Funny stories

Anybody who has done any amount of sailing or boating will have a few stories to tell of things which didn’t go according to plan! I know because I have a lots, Vicki and I have been cruising since 2006, before that we had a day sailer.

My stories go back as far as when I started sailing in 1972 aged 12. I learnt to sail in a 8ft pram wooden dinghy which I has built myself the winter before, I never had any lessons, I remember dad pushing me off from the shore and I found out what worked and what didn’t the hard way! Sounds crazy now but in the shelter shallow waters of Gillan Harbour it was reasonably safe. What we considered safe back then compaired to now are quite different. Growing up I remember most boats were built of wood and some leaked badly but folk still went to sea in them.

Carne mooring, idea for April swim

Thinking about stories , one came to mind from soon after we bought Elektra. We had done her delivery passage in March 2017, there had been a few problems but we had managed the 165nm over 2 long days. Since her delivery passage Elektra had been mooring in Carne Creek as her seasonal mooring wasn’t avalible for use until the first of April. We had a day sail on Sunday the 2nd and all had gone well but Elektra had to go back onto the Carne mooring because her seasonal mooring is open to east wind. Our first weekend aboard was the 7-9th of April, HW was 1550hrs and only a 4.3m, Elektra needs 4m to float. With gear and stores to get aboard and stow before leaving Carne mooring, we needed to get out there as ASAP after the water was deep enough to get to her with the outboard leg down. I worked out 1330hrs would be about right, it turned out to be bang on and we arrived out to Elektra almost scrapping the bottom with the motor. We lowered the boarding ladder and Vicki climbed aboard. I passed the stores and gear to Vicki, attached the dinghy and climbed aboard myself. We both got busy with jobs, I slid out between the seat and the top bar of the pushpit to pull up the boarding ladder.

Then I found I couldn’t get back! I said “Vicki, I’m stuck!” “what do you mean, your stuck”. I was stuck and I couldn’t get back no matter what we tried, My rib cage was stuck on the seat. Thinking fast I said to Vicki “I will have to go out” “what do you mean” I said “I will push the ladder down again, climb out on to the ladder holding on to the back stay” This is what happened only everything in my pockets went splosh into the creek! I could have lived without my pocket change but the truck keys I couldn’t! Only one thing for it and that was to strip off and going looking for them, in the water I could stand up in waist deep water but had to dip down to get the keys, April isn’t the warmest month for a swim! I managed to retrieve my keys and some of the money and was glad to get back aboard, dry and get some clothing back on, brrr! Lol.

Elektra was new to us, what we didn’t know at the time was during building they had cut the pushpit legs to sort and bolted them down to the boat anyway making a sort of wedge shape and if I had only slid sideways a little I may have been able to get back into the cockpit.

The rest of the weekend went without any other problems!

New Furler

Ever since the beginning of the year we had been having problems with the furler on Elektra, the genoa had been down a number of times but each time we still had the same sort of problem, sometimes the sail wouldn’t unroll and other times it wouldn’t furl away.

For a few years I had been thinking of ordering a new set of sails and this year in July after getting prices from a few sail makers had placed my order with Crusader Sails who had made a mainsail for our last yacht.

We were invited over to our sailing friends yacht Robert and Mandy for drinks one evening near the end of July, talk got around to new sails and then on to our problems with our furler. Robert said the best furler make was Profurl, he had one fitted on his last yacht and also on their yacht now, a very nice Sadler 34. Robert and Mandy are great company and the evening passed by very quickly.

I came away thinking of getting a price for a new Profurl, the next week I asked Mylor Rigging for a price and was shocked by their quote, they said we don’t normally fit them, we fit Harken. They quoted for for 4 different furlers 3 Harken and 1 Profurl, prices ranged from top £4,388 to 3,162 for the Profurl. Telling Robert about the quote, he suggested AllSpars in Penryn so I got another quote from them. I also asked A2 Rigging but they never got back to me. Matt from AllSpars got back to me with a quote before the end of day, his price was £2,340, still a lot but quite a bit cheaper than the Mylor Rigging. It didn’t take me long to decide and so I ordered from AllSpars. Matt would have fitted the very next week but we had planned a weeks sailing.

