"For Boats, even the uglier ones, are among the loveliest creations of man’s hands, and though owning them brings a train of debts, hangnails, bruises, bad frights, and all kinds of worries not experienced by those who content themselves with more practical vices, the relation between man and his boat is as personal and intimate as the relation between husband and wife" – DESMOND HOLDRIDGE
Big thanks to Bob and Dave who worked their fingers to the bone in our massive clean in preparation for the arrival of Paula.
We had moved up river from Falmouth to a mid river visitor pontoon at Malpas, just short of Truro which should have been an easy location for our rendezvous at the Heron Inn. We had provisioned in Truro the day before and the crew had even persuaded me to buy some flowers – well, I had been away 7 weeks ! In the event, Paula was earlier than expected, we were still cleaning and she drove up and down the tiny lane looking for a parking space with no success and no signal on the phone – best laid plans !
While in Malpas, we were joined by John Morris (John had crewed on the Padstow to Milford leg) and his extended family on their Legend 41. We enjoyed some light sailing together to Fowey then on to Queen Anne’s Battery in Plymouth which was an ideal introduction for Paula.
John headed East and we motored up the delightful river Lynher to a beautiful spot called ‘Dandy Hole’. Taking the dinghy further up river to St. Germans, we had an interesting walk under the viaduct and through woodland in bright sunshine to quench our thirst at the Eliot Arms in the village. Returning to Hejira we were entertained by a seal and her pup on the exposed mud bank. Dandy Hole was a memorable anchorage and with only a couple of other boats in sight, it was a really quiet and charismatic night.
This is where the wind threatened to pick up with strong winds forecast, unhelpfully from the East. It was time to make the 27 mile passage straight to Salcombe and not linger in the Rivers Yealm or Avon as originally planned.
So we have been here in Salcombe, rafted on a mooring buoy off the Town since Friday, with the F7 wind whistling through, kicking up quite a chop.
The ‘chop’ made our dinghy trip up river to Kingsbridge a damp affair but the sun has shone throughout keeping the spirits elevated.
With the outboard davit ‘unplugged’, it was replaced by the wind generator for the first time. This has been happily whirring away producing enough ‘juice’ to power the fridge and freezer. Another winter addition which is proving it’s worth !
Salcombe is a hive of activity and seems rammed full of people, on and off the water now the family holiday season is under way. The water activity is providing lots of interest and entertainment. We had front row seats for a Dutch yacht trying to pick up a mooring buoy with the husband at the bow increasingly berating his wife on the helm each time they missed their approach – there but for the grace ………………………
The wind is due to diminish tomorrow (Monday) and become a gentle breeze from the SW. We intend to make passage to Dartmouth then on to Brixham and Torquay where I will leave Hejira on Thursday evening while I return home to an overgrown garden and holidays in Canouan (an island in the Caribbean) and Italy.
I can then look forward to a gentle 5 day cruise back to Hayling over the week of the August Bank Holiday to be back for Esher’s first rugby game to watch our son Ollie on the Saturday.
It has been some time since my last ‘missive’ and so much has happened.
Having decided to hire a car to explore beyond what would have been possible by yacht, I thought I would try to ‘look up’ the family of friends of my parents who had moved to Ireland and I last saw when cruising in a previous yacht about 17 years previously. Having typed the name into Google and, knowing that the son, my contemporary, was a teacher, it came up with Bandon Grammar where he is a languages teacher. Although schools in Ireland break up for the summer on the 31st of May (!!!!), we made contact and met up in Clonakilty’ visiting his house for a huge catch up and reminiscence.
He and his wife gave us advice on where to go and what to do and even booked us the most wonderful country house hotel in Kenmare. This was a really charismatic Town and we had a superb meal in the recommended (same family as the hotel owners) restaurant perversely called ‘Packies’!
