

596

2,785

68

59


Porthloo, St Mary's Isles of Scilly, August 2022.

Totals

I have now covered over 11,000 solo miles in Sancerre and been to a lot of places.

 Days

 Hours at Sea

GPS Miles

Days Sailing

Visits

2017

 14

         ?   

238

13

1

2018

46

         ?   

1,559

31

22

2019

49

485

2,282

41

26

2020

64

372

1,685

33

27

2021

115

652

2,744

70

66

2022

133

596

2,785

 68

64

Total

421

2,105

11,293

256

206


Muck (The Small Isles) on route from Sanna Bay (Ardnamurchan)
to Canna (The Small Isles), April 2022.
Old Head of Kinsale, August 2022.
Fingle's Cave, Staffa, April 2022.

2022 Celtic Circuit, Days 43 and 44 to Studland and Hamble.

Another nice day dawned and I was off a little before the tide turned and in daylight for a change.

The North Ship Channel must be a good fishing spot as there
are always a good number of boats there in the morning, perhaps
fishing for bait?
The NNW wind remained but not as strong at F3-4 so I was reaching under the cruising chute until off St Albans Point when I motored for a couple of miles to clear some serious over-falls; when the Lulworth range is closed and the sea slight I have previously gone closer to shore where the tide is at least as strong but the water smoother, on this occasion I stayed out a bit to be in better wind - a mistake!

With the tides it was not practical to go straight to Hamble as it would mean battling the tide up the Solent and then gettin onto the mooring in the dark with an adverse tide and wind. Getting to Hurst was possible but with a reasonably timed start I could get to Hurst from Studland for the start of the next mornings favourable tide and a good chance of getting to the mooring at slack high water without excessive use of the engine. So I went to Studland for the night picking up one of the free to use "eco" moorings placed by marina chain "Boatfolk" to protect the Sea Grass beds and the Seahourses that live in it. 

A voluntary no anchoring zone has been established in part of the bay with the threat that it could be made mandatory if not observed, but then the agency has refused to fund marker buoys to delineate the zones and my then up to date electronic charts (all three of them) do not yet show the zones. Really bright, especially as there are already speed restriction buoys in place that could be re-purposed and many users will not have paper charts.

An unusually quite Saturday in Studland Bay.
25 miles in five and a half hours.

Sunday was another lovely day although a bit chilly first thing, it made a welcome change to have five consecutive days of very good sailing. I left at 07:00 and with adjacent boats well clear I left the buoy under sail and headed for the North Channel past the Shingles banks.

A nice, fairly modern Gaff Cutter powering to windward in
Christchurch Bay

Again a plan to do the whole leg, at least to Hurst Narrows, under sail was thwarted, this time by a fleet of Danish Folkboats taking part in an important international regatta.

On this course I would have ended up in the middle of the fleet
and apart from the fact they were racing they were on starboard
 tack whilst I was on port so with the wind dropping on went
the engine at full power to pass ahead of them.
Just clearing the lead boat, most of the leading boats were Danish.
Crews are sitting on the foredeck to reduce wetted area and
probably form drag.
Hurst Channel about as benign as it gets. Less than 30 minutes 
into the flood tide, 1 day before an equinoxial neap tide
and with 5 - 10 knots of wind. 
The paddle steamer "Waverly" heading down the Solent on
route to Swanage with over 400 passengers on board. One
of my earliest memories away from home & school is of a trip
from Weston-Super-Mare to South Wales on her or one of her
sisters,  probably in the late 50s. 
I was able to sail from Hurst to just short of Calshot where I took advantage of a lull in the wind to get the sails down before motoring into wind through a lot of traffic to Hamble.

Getting onto the mooring was tough, as planned the tide was slack but I needed to approach down wind and down river to be able to get off again and to have her bows into the prevailing wind. As I got close the wind gusted up to F4 or 5. 

