Trip on Anodyne starting 2022-05-20 in BSAJune22

In search of WIND and a FISH PIE: May 20 – 22 2022,, report by Harvey Freer

Skipper: Gordon Ogden. Crew: Reg Morris, Sue Fowle and Harvey Freer

Boat: Bavaria 36 ‘Anodyne’ from QAB, Plymouth

Friday the 20th May saw the skipper, Gordon, and his crew; Reg, Sue and Harvey gathering at QABMap, Plymouth in readiness to charter ANODYNE, a Bavaria 36 for the weekend. The wind was blowing a F4 from the SW and it was thought that as the forecast was for minimal wind on Saturday, we might cast off as soon as possible and try to sail to Salcombe for a night time arrival. But as the handover progressed and the plans were being firmed Gordon rightly made the call that a 4 hour sail would have us arriving at Salcombe at 2200 without any wiggle room should we encounter a problem, and with Harvey and Sue not having sailed this year and none of us having had anything to eat, we would stay put and eat at the marina. Simon of Liberty Yachts had asked us to consider visiting the Royal Western YC as they were keen to welcome visitors and were even keener to boost their coffers after what has been a difficult few years for a number of YCs in the area. So Sue and Harvey popped up to the clubhouse to enquire about food , and with a fish pie and spag’ bol’ for £11 it seemed reasonable , but there were no vegan options and so we left and booked into the commercial restaurant based at the marina. We did suggest though to go up to the RWYC for a pre meal drink as the aspect of the elevated clubhouse gave stunning views across Plymouth Sound. And at 1900 that’s what we did, and with the wind increasing in strength with some strong gusts coming in we all decided that this was far the better decision than forcing a hard sail to Salcombe. We were met by the Commodore , who was shocked by our decision to not eat there and our reason for it, and duly walked off to speak with the cook to organise a meat-free alternative. Proudly returning, he promised a vegan alternative to spag bol,, and we were persuaded to cancel our restaurant booking in order eat at the club. After doing so, the Commodore forlornly returned to our table to explain that in fact although he could supply vegan spag bol, they no longer hand any fish pies left. Spag’ bols’ all round then! The club were very keen for visitors to use their facilities, the food was relatively reasonable in terms of quality and cost (£11) and the views and convenience were outstanding. As we returned to ANODYNE the winds were abating and as we checked the forecast the excitement of a day’s brisk sailing ahead of us faded: 3 from the SW with gusts up to 5…knots, not Beaufort Force.

Saturday morning there was breeze across the sound, some sails were up and so we set off to sail to Salcombe; we would have the tide with us and a gentle breeze would give us a day’s sail at least. But as Sue took us out of the eastern end of the breakwater and we headed towards the Mewstone the wind just fell away and we had nothing. Looking around it appeared that there were some boats with canvas up on the western shoreline, running from Cawsands to Rame Head so we decided to motor over to there, to sail if we could and anchor for lunch in Cawsands and then see how the afternoon developed. And indeed, as we neared the western end of the breakwater a sea breeze appeared , we raised and unfurled the sails and were able to sail with a few long tacks and a couple of shorter ones, into Cawsands BayMap. With Reg at the helm we motored into the anchorage, which was fairly crowded and after picking our spot we needed to turn a big circle to approach upwind. This took us around a large 45-50 ft live-aboard that was anchored downwind of our spot and in what Sue would later describe as a ‘passive aggressive’ action, the owner of the yacht picked up his fishing rod and started to cast out across from his beam and in front of our route as if to force us to take a wider course. As we then rounded the stern of his vessel and moved into wind to anchor ahead of him, he called out that that was where his anchor line lay. How much chain he had out we didn’t know but we motored well forward of him. Our first attempt wouldn’t dig in, a problem Reg had said he had encountered before in Cawsands. Our second attempt was a success and we popped down below for lunch.

In the time it took for us to luncheon on board whilst anchored in Cawsand Bay, no more than an hour, we came back on deck to find the Flagship Aircraft Carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth had not only appeared over the horizon but had anchored off the breakwater. It makes you think how quickly a vessel of that size could appear from nowhere on a night watch! We used the light air, about 5 knots, to sail passed her to admire this newest addition to Her Majesty’s Fleet. Gordon got rather excited when he saw the rivet that his taxes had paid for.

Salcombe was our destination but again we lost the wind as we got to the eastern side of the breakwater, so tacked and sailed back past the Queen Elizabeth. What to do? We were now losing the breeze, although could see some boats still sailing very close to the Edgecombe coastline. Reg used some local knowledge to suggest Saltash Sailing Club, and on ringing them we bagged a place on their pontoon for a free mooring for the night although a prebooked party meant no food was available at the clubhouse. We motored up into the Tamar. Enroute a call from a crew member that a cup of tea was needed led to us practising picking up a mooring buoy, with Harvey and Reg taking turns at the helm and Gordon tutoring, Sue up front, boat hook at the ready. Sue’s conclusion after our mooring exercise: that boat hooks aren’t long enough.

