We left Falmouth on Tuesday 12th July at a civilised hour – tide times being favourable once again! As usual we had a forecast that would see us sailing most of the way – and as usual we mostly motored. Actually this time we had around one third of the 25nm under sail – and it is so peaceful when the engine goes off. Not that it is deafening – just an irritating drone, compared to the sound of only the wind and water.
Including sailing a bit faster!
We followed our intended plan for 2016 quite closely, leaving Cambeltown, Scotland for Glenarm, Ireland; traveling down the East coast of Ireland to Arklow, jumping off from there to Milford Haven. After exploring the Welsh estuary of Milford Haven we rounded Land’s End, overnight, to Falmouth in Cornwall and headed East via Devon and Dorset to the Solent, ending the year at Hamble Point Marina, where fitting out works were planned.
748 nautical miles;
117 hours on motor including motor sailing;
34 hours sail only;
Average speed 4.95 kts
117 nights in a marina;
28 nights on a mooring ball/mid-river pontoon;
1 night at anchor;
1 night at sea;
6.35 days average stay at each of 23 stopping points;
£23.96 average nightly cost of parking;
£220 spent on diesel (29p/nm);
£ CENSORED spent on beer;
PLANS FOR 2017
Looking at the above numbers it would be good to reduce our average overnight parking cost – possibly more anchoring and mooring balls, and lower French marina fees may assist.
It would be good to motor less. The high percentage of motoring is largely due to selecting a weather forecast for long passages that should have just had us sailing, but on each of the 3 longest passages the wind was a little lighter than forecast and saw us motorsailing. Better that than getting caught out by setting off with a forecast at the higher end of our comfort zone which then pipes up by a couple of Beauforts! However we may have to be slightly more adventurous.
We averaged only around 5kts. We do sail faster than that but feel we are under propped – we should be motoring at 6kts+ but see only 5kts at 2600rpm. We are speaking to a propeller supplier and that could be the major investment in 2017/8 winter. Forum research suggests that the Flex-o-Fold is a good prop for us – but the cost is over £2k! (EDIT – the jury is out on the Flexo-Fold – awaiting detail on galvanic corrosion issues reported on forums).
So, on to our travel plans for 2017.
Our plan is to travel from Southampton down to the West Country, stopping off at some favourites from last year but adding in Yarmouth, Weymouth and Brixham, which we had to miss out in our rush to get to Southampton in time for a university reunion and the Southampton boat show.
From somewhere between Plymouth and Falmouth we will hop across on an overnight passage to L’Aber Wrach or (if we can hit the Chenal du Four at slack tide by good fortune) Camaret, hopefully arriving by early June.
From there we will head around the tip of Brittany and cruise the south of Brittany and Loire Atlantique. We return home for a couple of weeks in the height of summer and then return to the boat in the car. We already have a haul out date in a marina in the area on 21st September, from where (weather permitting) we head down to end the season with a spot of wine tasting in the Bordeaux region, visit the La Rochelle boat show and return home in early October.
Well, that was our plan – typing this in Weymouth with Westerly winds forecast for 10 days or so suggests that end of May across the Channel might be optimistic!
Falmouth is a great introduction to the much anticipated delights of the cruising ground of the South West. Pendennis Marina is not a cheap option (most expensive yet at £38.40 a night – plus £2.50 if you want to hook up the electricity) but it is in a great location and the facilities are pretty good. The marina is next to the busy, working Pendennis shipyard, which to us only adds to the interest.
Escorted out of Wales
We awaited the call from the lock-keeper on vhf to proceed to the lock and departed our berth at 8.30 am, Tuesday 5th July. After motoring past the oil terminal jetties we hoisted the sails at 9.30am, off Dale, and exited Milford Haven into a wind-over-tide situation: a biggish sea with 2m waves, heaped up by the contrary tide.
Time for a shower!
We enjoyed 6 nights at Lawrenny Quay, with the tide racing past us one way, turning us around and then racing back again. At times (springs) we would have struggled to row against the current, but fortunately the trusty Yamaha never let us down.
Having a spider take up residence at the wheel shows that we have enjoyed our stay here, but it was time to disturb him and move on.
Greystones was interesting enough for a couple of days. We watched England v Russia in a bar with good humoured locals. Paul fished with no success (but that never deters him, he’s very good at it) and we expanded the period of interest by catching the train to Wicklow