#1 2011-09-25 10:03:15

Registered: 2006-02-28
Posts: 10

QUE SERA's Summer Cruise 2006 (V30)

Summer Cruise 2006, Part 1 - To the Isles of Scilly
by Sue Doyle

Last winter I went looking for a different boat and fell for a Victoria 30. She is a long keeled yacht with two headsails and draws 1.4m. She seemed huge after my 23’ bilge keeler but now I had retired I had decided to give longer term cruising a bit of a go to see if I liked it and the boat.

I was almost ready to go around 20th May but the weather was ferocious. Then after a few hiccups – like finding one fresh water tank had been plumbed to flush the loo! and then a  diesel pipe damaged by the guys who fixed the water, I left Southampton water and beat down the West Solent against a predicted “occasional F6” but it seemed pretty steady to me so instead of going on to Poole I turned into Newtown Creek. This is a lovely creek owned by the National Trust. It was a miserable wet afternoon topped off by finding I had left a loo window hatch open during my sail and my new PINK curtains were soaked and the shelf below them awash.

I sat huddled in a fleece, jacket, hat and blanket reading the Da Vinci Code, eating chilli and went to bed early.

The next day was t – shirt weather so it was out through Hurst Narrows and a beat to Poole where I anchored at Studland. A Sigma full of fellas came sailing in and anchored close by but had trouble dumping their main sail and stopped only a metre from my transom. I told them I hadn’t got enough cups for all of them and they backed off.

In the morning a forecast of NW 4/5 seemed OK though it certainly seemed to be a steady F5 in the bay. I raised the main sail and began winding in the anchor. This took a while and Que Sera began sailing shorewards. It was a bit of a race between me and the boat, as I got the anchor stowed and ran back for the helm the Sigma’s skipper was nearby in his rib and asked if I was OK. It obviously looked a pretty close call to him too!

It was a horrible 26 miles to WEYMOUTH. There was no shelter close in as I had hoped so I plugged away beating with two reefs in the main, just the staysail and eventually a bit of engine to help out. I had to put sunglasses on to stop my eyes getting sore with salt spray as I peered out to avoid pot buoys. I even put the spray hood up, I rarely do this as I am too short to see over it. This was surely more than a F4/5, confirmed when my wind direction arrow blew off. Eventually I got in the lee of Weymouth and could make a desperately needed cup of tea. I was cold having got several lumps of sea water down my neck. Chatting to other customers in the chandlers next day I learned that they had recorded a wind speed of over 32kts just off shore while I was crossing.  So I wasn’t just being a wimp!

However I was pleased with the boat. If I had been in Katie-Morag, my Pageant it would have been even more horrible. And with a forecast of F4/5 I would have gone for it.

Weymouth was heaving. They had just had their annual trawler race and a bird man competition. The pubs and bins were overflowing and the seagulls were having a field day, time to leave for BRIXHAM.

This turned out to be 42 miles of mostly motoring as the westerly wind soon died once around Portland Bill. I eventually picked up a spare buoy in Brixham harbour at 21.30 just as it was getting dusk. It was a “cuddle the hot water bottle night” even though it was 1st June! However now Lyme Bay was behind me things were looking good. The morning got hot and I visited my friends Terry and Chris Head’s  (ex Netley member) new home for a wonderful roast dinner and relax.

The following day after some work trying to fix the autohelm socket which was not able to hold the pin firmly, I was joined by Chris and we set sail for SALCOMBE. Just past the  River Dart I saw a distant Hobbie cat sail out into Lyme Bay then to my surprise their mast fell down and they drifted further and further out to sea. There was absolutely no one else about we had to help them even though we would then miss the tide for Salcombe. We went back and took them in tow. The two crew worked on getting the mast in and until they did we could only tow at about 1kt. This would take forever. We called the coastguard to ask if any one could relieve us of the tow in the Dart entrance and eventually a small sport boat came out for them and we turned back on our course. The wind was dying and eventually we had to motor into an anchorage at Stairhole Bay off the entrance to Salcombe. It was just light enough to avoid the pot buoys as we carefully anchored in 8m, clear of the wreck of the Herzogin Cecile. She was a four masted barque swept ashore here in times past. My mother recalls going to look at her 60 years ago when more of the wreck was visible. It was a pretty rolly anchorage and once the anchor light was glowing in the rigging, we stuffed shoes and bags behind doors to stop them rattling and turned in.

The next day it was River Yealm for a sunshiny lunch, then PLYMOUTH followed and I dropped Chris off at the Mayflower Steps right in the centre near the bus station. I touched the ground getting in so didn’t hang around tying up. He jumped off onto the steps and I hastily backed off. I hurried up the River Tamar as the water slowly rose and picked up a buoy off the Crooked Spaniards pub at Cargreen (free if you eat there) and began an unsuccessful  trip long fight to stop the buoy banging on the hull when the wind was stronger than the tide and blew me on to it. Had a lovely meal though, just sneaking in as they finished serving.

