Kinsale Dartmouth Poole

Thursday 21st June

Crew and Skipper (L to R Gerry, Phil & Marcus)

Right to Left: Skipper Marcus, Phil & Me

Return leg to Poole crewing for my good friend Marcus Tettmar onboard his Hanse 371 “Csardas”

On Thursday morning the wind had vanished. A slight puff from the North. So after a lazy morning, filling the tank with diesel and buying a few extra items for the ships stores, we headed out of the harbour just before noon.

This would be Phil’s first passage, his longest trip to date Poole to Lymington and back with Marcus – about 20nm in either direction. He took a few anti-seasickness pills just in case. Probably a good job as there was a bit of a swell left over from the recent strong winds. And with only light winds to begin with the waves would often knock the wind out of the sails. So there was a fair bit of rolling around and crashing and banging of sails to begin with but slowly the wind picked up with Phil taking the helm and staying on it to the point where the back of his hands were sunburnt, whilst his fingers were white!

Phil 1

Phil 2

Phil 3

We were all looking forward to Phil experiencing his first night sail and basic tuition on lights was given fully expecting us to see one or two ships and fishing boats. In the event it must have been the most uneventful night ever. It was also incredibly dark. The cloud cover obscured the stars and moon and we didn’t see one other vessel all night!

Friday 22nd June

The wind had picked up on Friday morning and we began to make up for our slow progress. We even managed to fly the spinnaker for a while but took it down when the clouds we had been watching towering up into the sky behind us began to get closer. We weren’t quite sure what it meant but it looked ominous. As it happened the wind picked up only a little and we avoided any rain. We ended up with the genoa poled out instead.

We caught sight of the Isles of Scilly by about lunch time and decided to make use of this wind and get further East. We skirted the northern, rocky shores of the islands …..

Isles of Scilly

Isles of Scilly 2

…and then headed across the shipping lanes towards Wolf Rock and on towards the Lizard. Crossing the traffic separation scheme gave us plenty to do as we dodged the ships.

Later on, somewhere near The Lizard we noticed a dolphin break a wave on our starboard side. Then more. Phil was down below making tea or something so Marcus shouted for him to drop what he was doing and get on deck. You never tire of seeing dolphins around the boat, and apparently it’s not a daily occurence in the channel as it is further south, so this was special. For about half an hour we had a large pod of dolphins playing on our bow wave and swimming around the boat. What a treat.

The following night was much more pleasant. The stars were visible. We saw several shooting stars and even a couple of satellites and the phosphorescence sparkled in our wake. In the morning, with the wind dead aft we poled out the genoa to stop it flapping around and picked up our pace.

Saturday 23rd June

Marcus had decided to head to Dartmouth as neither Phil nor I had been to Dartmouth before and it is his favourite port on the South coast. So he wanted us to see it and experience the grand river entrance.

Entrance to Dartmouth

We arrived just before Noon. We could see rain lashing down on the land. It was dry out at sea. It was strange to have to put our wet weather gear on because we were heading into a harbour rather than out of it! We got soaking wet as we motored into the river, but we were all impressed at the car ferry. Look carefully and you will see it is only a raft being controlled by a small tug !!

Car Ferry Dartmouth

Then, just to give us a bit of a tour Marcus motored up to Ditisham and back before mooring at the marina in Kingswear.

With dripping overalls hanging up in the boat we tried to time our trips to the shower block with breaks in the weather and then went over to Dartmouth on the ferry for a late lunch. Back on the boat the weather began to improve and we were soon sitting outside sipping a beer.

A wooden 50 foot Sparkman and Stephens designed yacht of around 20-30 years old was tied up outside the pontoon and it turned out was being handed over to it’s new owners, a young Belgian couple. They were left by the old owner with just their dog as crew and asked us if we would help them take it to their fore-and-aft mooring in the river.

However, what wind there was was, plus an ebbing tide, was pushing them on to the pontoon and boats of this design and age are notoriously uncooperative under power. A power boat was moored, unattended in front and a boats length behind were moored boats and the boat hoist dock. At first we just assumed the usual role as crew and stood around waiting to be told what to do. But it soon became apparent just how inexperienced this pair was.

