#1 2012-11-15 19:05:29

Registered: 2011-06-09
Posts: 9

WYNN's Summer Cruise 2012 (V30)

Wynn's West (or should that be Wet!) Country Cruise 2012

Wynn was back in the water for about 3 weeks before the hose pipe ban was implemented and the non-stop rain, that seemed to be directly connected to this event, began.  Consequently we didn’t manage to get off the mooring and go sailing until mid-May.  A brief excursion into The Solent taking in East Cowes, Newtown Creek and Gosport confirmed that everything was working correctly and got us back into sailing mode.  This proved to be the shake-down trip for Wynn’s summer cruise to the West Country.

I grew up in Cornwall and had learnt to sail on the Camel Estuary on the north coast but I had done very little cruising that far west.  I had chartered out of Dartmouth and Plymouth a few times for cross channel trips but had never got that far on Wynn.  We had been as far as Weymouth on several occasions before but getting across Lyme Bay had always proved to be a stumbling block.  This year I was determined to make amends.

Mike, Dave and I sailed out of Chichester Harbour on Monday 18th June heading west.  A lovely sail down through the Solent got us as far as Yarmouth.  The next day and another cracking sail saw us in Weymouth.  Wednesday morning started with clear skies, sunshine but very little wind.  We left Weymouth under motor to time our arrival at Portland Bill to take the inshore passage at slack tide.  We rounded the Bill close in but probably slightly more than the ‘biscuits throw’ distance that is recommended by Tom Cunliffe.  The cliff had been indented in many places by old quarry workings and there was a bizarre collection of what looked like garden sheds just a few metres back from the cliff edge but the sea was flat and we rounded into Lyme Bay in a procession with about 6 other yachts.

                                                            Portland Bill

As Portland Bill slowly disappeared in the distance the wind gradually increase and soon we were sailing well and heading, surprisingly, straight for Dartmouth, our intended destination.   A brief sighting of a pod of dolphins or porpoises about 50m from us and the spectacle of gannets diving from great height kept us amused as we made our way across the expanse of Lyme Bay.  By the time we were approaching Dartmouth we had had some rain, the wind had picked up to about force 5 and the entrance was quite lumpy.  We were pleased to get round the headland into the calm of the River Dart and tied up in Darthaven Marina on the Kingswear side of the river after a day’s run of just over 60 Nm.  A visit to the excellent Ship Inn, just up the hill, ended our day in a most satisfactory way.

The next day it rained…hard…all day.  We did venture across to Dartmouth on the passenger ferry – it was raining too much to go on the open decked car ferry – to get some provisions but got back soaked.  We ended up staying in Dartmouth for 4 nights; although the rain stopped after the first day and the next 2 days were dry and bright, the wind was very strong and Dartmouth entrance remained quite rough.  We had started to feel like regulars at the Ship Inn!

We eventually left Dartmouth on Sunday 24th June.  Once round the Homestone buoy everything calmed down and we had a pleasant sail inside the Skerries Bank down towards Start Point.  We failed to give the overfalls off the point sufficient clearance and got caught by one wave which broke over the deck and gave us a good soaking.  After that all went well and we enjoyed the spectacular entry into Salcombe eventually picking up a visitor’s buoy just off the town.


The next day we headed further west.  Our intention had been to go round to the River Yealm and then on to Fowey the next day.  We needed to be in Falmouth ideally by Wednesday evening as Mike had to leave us the next day for other family commitments.  The forecast suggested that the weather might deteriorate from Tuesday so we decided to head straight for Fowey.   We sailed past the Eddystone and into Cornish territorial waters; the St Pirran’s Cross courtesy flag was duly raised!  Not long afterwards the rain started, or to be more precise, it was Cornish drizzle.    This got heavier as we approached Fowey and the light began to fade due to the poor weather.  As we got to Fowey entrance the leading lights came on making our task much easier.  Once in the river we headed towards the Polruan side to find one of the orange, FHC labelled visitors buoys.  The almanac and pilot books were wrong – they were blue and unmarked except for a number!  It was now getting on for 10pm and after covering another 44 Nm three very bedraggled sailors were glad of a hot meal and a beer in the comfort of Wynn’s saloon.

