Speedwell of Rhu Ship's Log

7 th to 8 th of August 2018 - Homeward bound.

Crew : Andy and Helen
Destinations : English Channel and Cawsand Bay, Plymouth Harbour.
Distance : 126 miles

We had a number of options for our Channel crossing depending on the wind. The wind was forecast to start from the north, gradually backing in the evening to north west and then west over night. We had been hoping to sail to the Isles of Scilly but this wasn't going to be possible with this forecast, so instead we thought we would aim for Plymouth and optimistically Fowey or Falmouth if the winds were more westerly. We didn't fancy sailing close hauled all the way across so opted for as comfortable sail as possible.

We ate a leisurely breakfast and were ready to leave our mooring by 1000. This was the time the tide was due to turn in our favour northward around Ile de Ouessant and the north west corner of Brittany. The tide was strong giving us 7-8 knots over the ground as we made our way under motor initially. Despite really calm flat seas and little wind there were some overfalls so we could imagine what it might be like if there has been much sea running. After a couple of hours we were able to sail, although in a more easterly direction than we wanted. However, the tide was pushing us east and we also knew the wind was going to slowly back north west and then west during the evening. We took it in turns to have a couple of hours rest during the day. We sailed close hauled with speeds gradually increasing from 3 knots up to 5 and then 6 knots. The sea remained slightly choppy but fairly comfortable with no real Atlantic swell. Once the tide turned toward the west at around 1600 we were able to make a more northerly course toward Plymouth rather than the Isle of Wight. 

I took the first watch from 1800 to 2200 and it was an easy sail. By the time Andy came up the wind had backed further and was increasing. During his watch the winds increased with a bit of a squall and we had started to sail at around 7-8 knots so he dropped the mizzen and took in a reef in the Genoa. By the time I came up on deck at 0200 things were pretty calm and we were making a steady 6 knots. It was a pretty cloudy night, but there were some breaks in the cloud so we were able to enjoy a view of the Milky Way and the sliver of moon when it rose about 0300. In the distance ahead we could just make out the loom of the lighthouses of The Lizard and Start Point.

There had been a lot of shipping initially coming out of and heading in to the TSS around Ushant. However this decreased as we got further north. We just saw a few fishing boats and three sailing yachts. During my watch, at around 0300, I made a course change to avoid a sailing yacht which turned out to be a mast on land at Rame Head. This came and went as the cloud moved. The skies gradually became darker and just before our watch change there was a sudden squall and the wind picked up to around 30 knots for a time. Andy quickly came on deck to the sound of my screeches and put another reef in the genoa. There was a short burst of rain and the wind died briefly, before it all settled down again. I went off watch for a couple of hours and when I came back on deck the sun had risen and Eddystone lighthouse was insight. Andy had a couple of hours off watch and came back on deck as we headed past Rames Head into Cawsand Bay where we dropped anchor at around 0930 and went to bed.


We woke at 1430 and tidied up the boat. We then had to get ashore to find a pint of British beer. Fortunately the nearest beach to us had a pub at the top of the steps so we didn't have far to walk.

After supper, as we settled down to a bit of drama on the computer, we were treated to several fireworks displays taking place on Plymouth Hoe. The British firework championships displays were happening and we had the best view possible without getting a neck ache or chilly. This was amazing timing. Last time we were here we left Plymouth a few days before the fireworks and got stormbound in Brixham.

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