I picked up one of the upstream lines close to the buoy (It's a rule on the river that there are two at each end in case one breaks) but with all of the weed on it I could not get a grip even with my "mooring" gloves on. Finally I was down to the pick-up line and managed to get that through the push pit and onto a winch before I crashed into the boat down-stream saving me from putting the engine into reverse and risking a line round the prop. Timing my pulls with small lulls in the wind I got the stern lines onto the boat at the expense of seaweed from the lines all over the place.

That was not the last problem. I tried picking up the forward mooring lines that attach to the top of a buoy but both were wrapped round the chain riser to the buoy and would not reach the bow, how that happens with another boat on the buoy I don't know. Also the pick-up line to one of the bow lines was cut so it was just hanging down from the buoy. 

With the strong wind holding the boat in line with the trot, it was not an immediate danger but when the incoming tide increased the boat would go broadside and then upstream, so I needed to fix the problem or leave the mooring. I couldn't unravel either line and it would likely take too long to inflate and launch the dinghy to get at the buoy. By letting the stern lines right out and using the Moorfast at maximum extension I was able to get a line onto the buoy so the boat was safe and I took a rest to recover from the exertion and to nurse a few strains. 

I was later able to use the boat hook to get the mooring line not attached to the pick-up and unwind it, so with my rope-chain-rope bridle also in place I was comfortable in leaving the boat for the mooring people to sort out the other line on Tuesday. Fortunately the diver who looks after the mooring passed in the work boat after giving some diving lessons and came back to help and with his helper lifted the buoy and we freed the line.

The RAFYC launch was operating so I was able to easily get ashore to have a shower, after a quite night I rowed ashore on the last of the flood tide (07:00) to make may way home on reduced public transport services due to the funeral of the late Queen so with other disruption on the railway it was a 6.5 hour trip home to get the car.

30 miles in 7 hours.

2022 Summer Portland to Studland and Hamble


2022 Celtic Circuit, Day 42 Salcombe to Portland

Force 6 winds had disappeared from the forecasts from previous evening and I left at 05:40 with light winds increasing to fresh as I approached Start Point, then mainly NNW F4/5 until I was south of Portland but varying from N to NW so I was frequently changing sail varying from two reefs in both sails to one reef in the main and full headsail, it is a good job both systems work without too much effort!

A 400 metre container ship east of Start Point heading towards
Brixham to pick up a Pilot, one of her sister ships was heading
to the same point from Portland.
The first challenge was a 400 metre container ship on a converging course. AIS showed a Closest Point of Approach (CPA) of about a mile, although that varied a lot as the wind was gusty changing my course and speed. It took some time to establish, by checking the ships bearing from AIS, that it was passing astern, not my favourite as I would be crossing the bow. 

Then the wind increased but I did not want to lose speed whilst I reefed so pressed on rather overpowered but making good speed. Ducking behind was of course an option but it was a big ship and a way off. In the event I crossed her bow by over 2 miles and she passed a mile astern of me.


A further complication was a French yacht, I was stand on vessel
but he was having control problems running with a boomed out
jib and broached a few times. Half an hour later the skipper gave
up and headed up to a broad reach.
I had timed my departure well, helped by a calm sea and offshore wind making the Salcombe Bar a non-issue I had left just after low water and the tide turned favourable as I passed Prawle Point with the fresh wind I made excellent time and carried the tide to south of Portland averaging a fraction under 6 knots over the ground.

The final leg was annoying, as I headed up to pass east of the Shambles Bank the wind suddenly gusted and veered from NW to NE, fast enough that the SeaFeather wind vane steering almost lost the plot only just avoiding having the boat flat aback with too much sail. I had hoped to get further under sail but the tide was turning against me at a little over a knot but in a couple of hours would be much stronger and sailing I would not make any progress and could be going backwards towards the Portland Race so on went the engine. 

The new plan was to motor to the East Shambles Buoy then I should be able to sail to Portland Harbour. That did not pan out as the wind went back to the NW, dead on the nose so I ended up motoring the rest of the way but with a strong west going tide largely helping once I was past the buoy and the rough water just north of the bank.

