|Activity||Activity date||Activity description|
|Poole to Weymouth||2016-11-13||Sailing Derek H's new boat back towards the Exe. Stage 2 of the journey from Poole to Weymouth. The boat is a rather nice Westerley Fulmar. Fairly large tides so we took the offshore route around the overfalls at St Albans Head.|
|Weymouth to Topsham||2016-11-14||From Weymouth round Portland Bill to Topsham at the top of the Exe. Stage three in bringing Derek H's new Fulmar back to the Exe. With very big Spring tides, we took the offshore route around the East Shambles buoy and a few miles off Portland Bill. With the wind pretty much on the nose after we turned west, we motored most of the way back from Portland Bill. With the wind varying between 12 and 20 knots against us and 1 or 2 knots of tide with us, the first half of the journey back to the Exe (after Portland Bill) was a little bouncy at times. We reached the Exe just as it got dark - the trip back up the Exe in the dark and with big tides was interesting! With the Exe's mix of lit and unlit buoys and moorings encroaching on the channel, I really wouldn't recommend going up the Exe at night without local knowledge!|
|First Fulmar Outing||2017-04-01||Some fettling on Derek H's boat (re-attaching reefing lines etc) and then a quick outing along the Topsham part of the River Exe. Upwind under main and downwind under genoa. Lovely boat.|
|Thalmia moored at SYC||2017-04-06||Helping Derek put Thalmia on her mooring at SYC for the first time. In fact, when I missed getting the pick up on to the cleat, we proved that Derek can moor her OK single handed anyway!|
|Brixham to Exe||2017-04-23||A lovely day sail on Derek H's Fulmar. First a quick trip with Liz on board round Berry Head. Mostly motor sailing and watching the wildlife. Then, after dropping Liz off back in Brixham, a sail back up to SYC on the Exe. Light winds - but enough to sail most of the way. A chance to "play" with some of setup on Thalmia including the cruising chute and a think about how a preventer might be rigged.|
|Straight Point and Exmouth Docks||2017-05-07||A sail on Derek's Fulmar down the estuary and then along to Straight Point (the Royal Marines weren't firing at the time). Sailed back alongside Julian's Halmatic 30 - the boats are nicely matched for speed. Then into Exmouth Marina whch was interesting. I'd not been into Exmouth Marina before in anything bigger than a RIB so going in under the lifting bridge in a 30 foot yacht was interesting.|
|Exmouth Marina to SYC||2017-05-09||Bringing Derek's Fulmar back to SYC from Exmouth Marina.|
|SYC boat fettling||2017-05-20||Down to SYC to do a little bit of boat fettling|
|Man overboard practise||2017-05-21||Out to sea off Dawlish Warren to practice man overboard drill. The MOB (a pick up buoy with some chain attached) survived!|
|Brixham to St Peter Port||2017-05-27||After a delay of 12 hours waiting for the weather to improve a little, we set off at lunchtime for the channel crossing to St Peter Port. The wind was a fair bit stronger than forecast making the first part of the journey much harder work than expected. A decision was reached (as the wind started to ease a little) not to abandon and return to Brixham. This turned out to be a good call as the wind continued to drop. The TSS crossing at night - with no moon - was eerie. We had to stop at one point to allow about 5 boats to pass ahead while allowing one to pass behind. The completely dark night (no moon) made this TSS crossing very different to previous night crossings. Also the tide was very strong - as can be seen from most of the track across the TSS where we end up being taken down much of the TSS while still maintaining a boat aspect at right angles to the traffic!. The last part of the crossing was under motor arriving at St Peter Port just at first light (with an easy trip down the Little Russel).|
|SYC to Brixham||2017-05-26||Down from SYC on the Exe to Brixham ahead of the channel crossing to St Peter Port on Guernsey.|
|St Peter Port to St Helier||2017-05-30||A lovely sail from St Peter Port on Guernsey across to St Helier on Jersey. Ideal winds and weather.|
|St Helier to St Quay Portrieux||2017-05-31||After a light wind start, a lovely sail down from St Helier, Jersey to St Quay Portrieux on the Brittany coast. Sailed under cruising chute for most of the way. St Quay has the huge advantage of being an "all tide" port (i.e. no need to wait for there to be enough water over a marina cill).|
|St Quay to Ile De Brehat||2017-06-02||Up from St Quay-Portreaux to Ile de Brehat. The Ile de Brehat is a small island on a rocky shore. Somewhat similar to Sark (no cars and a very small population like Sark but no cliffs).|
|Ile de Brehat to St Peter Port||2017-06-03||After getting up an hour too early (confusing French and English first light times!!!), we sailed from Ile de Brehat for St Peter Port on Guernsey. The sail around the north east corner of the Ile de Brehat was notable for two things. First, we hit some fairly strong overfalls. It was neaps and a middling wind so we weren't expecting much. Given how lumpy it was, this is one to avoid at Springs. Secondly, Peter S caught a bunch of weed and plastic around his prop while going through the overfalls. Peter was able to sail on OK and got enough motor back to be able to motor into St Peter Port later. The rest of the sail was lovely - under cruising chute for a large part of the journey.|
