Trip on Cleo starting undated in BSAApril16

Easter with Katie – report by Ian Collins

Ian Collins, Kath Liddiard, Rhian Phillips and Brian Adams, Bavaria 34 ‘Cleo’ from PlymouthMap sailing school.

It was the Thursday before Easter and with four days sailing ahead we could forgive the traffic, and the weather forecast, which was not to be ignored. Mitigating the worse predictions there were signs of Friday being fair and Sunday bearable. So we motored and sailed to BrixhamMap and Friday was Good, and in the evening we celebrated with fish so fresh they almost swam on to the plate.

Saturday crept in through the gloom. Rain hastened on by a squally wind with occasional hailstones punishing everything and everyone foolish enough to get in their way. Stir crazy by lunchtime Rhian and I set out to discover what Brixham could offer when desperation sets in. Now we know it’s Fish and Chips, some quirky Gift Shops, some seaside tat shops, more Fish and Chips, a few High Street stalwarts set amongst charity shops, estate agents and, of course, small cafés all offering Fish and Chips. Yet another squall forced us to shelter under the Covered Market canopy where a damp, determined market researcher asked us, amongst other things, “would we recommend Brixham to friends?”. We were polite. Kath and Brian, wisely, had stayed aboard planning and plotting the course for the Sunday. At the Blue Anchor that evening the food was passing fair and the staff training a tribute to “Fawlty Towers”

Richard from Plymouth Sailing School had sent a text asking “what’s the plan?” and “had we seen the forecast?”. I replied “working jib and three reefs on leaving, then with a NWesterly would sail SSW clearing the overfalls off Berry Head, followed by best course towards Plymouth, with Dartmouth, Salcombe and possibly Yealm to take cover if the going got rough. It got rough, very, very rough. It was bumpy but liveable with for around 90 minutes. The waves 8 to 12 feet, wind speed indicating middle 30’s to low to middle 40’s, lively but liveable, and mostly sunny. Then it changed, the wind veered and strengthened, we were measuring mid 40’s, low 50’s, waves building to around 15 feet with a few now and then when I dropped my tape measure and concentrated on climbing them. There is a limit on how much fun you can have on a fairground ride so with the White House on the cliff above the Dart clearly visible the wind backed and with a change of helmsman we headed into DartmouthMap.

It was pleasantly quiet, so quiet that the Harbourmaster visited and said as the only boat to come in that day we may as well moor on the Town Quay, as only the foot passenger ferry was running. That evening the glow of a good curry settled us down on board. Then Katie came to kiss us goodnight. It was something I’m still finding hard to believe that for around 6 hours in one of the most sheltered harbours we were smacked against the quay to the extent that one of the slips broke but we had been generous with our shorelines. The working jib broke loose and flogged itself halfway up the stay and one of the fenders punctured. Around four Katie’s temper abated and she picked up her skirts and ran away. Tired, battered and bruised at last we could sleep.

Come the morning and far from my best, stupidity took the helm and I managed about a gallon of water into the diesel tank. Sheepishly I reported to Richard. He took it on the chin, appreciated that we and Cleo were safe, expressed a comment along the lines that excrement and happenstance are oft times neighbours and set off to Dartmouth to drain the water off. (Bavarias have no sump drain in their fuel tanks. Germans don’t make stupid mistakes!!)

At the same time Kath and I were making our way by bus, train and taxi to collect our cars from Plymouth. I arranged to return Cleo to its rightful berth on Thursday as it appeared the day with the best weather. An Easter to remember, a stalwart crew to thank. We will do it again. Of course we will.

For the return to Plymouth I will pass you over to Jeff because as with all good sailing days, good news is no news, but the MoB exercises added interest and a touch of excitement to an otherwise near perfect trip.

…continued by Jeff Birkin

Since last month, we’ve been trying to get out and do some more OscarLine sea trials but the Gods of weather and circumstance continue to conspire against us. Finally when we saw a weather window but the commercial vessel was not available we opted for a yacht day.

I called Ian to ask if he wanted to come and crew but after a brief conversation in which he advised he had a yacht in Dartmouth that needed taking to Plymouth, we decided it would be better to go and crew for him. (This meant we had to drive both cars to Plymouth, leave one at the marina and drive to Dartmouth leaving the other car, sail the boat to Plymouth, all hop in one car and back Dartmouth to collect the other car.  Phew!)

We arrived in Plymouth to find a massive queue of traffic from the city to the A38. This was a bit odd given it was only 2pm.  As it turned out, the Laira Bridge was closed due to a very serious accident and nothing could cross over outbound.  This meant all that traffic was heading back to the A38 to come into Plymstock via the back lanes - another traffic jam in the making if ever there was one.  We couldn't get near the marina.

Eventually, a good few hours after the planned time, we made it to the boat on Dartmouth Town Quay.  After a lot of tinkering with the engine and fuel system, we got the engine running and left it to tick over and charge the batteries whilst Ian and I took the car and parked it at the top of the town.  There then followed a long, long, and quiet unexpected meandering walk back to Dartmouth Town, taking us close to Salcombe, and finally a decent meal in an Indian restaurant.

Next morning we were off at 6ish to catch what we could of the west going tide. We had a really good sail in bright sunshine and my daughter Ginny found herself sailing for the first time in over 10 years - she was a just a child then.

Eventually, we paused a mile outside Plymouth breakwater to do a bit of OscarLine MOB recovery practice.  Here’s the odd thing, as we picked our spot, there wasn’t a sail in sight. By the time we had deployed the buckets and fender, we were into collision course territory with two other boats.  Amazing!

Anyway, Ginny was able to pick up the MOB solo, under engine on her first proper approach. This was both an indication of how good she is but also just how simple the system is to use even for those with almost no experience. Granted, the first try was with a fair bit of coaching as she had no experience of handling a boat under power, but her next try was pretty much un-coached and Ginny made it first time.

Ian had a few goes and then we quickly headed for the marina Mapas they wanted the boat back early.

Finally, as with the start, our return was delayed due to an accident. On this occasion it was whilst they manoeuvred a crane barge in the Dart to lift the fishing vessel that sank outside the Town Quay recently.  This totally blocked our ferry passage.  Effectively, it balanced the trip nicely.

Queen Anne's Battery Marina  50.3646,-4.1324
Brixham  50.3991,-3.509
Dartmouth  50.3514,-3.5762
Queen Anne's Battery Marina  50.3646,-4.1324