Saturday, April 22, 2023

2023 April 23rd, Day 7 - 13 St Mawes to Newlyn

After the trip from Fowey this leg was a lot more civilised, a brisk wind was forecast but I was concerned about the sea, I have previously been in the area a day after strong easterlies and it was not pleasant, also the seas and over-falls off of the Lizard are not to be trifled with. I decided to head out to see what it was like with the option of returning to St Mawes or going to the Truro River if things looked grim. 

A 3 knot spring tide and a brisk wind made it advisable to give
the Lizard a wide berth.

Yet again a ship was directly on my planned track.
I was pleasantly surprised to find the sea quite acceptable, again I was under headsail only in the easterly winds but this time with the genoa, initially with one reef but that came out before I got to the Manacles.

Why you need to be careful going onto the berths behind the main
pontoon, at LWS where is barely enough water for me to get in
passing close to the fingers and clearly the port hand marks are
not a safe marker unless there is a couple of meters more water.

35 miles in six and three-quarter hours.

The weather forecast for the next few days is confused, I could be off in a day or two or here for a while.

Visiting day, Falmouth, photo by Ron Dustow by his Hustler 25

Update Wednesday: Hopefully I will be away on Friday, then it’s likely to be light winds through the weekend.

Click here for the trip to Milford Haven.

2023 April 20th, Day 6 Fowey to St Mawes

The forecast was mixed with models not really agreeing in the detail but there looked to be an opportunity to get to St Mawes which would, with the tides, make it much easier to get to Newlyn.

There was virtually no wind in the Fowey river as it is well sheltered from the east so, I started monitoring the local weather stations, many are not well placed to accurately monitor an easterly being them selves sheltered, Prawel Point (Salcombe) consistently was showing a very high number probably because the station is at the National Coast-watch Institutes (NCI) lookout on the top of the high hill. NCI Nare Point, just south of the Helford, was a better bet.

Actual wind speeds displayed in Predict Wind, updated
every 30 minutes, slightly delayed.

As can be seen the wind started to moderate at about 07:30, I would preferably leave between 10:00 and 11:30 to stand a chance of get into the Fal before the tide turned adverse shortly after 15:00 but I wanted to see a continuing trend so I waited for the 12:00 update that showed sustained winds of 13 knots gusting to 20 which would be fine, especially off the wind, so I was quickly away.

Leaving Fowey under the heavy weather jib
the stay would need to be tighter going up
wind, I had not taken is back to a winch.
That was rather a false hope because as I approached Cannis Rock a mile and a half out I was hit with a F6 wind gusting F7, the wind stayed above 20 knots gusting to 30 until about half an hour after I arrived in St Mawes (see the wind plots above). The sea was quite difficult with some very steep waves close together especially either end of Mevagissey Bay.

The heavy sea could lead to the boat surfing, which is fun and quick but potentially dangerous as it can easily lead to a broach - a sharp turn in either direction that that can knock the boat down or in extreme cases roll the boat right over to inverted, inversion was very unlikely to happen with waves I was seeing but a broach is violent and to be avoided.

The best way of doing that is to sail slower than the waves, fortunately I had chosen to use the 12 sq metre heavy weather jib and no mainsail which achieved that but, with the need to keep well off the lea shore and the heavy sea, it did mean the tide changed to about 1 knot adverse when I was a couple of miles short of St Anthony Head that guards the Fal. The sea then became horrendous with very steep 2 metre waves sometimes very close together. Naturally the wind piped up (reinforced by the tide change adding 2 or 3 knots to the apparent wind).

Throw into that a lot of poorly marked lobster pots 3 of which I had to change course to just avoid and I was not happy. As I posted on Facebook, using a favoured terminology of aeroplane pilots:

[The] trip varying from smooth to “sporting” and at times “character forming” but did not reach “brown trousers”

but it was close.

Relatively smooth going west of Dodman

Relatively smooth going at slack tide between Dodman and St Anthony Head, I was far to busy to try and take another in the rough water. 

Getting the anchor down was easy once I had dropped the heavy weather jib, the wind blowing the boat back to set the anchor immediately, then half an hour later the wind was down to about 10 knots and later I was sitting out in the cockpit.

22 GPS miles in four and a half hours.

Click here for on to Newlyn

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

2023 April 17th Day 3 - 5 to and at Fowey

I had hoped to sail to Fowey so with light easterly winds forecast I left Brixham at 04:00 with no wind and a foul tide so as to reach Start Point as the tide turned to the west at 08:00, unfortunately the wind never got above 4 or 5 knots over the ground (2.5 – 4 knots over the deck with the tide behind me) and frequently less so I ended up motoring in chilly and damp conditions all the way arriving to almost empty moorings and pontoons at 14:00.

I’ll be here a while, I could have got to St Mawes on Tuesday but I needed some rest and the weather does not look good through at least Thursday.

If you expand this to full screen you can just see a building
above the blue car ferry. That is apparently worth £4.5m and
together with £100k and a car is in a raffle being pushed on
Facebook and elsewhere. Hopefully the winner will not mind
the noise of the ferry working all day or the view of the china
clay works up channel iirc none of that is in the advert.

58 miles in 10 hours.

2023 Fowey

Click here for the leg to St Mawes.

