Trip on Bertie starting 2015-07-16 in BSAAug15

Plymouth to Plymouth, July 16-20 on ‘Bertie’, Bavaria 43 – report by Sue Fowle

Skipper- Gordon Ogden, 1st mate- David Ekinsmyth, Crew – Alan Grey, Paula Grey, Bernard Smyth, Jill Hunter and Sue Fowle.

In the spring Gordon booked a long weekend and at that time optimism was high, in anticipation of summer weather, for a Cross Channel jaunt to Trébeurden. Until the evening of the 16th, when we picked up Bertie, our hopes fluctuated like the spring tides but finally and reluctantly we decided the latest forecast was not encouraging for a long night sail. Rain, at least moderate seas and F6-7 from a southerly direction would not have been very comfortable. On our return from supper in PlymouthMap the rain started and the wind rose, so snug in our bunks we felt our decision was vindicated, sadly.

The following morning was misty and damp but there were occasional blue patches over Cornwall so our 1st mate, now a resident of that county, assured us the day would improve. We made plans for a sail to Brixham, Dartmouth and Salcombe in some sort of order, depending on tides and wind. There was a distinct lack of enthusiasm for an Eddystone Rock circumnavigation as several crew members had experienced a previously choppy ride around it.

Under some supervised navigation and correction of tidal flows we headed off passed the Mew Stone and towards Start Point on a beam reach. As we got to the overfalls, even though we were well off the coast, Bertie was tossed around until she settled into surfing mode to the delight of the helmsmen, less so the helmswomen. As the day wore on we decided on Dartmouth for the night, saving Brixham and Torbay for the following day. We were reluctant to go in but as we tacked out we realised the strength of the wind which had been behind us. It was fast approaching 1630 so time and a lack of enthusiasm for reefing made the decision for us.

We moored up on the loading pontoon in DarthavenMap to check availability of a berth. The marina was very busy and the allocated berth was quite narrow for Bertie who could be blown on to the boat on the starboard side. Two of us walked round to take the lines which enabled skipper to do a smooth landing. We were all taken aback by the £50 cost of the marina. This included a ‘tourist tax’ of £10 for the first night. As our plans were very fluid we decided to check out Brixham. Their costs were £58! Come back winter sailing in the Solent on a 39’ boat! By this time the sun was out and well over any yardarms, so after quick drinks and nibbles we ferried over to Dartmouth, leaving Bernard to meet family. The rest of us walked off to find a pub and ended up at The Cherub where we had a choice of seafood meals or cherub burgers. This provoked laughter and puns on the provenance of the burger meat but the two cherubs in the painting on the wall did not look amused by our hilarity. However we did amuse the Co-op staff as we did a trolley run at 2159, our skipper only having stocked up for the crossing anticipating French delicacies! How little time it takes to victual a boat if the clock is ticking.

On a sunny Saturday morning the forecast was for doom and gloom on Sunday so the decision was to head back to Plymouth, leaving out Salcombe because of the tide times over the bar. To appreciate the lovely sharp light and the riverscape we went up to a mooring buoy in DittishamMap for coffee then retraced our steps in wonderful sailing conditions on calm, sparking seas. We were quite late back into QAB Mapso had to moor up on the fuel pontoon which led one of the crew to have nocturnal anxieties of the ‘what if there’s a fire’ variety. We had an acceptable meal in the marina restaurant.

Despite the Met Office forecasts Sunday turned out be another idyllic sailing day and with the short distance to Fowey we had time for a leisurely brunch anchored off CawsandMap. The ‘spectator enjoyment’ was provided by swimmers lapping along the coast and youngsters in their inflatable kayaks. Rounding Rame Head there was plenty of opportunity for helming practice and instruction. For some of the time we were accompanied by a small pod of dolphins who seemed to be enjoying the conditions as much as us. We found a space on the Bodinnick pontoonMap near a friendly boat from Mylor. Our 1st mate, now at home in Cornwall, was rejuvenated and insisted on blowing up the dinghy to row us ashore. The dinghy was less than enthusiastic, there was no seat but as we had not paid for the outboard there was no option but to row. However for the second crossing our neighbours offered us a tow. We anticipated buying them a drink at the Yacht Club but both the Club and the Gallants were closed and food was difficult to find – OK it was Sunday but in mid-July? Armed with shower kit and life jackets we finally found a table upstairs in The Ship and had a good meal.

3 of us, in life jackets and with an ‘all round white light’, well, a torch, headed back in the dinghy whilst the other 4 waited for the ferry…..but the last one had already left so they hitched a lift in a fishing boat. This deposited them noisily on the pontoon, no doubt disturbing the ‘good’ neighbours but we left before they were around the following morning. (Perhaps our 1st mate had better NOT look them up in Mylor!)

This finally brought in the promised bad weather with mist and fog along with Cornish mizzle. Another row ashore proved the showers open as well as the bakery for fresh croissants. Despite the light winds, we managed to sail a lot of the way back to Plymouth. Our supplies just managed to keep our spirits up aided by the tasty Aussie Bites from Costco, a taste acquired by several of us, others preferring the home made shortbreads as emergency rations. As we approached Rame Head and the Sound in fog, blind navigation came into play and all was well until the helmsman decided to override the navigator and take 035° rather than 025° as requested. It is very easy to mistake one red buoy for another in fog! QABMap and the berth were reached by a quick adjustment – then the sun came out!

It was disappointing not to sail to France but we all felt the correct decision had been made given the forecasts and the crew strength but we had time to appreciate the lovely harbours and landscape as well as enjoy some instruction, some good sailing and amusing company.

We await the next Cross Channel proposal.

Plymouth  50.3648,-4.1322
Darthaven  50.3506,-3.5699
Dittisham  50.3899,-3.6046
Queen Anne's Battery Marina  50.3646,-4.1324
Cawsand  50.3314,-4.1881
Fowey  50.3349,-4.6323
Queen Anne's Battery Marina  50.3646,-4.1324