Trip on Cleo starting 2018-06-01 in BSAJuly18

Weekend from Plymouth, Jun 1 – 3, - report by Alex Barry

Boat: Plymouth Sailing School, ‘Cleo’, Bavaria 34.

Skipper: Jeff Woolmer

Crew: Paul Eyers, Brian Adams, Neil Webber and Alex Barry.

We arrived at PlymouthMap in 2 cars and picked up Cleo. One of the others of Richard’s Bavarias was moored mastless and the story was that a shroud plate fixing at the spreaders had given way on a tack in light winds, causing the whole mast to snap in the centre and fall into the water taking some of the railing with it. Luckily no one was hurt and it happened in the harbour, however, Richard none too happy with the loss of income. The crack within the fitting was out of sight and deemed to be a fault with the fitting. Richard stressed that in any such event, especially close to home, one should first phone him as he would be there within minutes.

We moved the boat down to the Yacht HavenMap for the night, spent a long time adjusting the mooring ropes and then enjoyed some draughts of Brian’s fine homemade ‘Fearful’ cider as skipper sorted out mooring dues, before heading to the Clovelly for the usual fine but over generous portions. Back to the boat for a half bottle of whisky.

The morning was fine and the forecast for light s/e winds and slightly stronger easterly on Sunday put us in mind for turning left out of Plymouth as opposed to the usual right. It was just after springs.

It being the skipper’s maiden voyage as skipper, things were to be done by the book and bearings were requested from the Yacht Haven to the Sutton Harbour entrance and thence to the south cardinal off the breakwater before hoisting sail at Batten Bay. Similar precision navigation followed up the harbour and we tacked on toward the eastern breakwater, all crew advising the poor skipper on the best course of action which he cleverly ignored. Out on a longer tack past the western Tinker twin until we tacked to the east giving the MewstoneMap a very generous offing such that it was a pip on the horizon. We then settled down to some comfortable sailing past the Yealm entrance and across Bigbury Bay. The sea state was calm, the weather beautiful and the visibility excellent; the wind was dropping all the time until boat speed was sufficiently low for Jeff to throw over the fishing line. This was trawled for a period of time before reeling it in to reveal vanished hooks no doubt taken by a large slithery creature. Replacements were found and tried again; this proved more successful, Jeff landing a fine and unusual looking specimen of weed.

Speed was now very low which of course meant the usual rise of Neil’s impatience and references to a four legged animal of the mule family, whilst the rest of us were quite content lolling in the sun with the sound of waves lapping gently on the hull. The engine was engaged, the genoa rolled away and we headed on toward Salcombe. Visibility meant the Mewstone was a constant fine landmark behind us and the Ham Stone off Bolt Head provided similar to the East.

Now came the serious part of entering an unknown harbour and crossing the dreaded Bar. There was talk of standing waves, depth variations due to atmospheric pressure, the dangers of strong onshore winds against an ebbing tide. We turned the corner of Bolt HeadMap, around the Little Mew Stone before dropping the mainsail and heading north toward the entrance shortly after low water on a flooding tide. The western part of the Bar has deeper water and this is what the transit takes one through. In the event the water was flat and we had calm crossing and followed the transit up to the red cans whence we turned up the harbour channel. SalcombeMap is a beautiful place to enter in a boat. Jeff radioed the harbour master and we were advised to take a visitor mooring which we did in Middle Ground, Brian providing excellent tide stemming steerage as we nudged our way up to the buoy before successfully lassoing it and tying on.. Feeling somewhat pleased with ourselves it was only then that we noticed a large sign on top of it stating NO MOORING. Discussion followed as to whether they really meant this, whether this applied to BSA members and whether anyone would really mind… however we decided to leave and try again, motoring back down river where we completed another successful mooring only hampered by Neil’s short armed inability to reach down to the eye on the buoy before being relieved by the longer armed skipper. We doubly tied on and there was a sense of satisfaction at having safely arrived, having successfully negotiated a new route and harbour with a brand new skipper. Tea was offered but beers chosen as we toasted the skipper out in the sun on deck along with the remains of the homemade cider.

Glad rags donned, we hailed the motor taxi and headed for town, spotted the Victoria Inn off the landing point, decided we couldn’t go into the first place so followed the road further to the right for a quick pint before returning to the Victoria. We enjoyed a good meal, Alex braving the Fowey mussels despite the warning of lack of letter R in the month by the rest of the crew. We caught the last boat home and enjoyed some further chat and red wine on deck before retiring, Jeff to his second night in the cockpit. A good night apart from a bit of slapping halyard adjustment at some moonlit low tide moment in the night.. Strange how different the surroundings can look at low tide when one comes on it unexpectedly.

Sunday revealed red sunburnt faces, particularly Paul’s who said there was a lot of area for the sun to land on. We took a quick visit to the pontoon to pay our as yet uncollected dues where another of Richard’s boats was moored which we attempted to skewer on leaving. We motored on for a look at the Bag, the upper end of the mooring spots which offered pontoons and buoys and a pleasant place to stay before heading back out just after high water. Out in reverse the way we’d come in, over the Bar and then sails up near the Mewstone. A large catamaran followed us out, somewhat strangely stopping directly over the Bar to hoist sails but I guess that’s what you do with shallow draft. By the time we had ours up it was already a fast disappearing sight skimming off to the west.

The wind was F3-4 due east and gave us a good course toward the Mewstone. Visibility was again excellent with Rame Head and the Polperro headland visible beyond. Skipper once again gave us a good offing off Bolt HeadMap; this seemed to put us into some stronger part of the foul tide whilst we suffered the indignation of watching numerous red sailed Shrimpers skim ahead of us whilst hugging the coast. Running with the wind on a fine day on a flat sea provided perfect sailing and a pleasant change from what normally seems to be a beat of some kind. We managed a good 4 to 5 knots and breakfast of bacon and eggs sarnies was served. The only thing we couldn’t find was the frying pan. Later on half of the monster fish pie was put into the oven and by 1pm it was served on deck with an accompaniment of fine green beans but sadly no chilled white wine.

We gave the MewstoneMap a good offing and heard Alan’s voice ringing in our ears to avoid the natural temptation of turning for the harbour once past it, continuing instead further west. This was a harbour approach a number of us hadn’t had and it took a bit of time to identify the ends of the breakwater against the town beyond. As we hardened up northward past the Shagstone on to a reach and picked up some stronger funnelled wind over the land, the sun shone and the blue water sparkled and we enjoyed a final burst of exciting sailing past the eastern end of the breakwater and Duke Rock Cardinal before a successful sail drop before the Mount Batten breakwaterMap. A quick refuelling and we handed the boat back in one piece all having enjoyed a fine trip, some fine sailing and a fine maiden skipper voyage.

Plymouth Sailing School  50.3638,-4.1097
Plymouth Yacht Haven  50.3586,-4.1215
Mewstone  50.3077,-4.1065
Bolt Head  50.2034,-3.7845
Salcombe  50.2354,-3.7653
Bolt Head  50.2034,-3.7845
Mewstone  50.3077,-4.1065
Mount Batten breakwater  50.3594,-4.1337