|St Peter Port to SYC||2017-06-04||A very fast sail back from St Peter Port, Guernsey to SYC on the Exe. For most of the way the wind was quite strong - maybe a force 5 - but was on the port rear quarter. This meant that most of the sail was done with just a small amount of reefing and lots of sailing down the following waves. Long and tiring - but fun! The speed meant that we were unexpectedly back at the Exe before low water so we were able to sneak in and be back on the mooring at SYC just before it got dark.|
|Exe to Dartmouth||2017-07-01||The plan was to go to Salcombe. However, the weather forecast was out and there was little wind to start with. That and some shennanigans with the cruising chute - that included giving it a wash in the sea - meant we were later than planned heading towards Start Point. Again the forecast was out as we now had 20 knots of wind that would have been against the (admittedly) neap tides after we rounded Start. So we gave up bouncing into waves and headed into Dartmouth / Darthaven for the evening.|
|Chaos Race||2017-09-09||The CHase Around the Ore Stone race. A great day's sailing. The weather forecast was fairly strong (F4 to F5 with occasional F6) and that was about right. No real sudden gusts so the winds of up to about 22 knots were fine and fun. Unfortunately I didnt help Derek to quite the heights in the results table that he managed last year with the commodore as a more competent crew! It was still a fast sail - fast enough that we had to potter around off the fairway buoy for a couple of hours waiting for enough tide to go back up the Exe. Then back to Starcross Yacht Club to arrive by sea for the inaugural Starstock mini festival.|
|Fulmar fettling||2018-03-06||Round to Topsham to help Derek H with putting bits and pieces back on his Westerley Fulmar.|
|Exe to Salcombe||2018-04-21||A great sail from the Exe down to Salcombe. Sailed past Simon T and Andy B on Nelly Nui as they prepared for their Round Britain sail. Met up with them again off Dartmouth and we sailed on together towards Start Point. We took the inside passage around Start Point and encountered a really heavy rain shower including some very loud and rather too close for comfort thunder and lightening. After that it was a beautiful evening sailing across Salcombe Bar and onto a mooring followed by a fine dinner ashore.|
|Salcombe to the Exe||2018-04-22||A great sail back from Salcombe to the Exe. Left the mooring in Salcombe and said goodbye to Simon T and Andy B leaving them to their Round Britain sail. Out over Salcombe Bar in thick fog. Experimented a bit further with the now fully working radar in Derek H's Fulmar and then headed off for the inshore passage around Start Point. Like the day before, wind was with tide so Start Point was fine and the fog mostly lifted as we reached Start Point. Then along past Berry head and into Torbay for some "man overboard" practise.Think I proved that I'd be able to get back to pick Derek up if he went overboard but without the practise I'd have probably run him over! Then up to the Exe waiting for the tide to change to allow a safe return to the mooring. Excellent weekend all round.|
|Brixham to St Peter Port||2018-05-25||From Brixham across to St Peter Port on Guernsey. Overall a good crossing with reasonable visibility until just after the shipping lanes. Then the fog came in with a vengeance! Having the luxury of both AIS and radar on Derek's Fulmar made a huge difference. If you look at the photos I've left one in that looks like "just grey" but see if you can see a yacht. When we reached St Peter Port (via the Little Russell) it was still very foggy but actually not quite as dense as a previous year. We could see the "gates" of St Peter Port harbour well before we would hit them!|
|Starcross YC to Brixham||2018-05-24||Down from Starcross Yacht Club on the Exe to Brixham. This gave us a couple of hours shorter passage time the next day and the ability to leave at our preferred time (as Brixham is navigable at all states of the tide).|
|St Peter Port to St Helier||2018-05-27||A really good sail from St Peter Port on Guernsey across to St Helier on Jersey. Along the south coast of Jersey where the usual past times of spotting the German 2nd World War defences and avoiding the Condor fast ferries passed the time nicely.|
|St Helier to Granville, France||2018-05-28||From St Helier on Jersey across to Granville in France. We were joined by dolphins briefly - very large ones - but as they disappeared quite quickly it became more fun watching the people watching for dolphins! Then on via the Ilse Chausey - more later on them in this blog - and then on to Granville in France. Played with the cruising chute for the first time on this cruise. Granville is an old walled town - a little like St Malo along the coast - but not so crowded. The marina, like many on the French coast, has a cill and at low water the approach to Granville completely dries out.|