Getting hold of AllSpars the Monday after our return from holiday, Matt said he could fit Thursday-Friday, and so it was agreed, I would take Elektra to AllSpars in Penryn on Thursday morning. I hadn’t ever been that far up the Penryn River and the depth was my consern, we were moving towards neap tides with a max depth of 4.6m at HW, Matt thought we could get in an hour before HW.

So I planned to arrive at AllSpars at 0900hrs so had to leave Gillan at 0730hrs, I needed to be more ready as I would be taking her alone to Penryn and Vicki would pick me up by car from the boat yard after mooring up. My problem is I don’t like being late! So found myself motoring Elektra out of Gillan in almost no wind at 0700hrs which meant I got to AllSpars early too. Going up the channel I didn’t know were I was going but Matt was there to take my lines and all was OK, against the quay Elektra still had 0.3m under her keel almost 2hrs before HW. She would possibly float here in 3.7m of depth. Matt contacted me later in the day to say all went well and Elektra was ready to take away. I said I would be over around 1100hrs tomorrow.

Vicki drove me back to Penyrn and dropped me off just before 1100hrs, after a little chat about other jobs I wanted Matt helped with lines and cast off back out into the river in reverse into the fairly strong wind. All went well and I thanked them. Out in the channel now I used the tiller pilot so I could walk forward and coil lines and remove fenders. Only in low revs but the wind was pushing Elektra along quite quickly, I was glad went that job was done and I could get back to the cockpit. With the wind in the west it seemed a good idea to sail but I wasn’t sure if that was allowed in Falmouth Harbour, so it wasn’t until a Sadler 25 came out between the mooring and started sailing that I unrolled a little genoa. Elektra picked up to 5kts very quickly. Coming east out past the harbour I could see the pilot boat and a tug towing a barge coming south down the Carrick Roads, not being sure where they were going I continued east. When I was satisfided they were continuing south towards Falmouth Bay, I turned Elektra south also towards the bay. There were lots of other yachts coming our way, a Hurley 22 under full sail and a ketch with main and genoa up. I had the feeling the wind out in Falmouth Bay was going to be a lot stronger so sailed on with just the genoa out.

I was correct in my thinking and once past Pendennis Point things hotted up. When the ketch which was following got out into the wind they very quickly turned around and headed back into the Carrick Roads. Elektra was very quickly making 5.8-6kts she just left the Hurley standing, out to the south was a large old gaffer 50ft? Motoring into wind while she rasied her sails, not wanting to get in her way I sailed Elektra to pass her astern. This didn’t turn out too well as we got closer she also turned onto a starboard tack. Getting steadly closer to one another, the old gaffer wanting to go south and my heading was south-southwest, when I thought I was far enough ahead I cut across her bow releasing us both to go on our own course. The wind was 17-21kts from the west, Elektra was handling it well, this was the stongest wind I had sailed Elektra in while alone, the tiller pilot just couldn’t cope with the wind as Elektra was pushed over on her ear so I was mainly helming. It was lovely to be out sailing, as we neared the shelter of Gillan I started the engine and when the wind eased rolled the genoa without any problem, before motoring in and picking up the mooring. What a sail, Elektra had covered the 7nm in 1.25hrs just sailing on her genoa.

End of Holiday no 3

After a rest day on Saturday including sailing friends Robert and Mandy joining us for some drinks in the afternoon. This was the end of the really hot weather and we had been aboard enjoying the last 9 days of it.

On Sunday with work to look at on Monday we had to get back home, the forecast was giving verible force1-3 and we had decided to motor the 6nm back to Elektra’s mooring in Gillan, I pulled up the anchor 1150hrs and Vicki motored Elektra slowly out of the Precuil River, arriving in Gillan Harbour 1305hrs. We needed to do some washing up and we now had plenty of hot water. We couldn’t get ashore until 1600hrs but jobs and packing took up most of that time only leaving us a short while to sit and enjoy the surroundings before loading the dinghy and heading in. The outboard refused to start, so in the end I had to row.

We would have been back home about 1700hrs but driving out along the bottom St Anthony narrow road we came across a visitor who was unable to reverse her car having met 2 on coming cars and after 10mins of trying she had only managed one car lenght with about 50 yards more to go to a passing place, I got fed up waiting so reversed the pick-up 1/2 a mile back to St Anthony, turned and drove out the top road. Back home we unloaded and got ready to work for Monday.

