Trip on Cleo starting 2016-10-05 in BSAOct16

Plymouth boat handling trip, October 5-7 – report by Sue Fowle

Skipper Gordon Ogden, Crew – John Hartland, Penny Luck, Ewart Hutton and Sue Fowle

During the June trip in France the crew realised they needed boat handling experience and Gordon agreed to undertake this.

We chartered a Bavaria 34 from Plymouth Sailing SchoolMap for 3 days. Cleo is a well-used boat but was excellent for boat handling with a smooth throttle within easy reach. The weather was forecast to be cool, dry and with winds from an easterly direction, about F5/6. In reality for 2 days the wind was F8 with gusts reaching 45knts. Somehow this worked in our favour, wind with tide giving all of us lots of opportunities to practice ferry gliding onto the pontoon, 360 turns and for some, reversing practice. We carried out these manoeuvres in the river outside PYH. There were 2 or 3 other school boats out so we provided entertainment for the surrounding work boats. We performed our routines significantly better than one crew who persistently bow pranged the pontoon.

The weather was less forgiving on day 2, when the wind seemed lighter by comparison thus encouraging us to venture into The Sound. We had raised the main in the river with the intention of practicing reefing inside the breakwater. As we approached the eastern end we were foolishly tempted by the elements to gybe to the western end, outside the breakwater. As we gybed towards Cawsand Cleo was soon scudding along in the 45knt gusts with 2 reefs in the main and a full genoa. We had been warned that the genoa was baggy if reefed and advised to use a hanked on foresail. By this time it was a bit too late to do this – always anticipate reefing……so we high-tailed it to the shelter of PYH. Some of the crew had not previously experienced sailing under such conditions, others enjoyed the adrenaline rush!

Our anticipation had been to do marina work but PYH would not allow this. Some of us still need to do this. (Perhaps a 1night, 2 day course in Haslar/East Cowes?)

Throughout all this Gordon remained calm and patient. He talked us through manoeuvres clearly and logically. He admitted one or two omissions or ‘mistakes’ but none of us was in a position to challenge him!

The last morning we intended doing sail and reef work in the river but as the first participant finished the routine the engine began juddering so it was considered expedient to return to the pontoon to check it out. After trying the engine against tight warps, Gordon rang the sailing school who advised returning to the Yacht Haven Quay where Richard checked the boat. All by then was good so perhaps it had been some debris from the river around the drive shaft. Although by this time it was raining heavily we were sad not to have completed our course.

We moored at PYHMap for the 3 nights - £22pn – as it was friendly with very superior facilities. The menu in the warm and comfortable restaurant was varied, including some ‘small portion’ meals. There was a gin menu as well! It was not the cheapest of menus but with very tasty and abundant nibbles and drinks on board we were happy with just a main course although some of the crew did push the boat out on the last night and had a delicious pudding. This rather left the calorie conscious looking envious, licking their lips. But no taster spoonfuls were forthcoming. Hmm, so much for crew solidarity. The lights of Plymouth looked exotic from the restaurant so provided dessert distraction.

Penny was our experienced and skilful victualler so delicious food appeared regularly and apparently effortlessly. The rest of us polished up our dishwashing skills

As a crew we all had different skills and experience levels but Gordon accommodated these and we were very grateful of the planning and efforts he had made to make this a worthwhile 3 days. 4 as crew seemed a good number, giving us all ample opportunity to be on the helm. It was a pity PYH did not allow us to do marina moorings, often the trickiest of manoeuvres, especially when surrounded by luxury 50’ yachts.

It was a busy 3 days, time flew by but it does at 45knts.It was a happy boat, for crew at least, with Skipper Gordon who never raised a voice in anxiety! Thank you for a great learning experience, Gordon.

Plymouth Yacht Haven Quay  50.3646,-4.1081
Plymouth Yacht Haven  50.3586,-4.1215