The young lady on the helm appeared to want to go full power ahead and hope for the best. Marcus and I both knew that the power boat in front would become a heap of fibres if we tried that tactic. We saw three options – one was to spring off, another was to use a long line across to the next trot of boats and pull the bow off, and the other was to move the powerboat.

We suggested springing off to begin with as that involved less rope and messing about. This presented two options – springing forward and moving out astern, or springing back and moving out forwards. The first would get us further off the pontoon but then we would be putting our faith in the ability of the boat to steer backwards under power, and we all knew that a boat like this would probably make it’s own mind up as to which way it would go when motoring astern, so we decided not to risk that method.

Springing aft would be safest, but wouldn’t get us as far off the pontoon due to the shape of the boat. Sure enough the ebb tide, the wind, the long keel, the shape of the aft section of the boat and no doubt the offset engine all contrived against us. We just couldn’t get the bow to come round far enough. Oh, and the fact that the owners had clearly never sprung off before and the young girl just wouldn’t leave the engine in gear. She finally insisted that we tied the stern line tight and she put the engine in full ahead. We had no idea how that would do anything other than keep the boat on the pontoon, or pull a cleat out of it, but she seemed to think it would pull the bow out. Marcus was beginning to lose patience, albeit he is to much of a gent to show it !!

As he put it – we were here to help not give instruction to unwilling students. Finally the most sensible decision was made – to leave it until tomorrow, get the marina to stand by with a rib and try again with the tide and/or wind hopefully pushing the other way.

Sunday 24th June

On Sunday morning after a trip to the chandlery for some necessary and some unnecessary items, including a bit of “practise rope” that we bought as a bit of fun for Phil, we were again accosted to help move this enormous yacht.

This time the wind was blowing lightly off the pontoon and the marina guy had quite happily obliged with a dory. At the end of the day faced with the option of attending with a launch or the potential for several squashed yachts it is an easy decision for the marina to make.

Of course with the wind now helping the boat left the pontoon easily and safely. We then motored up to the trot of moorings to which the boat should be tied. It then transpired that the new owners didn’t actually know which mooring it was and got on the blower to the old owner.

Finally they discovered that we were to tie alongside a ketch and that lazy lines had been left for us to pick up. Unfortunately the new owners appeared to be in a bit of a hurry and rather than motor around and reconnoiter the situation they made a decision to go port alongside.

The marina guy moored his dory the other side and helped with lines and we were eventually tied up to this ketch after a bit of tug of war against an overzealous helms person. We then discovered that the lazy lines to the buoys were on the other side of the ketch. So we had to cast off and start again, this time the other way round.

Again a simple case of helping out turned into a bit of a chore and we all got covered in seaweed and wet from the lines. Eventually the marina guy, eyes rolling, ferried Marcus and I back to the marina. We were left wondering if this couple had bought the right boat for sailing two handed. These boats were built with no engine in mind, when marinas were scarce and designed to be sailed by 12 crew. But I’m sure they’ll learn about the boat’s idiosyncrasies in time.

Our plan was to leave the Dart that Sunday evening and catch the tide round Portland Bill at 1am.

Csardas at Dartmouth

We motored out of the river in a light drizzle at 1830 into a flat calm with ominous clouds once again looming.

Ominous clouds out of Dartmouth

The engine stayed on for about 4 hours until the wind started to fill in. The forecast was for NWly gales later. Later means 12 hours. We should be in Poole by then, but hopefully we’d get the beginnings of the gale and get a fair breeze behind us. We certainly did and were soon charging along at 6-7 knots. Phil seemed to be enjoying helming and ended up helming almost all the way, right through the night, and did a great job, keeping us bang on course and at a good pace. The low cloud cover at night meant we could see Portland Bill lighthouse earlier than expected, and we could even see the light from the RACON buoy marking the TSS mid channel. It was a great night sail and as the sun came up we could see Anvil point ahead.

