Outward leg with a series of tacks.....I still have to get this 'angles and lines'
bit sorted but at least I'm getting there......I went for speed mainly!
I departed 09.30am from the east mallard buoy which is just off the end of the Mountbatten breakwater. It took an hour of tacking back and forth to reach the breakwater......I’d planned for 45 minutes so I’m quite pleased really. I passed a lovely Cornish shrimper anchored right under Jennycliffe just off the beach. They were bobbing head to wind having a cup of tea and then raised sails and set off across the front of the hoe heading for the Tamar I suspect.
The big red LPG tanker came out on the outgoing tide, passing me around 9.40 ish as I was marvelling at how low and fast cormorants fly....they hug those wave tops and travel at extraordinary speeds – they are so graceful and streamlined in the air; as they are in water. One kept me company for 10 minutes, diving alongside the boat and then bobbing back up again a bit further ahead of me.
Passing the Whitesands marker on the eastern side of the sound
I used to fish about 100m off this point in an old dinghy someone had given me
The slight blurriness - haven't got used to holding camera and tiller simultaneously - sorry folks
Passing Bovisand fort and the eastern end of the breakwater at 10.35 – I was able to say hi to some passing canoeists.......who were travelling across my bows to go inside the breakwater. They were heading over to Mt Edgecumbe. At this stage Arwen was doing a close reach at about 4.5kts and the winds were light but slowly heading around to the south west.
Looks like hard work that does! Difficult to believe when you see
me now...but I used to do quite a bit of canoeing!
Fort Bovisand, the old Napoleonic fort on the left....now a top diving school.
The big gully is I think, where there was a inclined tramway.....it bought the
cannon balls down from the armoury above - all powered by horses
I was surprised at how many boats were out and about
for a weekday......guess its tourists...which is great for local
Just south of the breakwater, the sea state changed and Arwen started to roll and plunge – deep troughs and big crests – a wind against tide situation through a confined area! She still managed to make 4.5kts but there was a lot of slamming and corkscrewing motion – quite fun actually! Passing heybrook bay, a motor cruiser came past....everyone waving and yelling across what a wonderful sight under full sail Arwen made...well that’s down to the designer John Welsford.......but its kind of nice getting the compliments.
We passed the Heybrook bay outer marker post...found at the end of renny rocks. So often I have seen this in the distance, from safe within the confines of the breakwater and sound....but now I was actually passing it. It was a milestone for Arwen and me...the furthest out to sea we’d been...brilliant. It was 11.15am and we were cruising at 3.5 kts – the wind had dropped slightly and I hadn’t quite trimmed the sails properly...a crease was appearing from clew to peak but I couldn’t be bothered to get up and alter the sprit boom position – lazy sailor – sorry folks!
Outer Renny Rocks post....visible from Plymouth Hoe
The great Mewstone began to loom large........it is incredibly steep on the landward side; a number of small fishing boats were trying to fish the outer ledges which extend seawards on the open sea side...it’s an underwater wave cut platform. Well, they were brave guys that’s all I can say because the waves above that ledge were pitching in all directions; steepening with awe inspiring troughs. The inevitable happened and all moved at some stage to the more sheltered and somewhat smoother waters on the north east side. But fair do’s to them for trying.
The great mewstone island...found in Wembury Bay
http://www.wemburyparishcouncil.info/Core/wemburypc/UserFiles/Files/themewstone-2.pdf gives you more about the history of this island. This site gives you brief natural history details....... www.divesitedirectory.co.uk/dive_site_uk_england_southwest_reefs_mewstone_ridges.html
Going to the south of the mewstone...we are really out at sea now!
