Trip on Cleo starting 2014-09-26 in BSAOct14
“And so to sea” – report by Ian Collins, from Plymouth, Sept 26 – 28 2014
We had failed on our previous trip to arrive outbound at Fowey, but in the spirit of Baldrick a cunning plan was devised. On the journey west we would ignore the fleshpots of Fowey and instead concentrate our efforts to make landfall in the quieter delights of the Helford River. On our way back however we would sneak up on it from the west and catch it unawares.
And so to Sea; in Plymouth Sailing School’s Bavaria 36 “Cleo” with on this occasion a depleted crew of Kath Liddiard, Brian Adams and myself. Rhian was detained on family duties.
With a forecast as all round fair, it proved to be only fairly accurate. The wind direction was right, East backing North East. The speed of the wind given as between 12 to 17 knots; it never dropped below 20 and spent some of its energy at over 30 driving the waves to create a very unpleasant sea. Visibility was such that most of the time land was a smudge in the mist and if you could see it better than that you were “too damn close”.
We didn’t care, we had dolphins (and sat-nav). A pod of about 20 dolphins joined us as we crossed Whitsand Bay into Mevagissey Bay and played around the boat, while Brian and his camera nearly joined them from the pulpit; a truly delightful 20mins. They left us to struggle on till as we approached Falmouth Bay another pod of about a dozen kept us company for a quarter of an hour.
Trying to see which bit of the coast we were approaching instead of trusting the sat-nav and our own navigation, brought us within viewing distance of the Manacles. This at least confirmed our position and we hastily retreated eastward into the safety of the Helford River. The trip had taken 10 hours of hard sailing so a sausage casserole and a sedentary slouch sipping wine occupied what remained of the evening on what is one of Cornwall’s most pleasant moorings.
Saturday dawned and we were treated to a clear view of the calm river which became ever more turbulent as we pushed out into the Bay and into the wind and so we tacked and tacked and tacked again till we eventually gained entrance to Fowey Harbour safely by taking Kath’s advice to go east of the impressive, bell tolling Cardinal instead of nipping round the back like the local pot boys. It had taken just over 8 hours and seemed much longer; the sea had been unforgiving. The current against us most of the way was no worse than the wind over tide effect when it did run in our favour. There was no cargo loading at the china clay dock so we opted for a peaceful night on Wiseman Reach and a meal with a bottle (or two, maybe three) aboard. The wine rack is a safety feature on our voyages; it helps avoid mutiny and may assist in a good nights sleep.
Another dawn another day and the beguiling calm of Wisemans Reach gave no hint of the weather beyond the harbour. As we motored out the harbour master, leading a china clay Coaster round to the loading dock, waved, enquired after our night, then told us to see his assistant and pay our dues. We paid, we left, we were back in the wind. Back to the tack and a whole morning sailing miles to gain yards. By just gone 1300 Looe Island was creeping away to stern and Plymouth was a good step east with a boat to hand back and a long journey home.
Like children at the seaside we couldn’t resist a donkey ride; so we fed it with diesel and made port by just after 1600, tied up, cleaned up, and got on our way. This was definitely a sailing weekend. Approximately 140NM travelled, around 30 plus hours at sea and nobody fell out, either with each other or out of the boat. Lessons learned, the working jib would have served better than the genoa into the wind. Trust the charts, instruments and Sat-Nav if you can’t really see clearly. The wind directly on your nose or tail for days on end makes hard sailing and hard work.
But I’m glad I didn’t miss it and although Rhian was sorely missed I’m sure the disappointment at not making the trip was assuaged by her daughter and the delivery of a baby boy.