Monday 25th June

We pretty much sailed the rest of the way by eye, back in familiar waters, hanging a left at Anvil point and rounding Old Harry to head North up to Poole Harbour against the wind, with Marcus enjoying a fast beat into the harbour.

A superb sail back, and what a first passage for Phil, logging 340 nautical miles. We pointed out that many yachts in the marina probably do less than that in a season.

Shame about the weather as Marcus Ange & Ben didn’t get to see much of Ireland due to the poor weather.

But the passages there and back were for me, great fun, in great company. Cheers Marcus.

Scilly Isles to Kinsale Ireland

We departed Scilly yesterday morning at 10:00 but not before going alongside the Island Packet and asking what sounded like a bizarre question to ask anyone – however I heard myself ask -“do you happen to have a Bob Johnston on board” – amazingly – “yes” came the reply and up popped Bob from below – nice to see him again. Bob runs Maritime Connection (see link on home page) out of Troon in Scotland, and after a brief chat we motored around to the north side of the islands into a gentle Atlantic swell and a light North Easterly. Once clear of the islands on our course to Ireland we hoisted sail and settled onto a close reach, gliding along at 3-4 knots in only 7 knots of breeze, the water rippling hypnotically past the hull of the boat.

We were in no rush. Ange (& Ben) don’t fly out until Friday, so we saw no reason to burn diesel and quicken the pace on this 135 mile leg. As it was the wind picked up a little and we were soon seeing speeds of 6-7 knots on the log.

It was a clear day and the sailing was easy. The sun didn’t set until almost 10pm and the stars shone brightly until the moon lit up the sky. Over night we passed the Kinsale oil fields. Night was short lived and the sky began to turn blue at 3am – but Marcus eventually saw his first satellite.

Soon we were in sight of the Head of old Kinsale, By 7.30 we were in the harbour gliding past the magnificant Charles Fort, no way would anyone in the past want to enter the harbour as a foe with that fort so strategically placed and cannon lined up across the bay.

Charles Fort 4

Great to be here, especially after such great sailing. I’m heading back on an earlier flight to catch up on business whilst Marcus is very much looking forward to seeing Ange and Ben on Friday and exploring this part of Ireland.

Fowey to St Mary’s Scilly Isles

After quick trip to Chandlery for some essential items we slipped lines and headed out of Falmouth. Wind blowing f3-4 from forecast NW. Sailing down to the lizard with the wind abeam we managed to air the spinnaker for a short while. I was a bit nervous when Marcus suggested the spinnaker but was relieved when it went up without any hitch.

Coming up astern of us was this beaut of a boat, to get some idea of scale look at the person at the foot of the main mast! Certainly a world girdling boat.

Beaut off the Lizard 2

The forecast suggested the wind would go round to the north and continue on to the East sometime over the next 24 hours giving us ideal conditions for our passage north to Ireland.

As we slipped past the Lizard and turned west the wind blew stronger from the NW. We swapped the spinnaker for the genoa and gathered speed as the wind strengthened. Before long we were romping along at 7 to 8 knots, 9 over the ground.

What an amazing sail. Big grins on both our faces. We made Scilly in 9 hours averaging over 7 knots. A good blast. A great day.

Csardas' Wake

Now on swinging mooring in St Mary’s Pool ( after I cocked up three times trying to get the line on the mooring) which has moorings with no pick up buoys all rather close to each other and there was a fair breeze – well that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!

Marcus and I changed roles and he picked up the mooring first time – don’t you just hate smart b*****ds ? Once secured we noticed that one of the boats on a mooring in front was the same Island Packet we saw when it was exiting Falmouth…..couldn’t see them clearly enough to check out if Bob was actually on board. Wind appears to be gradually turning east. So could be set to leave for Cork tomorrow some time. Time now for another hot bowl of Chilli and a good night sleep.

Poole Fowey Falmouth

Poole to Fowey to Falmouth

Picked up by Marcus from Southampton airport at 8.30 on Friday morning and we went back to Shaftesbury to do food shopping, and when we were ready Ange took us and luggage etc down to boat so we wouldn’t have to leave a car at the marina.