Friday 12th August

We had thought of sailing back to Polkerris for evening meal at the Rashleigh lnn which we had used before but ringing the number which was unattainable l looked it up on Google, new number and new owners, we looked at the menu and couldn’t see anything we wanted to order so we gave up that idea.

The weather forecast was for SE force 4/ E force 4-6 west of the Dodman for Friday. We thought we would be able to sail all the way back to Falmouth area so decided to leave good time on Friday.

Dolphins joined us 4 times on this passage
I think Dolphins prefer a fast moving craft, we seem to see them more often when motoring.

Picking up the anchor and motoring Elektra out over the bar at 0850hrs we could goose wing her out to the Mew Stone WP, from the way point there wasn’t any wind so we started motoring Elektra towards St Anthony Head WP 36nm away. This passage turned out to be pretty boring except for the Dolphins which kept on visiting us. Motoring on until 1100hrs when we could motor sail at 6.5-7kts. At 1300hrs we sailed for about 1hr at about 4.5-5kts, then around 1400hrs the wind turned onto the nose and we started motoring again. The short time of motor sailing and sailing had kicked up a nasty 3/4 corkscrew sea for the rest of passage into Falmouth. From 1500hrs with no wind and same corkscrew sea we turned into the shelter of the Carrick Roads at 1600 and motored into and anchored in the Precuil River at 1620hrs having logged 41nm.

It’s a joy to see Dolphins.
The Precuil River

Salcombe to Yealm

On Wednesday after our dinghy problems (see last post) l booked a table at the Ship Inn in the Yealm River for Thursday evening, luckily this was the last available table.

The forecast for Thursday was NE force 4-5 / E force 4 later which would be good for going west-southwest to the Yealm River. I pulled up the anchor at 0900hrs which was very well dug in and a bit of a mess to clear up after stowing in locker, Vicki motored Elektra slowly in the direction of Salcombe  entrance, the out going tide was adding to her SOG of 5kts.

Rounding the Mew Stone off Salcombe at 0930hrs, l set just the genoa for what would be according to forecast a run down wind. As soon as the sail was set the SOG was 7kts, then 8kts, then followed a fast but short lived sail for 1.5hrs which we covered over 10nm. One out into Bigbury Bay the speed dropped off and we started motoring at 1110hrs Motoring into the Yealm River Entrance, now low water only 0.2 under the keel in the channel so going very slowly. We dropped anchor in Cellars Cove at 1230hrs just outside the river moorings having logged 18nm, another hot day, we had been very lucky with the weather all week. In the evening we were able to use the dinghy to get all the way to the pub for evening meal. The Ship Inn meal was always on our list every time we went east but in resent years we haven’t been, first meal there since 2018, just as good. Back to Elektra we had another wonderful sunset to finish the day.

Barn Pool to Salcombe

Elektra in Barn Pool

On Monday we set off for Salcombe. The tidal stream wasn’t going east until 1155hrs, so l pulled the anchor up at 1110hrs and we motored Elektra out of Barn Pool, though the Bridge, across Plymouth Sound and out past East end of the breakwater and on to our way point off the Mew Stone. Motoring on glassy smooth sea. Once off the Mew Stone l did try to sail but gave up 1/2hr later. Motoring ESE towards Bolt Head we had a Royal Navy escort for a short while until the wind filled in a bit and we could sail slowly. We also saw Ken Endean’s yacht heading our way but  a little more inshore of us, l would have loved a chat as l am a big fan of his writing.(pilot books).

Royal Navy escort

The wind was off and on all across Bigbury Bay, a little sailing then no wind and the same again on repeat. Once we arrived at Bolt Tail the wind picked up on the nose (l should have sailed from here) but thinking we were nearly there continued motoring, would have been great sailing. Once we passed my Bolt Head way point we turned onto a better heading and were motor sailing, turning north into Salcombe pushed our SOG over 8kts. We turned into wind and l lowered the main just before crossing Salcombe Bar at 1510hrs. Now in a long line of yachts heading into Salcombe, speed slowed as skipper’s tried to find a mooring, when l could l took my chance to pass them as we were heading up river to anchor. This was Salcombe Yacht Clubs regatta week so lots of racing sailing dinghies heading south to dodge! We finally dropped anchor off Frogmore Creek at 1545hrs having logged 22nm