Track from Salcombe to Portland, I went well south so that when
I headed up the tide would not push me into the notorious Portland Race.

2022 Summer Salcombe to Portland

70 miles in less than 14 hours.

Thursday, September 15, 2022

2022 Celtic Circuit, Days 38 & 41 To Fowey, Plymouth and Salcombe

To Fowey

The beat to Fowey was comfortable on starboard tack but 'orrible on port with a small short sea stopping the boat in F2 -3 winds, I was making c 2 knots on port and 4.5 knots on starboard.


It was very wet on Tuesday so I stayed put.

One of 3 "Tall Ships" in Fowey when I left.
25 miles in six and a half hours.

To Plymouth

A pleasant sail to Plymouth in 10 - 20 knots of northerly wind which ran out a mile or so short of Rame Head. Shortly before I got there, I had a briefly unnerving experience when both of my depth alarms went off and then a message came up on the plotter saying I was in less than a metre of water which made even less sense as the boat draws 1.7m. Then it became clear that the cause was a dolphin swimming just under the transducer.

Cawsand Bay looked calm but when I stopped the boat it was
rolling quite badly from a short swell from the east.

I checked out Cawsand Bay but it would have been uncomfortable with swell coming in from the SE so I moved to Jennycliff Bay on the east side of the sound by which time a moderate south-westerly had set in only to go back to the Northerly during the evening.

23 miles in five and a quarter hours.

To Salcombe

I woke earlier than planned and decided to move out with the option of stopping at Salcombe or continuing across Lyme Bay depending on the updated forecast, F6 has been mentioned on a couple of recent ones but the direction was uncertain, either northerly or north-westerly, the latter at F6 would not really be an issue, at least until Portland Bill, the former could be uncomfortable. Both however, together with likely north-easterly or easterly winds setting in after the weekend put paid to a visit to Teignmouth, I did not fancy a long beat to get there and then potentially to the Solent. I also decided not to head to the Channel Isles, NE winds make Braye harbour untenable, and it would be a long haul back.

In the event I put into Salcombe to avoid a forecast F6 and to take advantage of reasonable tides and promised sun on Friday.

Approaching Salcombe town.

21 miles in five hours.

2022 Summer To Fowey, Plymouth and Salcombe

On to Portland.

Saturday, September 10, 2022

2022 Celtic Circuit, Day 35 - 37 To St Mawes

Finally, the wind started to abate on Friday and although it was still quite blustery I headed down river to anchor at St Mawes, if that was too exposed plan B was to move to Penarrow Point. At one point I thought plan B might have to be taken as the wind turned out to be westerly rather than the north westerly as it was in the Truro River but things turned out Ok

The King Harry ferry started to move as I approached and with the
strong following wind, I had to do a 360-degree turn to stay clear.
Passing Falmouth I had to do a double take as there appeared to be an Isle of Wight ferry coming towards me and indeed it was.
A Wightlink ferry in bound to Falmouth, presumably for maintenance.
Threatening sky over St Mawes on Friday evening.
St Mawes was surprisingly empty, only two of us at anchor overnight and half a dozen boats on visitor's moorings, probably down to the wind still gusting to 20 knots, but there was just enough shelter from the land so that there was only the smallest of waves and the strong wind kept the boat pointing into them rather than swinging with the tide so the motion was minimal. With plenty of space I found one of the deeper spots with about 4 metres at low tide, a necessary precaution as the weekend's spring tide will be very low essentially to LAT (Lowest Astronomical Tide) and a rise of more than 5 metres so I had 40 metres of chain out.
Sancerre on Saturday morning as I came back from shopping.
Saturday dawned with no wind and clear skies and contrary to the previous days forecast turned into a lovely day, the latest forecasts (Saturday) is also better for Monday through Wednesday although winds are likely to be contrary. I suspect Polkerris may be too exposed on Sunday and Monday so I may stay here on Sunday night and move direct to Fowey on Tuesday for fuel, water and some shelter if it does blow overnight. Longer term plans are even more up in the air with the possibility of north easterly winds which puts a hoped for excursion to the Channel Islands into doubt.
Not impresses with the skipper of Bessie Ellen, I told her she
 had parked too close with a backing wind and all she did was let
out a bit more chain rather than move further into St Mawes where
there was more water. This pic was before we came even closer as the
tide dropped next morning and I had to move to avoid the bow sprit
hitting my rigging - by that time I was over her chain which would
have stopped her moving or leaving.