2023 April 16th Day 2 - Portland to Churston Cove

A day after a neap tide the tidal gate around the Bill opened at 08:14 so daylight was not going to be a problem, on the other hand a late start would probably mean a late arrival. I weighed anchor at 06:15 and in calm conditions and with a reasonably clean hull I arrived half an hour early but in benign conditions and so close to the neap tide I went round early with no problems.

Last year I commented that there always seems to be fishermen
at the harbour entrance, this time it was a couple of guys fishing
from kayaks
I always have to avoid pot buoys going round the Bill, this
time I had to avoid the Lobster boat as well.
My track around the Bill, 128 yards off and being
early I went a bit further north than I normally go
coming out. The "kink" further west was me avoiding
a pot a marker and getting the mainsail up.
(Tide indicators from when I took the screenshot
not when I went round)

The wind which had been close to zero when I left had increased to SSW at 6 knots so once well clear the sails went up for a chilly but pleasant trip across Lyme Bay kept busy trimming the sails to cope with the variable wind. Without a significant wind shift I clearly wasn’t going to make Hallsand or Plymouth so I was resigned to Torbay, hopefully to anchor rather than spending an expensive note in a marina.

The wind picked up to c 11 knots from the south at mid day then to 15 -17 knots at about 14:00 so it was a quick reach in to Brixham and I was at anchor off of a cove next to the harbour which is in two parts named Fishcombe Cove and Churston Cove, there are now 3 large mooring buoys in the cove effectively filling it so I anchored in 10 metres just off where I would be protected from winds from the forecast light winds from the SE or E.

Brixham from the anchorage, Battery Park on the right.
Fishcombe Cove / Churston Cove, Battery Park on the left.
Wending my way to Brixham.
49 nautical miles in 12 hours.

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

2023 April 15th Day 1 - Hamble to Portland.

After a lot of false starts due to weather I finally went sailing on Saturday 15th April, a month later than hoped for and after a tedious trip down by rail the day before, going via London because the mainline between Oxford and Didcot was closed due to problems with a bridge over the Thames. I was disappointed to find that the Hamble COOP had no chicken and only one pack of pork on its sell by date so I left relying largely on tinned food and cured meat.

On a neap tide the start was at 05:45, it would have been a bit earlier but I had to wait for enough light to see the lines in the water, particularly important as there was a brisk NW wind also making it tricky to get off of the trot mooring without hitting the boat in front of me even with the tide pushing me into the wind and away from her.

Not unusually just before high water, there was shipping to avoid, a big cruise ship, a container ship and a car carrier so I was close to NE Gurnard (East of Beaulieu river)  before I switch to sail, just the headsail in the gusty F4 – F5 north westerly wind until past St Albans head, but making good speed through the water although I did not pick up any significant favourable tide until past West Lepe, then it was at least 7 knots or more over the ground until past the Needles.

Hurst Castle now with new sea defences and rebuilding of the
collapsed northern casements well underway.
Approaching the Needles.

Sea breaking on the shingles bank despite a moderate F4 wind, rather a rocky ride due to over-falls at "The Bridge".

The Lulworth range was inactive on the last weekend of the school holidays so I was able to keep fairly close in to St Albans, but not so close as to get significantly less wind and with the early start I was well past before the tide turned adverse and I made Portland under sail at 15:00 to anchor in solitary splendour until a sport boat turned up for a couple of hours then a yacht that arrived after dark.

Track (the thick red line) on SeaPro, a little cluttered by thin
red lines that are trails of boats tracked by AIS, there are lots
of boats shown but most have the details hidden and icons
minimised to partially de-clutter the screen. In use it is not a
problem as its on a 17" laptop screen and if it became a
problem they are easily removed.
A pleasant sail reaching all the way, but chilly. 53 NM in a little over 9 hours.

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

2023 April 5th - Plans C & D

Plan B was to leave Hamble on Wednesday the 12th, but a spanner has been thrown into the works; on Monday a structural problems led to a rail bridge over the Thames and the track between Oxford and Didcot being closed until the end of the month. It is a busy commuter route to London and there is insufficient bus availably to cope. To go to the boat by rail I will have to go via London, but the Bicester - London line has limited capacity and is even more overcrowded than usual with people diverting from Oxford. Trying to get to Southampton and the Hamble on a working day does not look like a good idea. 

Plan C is therefore to revictual the boat on Saturday and I will make the trek via London with weekend train and bus timetables on Sunday or take a coach from Oxford.

That is the extent of the plan, yesterday three models showed favourable winds from Monday or Tuesday for at least 5 days. Now each shows a depression out in the Atlantic developing differently and taking a slightly different route which could give strong adverse winds or benign conditions. 

Forecasts on the 5th April for 07:30 on the 11th April and wind direction and strength off the Isle of Wight. On the 4th all three had been fairly close to the European model below. The ECMWF and GFS diverge further through Saturday, the UK models does not go out that far.

European model, ECMWF  W by S, 4 - 6 knots..
American model, GFS WNW 21-32 knots.
UK Met Office W by S, 13 - 25 knots.

I doubt I'll know when I will leave or were stop over places will be until I am on the boat and perhaps not for several days thereafter.

Update 6th April

Well it looks like plan C is already broken, inside a day the 3 models above have converged and its not good with the depression deepening and heading straight for us and another shaping up to do the same.

ECMWF forecast for Wednesday 12th April

At present it looks like I might get away on the 17th but looking at some of the medium range forecasts I would not be surprised if I am delayed until May πŸ˜’πŸ˜’πŸ˜’πŸ˜’πŸ˜’πŸ˜’