Ocean Mist Ship's Log

21 st of July to 6 th of August 2006 - West Country Cruise

Crew : Moira, Sue Malcolm and Andy
Destinations : Shotley, Cowes, Dartmouth, Fowey, Falmouth, Ruan Creek, Plymouth, Salcombe, Eastbourne, Ramsgate and River Deben.
Distance : 657 miles

21 st June Shotley

Over to the boat in the afternoon for a few final checks. Moira, Sue and Malcolm joined in the evening. The tide times point to a mid morning departure for favourable tides across the Thames Estuary so we had our evening meal (“is curry OK for everyone?”, well sort off, but we didn't cook it again) and settled in to the boat.

22 nd /23 rd July Shotley to East Cowes

94 nautical miles

A late morning start to catch the start of the flood to North Foreland. We sailed most of the the Thames Estuary, even getting the cruising chute up briefly in Black Deep, with some motor sailing to keep on schedule to catch the west bound tide in the Dover Strait. After negotiating the ferries off Dover in the evening we motor sailed through most of the night along the south coast.

Into the approach to the eastern Solent in the late morning the wind filled in and we managed an exciting cruising chute run at 7+ knots before the wind headed us and we motor sailed up The Solent and into East Cowes.

24 th /25 th July East Cowes to Dartmouth

62 nautical miles

The tides gave us another late morning start. As we left the river Medina B&Q/Castorama was out in the Solent (Ocean Mist couldn't catch her...).

A strong tide carried us down western Solent in good time and popped us out through the Needles channel into lighter winds in Poole Bay. Having made such good time early on we could afford to sail at 2 or 3 knots, in fact we didn't want to go much faster or we'd be arriving in Dartmouth in the dark.

A gentle sail though the night with lots of stars overhead then a morning arrival in Dartmouth where we found the last free berth at the extraordinarily expensive Darthaven Marina (with showers that didn't really live up to the price).

26 th July Dartmouth to Fowey

53 nautical miles

After two consecutive overnight passages we're day sailing. Set off in light winds, sailing close hauled in a force 2 to 3 at 3 to 5 knots. We sighted a pair of porpoises , guillemots , gannets then a couple of small basking sharks , one of which swam down the side of the boat giving me the best view I've ever had of this animal.

A few naval ships were on exercises off Plymouth as we sailed by.

Comparing the pilot book and almanac there was some disagreement about when the Fowey harbour master finished for the day so we put the engine on to get in while it was still light and were allocated a mooring rafted on a 40 odd foot Feeling.

27 th July Fowey to Falmouth

20 nautical miles

After paying our mooring dues to the harbour master (in the harbour launch “Zebede”, they also have “Dougal” the dory and “Dillon” the rubbish collection boat), we picked up diesel at Polruan, working back out to the main channel with 0.1m showing on the depth sounder.

A gentle beat most of the way along the coast, giving us time for some fishing (just one small mackerel ). Found a berth rafted up in Port Pendennis marina where we had ¼ of a pan fired mackerel each before heading off into town to eat.

We were planning to make for the Isles of Scilly tomorrow, but the evening forecast is for strong winds over the next 3 days so we may have to re-think.

28 th July Falmouth to Ruan Creek

7 nautical miles

The morning forecast is talking about force 7 winds and the pilot book advises picking “a period of settled weather” for a trip to The Isles of Scilly so we decided to head up the River Fal. Checking our Imray West Country chart pack it turned out that it didn't include a chart for the Fal. The outline of the chart is shown on the overview sheet so on first sight it looks like it's included, but it's in a different colour, is a Y series chart and isn't listed in the index, one to watch out for in future. Fortunately Falmouth sports an Admiralty chart agent so I was able to pick up a chart.

We started with a brief circuit of the basin to let the boat inside us leave before dropping back onto our berth to finish off provisioning and planning. Then a short trip under headsail into St. Mawes bay where we sailed onto the anchor for a lunch stop (including very tasty genuine Cornish pasties).

Sailed off the anchor then ran up the Carrick Road and into the steep sided wooded valley of the River Fal. At this point the wind got fluky so we motor sailed up the river. A barn owl was patrolling one bank.

Decided to anchor in the mouth of Ruan Creek. After a couple of attempts that left us swinging into shallow water we found a good spot, put the anchor ball up, pumped up the tender and took a trip down river to Smugglers Cottage for a drink before a peaceful night at anchor.