I am helping Marcus sail his boat to Cork where Ange and Ben will fly into on Friday. The plan is for Ange, Ben and Marcus to spend a couple of weeks in Ireland, before I return at the end of June to help Marcus sail back to Poole while Ange and Ben fly home.

After stowing provisions we motored round to fuel pontoon and milled around waiting for our turn. Finally fuelled up just minutes before 4.30 bridge, so missed that opening, and ended up waiting near the bridge on a swinging mooring ready the 6.30 opening.

We wanted to get away as soon as we could to make use of the forecast southerly winds rather than have to drive into the prevailing westerlies. The tide is going our way past Portland Bill at midnight so we didn’t want to leave too early. The 6.30 bridge was therefore ideal.

Sails up in harbour and sailed out of Poole but then, as expected, had to turn engine on and motor against a light SW breeze. It was quite neat for me to sail past “Old Harry” as I had heard of this before and it’s quite impressive and at the same thought provoking.

Old Harry

We bashed against a strong spring tide until almost Portland Bill where it turned to whisk us past. Came upon a number of yachts tacking up and down against tide and wind, they must have been a race. Early in the morning the wind picked up from the South and we were able to start sailing and join the racing yachts.

Marcus being the skipper was extremely alert as we bowled along in the midst of these racing yachts !!

Skipper at rest

We were both quite tired. I had been up at 4am on Friday to catch my flight, and I don’t think we had quite recovered from our Ipswich to Edinburgh trip on Sun Dog (my Rogger 35) the weekend before. Despite taking it in turns to sleep we both would need a full sleep so decided to stop somewhere for the night. Fowey would be ideal as we’d arrive there by evening.

We duly entered Fowey harbour just after 5pm and rafted next to some charter yachts. Soon discovered these were chartered by a stag party all dressed as pirates. Not so sure we’d get the full nights sleep we were after and badly needed.

Pirates in Fowey

The pirates all got the water taxi into town and after a bowl of chilli we put our heads down. Amazingly we slept right through without disturbance. Considering the amount of empty beer bottles we saw that went into the recycle bin on the pontoon I’m amazed we weren’t disturbed as there must have been a bit of a party on the pontoon when the got back from the town!. Two of the charter yachts went over to the town quay apparently to go and press gang pirates that had not returned the previous evening!

After a lovely breakfast of bacon and eggs and feeling fully refreshed, we slipped lines and headed out to sea. Decided to just do the short 20 miles to Falmouth as we wanted to refuel before heading round corner to Ireland. The forecast was for N winds the following day which is not much good for heading up to Cork, but should go round to East on Tuesday. Therefore figured we should take it easy and pop to Falmouth, (then Scilly on Monday) do a chandlery stock up and then wait for the Easterlies before heading up to Ireland.

Had a great sail from Fowey to Falmouth and saw this square rigger coming out of the mist ala the “Black Pearl” 🙂

Square Rigger 4

Light southerly saw us close hauled and slipping through a calm sea along coast. It was very misty so couldn’t see land despite being less than a mile from it at times. Going into Falmouth there was a blue hulled Island Packet leaving, and I thought I saw Bob Johnston of Troon on board, it was too far away to be certain, but I recalled that he was going on a trip on such a boat. I was so convinced it was Bob that I tried his mobile – but no answer – c’est la vie

While berthing at fuel pontoon engine decided to cut out when going astern. Luckily not much wind and it started again quickly so no drama. This had happened a few weeks ago to Marcus when leaving lymington but at the time he had put it down to the engine being cold. Didn’t have that excuse this time. Exhaust also seemed quite smoky when opening up ahead or astern. I thought it might be a dirty air filter. After refuelling and finding a berth we took air filter out and gave it a bath in petrol. Very dirty. Wrapped knuckles to Marcus for not checking it before. Suspect the problem solved. Poor engine was being strangled.

It’s now Monday morning. We’ll leave Falmouth for St Mary’s after a trip to the Chandlery for a few essential items such as an Irish courtesy ensign that we forgot all about before our trip!