After a cup of tea, Reg took us off the mooring and motored us to SaltashMap Yacht club where he successfully navigated through the three trots of moorings that led to the club pontoon. The vice commodore then appeared to greet us and asked us to retie our lines to allow the club secretary to bring her boat in front of us. She did so with inch perfect accuracy. A very enthusiastic invite for us to join everyone in the Clubhouse for a drink was given by everyone that spoke to us, however food was not going to be available as there was this club event and food needed to be prebooked. So it was decided a quick drink in the bar to be sociable and then a walk into Saltash for food. As we drank our G&Ts at a window seat that gave fantastic views down the Tamar it transpired that finding food would entail not just walking but walking up hill. Avoiding walking seemed to be becoming a theme of the weekend as much as motoring was. A quick friendly chat with the Chef and he said that he maybe might be able to make us up some food after the club party had been served depending on what was ordered, but wouldn’t be able to let us now until 8:15. Another drink then. The Vice Commodore appeared again, then the Club Secretary asking after our welfare. They went to have words with the Chef. Fish pie or Thai curry was now on the cards. Could they do a vegan option? Yes…stuffed tomatoes. And at 8:30 we were eating. We were even invited to join the club members for a group photo. The club was most accommodating, very laid back and with great views, sited just downstream of the Tamar Bridge. Highly recommended.

Sunday. Reg proudly announced over breakfast that he had woken at low water (0400) and switched on the electronics to check what depth we had under the keel. 0.7m …exactly what he had calculated before choosing to moor there. After springing off the pontoon, another drill well lead by Gordon and practiced by the crew, we motored down the Tamar. With wind and tide in our favour we raised the sails for a bit of river estuary sailing opposite the dockyard. Under the careful watch of the Police launch we put in two tacks before dropping the sails and switching the motor back on…there was even less wind than Saturday. A motor to The Yealm then.

As we motored past the Queen Elizabeth Gordon observed the fleet of launches taxiing seaman to the vessel, and he suggested that these would be the officers returning after a night of visiting the various houses of ill repute that a Naval Port often offers. He questioned whether there would be different classes of bordello for the different ranks of sailors, with perhaps some higher class establishments for the Officers. Reg and Harvey, being present and former residents of Plymouth said they had limited knowledge and certainly no experience of such things. Gordon questioned why no offer was made to him for such shore privileges being the skipper of this vessel. It was suggested that Gordon was more than welcome to row to shore and enjoy said services, but that at his age he was unlikely to have the energy to be able to do both.

With Harvey on the helm, Gordon and Sue went traditional using the hand bearing compass to sight the marks leading into The Yealm whilst Reg went down below to educate himself on how to use the Raymarine chart plotter, which on Anodyne had dual screens at the chart table and binnacle. With the Novice at the helm, there were moments of confusion as I was trying to listen to Sue’s calls whilst following the chart plotters course line to the marks that were miraculously appearing on the screen.

The pilotage in was tight but spot on as Sue called the marks at exactly the same time that we reached them on the chartplotter, but was complicated by other boats, canoes, paddleboards and the anomalous port buoy that we all decided must have moved as it was much closer to the shore than both Sue and the plotter indicated. Gordon made the call to turn before the buoy and trust in Sue and Reg’s pilotage. We tied up for a spot of lunch on a vacant resident’s buoy that the harbourmaster suggested would be free for the afternoon.

After picking up the buoyMap, in my keenness to get on with the next task, I asked what I could do next. ‘just enjoy the moment for little while’ advised Gordon and as we just sat and soaked up where we were for those few minutes I reflected on how that advice was a good lesson learned. We enjoyed an lovely light lunch, all sitting in the cockpit enjoying the quiet serenity of this sun soaked wooded sanctuary, whilst trying not to be too judgmental as we watched a 40+footer trying to squeeze in between two other boats already moored up on the visitor pontoon.

Sue took us out of the Yealm under engine, expertly executing a tight turn in reverse off the mooring buoy as the tide had turned. With what looked like a bit of wind we again tried to sail, but with a flapping main and a slapping boom the motion and noise was not conducive to the quiet mellow mood we were in, so we motored back to QABMap, topped up the fuel and returned to our mooring by 1600.

Although there was not a lot of sailing there was a lot of boating practised, and some lovely company with which to spend time on the water. Thanks to all.

Queen Anne's Battery Marina  50.3646,-4.1324
Cawsands Bay  50.33,-4.2
Saltash  50.4063,-4.2063
Yealm  50.3128,-4.0523
Queen Anne's Battery Marina  50.3646,-4.1324