Saturday 11th August…Salcombe to Plymouth

The wind and sea have died down and so we decide to make the shortish hop along the coast to Plymouth. At 9 we slip the moorings along with our French neighbours (bound for Fowey). We edge cautiously out over the bar and in to the open sea, but with a WSW F3 we have a glorious beam reach across Bigbury Bay.

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We start the run into Plymouth as the rain comes and thoughts of sailing up the Tamar to the Ferry Inn (John’s Dad’s old drinking hole) disappear into thoughts of a nice comfy marina for the rest of the day. Once moored we take a taxi to the Ferry inn for lunch and John is greeted by the bar staff as the old friend he is.

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In between showers we also find time to marvel at the old Brunel Rail Bridge …and the far shore of Cornwall.

Back on the boat, the wind is now blowing hard up the river and a nasty swell rocks us hard in the marina….but we have a great view of the old navy victualling centre…

We start by doubling the lines and tightening everything hard. However the motion is even more extreme as the pontoon bucks around wildly in the swell. We have alook at how the local have moored and change to much longer lines on spread out cleats and allow the boat to move independently of the pontoons. This seems to work and there is much less stress on deck fittings and warps…and on us. We settle in for a rough night.

The morning brings a much quieter and mostly dry time and consider a sail up the river for lunch at the Ferry Inn. The rain returns so we accept a lift from John’s brother Peter and his wife Wendy. For a small pub the food is great…last night was Kinder cheesecake, today it is Picnic!

There is some movement of big boats in a narrow river and we idly watch other people working…

Sunday afternoon passes as it should and then James is off to the station to meet Yee Tak returning from her ‘fix’ with daughter and granddaughters. Heydays has a full compliment of crew once more.

Friday 10th August…Brixham to Plymouth(?)

 

With forecast winds of F4 or 5 in the SW we debate for a while about heading off to Plymouth, but reason that it probably wont be any worse than Thursday and that once round Start point, the wind will take us nicely to Plymouth. We leave at 8 to make the most of the ebb tide heading west and head off into sunny day with clouds scudding ominously rapidly above us. The sea gradually builds and the actual wind we have is WSW F5 with occasional gusts of F6, but we sail gloriously if lumpily with double reefed main and a small genny. Heydays is impeccably behaved even as the headland opens out and the seas build. She rises easily over most waves with only one or two breakers dumping on the crew. Just once or twice we almost come to a halt as a short wave hits, but she gathers herself quickly enough and plugs on. Rain comes intermittently to dampen the spirits but soon dries again in the wind.

 

Photo opportunities are in short supply…

Gradually we leave Dartmouth astern and one or two other boats come scudding the other way…alternately disappearing in the troughs then rising high above us again. We start to think about making a tack back inland to a course near to an approach to Plymouth. With winds now a steady F6/7 and gusts of gale 8, there are increasing breakers and the motion is distinctly uncomfortable. We make the turn and are now almost beam on to the seas. This is much harder work for the helm to make sure that we avoid breakers over the side…and is not always avoided. Once or twice we have a couple of inches in the cockpit, but as always, Heydays shakes herself and plugs steadily on. After an hour of this and with Salcombe now off the starboard bow, we make the decision to run in and have a quieter time for the afternoon. We spot the leading marks over the bar (no room for error this time as we are just at low water) and soon we are in the peace and calm of the inlet

except…the harbour is awash with power boats, paddle boards and sailing dinghies all having fun without actually venturing out.

We are directed to the visitors pontoon some way up river and after having refuelled we are soon rafted up next to a charming French couple who will be in no rush to leave themselves.

Yee Tak has to leave us for the weekend, and so we take the water taxi to town and after some grub, put her in a taxi for Totnes and a train to Bristol.

We wander round the little town for a while (lots of holiday-makers of course) and after an ice-cream in the sun end up snoozing back on the boat. The weather can do its worst now!

Postscript: a more careful reading of the Chanel Pilot reveals that “…the salient butt of land between Start Point in the east and Bolt Tail in the west pokes far enough out into the general run of the Channel to create a notoriously rough stretch of water…”!!!

Thursday 9th August…Weymouth to Brixham

 

Brixham is another of those places we have never visited and is something we hope will be different from just another marina. There are precious few safe harbours in Lyme Bay and we set off up the east side of Portland with a light NW…looks promising for a reasonable sail across the bay. We debate the passage round Portland. The pilot books and chart warn of the dangers of the race round the Bill and convention for first timers is to go at least 3 miles out before turning west. There is an inside passage very close in (around 50m or so) which is Ok in fine weather and visibility. We have around 6 other boats around us and it almost seems as if we are all waiting to see what the others do and what happens.

In the end we make the decision to take the inside route and follow another yacht and a small fishing boat close inshore, almost within spitting distance of the rocks.

Others follow us! There is certainly heavy breaking water outside us and we are glad for the company. …and soon enough we are round…

Out across the bay and the wind turns once more to the west (of course). In a steady F3 or 4 we make two big tacks across the bay. The red cliffs of Devon shine brightly in the afternoon sun and then disappear. A huge cloud with rain approaches and we can sea the sea being whipped up into frothy peaks.