On Sunday I walked around Cargreen. My cousin once lived there, down one of the small, shaded, ferny pathways. It was a beautiful quiet, sunny corner with the brown river flowing by and small boats lying to long lines in the mud off each little cottage, or upended in cottage gardens.

At lunch time my sister and mother met up with me for a birthday meal and we enjoyed the hot sunshine. I always manage to visit Cothele Quay when I’m near the Tamar so when they left me I dropped the buoy and headed upstream wondering whether I could anchor this boat safely for an overnight stop. There was a deep pool up near the quay but I knew a boat had been lost there the year before as she swung out of the pool on the ebb, tipped over and filled on the flood tide before she could lift to it.

So I had a plan.

I got up to the pool in the reach by the old lime kilns just before the quay, motored around to establish depths then motored with the tide, dropping a kedge anchor out the stern just before the pool, with an extra 20m of warp attached to the 25m anchor line then cut the engine and ran forward to drop the main anchor over the bows. This took a few moments to set and the tide carried us out into the river a bit more than I wished but it seemed OK. Eventually, with great effort, I winched the 20m line in as I let the main chain out! What a performance, goodness knows how long it took but I was fixed with the bows pointing into the ebb and the keel over the deep water. We were sticking out a little bit it seemed for a loaded tripper boat cut through on the inside on its way upstream, to prove a point it seemed. To recover I went ashore for one of the National Trust’s stunning blackcurrant ice-creams then rowed my dinghy up a little creek under a small arched stone bridge, pushing aside the low branches. I passed a grey wagtail and a glorious kingfisher. On my way back a young man, leaning over the bridge, told me he had just seen a young otter right where I was rowing. It must have been hiding until I turned the corner.

After all my excitement anchoring it turned out that I couldn’t stay overnight because my mother’s neighbour could only collect me first thing the next morning, so in order to leave the boat safely for a few days to stay with her, I had to get back down the river to Weir Quay boat yard moorings before low water.

A few days later I was back on board, (with clean laundry) and at 11am I motored against a rising tide down river and out to the breakwater for the 30 or so miles to FOWEY. It was a beautiful day, sunny and hot, but of course that meant motoring most of the way. Past Looe island and many softly green and rounded headlands falling to cliffs with fringing rocks full of seabirds.

Then Sod’s law brought the next day in too windy! Why couldn’t the wind gods even it out a bit?  So I got the water taxi over to Fowey, topped up the shopping, used the half an hour free internet at the library to sort out my overdrawn bank account and catch up on e mails, and decided to catch the ferry to Polruan on the other side of the estuary. The little roads were incredibly narrow and steep. Poor delivery drivers were having nervous breakdowns left, right and centre. I walked some of the coastal path where it was warm out of the wind and full of scent, foxgloves and bees. Fortified with a crab baguette I crossed back to Fowey and joined a “Wind in the Willows” boat trip up a shallow tributary of the Fowey to the little village of Lerryn. Grand oaks swept down to the shore and their sea water trimmed lower branches stretched out over the sheltered creek. Our guide was an old Cornish lady and we followed her through the overhanging leafy paths of the “Wild Wood” hearing about Kenneth Grahame and his two sailing friends and their exploits on the local waters. On the way back we passed  Daphne du Maurier’s old home, obviously the Fowey is an inspiring place for authors.

That night the wind screamed and the boat bounced. I got up in the middle of the night and put a third line on just in case then snuggled back in the warm to the sound of Sailing By. You know life is interesting when you hear Sailing By!

The morning was quieter and forecast to drop further so I topped up the fuel from my the spare can, and left Fowey with two reefs in the main. These were gradually shaken out as I passed down the coast past the infamous Dodman Head - at last a decent reaching sail. Of course it didn’t last, as I rounded Dodman thick fog came down and the wind shifted ahead. I tacked out away from the headland and put a plot on the chart. Visibility improved by the FALMOUTH entrance and I motored in to anchor off the town in amongst the old gaffers.

Early next morning I left to tackle the Lizard en route for PENZANCE. It was lumpy off the disquieting cliffs but there was very little wind to add waves to the swell and I motor sailed all the way.  Down in the bay I had a few good sightings of basking shark fins as they swirled around after plankton. One made me jump as I heard the swish of water and saw it stretched alongside almost as long as the boat. Picking out the entrance to the Penzance in reducing visibility was tricky at first but as I eventually drew closer the white of the nearby pool wall was a good marker. I had forty fits as the wet dock gate was tightly shut. Had I messed up big time? Penzance Bay is a bad place in a SW wind. Should I clear out over to Newlyn and raft up against the fishing boats? I anchored and hastily checked my information. Whew, I’d just forgotten BST, it should be open in half an hour or so. I noticed that a few moorings had been established outside, they might come in handy sometime. Once safely inside the wet dock, the visibility closed down again and it began to rain.

The lock keeper told me a tip… watch for the BA helicopters, if they are flying the ISLES OF SCILLY are clear of fog. The forecast looked good so I phoned Chris and fantastic he could join me the next day….he hopped on the train…… the Scillies at last!


