Posted by: Ray | August 14, 2009

Falmouth to Dartmouth

Passage: 96M, 5 new harbours visited, Max wind F5.

I expect to set sail from Falmouth early next week. My sons, Mark and Darren and Richard, from Crewseekers, join me here over the weekend for a one week cruise homeward along the Cornish and Devon coastline.

I am meeting friends and family at various locations as I get closer to the end of my 2-year cruise. I expect to be back in Lymington by the end of September, where I plan a get together at my sailing club in Lymington. More details later.

Falmouth

Falmouth

 It’s regatta week at Falmouth and the harbour is bustling with yachts. I an rafted amongst and alongside lots of racing yachts who leave each day with crews of 6-10 to race, then return in the evening to party ashore to the early hours! 🙂

The whole town is full of party-goers in carnival dress, with pop music and parties everywhere. On two evenings firework displays lit up the harbour.

 

Sunday 16 Aug: Mark and Darren arrived by train Saturday evening and we had a meal ashore and enjoyed the party and carnival atmosphere around the town and harbour.

Whilst visiting the Isles of Scilly, I had made radio contact with Keith, G3MCD. Keith and I were at school together and shared a common interest (amongst other things! ) 🙂 in radio. At the age of 16 we were constructing and operating transmitting stations and both passed our PO Amateur Radio Examinations and 12 wpm Morse code tests to become licensed amateurs at the age of 17. It is a hobby that has taken both of us into very successful past careers within the electronics sector. Keith and his wife Vickie who now live in Cornwall came down to meet us for lunch in Falmouth. It was great seeing Keith again after so many years and both catching up with each others lives.

Richard arrived by car Sunday afternoon, cycling the last few miles to the harbour. Sunday was a quieter day with many of the yachts leaving to race to Fowey where the next regatta and races were to be held. We will catch up with them there! 🙂

Monday 17 Aug: Mark, Darren and Richard had not sailed for a while and I spent the morning briefing on the yacht safety and gear. Knots were practiced and we spent an hour before lunch practicing coming alongside pontoons and picking up mooring buoys. We had a short lunch alongside the fuel pontoon whilst waiting for them to open, re-fueled Christine Marie and set off on passage to Mevagissey, a small Cornish fishing harbour, 20M up the coast.

Richard, Mark and Darren taking turns on the helm.

Richard, Mark and Darren taking turns on the helm.

 As we piloted our way out of Falmouth to round St Anthony Head I put Richard, Mark and Darren on the helm to let them get the feel of Christine Marie under engine power.

We passed to the east of Black Rock, right in the middle of Falmouth Harbour, marked by its east cardinal marker (ECM) before rounding St Anthony Head and setting course for Mevagissey.

We had a gentle F3 from the south, as we raised the main and set sails. Richard, Mark and Darren each took turns to sail Christine Marie on a ‘Broad Reach’, although I did set a ”preventer” as a precaution in case of accidental gybe! 🙂    (For non-sailors this stops the boom suddenly crashing across the yacht).

Approaching Mevagissey Harbour.

Approaching Mevagissey Harbour.

 We made good time to our destination, sailing at 5Kn we arrived off Mevagissey harbour at 1800 on the last of the fair tide. The harbour was full and the HM suggested we picked up one of the two swinging moorings outside the harbour, close to the east wall.

We picked up the mooring line from the buoy that was covered in fishing hooks, feathers and line; I guess from years of fishing off the harbour wall 50m away. The HM later told us the buoys had only been there for a year! 

Moored outside Mevagissey

Moored outside Mevagissey

 

Whilst preparing our evening meal on-board I dropped my line with feathers over the stern and tried to catch a later meal. I was in good company, the harbour wall was full of people fishing. But nothing was caught except more fishing feathers and hooks 🙂 …. the seabed must be full of broken lines and gear. 

 

Mevagissey Harbour at low tide.

Mevagissey Harbour at low tide.

 

In the morning we inflated the tender and visited Mevagissey. Richard and Darren sampled the local Cornish Pasty for lunch, whilst Mark and I enjoyed a locally caught crab sandwich.

Mevagissey is a typical Cornish fishing village, full of character and very popular with tourists. I last visited here with my eldest son Keith and my daughter Anne over 25 years ago, it brought back some good memories. 

