I did what I said I would not do

Mon 18 May 2009 08:25

At Plymouth  50 21.84 N  04 07.89W


Well I got here arriving in the dock Sunday approx 08:30

My original start was Friday morning before first light, slipping from the LTSC pontoon and out into the western Solent for a gentle sail through the North Channel to find the light winds on the nose. Solent Coastguard propagates the 03:21 gale warning F8 soon, something to look forward to!  Three hours of light tacking and the wind dropped to too little to make progress, so time to motor.

Then the big Black Cloud appeared and as expected as it passed the wind rose to 26 kts.  Number 3 and two reef saw Flamingo Lady for making good progress into the headwind either to Weymouth or Ushant.  Just as  I was depositing my second Breakfast over the side the new Gale Warning F8 imminent came over the radio.   Into an 8 when seasick and may be what I should do for OSTAR practice, but it was unpleasant for no particular reason and Weymouth became the destination. An easy birth alongside was found and the Harbour master thought it would not be a busy weekend.


During Friday and Saturday morning the forecast did not improve with occasional W F9 appearing! The local fisherman said it was awful out and eth cruising sailors were set in for a week in Weymouth. The grib files and the inshore waters forecast showed that up to 12 miles offshore the wind was F5-F7 with South appearing the direction from 21:00hrs till 06:00hrs, not as bad as the generalisation of the shipping forecast covering the whole sea area, still from the wrong direction.  So off I went, doing the very thing, that for months, I said I would not do, tack into a gale all the way to Plymouth. There I was sailing down past Portland between the Bill and the Shambles bank  taking the last of the south tide and then the West flowing tide.  It was not unexpected but at the Bill the wind rose to 35kts and the seas were big. Flamingo took a couple of breaking white waves over the deck,  testing the hood. We were soon past the rough stuff and making WNW waiting for the South word to appear in the wind direction. F8 occasionally 9F  West,  was the coastguard prediction. Wind varied between 28kts to 18kts so not too bad. And I was enjoying the sail.  Wind rose and fell , the coastguard pronounced “Gale now ceased, Gale 8 imminent”  and when Flamingo Lady was 7 miles of Berry Head, and I was thinking of losing the reefs and tacking out of Lyme bay, it became obvious that this was in fact the  calm before the storm, and the Southerly wind arrived. Allowing us to clear Start point by 4 miles and make a close reach to Plymouth on 15 to 30 kts, including a very brief interlude of sun.

At sea it was comparatively pleasant weather compared with the forecast and my expectations, and after I tied up the wind was averaging 35kts in the marina. Flamingo Lady handled things well, and living on snacks rather than full meat and two veg meals  I was comfortable.