At 6.45, just before the dock gate closed again, we motored out and picked up one of the buoys to wait for the tide, then we were off over 35miles of tricky waters towards St Mary, the main island. We saw more sharks, gannets, petrels and a few tankers in the TSZ. As we had been motoring we were too early for the northern entrance of Crow Sound and carried on round past St Bartholomew Ledge to the moorings off Hugh Town. The moorings were very rolly and it made life on board difficult so it was a relief to get ashore and hire bikes for a morning exploring.

The Scillonian at Hugh Town pier

It was hot and sunny and the small hedged lined roads were nicely virtually traffic free. We visited Windmill Cove, a recommended anchorage in SW winds, and walked down through a fern and foxglove decorated lane to a deserted white sand beach. We watched white horses galloping over an impossibly turquoise sea and as we ate our sandwiches the local land birds came and took food from our fingers. We rode on and looked in all the little sheltered gardens exclaiming at the luminously colourful flowers and tightly curled rosettes of succulent plants clinging to the stone walls.

Late in the afternoon we dropped the mooring and set off across the Tresco Flats, a shallow sand and rock area separating Tresco from St Sampson and Bryher. Two hours before high water we worked from transit to transit and avoided the dark patches in the water which meant rocks. A NE 5 was forecast so the Tresco moorings looked a good deal. We enjoyed a lovely evening but I was up in the night again, vainly trying to prevent the buoy banging by deploying all the fenders.

Rowing ashore to Tresco was wonderful. The water was deep but you could see to the bottom with its long strands of seaweed and sometimes shoals of sand eels coming up with the tide. We upended the inflatable on another soft, white beach and walked to the gardens. They always impress, so hot and full of such strange and exotic plants. The Echium reached up over 12 feet and were covered with bees and a yucca style spike was the most lurid dark green I had ever seen. In the gaps between the unusual trees could be seen tantalising glimpses of distant islands and their fringes of unspoilt beach.  After sharing our packed lunch with the sparrows we crossed the island to have a look at Old Grimsby where there were 6 more mooring buoys laid. Back around grassy tracks edged with pink thrift and century, yellow trefoils and tansy or cut out of deep bracken, we returned to New Grimsby and the boat. Copying some others I pulled the buoy up as tight as possible, though the bobstay prevented me getting it as tight as the others managed.

Mid June and we rowed the half a mile across to the quiet island of Bryher, with fresh pasties for lunch we circumnavigated the island. Loud, angry oystercatchers flew straight as us to keep us off their nests if we ventured over to the outlying rocks. At the far end of the island a lovely beach looked just right for our projected swim. I was full of good intentions but it was freezing! Chris made it for a quick plunge but I just couldn’t. It was a disappointment of the whole Scilly stay that I never swam from the wonderful, white, empty beaches. I never expected the sea there to be so cold. Back on board I swung in my hammock chair – a present from Costa Rica from my son, with wine and cake with cream while Chris cooked dinner.

That was the life!

Tempting beaches but cold water

The following day we motored out around the dramatic cleft rock of Men-a-Vaur, past Round Island with its white lighthouse and through a narrow passage to the moorings off St Martin’s. The moorings were free if you ate at the hotel. That sounded a good deal, so we rowed ashore despite the stonking tide to book an evening meal. We were rather taken aback to find the set menu started at £39! And opted for a bistro meal instead which was marginally cheaper but I have to say, excellent. Apparently Salmam Rushdie was hidden here one winter to avoid his spot of bother.

We walked right around the island through banks of sweet honeysuckle full of wrens, linnets and blackbirds, past tall flowering Phormium full of starlings. Near off-lying White Island the seashore grass was decorated by pebble circles, mazes and names. St Martin’s bay had miles of fine, pure white sand and on the cliff at the end of it was an old but freshly painted red and white day mark looking like a toy rocket. From here we could see  bold yachts tucked up in solitary rock fringed anchorages. We found the small smiling statue which overlooked the cliffs and is reputed to be the oldest statue in Britain (about 4000BC) and returned to our starting point and our fancy meal.

Off to St Agnes the next day where we anchored in the Cove as close in as we could but it was very swelly and uncomfortable. I had a walk up through the village of tiny cottages but came back as it started to drizzle. We invited Nick a Corribee sailor, over for tea and cake and had a good chat. He was waiting for a new SIM card for his phone to arrive at the little post office. It was hard to keep in touch with home where coverage was so sporadic, but it made the islands seem so much more exotic. We watched the terns fishing for sand eels and in one fancy piece of flying a bird passed an eel to it’s mate. The razorbills were less dramatic just surface diving for their fish.

The Cove St Agnes

Monday morning meant back to St Mary’s for a fuel, and water top up and sadly to say goodbye to Chris who was leaving on the Scillonian. So with shopping done, phone and cash topped up I rowed my clean laundry back out to Que Sera tossing on her mooring. I and waved to the departing ferry and my crew then set to to decide where to go that was safe to ride out the west to north west F6/7  forecast for Wednesday.

