Trip on Gundulph starting 2012-12-15 in BSAFeb13

‘Christmas Lights’ Trip 15th-16th December 2012 –report by Phil Steele

Andy Gordon, Bob Buchanan and Becky Goddard and Skipper Phil Steele. Yacht ‘Gundulph’ a GK29ft Westerly sloop with tiller steering. Weather forecast wet and windy WSW up to F9, sea state rough to very rough.

The boat was handed over on Friday evening at Sutton marinaMap and found to be not fully shipshape and Bristol fashion but the idea of heating was appealing after assurance that the batteries were fully charged in the absence of shore power to maintain batteries. The engine was easy to start and the usual protocol of battery management applied. Unfortunately the service battery lost voltage quickly so that evening no heating and very dim lights were all that was available whilst we enjoyed our mulled wine and mince pies with the aid of a temporary light. Another drawback was that there was not a light in the heads so a torch was part of the ablution requirement.

That evening we ventured on to the town quay at the Barbican and enjoyed a beer in a nearby pub before having an excellent fish supper in the restaurant.

The next morning after having slept well in the compact but bijou accommodation as described by Becky (the posh crew member), she insisted on her standard banquet breakfast. We agreed that the forecast did not seem conducive for the trip to Fowey via Eddystone and after toying with the idea of a trip to the Yealm we agreed to have a sail in the Sound. It took a little while to be ready for sailing including stowing the life-raft, filling the water tank and fuelling the boat. The boat handled very easily under engine in the windless harbour and after locking out after 12:30 we entered the Sound where the wind rose to 10kts WSW and we wondered if the 3 reefs were necessary. As we ventured abeam of Drake’s Island we made good progress with 25kts of wind sailing down to the east entrance of the breakwater with the boat handling perfectly. The sea was a little rough outside the sound so we did not venture out nor did we wish to have the breakwater as a lee shore.

Tacking along the breakwater with the aim to sail into Cawsand bay, we struggled at the west end of the breakwater against a strong current to make headway with the intent of one more fetch. At that point the wind increased to 45kts. We bore off to avoid a lee shore and to run back towards QAB. The 45kts soon stopped as the wind rose to 69kts. Bob, an experienced dinghy sailor, masterly controlled the boat as we sensed the helm compensation wiggle when a boat accelerates downwind avoiding a serious broach. The Sound suddenly seemed a very small area when the yacht was travelling at 9kts and we needed to lose power. The best option seemed to slowly round up around the shelter of Drake’s Island and get rid of what would be flogging sails whilst the boat lies hull-abeam to the weather. Before we got to Drake’s Island the wind had eased after less than 10 minutes. We continued to sail around the island to enter the Tamar turning back to be in Sutton Harbour before dark.

We repeated the trip ashore after the customary mulled wine but ventured to a difficult to find pub with a roaring log fire but without a vacant table for a meal so back to the fish restaurant. There WERE some Christmas lights on the town quay.

The next day after the standard hearty breakfast we set off for the sheltered waters of the Tamar. We tacked in the flukey light/strong winds adjusting the reefing accordingly. We had our very own police escort both ways returning again before dark to clear up the vessel for handover.

Overall the boat was a little small for what larger crew members find comfortable. The charter company did not seem to be aware of the boat’s condition and did not ensure that the boat was ready to be handed over and ready to sail. The condition did not seem as good as offered by other suppliers and was disappointing, not good value for money. I do not think that the company would be willing to listen to customer feedback and is defensive in approach. If the service improved it would a good option for BSA to have as a regular supplier. The boat itself handled excellently in a variety of conditions and is obviously a good training and seaworthy vessel. The company are planning to move to a marina with shore facilities but will put the price up. Finally we have been accused of damaging the vessel by hitting something, which we know we did not, and failing to report it. A dispute is in progress.

Sutton marina  50.3682,-4.133
Weather at EGDB   21 kts from SW 10C, 992mb Light Rain Showers