Sunsets in Frogmore Creek

As we were on holiday, we stayed here at anchor in Frogmore Creek for 2 more rest days, visiting Kingsbridge by dinghy to the north on Tuesday and Salcombe Town on Wednesday, returning from the Town Vicki suggested going up Frogmore Creek so we passed Elektra at anchor and continued into the creek, the tide was running in west and the wind was blowing from the east so we got quite wet in the spray. It didn’t seem quite as good an idea but the head of the creek was lovely, a quick scout to find were the pub was for another time. Then we headed back down to Elektra, then it happened, yes you guessed it the outboard ran out of fuel! I had topped up the tank in morning before going to Salcombe, the motor only holds a litre which does about 5nm. Have you ever tried to row one of these inflatables any distance? Vicki had to go and sit on the bow to give me room, l am glad to say we were getting blown in the general direction we want to go. All l needed to do was row us away from the lee shore and once nearer to Elektra towards her so we didn’t get blown passed. Once back l could rest again, all part of the joy of boating!

Saturday 6th August

We would be heading due east to Plymouth area, the tide stream was with us heading east 0920-1520hrs, the forecast was of northerly force4 veering east force2-3 later, pressure was set to rise, more hot and dry expected.

Elektra anchored at Polgwyn Cove

It seemed an earlier start would be a good idea, l pulled up the anchor and Vicki motored Elektra out of Polgwyn Cove at 0930hrs. Once clear of the shelter I set all the sail and stopped engine, there didn’t seem much wind at all and it wasn’t long before we were motoring again! Around 1000hrs off Fowey the wind filled in a bit and we could sail east-northeasterly towards Udder Rock. After almost an hour of slow 3kts of sailing we started motoring again along the coast north of Udder Rock, passing Polperro and then Looe Island.

Sailing towards Rame Head

After Looe Island the wind filled in again a southeast force2-3 and we were sailing. This continued all the way to Rame Head which we passed at 1415hrs, the wind angel was a little better to Draystone way point which wr passed at 1445hrs but turning north into Plymouth, now running was very uncomfortable in the moderate swell, so l rolled the genoa and started motoring.

Now to find an anchorage, Cawsand which we had used before wasn’t looking a good option with the east winds so we headed for Jenny Cliff which we hadn’t ever used but had heard was good for east winds. Once there the wind seemed more like south-southwesterly so not sheltered. Then without stopping we motored over to Barn Pool west of Drake’s Island which we found very calm, there were a few yachts at anchor already. We hadn’t used Barn Pool before but new from friends of its problems, lots of discarded metal on bottom and steep shelving banks which go from 0-28meters of depth in the same sort of distance. So we took care to find a good spot before dropping anchor at 1600hrs having logged 29nm.

Anchored at Barn Pool, Plymouth other side of the water.

Hottest July since records began

Ever since getting back from our holiday at the end of June (you remember wet and windy) here in Cornwall there has almost been no rain and hot with it. The scaremongering in the media of global warming has intensified in reasent weeks. What the media fails to report is this weather only started at the beginning of July, before then it was colder and wetter than normal.

As you possibly know, l have cut grass for a living for the last 30 plus years. And l have found out over the years, grass grows the same amount every year, only the weather determines when. Over the years we have had many dry summer’s, normally the rain comes in the end and a autumn flush of grass with it.

As my work has actually dried up, Cornwall is now very dry! And l won’t be missed from cutting any of my gardens another summer holiday is in order. How lucky am I, this doesn’t happen very often!

Anchored in Gillan Harbour

Friday 5th August was our first day of our 3rd summer holiday this season, wow! We had a forecast of northerly force4-5 with outlook for easterlys later in the week. There wasn’t any hurry to get aboard as HW was 1050hrs. I went down in the morning early to top up the fuel and water, arriving home again, we loaded up the truck with gear, stores and left home about 1100hrs. I had left the dinghy attached to the pontoon so reversed in by Sailaway building to off load and left Vicki with the stuff while l went to park the truck. We loaded up the dinghy and motored out to Elektra on her swing mooring. Elektra was bouncing about quite a bit because of the northerly wind do we dropped the mooring and motored her into Gillan Harbour a little further and dropped anchor so we could pack easier.