In the afternoon we set sail up the coast to Fowey, a short, but enjoyable sail of just 7M. Richard, Mark and Darren were now working together well and I could relax now as they competently helped with sailing Christine Marie. I was proud of Mark and Darren.

Fowey was packed full of yachts and as we entered the harbour a cruise ship was preparing to leave. The HM asked us to moor on a large visitor’s buoy just inside the harbour until the ship had departed.

Cruise ship leaving Fowey.

Cruise ship leaving Fowey.

 

We sat in the sun with a drink and watched the cruise liner depart with her passengers waving to us from her decks. Later in the evening we made our way to Albert Quay to take on water and for a brief visit to the town. Like Falmouth, there was a carnival atmosphere with music and folk dancing on a barge moored just off the quay.
Rafted during Fowey Regatta.

Rafted during Fowey Regatta.

 

 

 

The HM visited us there and suggested we find a mooring amongst the many visiting yachts, all flying colourful regatta flags and banners. We made our way across the river to the visitors moorings just off Pont Pill and rafted alongside a racing yacht whose crew were ashore for the night. Lines were made good to the fore and aft buoys and we retired for the night.

 

Wed 19 August: The forecast for the next couple of days did not look good, with a depression coming in from the SW later in the day bringing strong F7 winds and rough seas to the area. We just had a window to reach Plymouth, our next port of call, before the worst of the weather came in.

Yachts rafting at Fowey.

Yachts rafting at Pont Pill Fowey.

 

In the morning we took the tender across to Fowey Gallants Sailing Club where we enjoyed a free coffee, whilst waiting to use the showers and facilities there. Back on the yacht we had been joined by others rafting alongside, as we prepared for sea and our passage of 24M to Plymouth. 

 

 

We slipped our lines and headed out of the harbour, setting reefed sails before we left. Once clear of the harbour we set course to 1M off Rames Head and our approach into Plymouth. With a good F4 from the south, we made excellent progress maintaining 5 to 6Kn. At sea it was a bright pleasant day, although low clouds hung along some of the coastline and bad weather was closing in to our stern.

Passing Polperro and Looe Island in the mist.

Passing Polperro and Looe Island in the mist.

 

We passed Polperro, its village nestling in the valley between cliffs and further along the coast Looe Island and E Looe were clearly visible from sea. I would have liked to have visited Polperro, a difficult harbour to enter and not in southerly winds …. but time, wind direction and forecast weather did not permit on this occasion.

 

Rounding Rame Head

Rounding Rame Head

 

By 1600 we were approaching Rame Head and our change of course to enter Plymouth Harbour. With the wind on our quarter I decided to hand the main sail and continue on headsail alone to navigate the harbour to Plymouth Haven Marina.

 

 

Leaving the red Draystone buoy to port, I made contact with Longroom Port Control on VHF ch 14 to advise our intentions and to check on any large ship movement. They advised a warship was making ready to leave the harbour, but that we were clear for the time-being.

Plymouth breakwater, approaching W light.

Plymouth breakwater, approaching W light.

 

We passed close to the lighthouse on the west breakwater that stretches for a mile across the harbour entrance with its large fort at its centre, making our way up towards Drake’s Island. It was a leisurely sail at 3Kn as we took in the sights of Plymouth on our approach to the marina.

  

 

Sailing into Plymouth

Sailing into Plymouth

 

We sailed into Plymouth, passing to the east of Drake’s Island where we passed a HM Customs ship leaving harbour.  We thought at first that it was the large survey vessel, HMS Scott, that we had been told was leaving.  We later saw HMS Scott leaving the harbour and later out at sea whilst sailing to Salcombe. 

 

 

We rounded close to Mount Batten Pier on approach to the marina. By 1800 we were moored up on the pontoon.   In the evening we had a drink at the Yacht Haven Bridge bar, then walked into the village of Turnchapel for a very nice and reasonable priced meal at the Boringdon Arms pub there.

Memorials at Plymouth.
Memorials at Plymouth.

 

As I write this entry, early Thursday morning, winds of F7 gusting 8 are blowing within the harbour. We might be held up here for  a further day, so we plan to visit the Barbican, using the yellow water taxi from the Mount batten landing stage.

