Saturday, April 13, 2024

2024 April 11th Day 13, Portland to Brixham

With a reasonable forecast I took the plunge and set off towards the west, the official forecast was for winds from the SW but the models showed winds were likely to have more south in them, I wasn’t sure where I would end up, Brixham seemed most likely but Hallsand, behind Start Point, or an overnight sail to Plymouth (or in 2 days via Brixham) might be possible to get me to a place of safety before more bad weather arriving Sunday or Monday depending on which model you looked at.

Close to spring tide the inshore route would not open until the afternoon and would likely be too dangerous, even if the wind remained quite light at F3 so I left at 09:45 to be past the Shambles before the tide changed to the west, this would keep me clear and down tide of the Race and the shallow water and hopefully I would be past The Bill before the strongest tide for a good push across Lyme Bay.

It was quite foggy with visibility initially about ¾ of a mile so I motored out at 3 or 4 knots behind a very large radar “blip” that turned out to be a huge sailing catamaran heading towards Weymouth. I motored on towards the East Shambles buoy until the wind picked up a bit then hoisted sail and made good progress wondering what a c 45 yacht was doing heading down the east side of Portland, it turned out they were not making a dangerous attempt at the inshore route but heading for West Shambles before heading west. I kept thinking perhaps I should do the same but decided being upstream and upwind of the Shambles with the possibility of getting swept into the Portland race when the tide turned was not where I wanted to be even in quite benign conditions, as things turned out it would have saved some grief and got me well on my way but I would do the same again.

One line from the boat is the heading, the other the direction 
I was actually going because of the tide.

Plain Sailing until 14:39 and 3 miles off Portland, normally
 a safe distance in reasonable weather although I had aimed
for 4 miles but was set in by the tide and pushed north by
the south westerly wind.
After all of the strong winds the tide was rather late turning and having made better than expected time out under sail I spent quite a while making little progress to the west, then the tide turned quickly and I was off with 3 – 4 knots under me. The fog was now thicker and I did not see a yacht coming the other way until she was a cable away, she did not have AIS and I was no longer using radar, perhaps I should but any large vessel should have AIS / Radar in if it was a warship, boarder force etc. not transmitting AIS info they would certainly see me so I was happy to save amps.

Then the trouble started with the wind quickly increasing to 20 knots or a little more and although I was well off The Bill the seas with wind against tide became very confused, waves were not that big but very steep, close together and coming from various directions, probably the most dangerous, although by no means the biggest I have been in for years.

Once SW of the Bill the sea quickly became the forecast “slight to moderate” and I made reasonable speed close hauled but was set well into Lyme Bay by the tide and leeway and I was forever reefing and shaking them out as the wind, largely SSW, varied from 12 – 10 knots. 

Struggling to make progress before motoring in.
This put me down tide of Brixham once the tide had turned and getting from 5 – 9 miles off Teinmouth was going to be a problem, especially with the wind now varying from WNW to S and from 5 – 25 knots. Having gone from well reefed to full sail then back to 2 reefs in the main and head sails I decided to motor the last 7 miles in and hour and a half rather than sail for 4 or 5 hours. I arrived off Churston / Fishcombe Coves and anchored at 02:00, but not without incident, the anchor winch not working properly, to be covered in the next post.

The whole leg (dashed line). 70 miles in 16.25 hours.

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