2022 Summer Truro River to St Mawes
8 miles in an hour and a half.

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

2022 Celtic Circuit, Day 31 - 34 Stuck in the Truro River

 The weather and the forecast forecast remains pretty awful.

IMGP4076
Rainstorm on Monday the 5th, just after the thunder and lightning had passed.
Wind was forecast to be gusting in excess of 40 knots but it was not quite that
strong in the sheltered Truro River. Its much the same as I write.

At the time of writing (Tuesday morning, day 31) strong winds and rain are forecast to persist until at least Friday with thunderstorms today and tomorrow - it is tipping down at the moment in a thunder storm and I would need a light on to read. Not as bad as the last few days but bad enough with the ECMWF & UKMO models showing gusts of 30 knots or more every day and the American GFS slightly less (unusual over the last couple of weeks) but still over 25 knots. Winds on Saturday looks OK but seas, forecast to be rough or very rough over the next coupe of days, will take some time to moderate. Then to rub salt in the wounds there may be easterly head winds.

So, I am here for a while, the pontoon is costing £18 per day, its secure and in deep water (the pontoon is attached to two large buoys that in days gone by were used for large mothballed ships) but the only facility provided is rubbish disposal which I could still use if at anchor close by. So I thought to move to the anchorage.

The anchorage below maggoty Bank, the harbour masters launch
right coming down for money. Annoyingly I now find a 10 day ticket
is available for the price of 8 individual days. 
 The shallow areas were last
surveyed 25 years ago so may
not be accurate,
Whilst restoring the bunk to be used for seating I got out one of my 10 Kg kedge anchors that was in the locker under and set it up ready to back up the bower anchor (I run it down the chain on a carabiner to help keep the pull on the anchor near horizontal and to provide additional weight).

Then did what I should have done first, checking the tide tables.

It turns out that this weekend has particularly big spring tides, with low water down to only 10cm above the Lowest Astronomical Tide (LAT), that restricts the area available to anchor a boat drawing 1.7 metres. Check the section of chart to the right, the actual depths at low water will be close to those shown before allowing for waves and wash which means I would have to be in the section with depths shown as 3.4m and 3.6m, as I think are the boats in the picture above.

To anchor there in a strong wind and tide I would need to let out a lot of chain. At least four times the maximum depth is recommended which equals 4 x (5.5m [rise in tide] + 3.4 [depth at LW] + freeboard) = c 40 metres.

That introduces another problem, with all my 40 metres of chain out, at low water the boat could swing about 35 metres in any direction, it the wind dies that could take me onto a drying bank.

There is more room to anchor further up river but there were some boats there a couple of days ago and similar issues may well apply and I could loose my place on the pontoon so I'll pay up with gritted teeth and stay here.

The pontoon just about filled, "Maybe" the large Gaff Cutter was anchored in
the anchorage discussed above the day before yesterday but overnight dragged
her anchor and ended up on Maggoty Bank floating off yesterday morning.
I boat like that is not going to come to any harm there, the same may not apply
to a fin keeled yacht stranded on the bank would be on it is side, and if on an
adverse slope might flood when the tide cane in.

I imagine the crew are even less happy with the weather than me - they have paid
£1.5k for a seven day cruise to the Isles of Scilly and are stuck here for most of it
with no refund as the itinerary is weather dependant.
On to St Mawes.

Sunday, September 4, 2022

2022 Celtic Circuit, Day 30 By dinghy to Truro

With high tide at 11:00 it was a good day for a late morning shopping trip to Truro, 3 miles up river on the last of the flood and back on the ebb. Conveniently there is a set of steps from the river right next to a large Tesco's who even have signage just for water users. 