Heading for the Dodman Point
Anchored off Gorran Haven

We picked the anchor up again and left at 1310hrs, l pulled up the main with 2 reefs and with 1 reef in the genoa we set off across Falmouth Bay. I was tempted with more sail but know from past experience we are coming off a sheltered shore. A wise decision as it happened. What followed could only be described as the best sail of the season so far, the sea was smooth, Elektra was close on the wind heading northeast in northwesterly force 4-5. It was as much as we could do to hold her on course during the odd gusts. We were sailing against the tide stream and covered the 14nm from Gillan to the Dodman Point 2.75hrs. From the Dodman we rolled away the genoa and started motor sailing as the wind had swung around more on the nose. We dropped anchor off Gorran Haven at 1630hrs having logged 16nm. We stopped here for Fish&Chips, will l lowered the dinghy into the water Vicki ordered the food. When we had lowered and attached the motor we headed in for the beach. When we got to the shop we were a little early so went for a pint at the local pub. Got chatting to a couple on holiday from Cheshire, it was there first day as well. We said we had sailed up from the Lizard and had stopped here for their great Fish&Chips, in that case they said they would try them later in the week. After eating we were back aboard and pulling the anchor up at 1840hrs. We motored Elektra around the point and north into the  wind across Mevagissey Bay to the shelter of Polgwyn Cove where we dropped anchor for the night at 1930hrs having logged 20nm.

Anchored at Polgwyn Cove

Weekend sailing

Our local anchorages tend to be the same places all the time. Chosen over the years from many we have used to be very reliable and good holding.

After seeing the family away in the morning of Friday, we got stuff ready for going out to Elektra for the weekend, we couldn’t leave quickly because we had to wait for the tide to come back. I had left the dinghy on the pontoon over night so we only had to carry stores to dinghy.

Out on Elektra again in the evening. With the wind blowing from the west under full sail we made Channels Creek 9nm to the north in 1.5hrs, only slowing a little when losing the wind under Pendennis Point, it was a great sail. There it is well sheltered from the west.

Elektra in Channels Creek

On Saturday, l had a few jobs to do. New genoa cars to fit, l had tried this the previous weekend but found the track ends difficult to remove, asking in the week on a Facebook forum, lots of suggestions had been made, one of which was to remove the foreword stop ends. These came off easily and the job was done fairly quickly in the end.

Next was a problem with the genoa furling gear, ever since buying Elektra in 2016 the furling gear had played up from time to time. This season we had had problems more than once rolling the sail back in after use. Reading about the gear at home, l had discovered that the top bearing should be pulled to the very top of the furler, they suggested using a short piece of line from the top of the sail to the bearing. But our genoa rests on the pulpit when fully unrolled. So l pulled the sail down to check the top bearing and gave it a good going over with WD40 before pulling the sail back up as high as it would go. Then at the bottom I tighten it back down to the spool. I thought we were sheltered but playing with such a big sail it didn’t seem so sheltered! Elektra being a masthead rig the genoa is 2/3rds of her sail power. Once rolled in again, l decided that was enough for the day and l will try it another day.

The forecast said that a strong southwest was coming overnight, Channels Creek would be open to it so having found out a sailing friend was anchored at Malpas, we decided to move upriver. Arriving at Malpas we anchored near by and had a chat. Robert and Mandy envied us over for drinks later. Vicki made dinner and we went over, Vicki and l had a great evening, lots of stories with Robert and Mandy aboard their Sadler 34.

Elektra at Malpas

Robert and Mandy left in the morning but we stayed until nearer low water because we wouldn’t be able to get in back at Gillan until 2hrs after LW. What we didn’t think of was the shallows just south of Malpas. The anchor had dug in very well during the strong wind in the night, in fact so well l had to get Vicki to motor Elektra over it to break it free from the bottom. The chain and the anchor came up covered in mud, this left me with a big clean up job and a few buckets of water down the side decks. All this added time to my job and When Vicki motored Elektra over the shallows  she said the sounder showed only 0.1m at one point.

A nice northwesterly to push us home, couldn’t have planned it any better. The furling gear seemed to work a lot better but l had been on to Mylor Rigging for a quote for a new one. It was a lovely sail and we were back in Gillan packing up within 2hrs.