The drive around the ring of Kerry would have been more spectacular if we had been able to see the sea but the weather was improving and this was promising. There was one more notable experience on the car drive, we were looking for somewhere to stay for the final night before returning the car to Cork airport and the last option was a town called Macroom. This turned out to be quite a pretty town unlike those that we had been driving through on our way back from Limerick. The town had a good hotel with wifi and, logging on to speak to my daughter Rebecca living in the Caribbean, I noticed a pop up on Skype saying it was the birthday of the Irish chap that purchased my previous yacht – we had ‘skyped’ when negotiating . Noting he was ‘on line’, I called him to wish him a happy birthday and it turned out he lived in Macroom and joined us 10 minutes later in the bar. This is all too spooky !
Back in Kinsale, we enjoyed the Lions win (controversial in Ireland for the dropping of Brian O’Driscoll) and after Dave Wright had joined us we left after watching the Murray Wimbledon victory, sailing overnight to the Scillies. Kinsale had been a wonderful ‘stop’ with fond memories for both Bob and me, Bob having last visited when competing in the Fireball World Championships in the ‘70’s. In fact everyone in Ireland had been most welcoming, friendly and helpful.
The improved settled weather had prompted the invasion of an armada of visiting yachts to the islands and we sought some privacy, drying out between tides on the sandy beach at Green Bay on Bryher. Enjoying beautiful Bryher and exploring Tresco by dinghy, it was with some reluctance, we moved to Hugh Town on St. Mary’s before our early morning departure to the mainland. The Scillies are a real paradise in good weather but I can imagine that the unforgiving seascape would be threatening in poor conditions.
Our anchoring experiences had worryingly demonstrated that, despite replacing what we considered was the whole windlass system, we were still suffering tripping of the circuit breaker. And this persisted after our overnight stay in Mullion Cove, a magical anchorage to the west of the Lizard.
We now think that the problem lies with the wireless remote as we have not suffered tripping when using the main switch at the binnacle. My theory is that the contact from the wireless remote is intermittent, causing the higher starting current to repeatedly surge resulting in the overload trip. We will find out in the next two weeks when it is only Paula and I on board ! In the mean time, it would seem that I have replaced the windlass unnecessarily………………
So now we are in Falmouth and having filled with diesel and water, we will make our way up the river Fal tomorrow to Malpas for our final crew change, Bob and Dave driving back in the car driven down by Paula on Sunday.
The last mail was optimistic about catching up lost time and getting back on track. Although we have experienced some of that emotion, it has been balanced by disappointment as the days have slipped by and our targets have drawn in.
Bob and Stephen arrived in Milford Haven proudly bearing the replacement Windlass which we fitted, Dave and Terry staying on to kindly assist. As usual, the process was not as straightforward as one hopes but the point of trying it out arrived and……………..it tripped ! It has turned out that the fault was in the trip itself, not the windlass. So, having bought a £2K windlass, the fault turns out to be in a £50 trip ! In actual fact, I am not unhappy with the outcome as, the windlass is such an important part of the yachts equipment, I am pleased with the peace of mind that I have a new unit.
An early start from Milford Haven meant us passing through the compromised lock at 0530 and motoring into a headwind around the tip of Pembrokeshire. Having committed to the shortcuts inside Skomer and Ramsey Island in order to carry a favourable tide, we had to endure the overfalls in Jack Sound and Ramsey Sound. This was quite a baptism of fire for the new crew who would have given anything to have taken the longer route ! I hope Stephen will forgive me for mentioning that he holds the record for the loudest, most violent and debilitated retcher in my experience !
Thankfully, he bounced back after making landfall in Aberystwyth which happened to be his home for much of his childhood. The passage did however expose a continuing problem with the VHF after an encounter with yet another firing range.
Aberystwyth was a super stop and one we could not have contemplated with a fin keel yacht due to the limited harbour depths. We managed to catch the Lions game in the snooker club at the end of the pier and cast off for Ireland later that same day after fuelling.