When we woke the following morning everything above mast height was shrouded in fog.  Looking over towards the town all we could see were the houses by the quay and the church –the rest of the town and the hills above had disappeared.  By midday the fog had started to lift and we could see more of the town.  What a lovely sight it must be on a sunny summer’s day!


We ventured ashore by water taxi and walked out to the headland to see what the entrance looked like in daylight.  There was a white cross on a rock just above water level on the east side indicating, perhaps, that not everyone had made it safely into the harbour as we had.  After sampling a couple of pints of the local brew in the town we returned to Wynn and decided to move to another buoy up river for the night and get out of the seemingly endless swell that affected the main part of the lower harbour.  Just above the china clay loading docks it was calm and peaceful with just the sound of the birds and the occasional gig crew out for evening practice.  The sun came out and we were able to enjoy the magnificent scenery from the comfort of the cockpit.

The next day, Wednesday, we had to head for Falmouth.  If the weather had been kind to us we would have stopped off over lunch in Mevagissey.  It wasn’t.   Just as we were about to leave Fowey the rain started again so we waited for an hour or so for it to ease off.  We then had little choice but to head straight for Dodman Point and then on towards St Anthony.  At sea level it was perfectly clear but the tops of the cliffs were in the mist as we headed west.  This changed somewhere off Portscatho and by the time we reached St Anthony Head the visibility was down to about 20m.  We rounded the headland and passed close by the lighthouse but could only hear the sound of the fog horn.  Fortunately the fog cleared somewhat as we entered the Carrick Roads and we were able to cross safely towards Falmouth Docks and found a berth rafted 3 out in a very busy Falmouth Visitors Yacht Haven.

That evening we were joined by Colin, a friend whom I had met twenty years ago whilst doing the Yachtmaster Theory evening class.  We had sailed together many times since and were hoping to see some of the harbours and bays along this bit of the Cornish coast and perhaps even to visit the Scillies.  Mike left us on Thursday as planned but didn’t take the bad weather with him.  We had a week of rain, strong winds and poor visibility; not always all at the same time but it seemed like it.  We sailed across to the Helford a couple of times and also went up river past the King Harry Ferry as far as Malpas where it was sheltered from most of the weather.  On one river trip we stopped for lunch at the well-known Pandora Inn which had recently been reopened after a fire had severely damaged the pub in March 2011.   We sneaked into Restronguet Creek on a rising tide and were just able to tie up to the pontoon as we touched the bottom.  A pint and sandwich later there was plenty of water to return to the Carrick Roads.

   We were also lucky to be able to watch the J Class regatta which was taking part in Falmouth Bay over that weekend.  The sight of four of these amazing yachts, originally designed in the 1930’s, racing under full sail in quite blustery conditions was something to be remembered.  Overnight they were moored in Port Pendennis Marina and although we mere mortals were not allowed onto the pontoon, we were able to get a fantastic view of these powerful yachts from the balcony of the National Maritime Museum. 

                                              Lionheart sailing in Falmouth Bay

After a week of unseasonable weather, even for Cornwall, Colin and Dave left Falmouth and I was joined for 10 days by Meryl and, for a short while by Lauren, our daughter who was back in the UK for a month from Hong Kong.  The weather improved a little but it still didn’t feel like summer!  We spent the time between Falmouth, the Helford and the Truro River taking friends and family for days out on Wynn.

Eventually the time came to make the return journey to Chichester.  Meryl returned home and I was re-joined by Dave together with Steve, another friend from home who was keen to do a bit of sailing.  We left Falmouth on Tuesday 17th July bound for Fowey.  The day started rather dull but with a good breeze however, slowly improved such that by midday the sun was shining and everything was looking much better.  We decided to call in at Mevagissey for lunch and picked up a fore and aft mooring inside the outer harbour.   We were able to sit in the cockpit and eat our pasties in warm sunshine.

