Salcombe to Gillan Hr on the Helford River

On the town pontoon in Salcombe

Tuesday 14th March

Before first light 0600hrs we cast off Elektra from the town pontoon and reversed her out into the channel and headed for the sea. Having crossed the bar we set sail with a reef in the main and all the genoa, out track was due south but after an hour when we tacked we hopped to gain some ground but this was not to be as the track showed due north, to much tide against.

As this was a delivery passage we decided to motor west instead, two hours later over the radio came a message from the “Donald Cooke” a USA destroyer on a NATO exercise which said they were going to start  live firing in 45mins time. Us not knowing who was who (lots of NATO ships around!) Bryan got on the radio and said we were in the area and were heading for Helford at about 4kts and could they tell which way to head to get out of their way? After a moment of quite the “Donald Cooke” replied asking us to turn north and return to our coarse once we were north of their position, what they didn’t tell us was their position! We past north between what we thought was the “Donald Cooke” another USA destroyer and the target being towed by a tug, once we were happy we were north of them we headed west again only to motor bow on to the “Donald Cooke” which was out of sight at the time of the radio contact, with 10mins to go to the live firing we headed north again! Once we were clear of the area we turned back to the west again.

Only being able to get 20lts of fuel in Salcombe we knew we needed to check the fuel level as we went, now was the time, this meant removing all the gear out of the cockpit locker and placing a light under the fuel level tube so we could read the level, it looked like we had used half of the 20lts and we were only just south of the Eddystone Lt, it didn’t look like we wouldn’t have enough to get us back to Helford. At this point we decided to sail on a port tack into Fowey for fuel. At least we could sail and switch off the engine for a while.

Five hours later arriving at Fowey at 1530hrs we radioed the HM asking for fuel, he replied saying it was a 24hr self service payment by card. We motored in moored up and filled the tank, easy! We were motoring out of Fowey within 1/2hr of arriving, the wind had died so we motored the rest of the way to Helford. Just before dark we were lucky to have the company of about 4-6 Dolphins who played and dived around our bow.

Then came the dark (black as your hat!) just before we reached the Roseland, I was rested and now on the helm, I first saw the St Antony Lt at 1945hrs, we continued across Falmouth Bay watching a ship going into Falmouth and another coming out. About 2nm away I could just see August Buoy green light, once we were past a tug anchored in the bay so covered in light it was taking our night sight away,  I turned then for Gillan, I could just make out the east cardinal flashing, which we seemed to come up to very quick. As we rounded the cardinal Bryan went up onto the bow with a torch to spot the mooring buoys before we hit them. We made our way in and dropped anchor at 2030hrs. We had logged 71nm in 14.5hrs including a stop in Fowey for fuel. Vicki had cooked tea on the end of the passage which was ready and gratefully received by both Bryan and mtself, we got the rum out to toast our completed delivery passage.


This is where we anchored in Gillan at the end of our delivery passage

4 thoughts on “Salcombe to Gillan Hr on the Helford River

  1. My my what an eventful trip, A few things to sort out maybe before the rest of the summer then, and then its plain sailing so to speak. A bit more eventful perhaps then you would have liked, but all arrived safe and sound which is the main thing. Lots to talk about when we next meet, by which time you will be an old hand at the new boats performance.
    All the best Philip


    1. Hi Phil
      I think we sorted out most of the problem’s on passage, it was a sort of shake down cruise!
      She is ok to sail as she is but we have a few electrical problems to sort out before going to far from home again.


      1. Hi. Bruce maybe an idea to sort out better visual access for the diesel tank sight guage as well, possibly a new sight tube. You could also maybe extend it up to where you could possibly see it without having to take everything out of the locker. Just a thought. Cheers Philip


  2. Hi Philip
    Yes on my to do list, I was thinking of letting the fuel go down a bit (now full) and then undoing the top of the pipe and dropping in a floating high vis bead. When we were in Fowey filling the tank we did mark off the level every 10lts so we know the tank holds 90lts.


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