29 th July Ran Creek to Fowey

25 nautical miles

The anchor was a struggle to break out this morning. After motoring astern and ahead we were clearly moving out into the river but it was very heavy work on the windlass. The reason for this became clear as the anchor came up with a good 4 or 5 foot long rusty iron bar across it, my guess is that it was the cross piece of an old anchor. We got a warp around the bar then dropped the anchor (and all 70 meters chain and warp, must remember to put the clutch back on next time), retrieved the anchor and dropped the iron bar out in deep water away from the anchorage before finally getting under way.

Out at sea the wind had picked up. Our original plan had been to make for Mevagissey but the almanac advised against making this entry in more than a force 3 so we pressed on to Fowey, weaving through a keel boat race in the entrance then a temporary stop on the town pontoon to pick up water before settling down on one of the visitor's pontoons in the river.

30 th July Fowey to Plymouth

21 nautical miles

A gentle start with the wind gradually building through the day. Got the chute up and had a good reach most of the way along the coast, leaving all the boats on white sails in our wake.

Rounding Rame Head brought us onto a run and we goosewinged with the chute and main for a while before deciding the drop the chute, which proved a struggle as the snuffer had got twisted and needed some effort to pull down.

In the harbour we made our way through a classic boat race and in to Queen Anne's Battery then off into town to meet Sue's parents for dinner.

31 th July Plymouth to Salcombe

17 nautical miles

A blustery squally day with the wind going from force 2 to force 6 in a matter of minutes, not a good day for the chute so we reached along making good time on the white sails. The Salcombe bar didn't live up to it's fearsome reputation (though I wouldn't like to cross it in an onshore gale) and the harbour mistress met us and showed us to a mooring. For a bit of a change we reversed on to the buoy then turned the boat around with a long warp (clearly setting a trend because a few hours later we saw another boat doing the same thing.

The evening forecast was for strong winds tomorrow, easing the next day and going north west, so we decided to spend the next day in Salcombe.

2 nd /3 rd August Salcomb to Eastbourne

157 nautical miles

The forecast is now saying force 5 or 6 overnight easing in the morning so our plan is to make for Ramsgate with Brighton and Eastbourne as possible diversions.

A brisk reach in a northerly wind which gradually built over night to a solid force 6. The sun set over Portland Bill behind us as we headed east.

We gradually reefed the boat down from full sail, eventually getting to third reef in main and genoa making 6 or 7 knots in the early morning. By Beachy Head the wind was showing no sign of easing so we decided to make for Eastbourne. Moira had filled in Ramsgate in the “to” heading of the log as we departed so suffered some ribbing about tempting fate and causing the diversion!

During the previous evening the bow bicolour light's fixing had sheared, in port I made up a temporary mounting from string and duck tape. Checking the bilges revealed green slime (again), further investigation unearthed a loose clipon the heat exchanger, probably not done up properly after the boot was taken off to fish out a bit of broken impeller.

4 th August Eastbourne to Ramsgate

64 nautical miles

The northerly wind had eased but become noticeably chillier. A decent reach past Dungeness and on to South Foreland. Up the east coast of Kent the wind was dead on the nose so we motored up the Ramsgate.

The harbour was very busy, we ended up rafted 3 deep on a couple of Dutch boats on the eastern breakwater with a long walk off the pontoon then all the way around the inner harbour to get to the harbour master's office.

5 th August Ramsgate to River Deben

46 nautical miles

An early morning start to catch the tide then a windy beat tacking up the coast to Fisherman's Gat. At the gat the wind freed us a little but then eased off leaving us with a motor sail up Black Deep.

Passing Roughs Tower the smoke damage from the recent fire could be seen through the binoculars.

A little early for enough water over the Deben Bar we drifted in with a fitful wind before scraping over the bar (it seems to have less water than last year). At Ramsholt we asked the harbour master whether there was a free mooring but he gave us a lecture about his onlymooring for a big boat being taken and how we'd drag if he put us on a small boat's mooring (I don't think he approves of “big boats”) so we carried on to anchor at The Rocks. In fact this was a good choice, it's a lovely spot and is put us a moderate dinghy ride away from dinner at The Maybush in Waldringfield.

6 th August The Rocks to Shotley

6 nautical miles

An early start with bacon butties on the way down the river to make it to the bar on the last of the flood. A little more water on the way out but practically no wind. We tried sailing for a little while but then decided to call it a day and make for Shotley. Along side around midday then a quick tidy up and boat clean before heading home for a nice long shower.

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