 

 

Plymouth.

Plymouth.

 

 

Thursday afternoon we took the water taxi across to the Barbican and walked around the harbour and into the city shopping centre to buy some supplies. In the evening we had a nice meal at the Village Restaurant, specializing in Greek food, before catching a late ferry back to Mount Batten and the short walk to the marina. 

 

Fri 21 Aug: We planned passage to Salcombe, 25M up the coast, a 5 hour sail. Salcombe has a bar of 0.7m, so we planned our arrival at local HW -2 to arrive at the last of the flood tide. We left Plymouth at 1230 by the west channel as onshore winds were forecast from the S/SW F4/5, occasionally F6. Once clear of the harbour breakwater we set course to pass 1M to seaward of the Great Mew Stone to our WP at the entrance to Salcombe.

With strong winds forecast on our quarter, with a swell pushing Christine Marie towards a gybe, I had reefed the sails and set a ‘preventer’ on the main. As we passed the Great Mew Stone winds were light and we were only making 3kn. We shook out the reef and increased headsail, now making good progress at 5Kn in a gentle F3.

Half way to our destination the wind started to increase rapidly and we needed to slow the yacht and reef the main. Christine Marie was rounding to windward and getting hard to control. I took the helm. In squally winds Richard, Mark and Darren responded well to reduce headsail and put the reef back in the main. I thought how well they had all progressed throughout the week.

Approaching Salcombe.

Approaching Salcombe.

 

By 1730 we were off Salcombe and picked up the transit markers into the harbour, changing course to starboard to follow the channel up to the harbour and moorings. The HM came alongside in his launch as we approached and suggested we rafted on the visitors pontoon in ‘The Bag’.

 

 

Rafted at 'The Bag' Salcombe.

Rafted at 'The Bag' Salcombe.

 

The pontoons were full of motor and sailing yachts, rafted 3 deep. On the shore side of the pontoon there was one yacht on its own between many others rafted 2 to 3 abreast. A tight maneuver, but we came alongside and Mark and Richard took the lines to secure aboard the other yacht.

By 1830 we were secured and having a drink in the sun.

We plan to leave early Saturday morning for Dartmouth on the first of the ebb tide, plenty of tide to clear the bar and giving us a fair tide round Start Point to Dartmouth, a 3 hour passage. 

Leaving Salcombe.
Leaving Salcombe.

 

Sat 22 Aug:

 

After a quick breakfast we slipped our lines from the yacht we rafted alongside and headed out of Salcombe Harbour.

Winds were very light and the sea slight. I decided to round Start Point close-in as there was little swell or turbulence.

 

Rounding Start Point.

Rounding Start Point.

 As we rounded the headland and changed course to Dartmouth the wind was on our quarter.  We passed across the south of the Skerries Bank and the seas became confused and choppy, certainly to be avoided in any stronger winds!

Once into deeper water the seas settled and we were making slow progress under full sails in a F2 wind from the south. I booked ahead with the Darthaven Marina at Kingswear to ensure a berth for the next two nights.

Caught it!   :-)

Caught it! 🙂

 

I decided to try my hand at fishing again and trawled with a weight to take the spinner and feathers down closer to the bottom. I reeled in a couple of times with nothing!! Then I hit lucky, I caught a mackerel!! I had sailed round the UK without success and it was in Start Bay that I caught my first fish!

Before we arrived at Dartmouth I had gutted and cleaned the fish, it will be my evening meal when the boys and Richard have left! 🙂

Sailing into Dartmouth.

Sailing into Dartmouth on headsail.

 

We sailed on headsail into Dartmouth, timing our entry for the first of the flood tide as we had been given an ‘up-stream, berth. We were moored at the marina by 1445.

 

 

 

Entering Dartmouth.

Entering Dartmouth.

 

My thanks to Mark, Darren and Richard for joining me on this leg of my cruise. They left the yacht early evening, catching the ferry across to Dartmouth to return home by bus and train. 

Marion, a friend who has sailed with me before joins me tomorrow (Sunday). We plan to cruise the Devon coast, possibly visiting the River Yealme, before making progress to Brixham and Torquay.

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