|Granville to Isles Chausey||2018-05-30||From Granville across to the Iles Chausey. The Iles Chausey are basically a "bunch of rocks" off the French coast. Apparently there are 365 islands at low tide. With a the ten metre tidal range when we were there, there are a whole lot less at high tide. Most of the photos are at low tide - showing The Sound that runs to the east of the main island. The approach requires some reasonably careful pilotage and then lying to the fore/aft moorings available in the Sound. The earlier photos show some very tall navigation marks at low water - look in the later photos which are closer to high water and they only just appear above the water!|
|Iles Chausey to St Helier||2018-05-31||Out from the Iles Chausey via the northern passage. Look carefully at the chart and you'll see that the passage dries to a height of up to 4.5 metres! However, with a tidal range of 10 metres and the excellent French navigational markers and transits (which again can be seen on the chart at higher zooms), the passage pilotage was fine. Iles Chausey was exceptional - a truly stunning place. What wasn't so good was all the flies that migrated from the rocks that were covered at high water and hitched a ride on the boats all the way to Jersey. At Jersey, we anchored in St Aubins Bay waiting for enough water over the cill at St Helier marina.|
|St Helier to Sark||2018-06-01||From St Helier on Jersey up to Sark. Along the south coast of Jersey where some wind against tide made the sailing a little bouncy but gave us 8.8 knots over the ground as we went round La Corbiere (as a very blurry photo shows). Then up to La Greve de la Ville anchorage on the east side of Sark. Suprisingly the wind gusts got up to 25 knots as we were getting close to the pilotage in to the anchorage. Once within the anchorage - and about 30 yards from the shore - the anchorage was very still. Went for a stroll around Sark - including across La Coupe which I'd promised myself I wouldn't walk across again.|
|Sark to St Peter Port||2018-06-02||Round from La Greve de la Ville anchorage on the east side of Sark to the Saigne Bay anchorage on the west side. The Saigne Bay anchorage has some rather dramatic rock stacks (think James Bond / The Man With The Golden Gun - but smaller). The on - via the Gouliot Passage and one of the passages north of the Lower Heads cardinal - to St Peter Port marina to meet up with lots of other Starcross Yacht Club "yotties" for the traditional meal in La Perla.|
|St Peter Port to Starcross YC||2018-06-03||Back from St Peter Port to Starcross Yacht Club on the Exe. Up the Little Russell at about 08:00 with just a little "wind against tide bounciness" at the top end. Then across the shipping lanes with very good visibility. The sail started with an excellent wind from the north east at about F4 to F5ish but died away a little after crossing the second shipping lane. So it was on with the motor for maybe the last third of the journey reaching the Exe at about 23:00 and on to the mooring just before midnight. I don't think the Exe is a good place to try to navigate at night without local knowledge (it's our "home port") - too many unlit channel / lateral buoys and moorings very close to the channel edge. My "top tip" for navigating the Exe at night is that if the red / green channel buoy you are navigating for doesn't flash occasionally then you're heading for Brunel's railway line!|
|Exe to Dartmouth||2018-06-16||With the SYC Newport Trophy cancelled due to the possibility of a Force 6, we set of with Peter S for company hoping to get as far as Salcombe. However, with the wind pretty much on the nose, progress was a little slow for us so we motor sailed. As we crossed Torbay we saw the annual Brixham Trawler Race taking place. The weather forecast was pretty much right (with maximum gusts of about 26 knots - F6), so we gave up on the idea of rounding Start Point and ducked into Darthaven Marina in Dartmouth.|
|Dartmouth to QAB Plymouth||2018-06-17||From Dartmouth round to Plymouth. With Spring Tides and a forecast that was F5 gusting F6, we planned to take a cautious route round Start Point staying about a mile and half off. However, as we motored out from Slapton we encountered some large waves at the edge of the Skerries / the edge of Start Race. But as they were all fairly regular they were quite fun! Once round Start the wind increased a bit to gusting F6 and one particular wave dumped a load of water in the cockpit. However, with Dark Side of the Moon tracks from the Pulse Pink Floyd album playing on the waterproof bluetooth speaker and the course after Prawle Point allowing us to stop motor sailing, we were then flying along towards Plymouth. So into QAB marina much earlier than expected.|
|Out to the fairway buoy||2018-07-28||A windy sail - as expected. We went out just past the fairway buoy but as it was very gusty - 31 knots / mid force 7 - we snuck back in just before the tide got too low to return to the mooring.|
|Exe to Dartmouth||2018-08-13||A lovely sail down from the Exe to Dartmouth. Wind ranged from very little to about 22 knots.|
|Up to Topsham Quay||2018-10-08||Putting Thalmia to bed for the winter! Up to Trouts pontoon ready for Thalmia to be lifted out for the winter later in the week.|
|Thalmia launched||2019-04-06||Thalmia was craned in at Topsham Quay and then we went for a quick sail just out past the fairway buoy. The wind was up and down a lot. From nothing in the estuary to about 23 knots out at sea.|
|Weymouth to Poole||2019-05-16||
A sail from Weymouth round to Poole Harbour.