Chatting to another boat crew in the anchorage decided me to try for Old Grimsby. The previous day a harbour worker told me it would probably be full but someone else told my neighbours it would be OK ! So off I went followed by Columbine, a Trintella. You have your hands full rather handling the boat, taking transit bearings, checking the chart and watching the depth on your own, but I made it. Mooring took an hour though! I got the buoy first time  but the pick up buoy was twisted around the chain jamming the links and I couldn’t release my boat hook. I put on a snubbing line and a quick release line then decided to change it all and got in the dinghy to put on a section of chain like the boat nearby. The wind steadily got up and so I stayed on board and snuggled down with my portable DVD player and the next episode of “Bleak House”, on reflection I could have picked something cheerier!

The next day – the longest day, I went ashore early before the forecast wind increase and walked the northern part of Tresco. I explored the spooky Cromwell’s castle and King Charles’ Castle and saw Nick’s Corribee tucked up well into Green Bay on Bryher where he could dry out, the bilge keel advantage I had thrown away by buying a Victoria. I topped up with some supplies in the well stocked Tresco gereral stores and then positioning the inflatable well uptide set off on the energetic row back to Que Sera.

Later that afternoon Dave came by on Columbine’s dinghy and I was invited out to dinner. It was so kind, I really appreciated it. I like being on my own for a while and if I didn’t put up with it I never go anywhere but it does get lonely and good company is very welcome.

I was woken by the tremendous uncomfortable roll which started as the tide turned. I decided to stay in bed to avoid getting bruised and bashed but eventually went ashore and walked over to New Grimsby then around the southern half of the island and back to Old Grimsby.

I intended to leave for the New Grimsby anchorage and thought the sea would have had time to die down to make the short trip around the outside quite acceptable. Wrong. I pushed the tide out of the sound only making 2kts. It was horrible, I really had to hang on. I found the clearing line around the sharp, black spray covered rocks and turned down into New Grimsby Sound. The waves were huge but not breaking, the wind and tide swept me down in and, as by this time the chart and everything else was on the floor, I only had the memory of my passage plan to go by. I knew the Bryher side was very steep to so I kept well over that way until there was no possibility of being swept onto the Tresco rocks. Once abeam of Cromwell’s castle all calmed down and I could breathe again. I picked up a mooring, tidied up and started preparing a big chilli con carne. A short time later there was a knock on the hull and Nick was alongside. He handed over his gin bottle and said “I think you need some of this!” He had been up on Shipman Head and had seen Que Sera come in…. the advantage of a distinctive shape and bright red hull. He has promised me some of the photos. After checking his boat was drying out safely he was able to return for dinner – great, this single handed sailing might not be so solitary after all.

Friday was beautiful. I rowed over to Bryher, bought a pasty for lunch and a signed copy of Michael Morpurgo’s “The Day the Whales came”. This is a children’s book set on Bryher which Nick recommended. I sat in the nearby Fraggle Rock Café and had a coffee in the sun and began reading it. Then I circumnavigated the coast. It was much less busy than Tresco, it was warm and idilic reading about the places I was passing, like Droopy Nose Rock and watching a seal. The little churchyard by Green Bay was full but with largely three family names. It had a wonderful air of age, peace and continuity. I watched Nick tacking back down the Flats towards St Agnes in the continued quest for his SIM card as I rowed home to do a spot of waterline scrubbing. I really would have to put her on the scrubbing grid in Brixham on the way back before I crossed the channel.

I had a long chat with the Harbour master who was very nice. When he collected my mooring fee he told me he hadn’t seen me for the nights I was on his buoy over at Old Grimsby! That was great as I do seem to be spending much more than I thought on moorings. Partly I think as I have no outboard and the laid moorings push the anchoring sites further out and partly security in poor weather.. He also told me that people call the “Hooray Henrys” who descend on Tresco in the suimmer FORDS – Friends of Robert Dorien Smith.

A day or so later I got the blues and decided to move off back around Tresco to St Helen’s Pool. There wasn’t any company there but it was somewhere I’d always wanted to go. It is a deep pretty sheltered anchorage tucked in amongst rocks. A ruined cottage was all that was left of a pest house where people with infectious diseases were kept. Motoring round inside I found it very steep to and had to anchor carefully to avoid the fate of a motor yacht I saw aground and well tipped over there several days ago. I had rather a restless night as despite the settled weather at half tide quite a considerable swell came over the protective ring of rocks.

It all settled down again at 9am and I went ashore with the aim of walking around the island. It was too difficult though. There was no path and I struggled through the brambles and bracken to get a good view of Men a Vaur the rock island with two dramatic clefts in which form the back transit marking the rocky route into the pool. I gave up and only missed stepping on a beautifully camouflaged gull chick because of the anxious squeak it made as my feet got close.

