Arwen's meanderings

Hi everyone and welcome to my new blog. My name is Steve and i am the lucky owner of a John Welsford designed 'navigator' named Arwen. I built her over three years with the help of my father, father-in-law and two children. She was launched in August 2007 at Queen Anne's battery marina in the barbican area of Plymouth. This blog is a record of our voyages together around SW England.
Arwen has a YouTube channel of her own. Search "plymouthwelshboy".

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Captain Jeremy Roch and his small boat voyage from Plymouth to London

Some time ago I promised that I would give an update on my post about the voyage of the Neptune by captain Jeremy  Roch You will remember that this was the gentleman who sailed a small boat from Plymouth along the coast and up the channel and into the Thames estuary and then on up to London. This was done in 1677. Now I only learnt about this gentleman as a result of reading something in the dinghy cruising association magazine; which I have repeated recommended to anyone interested in small boats and dinghy cruising.  Anyway I do not intend to divulge all the article that has just appeared on Jeremy Roch in the most recent edition. People will have to join the DCA and get the copy. But I thought I might share a little of what he did!
Well it would appear that Captain Roch decided to save money having been called to London by deciding to go by sea!  Having fitted his boat with all that he required for such a voyage he was dismayed to discover that those who originally had agreed to sail with him withdrew. So resolved to go single handed, he must have been somewhat pleased to have been asked by a young boy if he could seek passage and help crew the boat.
Thus on 20th July 1677, with one boy and a dog, Roch set sail on a southerly wind from Plymouth sound for bigbury bay where he anchored for the night. Next day he set sail for Salcombe where he became becalmed but sought out friends and had a good meal!
Sunday 22nd saw Roch sail on a NE wind towards Dartmouth where once again he became becalmed just outside the river mouth. However, by nightfall he'd been carried along the coast towards Torbay where they anchored for the night. With an early departure on the Monday, the crew sails towards Portland, stopping to shoot seabirds for a while. They anchored at sunset three leagues west of Portland. Another early start  saw them beat the notorious Portland races and crept around into Weymouth, calling in for a few hours for ale and a meal! Leaving Weymouth almost in the dark they made for the bay of swanage where they anchored for the night.

So let me see.......Plymouth to the bay of swanage on a small boat just a little larger than Arwen in four days?  I guess so...........I made Salcombe in a day a few years ago.

On the 25th, they passed the needles on the Isle of Wight around 3pm due to a brisk WNW wind; sheltering in Cowes overnight and on land too in a boarding house. Roch picked a good room since according to his log a jolly crew of French ladies arrived in the next chamber and lulled him into a sweet sleep with music, dancing and singing!   On the 26th Roch took on board a Frenchman seeking passage; who it would appear did little except devour the captain's meat and wine. Sailing over 20 leagues on gale force WSW winds, he passed beachy head. I am unclear where he anchored if at all.............but his log says he was off Rye at sunrise and with improving weather he made for Dover arriving at 4pm.

I am of course only giving a precise here. Roch's log is written in old English and actually describes more of his journey; making references to shoals, sandbanks etc on his way. What fascinates me is that he made Plymouth to Dover in a week in a small open boat.
I'll finish the summary of his journey over the weekend. In the meantime I marvel at his seamanship and ambition and wonder, just wonder, whether me and Arwen could manage, perhaps, this summer a trip from Plymouth to let's say Weymouth?

Now let me see. Day one to Salcombe; day two to Torquay;  day three to Exmouth and day four around Portland to Weymouth?
Now how would I get Arwen back to Plymouth then?



Bob said...

Ah, the stuff of December dreams... What if and how? I'm doing a bit of that myself these cold dark evenings.


steve said...

Hey bob know what you mean and with the weather as it is............
Have a great Christmas