Trip on Chloe starting 2018-08-18 in BSASep18
August 18 – 19th, 2018 – Plymouth to Fowey return – report by Stuart Omond
Skipper: Jeff Woolmer
Boat: ‘Chloe’, a Bavaria 34 from Plymouth Sailing School
After a reasonably event-free drive down from Bristol (thanks for the lift Jeff!), we arrived at the Plymouth Sailing School headquarters, which was guarded by two of the school's boats on hard stands. We checked in at the office, were ignored by the dog and picked up the sailing gear we were borrowing. By the time that was done, Nigel and Sonia had arrived so we all headed down to the pontoons where Chloe (the boat) was actually in the water, unlike her sisters.
After a little time wasted hunting for the non-existent key, all was in order and after a brief handover we were off - all the way to the Plymouth Yacht Haven marina for our overnight stay. Over a ‘getting to know you’ dinner at The Bridge - the Superfood Salad was apparently excellent – where we discussed the sailing appetite and experience of the crew, we decided we would head to Fowey as we had heard that Salcombe was very busy with its annual regatta. Then it was back to the boat for some proper drinking and a good opportunity for everyone to make clear their positions on Brexit.
On Saturday morning, after a leisurely bacon sandwich breakfast, Nigel was in charge of piloting us out into the sound to reveal overcast skies and force 4- 5 Westerly winds. We hoisted the sails successfully and attempted to tack out of Plymouth Sound while we got used to the boat. However, we had all sorts of trouble convincing the boat to go to windward very well. One problem was that we couldn’t work out how to ease the topping lift (we were fooled by the jib halliard being the same colour); we were also a bit timid in how far we sheeted in the genoa at first. This improved through the day, but we weren’t setting any speed records.
This made for a long (8 hours) slog to Fowey into a force 4 headwind and seas which were lumpy enough to be uncomfortable (the Kwells were popular during the crossing with all except Jeff who appeared immune). However, visibility was good – we could see the Eddystone lighthouse well enough to get a bearing – and there was even some occasional sun. There were a few other boats heading to Fowey but they disappeared ahead of us before long.
The approach to Fowey is quite dramatic, with the entrance being almost invisible until the last minute. Once through the entrance, we were met by the harbourmaster in his RIB and he directed us to the last spot on the lifeboat pontoon for the night. We had a few people raft up beside us throughout the evening and the following morning, so there obviously wasn’t much space around.
It turned out that Sunday was the first day of the Fowey Royal Regatta, so the town was even more busy that usual. We tried the Ship Inn for dinner but had no hope of getting in and ended up at Galleon Inn, which was fine. A few more drinks back at the boat and then off to bed for a good night’s sleep for everyone except Jeff who insisted on sleeping outside where it was noisy.
Sunday morning dawned foggy with the forecast indicating similar sailing conditions to Saturday. Nigel and Sonia went into town to hunt for showers and found that the Gallant sailing club was closed despite saying it was open 24 hours. However Sonia made it into the Royal Yacht Club which has been revamped - now £2 per shower and she was mortified as, trying to do the right thing and save water, she only used 38p worth.
After a quick breakfast we were motoring out into force 4 – 5 (maybe) and choppy seas. Visibility was down to a few hundred metres so a backup plan (should we lose sight of the coast) was hatched to follow a depth contour. However, we were able to plot a course to the Udder Rock buoy so we hoisted sails and headed off on a very broad reach.
We started with a few turns on the genoa furler and full main but the wind came and went and eventually faded completely. We weren’t in the mood for another 8 hours on the boat so some motoring was necessary.
By the time we were past the Udder Rock buoy with its morose bell, the fog had lifted enough to see the coast, although the tops of hills (and hence most of the charted landmarks) were still obscured. The wind returned to about force 3 and we managed to sail most of the way to Plymouth with the occasional spell of motoring. It wasn’t the most comfortable sailing with the boat slopping about with not enough wind to match the chop and Jeff was the only one who could stay below for long and ended up having to do all the navigating. There were a few other boats on their way back to Plymouth with us but the highlight was spotting a submarine on its way out.
The very end of Rame Head appeared out of the gloom for just long enough for us to plot a course to it before disappearing again. However, by the time we rounded Penlee Point and entered the Sound, the weather had cleared up and it was a pleasant broad reach up Plymouth Sound. After a quick stop at the yacht haven for fuel, we were back at the sailing school and ready for the drive back to Bristol.
Thanks Jeff for calm and competent skippering and thanks to everyone for a great weekend.