I decided not to have another uncomfortable night in the Pool and got ready to move over closer to Tean where I thought had seen Columbine. I could reciprocate dinner. I hauled up the anchor, throwing off lots of weed which had wrapped around the chain, pulled the anchor over the bow roller and nipped back to the cockpit. I was taken aback to hear the engine alarm going. I hastily turned it off and ran back to put the anchor down again. I hoped that with a bit of time any weed plugging the intake would drop off. But it didn’t. Next I looked at the sea water strainer, that was pretty clear so the problem must be inside the engine. Although I changed the impeller on my previous boat and had watched Duncan on this one I was a bit unsure of whether I could do it nor if that was the problem. I had to get back to St Mary’s and an engineer. I checked the height of tide all the way down through to Crow Sound, tried to imprint the transit bearings in my brain, made ready the anchor in case of emergency, raised the jib and set off. Once safely in Crow Sound I was in the lee of Tresco so I put up the main to make sure I could get to the harbour before the tide turned. I contacted the harbour master for a tow to a buoy, wondering how much that would be, but happily it was free. I contacted the engineer he suggested and booked him for the earliest ….next afternoon.

While I was waiting for him after lunch, I thought I might as well have a go at it to see how far I could get. It proved quite simple after all. Once the plate was off I could see that the month old impeller was mangled. Was this the only cause? I put the old one back in and got ready to put it all together again when the engineer called for a lift from a nearby boat. I got him in my dinghy (why no work boat?). He removed the black bin liner I’d carefully arranged under the engine, lifted all the screws down from up on the worktop and screwed one in. For some unaccountable reason he then picked up the cloth he had put the rest of the screws down on and lost two down the bilges. I was hopping mad. He began unscrewing and lifting three sections of floorboard to find them but of course it was hopeless. I remembered I had spares in my previous boat. Had I transferred them and would they fit. Happily yes and yes. All was put back together, she fired up and all seemed well. He said a belt was a bit worn and should he change it? They had a spare of that though not an impeller. OK I said, then he told me he had to get it from his boss at the pierhead. He rowed there in my inflatable which took a while, fitted it, charged me £60 and left. I was glad to see him go but furious with myself for having to call him in the first place. If only I’d had more confidence in myself. It took me days to get over it. I was so jangled I decided to leave Scilly. The tide on the next day Sunday would let me leave at 3pm. I could get to Penzance just on dark. The next opportunity would be Wednesday and it looked as if there could be some bad weather by then.

So I went, and picked up one of the waiting buoys outside the wet dock at 21.30. Well I’d at last made it to Scilly and got back. What next?



#2 2011-09-25 10:07:41

Registered: 2006-02-28
Posts: 10

Re: QUE SERA's Summer Cruise 2006 (V30)

Summer Cruise 2006, Part 2 - Falmouth to Home
by Sue Doyle

June 29th

I was really pleased to be in PENZANCE despite being woken at 5.30am by the radio alarm which I had forgotten to cancel. I moved into the wet dock at 7am, did an oil change, ordered some spares from the chandler and then I set to enjoy myself.

The weather was beautiful and hot. I took a bus to Mousehole and chatted to a lady whose son helped set up a memorial to the Penlee crew on the rocky islet off the harbour entrance. It all lights up at Christmas but caused some controversy locally which I heard all about. In the evening I went to the Minack theatre. I last went there 43 years ago and saw Shakespeare!  It’s hard for a lesser dramatist to compete with the impressive scenery which forms the backdrop to the stage- I was periodically distracted by the diving gannets and transiting fishing boats. I also went very ill equipped – no cushion, blanket, hamper or champagne!

The next day I walked to St Michael’s Mount and explored the house with its enthusiastic guides and frescos with daring rabbits thwarting hunters, and the gardens. They contained many of the same species as the abbey gardens on Tresco. As I moved north each garden I visited dropped a species or two from Tresco’s riches. I walked back along the long promenade and collected my new impeller and did a spot of shopping in town to top up the wine and get a new book to read. I probably walked 12 miles in all and rather suffered for it the next day!


Getting back to Que Sera I found I was now 3 boats in. A pity as I had decided to leave for HELFORD RIVER in the morning to beat the thunderstorms expected on 2nd.

With help I untangled myself and drifted across Penzance Bay, not even making Mullion where I had thought I would wait for the tide around Lizard. There were loads of basking sharks. I even saw one jump out of the water, huge and silvery. It was very hot. By 3pm I had to use the engine to position myself to carry the first of the tide around the peninsula. However I didn’t get as much lift from it as expected and unfortunately the wind flowing down the headland this side made it a dead beat and it picked up all the way to Helford. I was racing the daylight. It was 10pm by the time I got off the entrance and the waves were rolling into the river. I took the sails down and began to motor in but then thought better of it. The area is not lit, I couldn’t see obstructions and although I could have put a waypoint in at the moorings to follow it was a bit risky as well as lumpy. I’d have to get right in to get a quiet night. The sensible course was to go on to the well lit entrance of the Fal, so reluctantly I knuckled down to it. My consolation prize was seeing a little petrel teetering over the waves.

Two hours later I edged into the anchorage at FALMOUTH. A surprising number of boats there were not showing anchor lights which didn’t help, but at last I got the hook down and piled gratefully and exhaustedly into bed.

The St Piran flag is much in evidence this year. It’s a white plus sign on a black background. Some boats even had a red ensign in the top quarter – hedging their bets I suppose. I wore my black tee shirt with a white pasty with a white St Piran’s cross on it which was designed by two Truro lads as a school project and sent me by Mum last Christmas.

