Trip on Cleo starting 2016-09-23 in BSAOct16
Plymouth weekend 23 – 25 September – report by Ian Collins
As you do whilst in your local, somewhat foolishly, a regular, Nigel, who in the past had owned a small, towable motor launch expressed a wish to go sailing. Nigel's a personable guy and as is the case with most "pub promises" other engagements took priority, and I had sort of assumed time and alcohol would fade the memory; but no, in biblical terms "it came to Pass"
So it was that on a sunny Friday afternoon we were gathered together, Nigel and his two young workers, Danny and Otto, with Richard and myself in sight of the Plymouth Sailing School and in the presence of Richard Brown to gather together some Wet Gear and board the good ship Cleo.
I was assured of some competence as Otto had done his Day Skipper in the Solent, Danny was a very outdoor type, and Nigel had done some fishing from his motor boat. On board and kitted out we gave them a broad explanation covering the sharp and blunt end, life jackets ,ropes, sails and how to operate the heads. Then away for an evening meal in the newly refurbished Borringdon Arms and it was fine.
Next morning was both bright and breezy, lower 20's wind speed and a moderate sea. To make the passage as pleasant as possible we'd rolled away the Genoa and set the working jib plus two reefs in the main. Initially the wind was just east of south allowing us to sail well out from Rame head then make a turn into the long, lumpy but fast passage all the way across Whitesands Bay, with interludes of "Mal de Mer" to Fowey. Everyone got an opportunity to steer the boat but as we closed on Fowey the wind which had been increasing slowly all across the bay moved sharply into the lower 30's with small gust moving even higher. Normally this would be no problem. On this occasion with the wind from the south driving up the harbour and the river flowing out to sea the entrance was a bad example of nightmarish overfalls. To add to the Helmsman's problems two racing yachts chose the exact same time to tack out of the harbour with their crews grabbing on the rails.
I'm happy to report that during the whole of this episode Richard on the helm did a sterling job bringing us through and into the harbour. The Harbour Master commented that we were doing "quite a lick" up the river and under sail. We nodded sagely, paid up and drank our tea in the calm of the upper reaches.
With no water taxi and, as none of them had been before, an enthusiasm from Nigel and team to visit Fowey's fleshpots, I took Cleo down river to the town quay through driving wind and rain for a meal in the Lugger followed by approximately 3 hours battering on the pontoon before the wind shifted SW and peace descended at last.
Sunday morning was glorious and we scuttled off to sea around 0745. The legacy of the previous day was with us in the sea state and a brisk south westerly wind plus the best of the current running east we made our way swiftly across Whitesands Bay. This was a good sail with winds in the mid 20's and apart from a squall catching us as we rounded Rame head; two gusts close together at over 50mph spinning me like a top, twice before I headed out towards the Eddystone to avoid the accompanying rain. This was the fastest passage I've ever made from Fowey to Plymouth when we moored at the rear of Drakes Island it had taken just over four and a half hours.
Altogether an interesting weekend. All the sailing and supervision was down to Richard and me in demanding conditions and I thank him for his major contribution which resulted in all of them expressing a wish to do it again.