Warning: I am advised by a local that it is advisable to lock the dinghy too something if possible and the engine to the dinghy.

A day off of a neap tide I might have made it close to low tide but especially in an inflatable its best to be on the safe side, some abandoned metal work could easily cause a lot of damage and a helpful tidal stream is usually to be welcomed. 

The red circle bottom right marks Sancerre on
the pontoon.
The slide show says it all....

2022 Summer Truro

c 6 miles in a couple of hours.

Stuck in the Truro River.

Saturday, September 3, 2022

2022 Celtic Circuit, Days 28 - 29 St Mary's to The Truro River

All of the available forecasts and models showed strong winds on Saturday from the south and perhaps stronger on Monday, Newlyn would likely be uncomfortable and possibly the pontoon would be full even arriving early, so it would be necessary to raft onto a fishing boat in the commercial part of the harbour which might move out at any time and be even more uncomfortable, so I decided to head for the Fal. I wanted to be well upriver before the gales arrived but St Mawes was a possibility for a night before moving upriver and might give a chance for some resupply. 

So, I had an early night and set the alarm for 03:30 for an early start with good tides probably to well east of Lands End and an outside chance of a good tide past the Lizard. As often happens I woke before the alarm, in this case not long after 02:00 but the wind was favourable and likely to run out at lunch time, so I got up and was weighed at 02:45.

A clear sky but a very dark night with no moon but I made it out safely and was soon sailing in a F4 from the NNE and making 4 - 5.5 knots and I was almost at the Wolf Rock before the wind died at 0730 rather earlier than forecast the previous evening. On went the engine and apart from an hour or so north of the Manacles it stayed on. 

DSCF1236

Dolphins at 5.5 knots east of Wolf Rock. 

I was well ahead of a mass exodus from the Islands, from a couple
of snap shots at least 40 boats (with AIS) left ahead of the weather
or perhaps to get back to work on Monday. I am just off The Lizard
(the red boat with a blue one to the north) when I captured this.
I managed to get past the Lizard before the tide turned and only had 1 - 1.5 knots adverse going up the east side of the peninsular. 

Passing the Lizard, quite close in as the tide was almost slack
but favourable and the wind light or non-existent.
It was late in the afternoon when I got into the Fal and with rain threatening I decided not to divert into St Mawes for shopping and I headed up river.
A small super yacht (by some standards!) on a buoy off St Just in
Roseland.
And a nice gaff cutter nearby, much prettier to my eyes.
The Fal river goes east just south
of the red position marker.
Rain set in just after the above pictures were taken and  I got rather wet - unfortunately I first thought it would be a light shower and being rather busy I just put on my jacket, then the rain came down hard so I put my fisherman's trousers over the top - not a good idea in normal circumstances as the rain runs down and inside of them.

I could not make up my mind if I should anchor or go to one of the pontoons that I would have to pay for. It was low tide so I explored the swinging room at several places, my initial target above Turnaware Point had much less space than expected with additional moorings eating into the anchorage and large buoys suggesting the best spot was likely to be foul. 

I went further up, there looked to be a suitable place just below "Magotty Bank" on the Truro River. The rain that had stopped for a while with more threatening and I was concerned about strong southerly winds opposing a strong ebb tide. So to be on the safe side I went to the visitors pontoon just down from there and above the confluence of the rivers Fal and Truro.

That was probably the best bet, the 24 metre Gaff Ketch "Maybe" dragged and went aground backwards onto Magotty Bank one night but floated off without trouble on the tide next morning (there is a picture of her on the pontoon in a later post). Also, there was a small social scene on the pontoon or on other people's boats when it was raining.

Safe on the pontoon. The Fal river goes east behind the headland
right of Sancerre's mast. Before the wind returned the silence
was complete.

2022 Summer, St Mary's to the Truro River

66 miles in 15 hours.