The next day I anchored up river at Lamouth Creek and did a little rowing around, laundry and chilling. I had the embarrassment of paying my harbour dues to two guys with the guard rails festooned with knickers! Then unfortunately when I came to change the gas bottle for the (very expensive) one I had bought in the Scillies it wouldn’t screw fully home. No hot tea in the evening or for breakfast. This was a disaster! I returned to Falmouth and the chandler said it does happen, though rarely, but I’d have to wait two days to see if the gas man would exchange it. At least I got one to replace the just emptied one. I bought a pasty for lunch, popped it in my back pack and rowed home. I must be one of the few people with a pasty shaped burn on my back!

A visit to the Maritime Museum was the highlight of the afternoon, I had a lovely time sailing the model boats.

4th July was very foggy and I took a bus to visit the Trebar and Glendurgan Gardens which are on the north side of Helford River. Most of the gardens I visited in Cornwall were south east facing ravine gardens. These drain frost down to the sea and the maritime influence also helps keep them frost free. As well as plants I’d seen at Tresco, tree ferns were very common and dramatic.

The next day I returned to FOWEY through drizzle. Before mooring I went to the tide restricted fuel dock. I had to raft alongside a large, filthy, rusty fishing vessel. I got very wet and dirty trying to scramble onto it to find something I could tie to. After quite a wait I was served then had to cover an even bigger an obstacle course to get ashore and pay. All was dutifully written down in a big ledger. Cornish folks do it proper!

In the morning I almost fell out of the dinghy as I tied up to go shopping! I had to call for help as the boat skidded under the pontoon away from me as I held on grimly to the cleat – I’d got careless- not good for a single hander. I also got wet – grrr.

Anchoring in Barn Pool in PLYMOUTH was an interesting end to the day. Some days you just think you’re losing your grip! I had to try 3 times which is unusual, but it is an unusual place with over 30m of water quite close in. You have to get the hook to bite on a narrow piece of beach away from the rocks at each end, in the middle, where everyone else is of course.

I was here so that I could pop over to the Mayflower Marina early to leave the boat for another quick visit to Mum then to move over to Sutton Pool to entrust Que Sera to Chris from Brixham, while I returned to my club, Ashlett S.C., to help with their Festival of Sail.

I rejoined my boat on 21st July at BRIXHAM, after ten days away, I was glad to be back and ready for the next phase of the trip – going foreign! But before we went I felt a scrub was in order. The grid at the Dart was about £30 so Brixham, at £17, was a bargain though I hadn’t thought so at first. I’d never done this before. I booked the grid for the next useful tide. In the mean time a few days spent in shopping, BBQing, swimming and visiting were great. I had nice long chats with friendly people rafted up with me on the sailing club pontoon and even a gift of a solar powered light and emergency survival bag. No, it was just a kind thought, no reflection at all on my competence! The fact that I had inadvertently put my dinghy knot too far down to access at high water and had to spend a couple of hours drinking in the bar were nothing to do with it.

On the grid, Que Sera was quite nose down, once the water had gone and teetered on the forward part of her keel. I felt I had to move very gingerly about her balanced like this so how would it be if we dried out in the French harbours? Chris kindly helped me scrub her off but she was not as fouled as I had thought, it was mainly the fringe of green weed around the waterline that looked so bad – despite the scrub I’d done in Scilly.

On Thursday 27th July I was up at 4.30, Chris arrived and by 5am we were off for BEAUCETTE. We motored mostly due to lack of wind and by 18.30 were whooshed sideways down the Doyle Channel (had to take that passage of course!) to the mooring buoys off the very narrow entrance. This marina was once a quarry until the Royal Engineers blasted an entrance channel which is 8m wide over a cill. Reassuringly a dory met us to lead us in. As we came in I was shocked to hear an alarm go off until Chris commented that it was probably the depth alarm. He was right, past 170m no bottom registered and it triggered the alarm! We tied up to a pontoon at the end of a maze of narrow fairways. The pontoons were supported by steel girders fastened to the walls of the old quarry and when the tide went down we were surrounded in rock. I’d worry later about how I get out of here I thought!

We had a day of R & R to explore a bit of the island. The headlands were full of short turf flowers and Hottentot Fig much like Scilly, but the many Martello towers added a different feel- of war and siege. The sea, as in Scilly, was a fantastic blue, but this time warm enough to swim in, you just had to keep pace with the water as it went off down the Channel plughole!

We chatted to a local about the decline in the glasshouse industry as we had seen so many sad, derelict acres of glass. Offshore finance is now the thing, he said. I wonder how many indigenous islanders that feeds, judging by the pathetic stocks in the local shops, not many.

On 29th July with the help of the dory we turned and exited the marina without incident and headed for ST PETER PORT. We stayed on the outside pontoons to enable a good getaway the next day. We showered and shopped and while Chris went back to the boat to catch up on his beauty sleep, I paid a brief visit to my daughter in law’s parents.

