Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Sailing at last!

With a forecast for the rain to ease off ovenight, and the wind to moderate, plans were laid to depart towards Dartmouth at around 05h30 in the morning…. Another boat tied alongside us, but also leaving towards Poole, so they agreed to leave at 05h30 too… it was nearly all thwarted when I stayed up a tiny bit later than planned to catch the late weather forecast from Jersey Coastguard, and just prevented a boat tying up outside both of us at about 23h00, and then clearing off ashore until the following day!!!!

So, when I stuck my head out of the hatch at 05h00, it was pleasing to see a dry morning, and virtually no wind at all…

We motored out of St Peter Port into a gentle North Westerly of about 8kts, and with the largest spring tide of the year under us, we shot out of the Little Russell channel at a very high speed. Nav was a lot easier than on the way in, having by now got used to all the rocks… they are very intimidating to an East Coaster… but then I suppose sand banks 6” under the keel are just the same to a West Country boat!

As soon as we cleared Platte Fougere, I set course for Dartmouth, some 60nm distant… this unfortunately set us directly into the wind, so we motored with just the main up… it was classic western channel weather, with little in the way of chop, but huge ocean rollers sweeping under the boat… I love it, but it was an entirely new experience for SWMBO and the kids… they soon got used to it though, and started to enjoy the boat constantly rising and then disappearing into the troughs.

After a further 20nm, the wind started to pick up a bit, and to my delight, swung into the west… up went the genoa, off went the engine, and hoorah… we were sailing at last… albeit at a bit of an angle…

For the next 30nm, the wind steadily built, and with the effect of apparent wind, I steadily placed reefs into the sails… by the time Start point came into sight, we were going into 27kts of apparent wind… it had eased yet further round, and I was able to just crack the sails off an inch or two… we were romping along… hitting 8 to 9kts through the water… I was in my element… SWMBO was less impressed!

As we closed in on Dartmouth the wind backed yet further until it was across the beam, and then as if someone had thrown a switch, it dropped down to 8kts, and backed right round to behind us…. Not enough to sail with any reasonable VMG, so the genoa came in, the engine went back on, and we motored the final 4nm into Dartmouth.

This was everyone’s first time into Dartmouth bar me, so I was eagerly awaiting their reaction to entering what must be one of the world’s prettiest estuaries… and they didn’t disappoint!

We decided to tie up in Dart Haven marina… the wrong side of the river, but directly opposite town, and half the price of the other marina!... it was therefore a bit of a shock to be told, sorry we are full when making a VHF call.. us spoilt east coasters again… an anchorage is busy when I has 4 boats in it!

They did suggest that if we could fine a spot on the visitors pontoon, then fine… otherwise, sorry… We had a good look, and decided that we could hang on the end of one of the pontoons… only half the boat alongside the pontoon.. but we were on, and secure… we did have to fend off a couple of later arrivals who wanted to tie alongside… sorry… not safe… we didn’t have enough pontoon to tie to ourselves, let alone with another boat rafted outside us… eventually one did come alongside, but smaller, so not so much of a problem…

We then shot ashore, and grabbed the ferry across to Dartmouth town, and had what was the best fish and chips I have ever tasted by a country mile…if you ever wind up in Dartmouth… I can recommend ‘Rockfish’… simply superb….

So.. a day of rest now… and to enjoy the delightful west country.

Miles logged 78nm
Miles this trip 340nm
Miles this season 718nm
Miles since this blog started 5,298nm

1 comment:

  1. A great write up, Neil. Well done for sailing as much as possible on the crossing!

    Enjoy Dartmouth, its a lovely place.

    see you soon