By now it was 11.45am, we’d turned into a downwind position coming around the southern side of the Mewstone and we were down to 1.9 kts. A series of turns onto beam reaches and then direct downwind sections....and we arrived at the outer red buoy marking the tip of Yealm bar at 12.30pm. By 12.40 I’d anchored off cellars beach and had dived into the sea for a quick swim over to the beach. There were a few families crab hunting under the rocks...the squeals of delight that periodically punctuated the air suggested some success!. The water was relatively warm and I snorkelled across the kelp and sea grass beds onto the sands......a few flat fish (dabs and plaice); a shoal of small mullet gliding by and several crabs scuttling across the bottom to the nearest seaweed clump. A group of teenage girls braved the waters.....plenty of screams then......and then everyone drifted off back up the cliff path and I had the beach to my self – perfect lunch stop!
I'm still developing navigation skills....its going to take some time!
the entrance to the River Yealm. The bar is to the left in the photograph
This is 150m inside the estuary confines........it shows how narrow the entrance for boats is!
Cellars beach, a relatively calm anchorage unless winds are directly from the west
in which case - they whistle down through the estuary entrance!
The channel really does pass very close to the rocks and beach at this point and it was noticeable that all yachts hugged those red channel markers tightly. A couple of lovely boats passed by motoring out in to the outer estuary area. The bar began to uncover as the tide fell further – waves showing where the treacherous sands were. By now it was drizzling and visibility out at sea had reduced significantly to about 1000m....you could see the rain squalls tracking across the coastline...pretty impressive. Somehow I managed to sail through and avoid them all – don’t ask me how.....but it didn’t rain on me once today!
Arwen at anchor off cellars beach
I prised myself away and out of the relative shelter of the Yealm at 1.45pm.........the wind by now had turned to the west and so it was some longish tacks upwind. I kept going through areas of steep waves followed by really still glassy areas as if oil had been poured on water – quite peculiar.
I came quite close to ending upon the slimers – doh.....forgot about them....and having taken avoidance action, it was a beam reach out to sea to clear the ledges of the Mewstone. By now the wind had picked up and before long we were heading around the Mewstone and back towards Plymouth on a reach doing 5.5kts – we were racing along! The time from the outer breakwater back to Mallard buoy.......20 minutes (an hour out; 20 minutes back in – wow!)
Weather turning nasty as I approach Plymouth Sound.
The rocky peninsula on the east is Renny rocks at Heybrook Bay
I actually close hauled all the way back down the eastern side of the sound and then took a leaf out of all the big yachts following me in (9 of them in a line astern – huge billowing canvas sails....I felt a right minnow in Arwen, but sailing that as everyone over took – there were waves , smiles, compliments.......good fun)....anyway taking a leaf out of their books – I did what the ones in front did....as they entered the Cattedown, they furled jibs, turned head to wind rapidly , dropped sails and then turned back eastwards and motored in; Arwen’s sails were furled and dropped slickly between the lazy jacks, the outboard started first time......it went slick, felt slick and I suspect looked pretty slick.
Return leg from River Yealm to Plymouth Sound
Racing back across Wembury Bay in a series of tacks to clear
The Mewstone and get an angle of approach that will take
me in one long run down the eastern side of Plymouth Sound
So the statistics........maximum speed was 6.7 kts (the fastest Arwen and I have been – another wow moment); average speed across the trip was 3.5kts. Journey time excluding stops was 5 hrs 18 minutes and the distance travelled 16.8 nautical miles. For Arwen and me – it’s our longest journey, with the fastest speeds on some legs...with the windiest conditions – gusting force 5+at times. I remembered what John and others said and a) went for speed not angle of approach and b) kept an eye on the amount of weather helm, adjusting the mizzen as necessary. Although we were angled at times, at no stage did she seem over pressed with regard to the amount of canvas up...well at least there seemed to be just a little weather helm and it never became too much.
I feel we achieved a milestone today...it’s given me a huge confidence boost in my own abilities......as for Arwen, I never had any doubts about her – she’s a thorough bred design....I knew she could do it all! Thank you John!
Here is a film record of the day....enjoyhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIaPu2wn0wc