We hold on tight and then the squall hits. The wind shifts through over 900  and gusts at over 30kt…F7. The boat is over canvassed and we douse the genoa but leave the main alone for now, not wanting to risk a bucking deck.

Almost as quickly as it came….it went! We are back on course for Brixham in sunshine and a wind so light we need the motor. With about a mile to go this time we are ready…another squall hits and we use the motor to take the sting out of the wind by rounding up. On the final approach we drop the main and motor gently into the harbour as if nothing had happened.

Folk are on the prom eating ice creams and wandering about in T-shirts while we are now sweltering in full wet weather gear. We avoid the marina and instead opt for the harbourmaster’s pontoon (at half the price) and moor alongside a lovely old Brixham trawler…and set off to explore the town.

It is a bit like Scarborough in some ways…a bit touristy among a still working fishing port and redolent of earlier times. After a couple of pints in the pub, we wander out to watch the town brass band and a male voice choir doing some passable renditions of old WW1 favourites…and some Queen (the Freddie M type not HRH)!

The grand summer cruise…August 2018 Planning to go.. but!

Due to a spot of bother with diesel bug off Lands End a year ago, we so never made it to the Scillies on the tour round the UK. This year we are trying again and also hope to include a few of the harbours in the South West which we have not been into before.

The summer so far has been hot and sunny with plenty of easterlies to drive us westwards. We haven’t been able to go earlier due to a combination of other events including poor family planning by daughters who give both Chris and John as well as Yee Tak and James beautiful granddaughters, as well as previously booked holidays and nephew’s exams etc… Our trip is broadly planned for around the 7th to 28th August or so and true to form, the weather finally breaks on the preceding weekend. Wind in the traditional SW and some general nastiness create some initial doubts, but we are made of sterner stuff and have done Orkney so what could go wrong?

Tuesday is leaving day but as we motor down the Lymington river the boat is sluggish and wont go above about 1500 revs compared to the usual max of 2500. We try the usual tricks of going forward and astern to remove what we suppose is a piece of rope or plastic, but without success. We debate the options of drying out to see what the problem is, but end up booking a lift out at the marina as they can squeeze us in and we can hopefully get going the next day. While we are waiting we change the diesel filters just in case the dreaded bug is back, but all seems fine so far….touch wood.

As Heydays is lifted out, the problem is clear…we have some incredibly severe fouling on the propeller.

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The yard get as much slime and grunge off Heydays as possible with the power washer, then after that it is scrapers and wire brushes to get the prop shiny and new again. As always there is lots of divided opinion about what to do with props. Some swear by propspeed (as did we) but at £150 a pop (prop!) for a coating that lasts just two years its seems on the excessive side…and no-one locally has it anyway. Others recommend lanolin, but we are fresh out of local greasy sheep and so we opt for the simplest…shine it up and then dry out a couple of times a season to shine again.

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Back in the water and £150 worse off, Heydays scoots along at 6 knots with just 1500 revs and a top speed over 7.

Another pub meal (in John and Chris’s local, The Smugglers in Milford on Sea) and we resolve to make an early start in the morning.

Wednesday 8th August…Lymington to Weymouth

Oddly, given its proximity, none of us has ever sailed into Weymouth. We slip our lines in Lymington to catch the morning tide west and motor off down river into a gloomy sky with a light SW wind. By the time we are abeam of the Shingles bank there is a steady drizzle and we motor sail with just a main to supplement a very flukey wind and to give us a reasonable course in a vaguely westerly direction. By mid-morning however, the sun is out and there is a bit more wind, albeit still on the nose. We tack in towards Swanage and then by midday we have a good stiff F4 or 5. We tack out past Old Harry Rocks and St Albans with a couple of reefs in the main and a reduced genny. We follow the wind shifts past Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove and gradually start to believe once more that the huge lump of Portland really is joined to the mainland!

We close the shore and the fading grandeur of Weymouth and the promenade are left astern and we head for the new Weymouth Eye which sits uncomfortably close to the fine old bandstand…

Weymouth is rammed both on the water and ashore but the harbour crew are incredibly helpful (if slightly disorganised). We moor up next to the funfair on the quay and soon another boat rafts up next to us with a couple of seemingly inexperienced sailors. We get all our lines eventually snug and sorted…and then another boat comes in. It turns out they want to stay for two days, while we will be making an earlyish start and so once more we untie all our lines and dutifully trundle up and down the rive while they get sorted. Eventually the three boats are in the right order of leaving and we settle in for an evening in Weymouth.  Weymouth round the harbour and away from the usual chains in the high street is charming. The old tramway in the road to the old ferry and cargo dock is still there and useable, but with the ferries all gone it is just another sad reminder of what Weymouth once was …or perhaps still could be. The crowds don’t suit us however and John is shouted at for not jumping into the road while two ladies and a man with pushchair take up the whole pavement… Dinner however with our friends Nigel and Sue who have come down to say hello, is lovely at a great fish restaurant called les Enfants Terrible. John gets shouted at again, but this time it is a friend (Connor) who is moored up on a boat a short distance away. After some wine and the odd rum back on board, even the funfair doesn’t stop us sleeping.