Portland to Falmouth
John & Susan Simpson
Tue 10 Aug 2021 16:30
The wind blew … and blew …. and blew …. so we stayed in Portland Marina for two nights and spent a pleasant day in between doing not much. Ian and John sampled the musical instruments on board and built up a good set list should they decide to jump ship and start a band instead. I went walking and explored the surrounding area scouting for pubs/restaurants for us to sample in the evening. There wasn’t much to choose from, and what there was shut when we eventually ventured out later! We ate a very nice meal on board instead.
The forecast for Monday 9th August predicted that the wind would start to ease during the day, so we decided to carry on towards Falmouth. We left Portland at 10.30 am and headed around Portland Bill. This is a notorious stretch of water with strong tides and rough seas, even in good weather. We timed our exit from the Marina so that we would reach Portland Bill at slack water and gave the headland a very wide berth. Even so, the waves were quite steep and Casamara pounded her way through with water gushing up towards us behind the spray hood.
John had put together a cunning plan that took us on one tack from Portland Bill into the western corner of Lyme Bay. This meant we took advantage of shelter from the land the further we got across the bay. This was fortunate as the wind didn’t appear to have read the forecast and continued to blow throughout the day. We passed close to Shaldon at the mouth of the River Teign and hoped we might be able to wave to cousin Andy Crawford who has recently moved there. Sadly we weren’t quite close enough but we had a chat via text instead.
Sailing along the coast past Torquay, Brixham and towards Start Point was the best sailing of the trip so far. As we approached evening the waves calmed down, the wind started to ease and our stomachs were comfortable enough to enjoy a hot meal as we sailed along. This was more like it!
We continued through the night taking turns with 3 hour watches. There was plenty to see - the lights of ships making way in the Channel shipping lanes, dolphins creating phosphorescent trails as they played in the water alongside us, a clear starry sky with shooting stars. We made notes in the log book every hour, mostly to note our latest position on the chart and what the weather was doing, but also to comment on what we had seen in the last hour. As the night passed apparently there were mermaids and UFOs to log, though I’m not sure I believe that…..
I came on watch at 6.00 am on Tuesday morning to thick fog and nothing to be seen beyond the immediate vicinity of the boat. There was no wind and a distant foghorn was sounding. It was eerily quiet after the previous two days of strong winds. There was the engine noise but beyond that only the swish of Casamara through the water and drips of moisture dropping from the sails onto the deck. I started to wonder what happens to fog when it disappears and reached for my phone to Google the answer. I hadn’t done more than read the first paragraph of the Wikipedia explanation when I looked up to find …. a clear, bright sunny morning - the fog had completely gone! So that’s how to make fog disappear - Google it!
The last few hours into Falmouth continued very calm with no wind. Our dolphin escorts had remained alongside for my entire 3 hour watch and I loved watching them swimming so skilfully in and out of our bow wave.
We arrived in Falmouth around 11.00 am on Tuesday morning, very excited to be here and looking forward (with some trepidation) to our next leg across the Bay of Biscay.