Making West

Magnetic Attraction
Roger and Margaret Pratt
Sun 21 Jul 2013 19:05


21 July 2013 – Jennycliff Bay, Plymouth Sound




We left Royal Clarence on Saturday 20th just after 8am, after a sad farewell with head man Peter.  “We’ll, meet again…don’t know where, don’t know when….”  None else appeared to be up.  There was a strong easterly wind blowing across the berth and we manhandled the boat backwards to give a better chance of getting straight out in reverse.  There were no problems.  By the time we got to Gilkicker Point the tide had gone westerly: so we stormed down the Solent with full sail and wind behind us and the genoa goosewinged.  We were off Cowes by 10; Yarmouth at 11am; and out through the Needles at 11.30am.  There was a strong sense of déjà vu as we sailed past all the familiar features of Hampshire, the Island and the Dorset coast.  All very beautiful in the brilliant sunshine.

The original plan had been to stop overnight in Alum Bay, but the weather forecast showed that the easterlies are about to come to an end – maybe tomorrow.  So it was a good opportunity to go west, and the favourable tide lasted until we were off Portland Bill at 2.30pm.  I cooked a stir-fry using the pork slices, the remains of the green beans, onions, ginger and soy sauce with rice – the swell was such that despite taking Kwells I didn’t want the pfaff of cooking a full meal.  The weather has continued fine and warm: despite the wind it was warm enough during the day to sail in a tee-shirt. The night watches were easier because of the warmth, the clear sky and large moon.  

Despite being well offshore Roger managed to get a freeview signal!  It wasn’t strong enough to record, so at 7pm we watched Chris Froome shewing almost everyone how to go uphill in the last-but-one stage of the Tour de France.  After that Roger kept watch whilst I slept til 11pm, then I took over till 2am.  By 11pm, the Start Point light was well in view, and the tide was helping again. Off Salcombe, the wind increased from about 20kn to 25 and then to 30.  I am never comfortable with the spinnaker pole up at night, remembering the problems crossing Biscay back to Belle Ile when the pole snapped on my watch; so I furled the genoa to pocket-handkerchief size and tried to hang on till the end of Roger’s 3 hour rest. 

I almost did it.  I called him at 1.45, and Roger immediately decided to take 2 reefs in the mainsail.  We gybed safely, although with the amount of wind the reefing was not straightforward.  We also rolled the jib right away and recovered the pole.  All this took the best part of an hour.  But the good news was that progress was so good that there was only another 10 miles to run to Plymouth.  Roger left the jib furled, and proceeded slowly under mainsail alone, doing a stately 3-4 miles an hour.  (He has a pathological aversion to entering harbour in the dark – the fear of catching a net or a crab pot is very real.)  He called me at 4.30am and we had a cup of tea and a hobnob as we watched a rosy-pink dawn illuminate Plymouth.  We were anchored and ready to catch up on sleep by 5.30am.

It’s been a quiet day in consequence.  Roger got the water-maker going.  The solar panels are giving a net gain of 4-5 amps.  The wind is still blowing 20-25knots so better and safer to remain at anchor.  We’ll go into Queen Anne’s Battery tomorrow.

Thinking about provisions for transatlantic crossings before leaving the UK, I compute that a minimum of 350 tea bags will be needed – based on our requirements and assuming that Bryan and Lucy will want an extra pot a day.  So before sailing south I need to stock up, and Plymouth is the best place to do so.  I’m aiming to make a note of how long all sorts of things last: this week I’ve made a note of when the new bottle of washing up liquid was opened; and the toothpaste.  How sad is all this!

No picture of Plymouth yet, I fear – it’s very hazy, and we’re anchored well off.  Will do better later!