                                                   Mevagissey Outer Harbour

A leisurely sail across St Austell Bay took us past Gribbin Head with its conspicuous red and white daymark and on into Fowey where we picked up a visitors mooring in the lower harbour.  The next day we were back to the old weather – poor visibility and drizzle.  We ventured out of the harbour but didn’t get far before the drizzle got heavier, the visibility got worse and the sea became unpleasantly lumpy.  We turned back, moored to the pontoon in Mixtow Pill and went for a walk instead.

Summer returned the following day and we set off towards the Yealm under a clear blue sky and sunshine.  We decided to call in at Polperro on the way; I had not been there before and, although the entrance would be even narrower than normal due to low tide, the conditions were perfect.  We dropped the sails and steered towards Spy House Point light beacon to ensure we avoided Polca rock just off the entrance.  As the harbour opened up a Dutch yacht coming from the opposite direction nipped in front of us and took the only remaining mooring in the very narrow cove.  There did not look to be enough room to manoeuvre between the boats moored in the harbour and the rocks so we aborted our pilotage plan and headed back out to sea.  The remainder of the trip towards the river Yealm was pretty uneventful and we eventually made our way up this very attractive river and tied up on the visitors’ pontoon just north of the entrance to Newton Creek.  The day ended with a trip ashore in the dinghy to visit the Dolphin in Newton Ferrers for evening refreshments.  Fortunately, this was able to provide the extra energy necessary to row back to the yacht against a very strong ebb tide.

The next leg of our trip took us back to Salcombe where this time we moored to a pontoon in The Bag.  This is a delightful spot just around the headland after the town but meant that the dinghy trip for our evening stroll was a little longer.  Having learnt my lesson the previous night, this time we used the outboard!

                                                        The Bag - Salcombe

The next morning, more sunshine and blue skies greeted us as we set off towards Dartmouth.  The initially light breeze picked up to give us a perfect sail round Prawle Point and Start Point and on into Start Bay where we sailed close inshore past Beesands and Slapton Sands.  The wind died about 5 miles from the Homestone buoy so the last bit was done under power getting us into Darthaven Marina in the early afternoon – plenty of time to re-check the beer quality at the Ship Inn!

My original plan was to have gone across the Channel probably from Salcombe and to return home via the Channel Islands and Cherbourg because by now, it was close to the start of London 2012 and Weymouth was likely to be very busy or even out of bounds.  We were, however, a little short on time having lost a day in Fowey and the weather forecast was now for high pressure and no wind.  There seemed little point motoring all the way across to Guernsey, Alderney or Cherbourg only to motor all the way back across the Channel again.  We decided to implement Plan B – Dartmouth to Yarmouth in one hit and, as it turned out, it was under motor all the way.   The game of nautical I-Spy across Lyme Bay came up with little other than the usual 4 S’s – sun, sea, sky and one ship!  We were off Portland Bill a little earlier than planned so had to battle against a foul tide for about an hour but when the tide turned we made good progress towards the Isle of Wight.  We arrived at Needles Fairway buoy just after dark and proceeded up the Needles Channel, through Hurst and eventually tied up in Yarmouth at 0040 after a 16 hour passage.

We were now back in home territory, the weather was still set fair with little or no wind and we had two days to get back so that Steve could report for duty as a volunteer ‘Games Maker’ on Wednesday evening.  We motored up the western Solent and then anchored in Osborne Bay for lunch with all the others before returning to East Cowes for the night.  We were able to sail, albeit rather slowly, the next day back towards Chichester Harbour where we picked up our mooring, packed our bags and tidied up the boat.  Wynn’s West Country Cruise 2012 had come to an end.

Last edited by Richard_Saunders (2012-11-15 19:18:19)


#2 2012-11-17 08:02:05

Registered: 2003-11-23
Posts: 154

Re: WYNN's Summer Cruise 2012 (V30)

Thank you, great read.
We were also in the same area in Albertine at about the same time, but only for three weeks, and three gales!
Hope to see you again on our Rallies next year.


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