Our passage over night was very quiet and with little wind, we motored most of the way. It was however notable for the large number of jelly fish and for spotting a sunfish which are not usually found in such northern waters but which apparently feed on jelly fish which could be an explanation. We moored up in Kilmore Quay which I had visited to shelter from a gale about 18 years before. Our arrival co-incided with the attempted departure of a 30ft.yacht which promptly went aground and stuck fast right in front of us in the narrow entrance. Full astern prevented a collision and they looked bewildered as our 45ft comparative giant breezed past them into the security of the harbour. We enjoyed some excellent Irish hospitality in Kilmore Quay and the visit was notable for the excellent meal in the unpromisingly named ‘Crazy Crab’. The small village was also welcome for the excellence of its Chandler where I purchased yet another aerial, having bought and subsequently returned one, thinking it was not required, in Milford Haven.
An early start saw us off on our 75 mile passage to Cork harbour. After a mixed passage with some sailing and some motoring, we moored at the Royal Cork Yacht Club in Crosshaven. The RCYC claims to be the oldest Club in the World having been founded in 1720 ! The Irish welcome was undiminished and we enjoyed a superb meal in the Clubhouse with Stephen giving an impromptu intimate consultation in the restaurant to the manager’s medical afflictions !
Another early start took us up the River Lee, past Cobh to Cork where we moored on the City centre pontoon just before one of the many bridges.
We intended to take the opportunity to fit the new aerial and run the cable down the mast to the junction of the new cable we had already installed in Milford Haven. This proved to be something of an epic as, there being so many cables exiting the mast, the plastic coatings gripped each other and meant that, with pulling backwards and forwards, we were winning about an inch at a time. The situation was massively improved by running PTFE liquid down the cable from the top of the mast and, with great relief, having been up and down the mast 4 or 5 times, we connected up the new aerial and the impedance readings were as expected……………………….. Unfortunately, the intermittent reception continued so it was clear that the initial analysis of the specialists was correct and there was a problem with the radio itself. Experience suggests that problems that appear as one offs are easily sorted but they seem to inevitably occur as multiples and this is far more difficult to ‘fault find’.
Stephen dashed for the Station after the final whistle of the disappointing second Lions Test to join Mary near Dublin. I would like to mention that, after a horrendous introduction through a very lumpy ‘Jack Sound’ inside Skomer and producing the most colourful vomit I have ever seen, he ‘bounced back’ to be the most enthusiastic crew – great stuff!
The mission was now to find a replacement VHF radio in Cork but, as a contingency, ‘shore based’ efforts were mobilised, just in case and thanks to Tim Julnes and Dave Wright for stepping up and then stepping down as I located a replacement on the outskirts of Cork. Bob thankfully persuaded me to put the bicycle away and we took a taxi as the route involved some pretty unforgiving dual carriageways.
With the new VHF radio fitted and working perfectly, we made our way on the ebb towards Kinsale. Unfortunately, after a pleasant start, the passage was a lumpy affair directly into the wind and it was with some relief that we rafted up to a survey vessel on the Kinsale Yacht Club visitor pontoon. We managed later to ‘get alongside’ the pontoon and reviewed the weather forecast which promised more westerly winds of 30mph over the next few days. Checking again after a very necessary trip to the laundry, we decided that, with Hejira secure, we would hire a car and explore the west of Ireland from the shore.
Kinsale is supposed to be the Gourmet Capital of Ireland and, certainly tonight, we experienced one of my most memorable meals, a real delight. On the recommendation of a very helpful member of the KYC staff, we had earlier experienced a really earthy, authentic Irish pub. Not the ubiquitous, plastic, regurgitated, formula Irish pub experienced around the World, but one consisting of a single room and run by a little old lady with the most ebullient Irish welcome. The tiny pub had pictures of the local hurling teams through the ages and even on the 2nd of July, had a fire in the grate !
So, tomorrow morning we are off by car to explore the ‘hinterland’ and our sailing reports will have to be put on hold.