The trip to LEZARDRIEUX meant keeping a careful eye on how the tide was sweeping us towards the Roche Douvres in the light wind then the entrance to the river was quite daunting. I had to keep checking the GPS and transits. We were heading straight for the most jagged set of rocks imaginable as the tide was sliding us down the fairway. I just had to keep reassuring myself it hadn’t changed it’s mind! As we came into the lovely, wooded river we had a good 3kts of tide under us and it kept on stonking, right past the huge towering marks and up to the marina. A British boat in front of us asked for a berth in French so we stemmed the tide and when it was our turn we parroted his words and followed the dory in. The French don’t leave you to find your own way around the marina alphabet as in Britain but escort you in, most appreciated!

As soon as we had tied up we hit the local bar for a drink and a Crème Brule. Vive la France!

Another early start on the 1st August saw us right up the river at the PONTRIEUX lock at 8.45. A lad on a bike in the port encouraged us to keep coming and we did, despite 0.2 and even 0.0 showing on the depth gauge. We moored up against a flowering wall and wandered into town. Here there were more flowers. They were spectacular, one wall had flame coloured geranium balls along it at least a metre wide on high brackets and moored in the river were several row boats full of flowers and a river footbridge was bedecked all along its sides and illuminated at night. Edging the river were little open fronted sheds with models of washerwomen from times past, also lit up, it was like fairy land! More prosaically we snuck into the laundrette of a civic campsite and got our washing done.

On our way back downstream we stopped at the Chateau de Roche Jagu and picked up a mooring. The gardens here needed a bit of National Trust tlc. They looked rather dry and neglected, though had some good ideas. There was lots of hard landscaping with several 8’ high woven willow circles with a peep hole in the middle onto pretty views, woven willow faced the terraced walls and some was woven into an intricate, living trellis fence. Channels, pools, sluices, stone and water matrices and waterfalls formed intriguing features around every corner. We decided to stay overnight as F6 winds were forecast and Chris played moorings a little, as a buoy, very close to us, was submerged at half tide and we were afraid we might get tangled up in it.

On Thursday 3rd August we sailed for the ISLE DE BREHAT, aiming for La Chambre. It was very crowded and we had to anchor out from the entrance. However the winds were forecast to die down so we hoped for a quiet night but it was a bit swelly. This island is picture postcard with tiny walled lanes edged with blue balls of agapanthus and hydrangea and improbable piles of rounded pink granite. They are so unusual they made me laugh out loud the first time I saw them. We watched intrepid French sailors edging even further into the rocks of the anchorage. As we concluded our walk with an expensive coffee at Port Clos, the morning hordes of tourists began arriving in the vendettes, time to leave for PAIMPOL.

The only problem with the huge French navigation marks is that there are just so many of them. We had to check carefully that we identified them properly. Going into Paimpol was free flow, goody we thought but it was chaos inside! “Ze coefficient so petit!” It was practically mud. Two racers moored just inside were leaning at a crazy angle and departing boats were stuck everywhere between the pontoons and the fairway. We were ushered in to add to the confusion. Eventually with roaring engines and good work from the harbour dory all who wanted were moored and those departing were outside tackling the long, shallow channel out.

Two good chandlers provided some spares we needed, we found the internet cafe and the stunningly flowered restaurants on the front were patronised.

The next day we goosewinged the cruising chute part of the way to ST  QUAY PORTRIEUX and came round the huge stone breakwater into the vast all tide basin. There were 17 access bridges which were incredibly long and steep at low water.

On to ST CAST the next day and we were suddenly engulfed in fog just as we were approaching the headland of Cap Frehel, a potentially nasty place. We crept on carefully monitoring the GPS and listening for traffic. We started seeing sport fishing boats emerging from the murk as we neared the harbour. We had to moor outside as the harbour is largely shallow so we picked up a buoy. However a rib came up and said they had just been assigned it by the harbourmaster (who didn’t answer the VHF). We offered to move but they said they were happy to raft. We chatted over whiskey and coffee as we waited for the free water taxi. The town was too far to walk for our evening meal so after moules at the port we headed home for a very rolly, noisy night. I don’t think I’ll go there again.

The ST MALO lock was a bit challenging the next day. It was nice and wide but unless there were people to take your lines, and they were usually busy with the first boat in, there were only 3 ladders to hold onto, nothing else. If you timed it right you could raft but the lockmaster urged you in as fast as possible so hanging back for a spot alongside someone else was difficult.

Chris’ wife joined us from the St Malo/Portsmouth  ferry, but she wasn’t well. We went up the River Rance through another interesting lock experience. Now I know why French boats look so well used (ie battered)! We had an overnight at PLOUER and did the lock again the next day, it was “bateaux rouge more, more” as I was exhorted to squeeze forward. “Ignore him,” said the French sailor next to me, but I did as I was told .  Exiting the lock it was pretty windy and I had a hairy time finding the fuel berth in Bas Sablons, getting on it and even more of a struggle getting off it. The springing off abilities of the canoe stern thankfully came into its own. However my next manoeuvre had a less happy outcome. We had just missed the marina lock and had an hour to wait. Jilling around amongst commercial traffic would be a pain so I went for the waiting buoy. Trying to allow for the waves I unfortunately I kept too much way on and the buoy ended up amidships when we picked up the line.  The waves dropped us on to it and the upstanding wood edge around the metre wide metal buoy lifted a section of toe rail. S…! ! !

