Trip on Bold Explorer starting 2010-05-30 in BSAAug10
Competent Crew / Day Skipper Practical Course with ‘Devon Sailing’
Sunday 30th May to Friday 4th June 2010 – report by Sonia Russé
As a confidence boost to skippering in the Ionian early in July I booked myself on to this course to retake my Day Skipper initially taken in 1997. The booking arrangements were lax to say the least but that’s another story! On the Sunday evening I met up with my other four training companions on the quay side at Dartmouth. Three guys who had just completed their Day Skipper theory course with Devon Sailing and a girl with limited dingy experience. We all jelled brilliantly! The skipper / instructor was a lovely, open faced, infinitely patient, enthusiastic 26 year old rugby player affectionately known as ‘Tank’. As deputy Cox on the Salcombe Lifeboat he came from a long established Salcombe family and lived, loved and breathed the sea.
Initially, the boat also increased my heartbeat somewhat - a 45ft, steel hulled 26 ton, ice breaker known as ‘Bold Explorer’. A one off build of Bruce Roberts design specifically for adventure and expedition work. They claimed she was about 9 yrs old but probably due to a number of hard fought passages she sadly looked more like 30 (not typical of our well preserved modern day gals). She certainly was no pushover either and with so much steel in her construction her deviation was way above the norm which together with the number of navigational aids which did not either synchronise or work she proved to be a challenging learning experience.
‘Devon Sailing’ also offer a Beneteau 57 called ‘Lion King’ pride of the fleet, a ‘Fujifilm’ Class 40 Ocean Racer with green hull and a smaller 34ft sloop called ‘Bonaire of Whitby’. They advertise passages across the Atlantic, to and from the Caribbean, up and down the west coast of Britain and the North West passage via Canada.
So back to Bold Explorer. For our exercise she was carrying a Mainsail, Staysail and a Yankee. She sailed so well the skipper claimed, she was often reefed long before the boat demanded it. Her Genoa was currently under repair and no spinnaker was called for as we were blessed with perfect F3/4 winds gusting 5 with good weather, fair visibility and sea states smooth to moderate for the passages from Dartmouth to Salcombe to Plymouth and return. However wind direction was less favourable with Westerlies down and Easterlies back. The skipper erected a rope preventor to assist but to maintain speed we were mainly close-hauled and to keep our course we doubled the distance with long tacks.
On entering Plymouth Sound we were met with thick fog and given the number of frigates circling before we were enveloped, this was, as you will know a very eerie and interesting stage of the blind navigation test for one of the crew who was taking his Yachtmaster. Other points of interest included a close encounter with a lone Basking Shark, the hooking and instant consumption of one unfortunate mackerel and a near serious injury to Tank when a running backstay under pressure exploded out of the deck and caught him across the bridge of his nose and cheek. He was lucky but predictably kept his cool although we suspected his nose may have been broken!
We completed eleven night hours without engine, of which seven were spent sailing out and around the Eddystone on the most perfect but cold starlight night. We ate on board every night with the exception of one in Plymouth, moored in QAB where we walked the short distance to Frankie’s and Benny’s. They served surprisingly good value food and a treat by the crew for Tank. The costs of catering on board were covered by Devon Sailing as were diesel and mooring fees (QAB - £50.50)
I picked up my certificate at a small ceremony in Dartmouth and while worn out, battered and bruised I learned a lot and remembered things I had forgotten. However had Tank not been so brilliant I would have been less satisfied with the organising skills of Devon Sailing who should observe they own advice frequently quoted in relation to the 5Ps (Poor Preparation makes for Piss Poor Performance) my observations on those are of course, part of another story.