Trip on Cleo starting 2017-12-04 in BSADec17

Midweek from Plymouth 4-6 December 2017 – report by John Hartland

Plymouth Sailing School Bavaria 36 – ‘Cleo

Skipper – Chris Watts. Crew – Gordon Ogden, Sue Fowle, Ewart Hutton and John Hartland

Four of us arrived at Yacht Haven QuayMap around 3:15 on Sunday afternoon, the crew unloaded provisions and our gear while the skipper went in search of Richard. With the key secured and all the necessary preparations made, we were ready to take Cleo down to Plymouth Yacht Haven marina. Richard told us the marina was being dredged and many of the pontoons had been removed. With a berth arranged we cast off and motored downstream to tie up on P4, this was on the outer perimeter. The walk ashore was enough exercise, so we opted to eat at The Bridge. While we were awaiting our meal, a 3D chart of Plymouth Sound caught our interest; this was on the wall near our table, well worth a look.

During the evening we made plans for the following morning. This was to be a precisely timed, touch and go pick up of our First Mate, Gordon Ogden, from the Yacht Haven Quay pontoon. On Monday morning Gordon was on the pontoon a minute before we came into view and a few minutes later he was safely on board by 0801. We then returned to our berth where the skipper cooked porridge for breakfast.

Our destination was Fowey, but with no sign of the promised north westerly force 4, we motored out across the Sound with a little help from the tide. Once clear of Rame HeadMap we detected a stirring of the air so the sails were set and, engine off, we made one or two knots towards the Eddystone light. With time moving on we put the engine on for a while. Slowly the wind began to build and we started sailing again, albeit not in the direction we really wanted to go. Putting in a couple of tacks helped and we enjoyed some good sailing before eventually the engine was started so we could head towards the entrance. It soon became clear there was little activity, virtually every mooring was empty and the pontoons by the Harbour Office had been removed. A call to the office gave us permission to tie up on the Lifeboat pontoonMap overnight. A hardy fisherman angling from the pontoon showed us his catch, a fair sized plaice. We made a brief foray into town to stretch our legs and pay for the berth, a bargain at £10. By the time we returned, the motor cruiser we were sharing the berth with, was illuminated with festive lighting, he also had put on his generator, but down below having our drink and nibbles we were oblivious to it. It was agreed The Ship would cater for our needs and a good meal was enjoyed by us all, we finally left after another group became a bit loud, even louder than us, making it difficult to hold a conversation. The Christmas lights particularly in St Fimbarras churchyard were a bonus.

Tuesday 5th. After a leisurely breakfast and a stroll into town we headed out to sea with barely a breath of wind so we motored out and along the coast. It was suggested we go in closer to have a look at the coast around PolperroMap. The land looked continuous as we approached from the south-west, although we could see the entrance mark there did not seem to be a break in the rocks. It was not until we were almost opposite the entrance we could see the way in. There looked to be a lock gate further in but Gordon told us this was a storm gate and that it still dried inside. There was smoke rising from around one of the houses but with no wind it was just drifting almost vertically. Out at sea there was a touch of wind so we sailed out to give us plenty of room to pass the Outer Ranney rocks off Looe IslandMap. Rame HeadMap looked a long way off and did not seem to be getting any closer. Chris spotted a fin break the surface a little way from the boat but was not sure if it had been a shark or not, it disappeared and we didn’t see it again. Possibly a large cod.

Eventually the engine was started and we motored into QABMap. Gordon made a quick turn inside and put us deftly on the pontoon. The owner of the boat near us came over to compliment him on the slick manoeuver. Chris explained we had chartered the Sailing School yacht and this prompted him to say he was looking to make his boat available for charter; details were exchanged as a possible contact for the future. After the usual post sailing ablutions we settled for wine and nibbles before thinking we needed to have something more substantial. We had hoped to go to the Barbican, but the footbridge over Sutton Harbour entrance was not operating. We found out that it had been out of operation since May. So we made our way to The China House but as there was a forty-five minute delay for food, caused by a 40 strong Christmas party, so we decided to try Lockyers Quay, this turned out to be a good move with everyone happy with their choice. In anticipation of a windy night ahead, Chris ensured halyards were tied off on a couple of adjacent boats so we had a peaceful night on Cleo.

Wednesday 6th. After breakfast with the wind whistling through the rigging and after a bit of consultation it was decided it would be a good idea to hank on the storm jib, a visit to the fuel berth was made before heading out into the Sound very well reefed. We had some good sailing, with each of the crew taking the helm in a south-south-westerly wind gusting to forty two knots. A warship moored in the Sound was taking on landing craft through its stern door as we made our way across the sound. A frigate also came in to the Sound with a police launch in attendance; it then turned and continued on towards Devonport. Needing to be back on the Yacht Haven pontoon around noon we headed back upstream. Packing the storm jib away and shaking out the reefs in the main after we had moored alongside. After clearing our gear and leftover food the boat was cleaned. Richard came down to see if all was well. By this time Cleo was touching the mud on the mooring. We gave our farewells and headed for home. Thanks to Chris and all members of the crew for another enjoyable trip, especially Sue for her victualling.

Plymouth Yacht Haven Quay  50.3646,-4.1081
Rame Head  50.3069,-4.2238
Fowey  50.336,-4.6329
Polperro  50.3271,-4.5131
Looe Island  50.3333,-4.45
Rame Head  50.3069,-4.2238
Queen Anne's Battery Marina  50.3646,-4.1324