The lock was its usual fun with a big Westerly turning ninety degrees right in front of me. Luckily I just managed to back up and raft against an English boat. I heard that in the next lock someone got their hand crushed in the melee. I’m not surprised.

Chris and Terry left and I bought glue, dug out the clamps and with moral and practical support from Ted and Pat next door I did a temporary repair on the rail.

Marian arrived to join me and we went to Mont St Michel by bus while she settled in. It was an excellent and cheap service about 4 Euros for a 2hr return trip. The Mount was unbelievably crowded and quite claustrophobic, though much bigger than Cornwall’s attraction.

The 14th was too windy to leave, so I worked on the repair some more and then we moved out into the Bas Sablons marina to enable an earlier start on the tide for GRANVILLE the next day. The Petites Pointes route out was good and we had a fantastic tidal lift outside doing almost 8kts over the ground for an hour or so due east. Ted and Pat in their boat and John in English Rose went ahead of us. In the distance the Isles du Chausey looked tempting. Maybe I’ll tackle them next time when I have built more confidence with me and the boat.

Despite the calm weather, the water on the approach to Granville made getting the sail down uncomfortable but soon we were over the cill inside the huge marina walls of concrete cylinders. Moules and sardines were being cooked in the square but we had mango and pistachio ice cream ! We spent a pleasant evening chatting on Elizabethan Lady and John, Marian and I sang The Fields of Athenry. Marian kindly wrote all the words out for me later as long as I promised not to sing it all the time, but once you get a tune in your head!!!

The 16th was windy and our friends decided to stay but I felt that the forecast F6 was probably further north than we’d go and hells bells this was a Victoria, so off we went for Jersey. I put in two reefs and rigged a preventer and all was well. Nearing ST HELLIER the visibility deteriorated rather alarmingly and I think it’s most unkind to have a “hard to see on a chart” damn great chimney right next to a smaller channel entrance mark. I have to admit it threw me for a moment. We had to stop while I sorted out discrepancies of GPS and bearings. The St Hellier pontoon was grim. It was outside the marina, dark, wet and unwelcoming with no facilities. The office was closed so no shower code, so no where to pay then!! The marina side was attractive though, with granite seats marked with the alphabet in semaphore, morse and flags.

Thunder and lightning accompanied us to ST PETER PORT the next day and overnight I forgot to close the heads window. It was awash and the curtains still haven’t recovered. Alongside us was a lovely classic with crew sporting t-shirts reading “ to own her is to sand her”!

Off at 6.00am, in lowering skies, we bucked the last of the tide in the Little Russell. The bouncing somehow opened the shackle holding the mainsheet and we had a few uncomfortable moments catching a flailing boom. However soon the weather improved and we basically had cracking day, leaving Platte Fougere at 8am and close reaching to arrive off BRIXHAM at 8pm. Marian cooked yummy baked beans on toast with an egg on top and it tasted like nectar, eaten in the cockpit to a fireworks show.

The next few days we lazed and sailed round to DITTISHAM. Marian left, my son joined me for 3 days at anchor and at the end of August I sailed back to Brixham for walking, blackberrying and visiting.

At 8am on Sept 4th I set off for WEYMOUTH. To my surprise Chris said he’d join me for the trip. It was pretty uneventful with little wind but fog just before the inner passage around Portland gave me concern. Thankfully it lifted for the crucial bit and I could see any pot buoys in our way.

The next day the anchorage at Pottery Pier in POOLE Harbour was empty. I cleaned the boat, watched the red squirrels and worked out some stats. Despite 25 free nights I had averaged £9 a night for mooring over 100 nights, a bit high to keep on with if I do a similar trip next year.

On Wednesday it got too windy to row ashore but the forecast gave NE, a head wind, for the next day so I packed away the dinghy and cleared out and headed for the SOLENT. I made 8.9kts going in through Hurst eeek!, and headed for Newtown. The harbour master assured a very sceptical me, that I’d stay afloat where I was on buoy 8 and he was almost right but someone else in the creek wasn’t so lucky and it looked as if there were several anxious skippers over the other side of the anchorage.

The eclipsed moon was spectacular that night but I decided to leave before the lowest one of the cycle, I didn’t want to live life at a steep angle even for a few hours.

On Saturday 9th I headed for home. I put in one reef and ended up “racing” a bigger Westerly up the West Solent on a stonking tide. I could keep up, close hauled, due to a good main sail shape and the staysail while they had a bag of a reefed roller foresail and main. Well done Que Sera! We were back tucked up in the Ashlett mud by 2pm after 950 nm and 99 days away. We had had a good shakedown cruise, I had decided I could manage her, liked her, would start on some TLC in the winter and do it all again in 2008, especially if could get some more of the good company I was lucky enough to get this time. Thanks Chris and Marian!



Board footer

Powered by FluxBB