With the winds continuing to be easterly, this was a combination of sailing and motoring. The two main challenges on this stretch of water are the military gunnery range at Lulworth and overfalls / race at St Albans Ledge. The army claimed to be firing on this day so we went as far as Durdle Door and then went offshore to avoiding the firing range.
At the end of the range (at St Albans Head) we took the unconventional choice of sailing alongside St Albans Ledge in the overfalls (and right past naval gunnery buoys "B" and "C" but happily there was no navy about this day)! This made for quite a bouncy journey.
Anvil Point and Perveril Point were fine and then we sailed past Old Harry Rocks and into Poole Harbour and the most expensive (read "overpriced" given the state of the washrooms) marina of the trip.
|Exe to Weymouth||2019-05-15||
A sail from Starcross Yacht Club on the Exe via the inshore passage at Portland Bill and on to Weymouth.
Because Portland Bill sticks out into the English Channel and has a shallow underwater ledge that "squeezes" the currents, it has a somewhat fearsome reputation (see here for a Youtube video of when it was "angry" at the end of a storm). Therefore, we needed to be off the end of the Bill at the right time for mostly slack water and a "lift" up the eastern edge. That meant setting off at the hideously early time of 04:30 to allow some contingency for being off the end of the Bill at 14:00. Given that we had to sail and motor (against the easterly wind) over 35 nautical miles, we were pleased to be off the Bill at about 14:15.
Going round the Bill was happily uneventful but the large number of appallingly marked lobster pot buoys still means that great care is needed. The photos show us rounding the end of the Bill with the front obelisk aligned in the nearly in the middle of the red band of the lighthouse (as recommended). On the eastern side of the Bill, the 5 metre depth contour is typically a good guide to avoiding the race / overfalls.
|Poole to Keyhaven||2019-05-17||
From Poole Harbour into the Solent to anchor up at Keyhaven.
With the easterly winds continuing, this sail and motor took us out of Poole Harbour (past Brownsea Island and the Sandbands/Studland chain ferry). We then past Bournemouth, Boscombe (where the cliff top hotel I grew up in has been knocked down) and Christchurch Ledge. We took the northern channel into the Solent going past Henry VIII's Hurst Castle and The Trap.
We anchored off Keyhaven to wait for enough tide to allow us to get into the Keyhaven anchorage (which is just north of Hurst Castle). A stunning location, we were the only boat anchored there!
|Keyhaven to Yarmouth||2019-05-18||
A sail up through Keyhaven marshes and then across to Yarmouth on the Isle Of Wight.
We weighed anchor and then followed the channel through Keyhaven marshes to the end of the navigable water at Keyhaven itself. Then it was a short leisurely sail across to Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight.
Shortly after mooring up at the surprisingly unbusy Yarmouth Marina, everything changed as dozens of yachts from the Junior Offshore Group arrived (and ended up rafting up 4 deep).
Best food of the entire trip was at the Cucinaio restaurant - a sort of bouillabaisse like fish stew).
|Yarmouth to Newtown Creek||2019-05-19||
From Yarmouth marina round to an anchorage in Newtown Creek.
We left Yarmouth Marina just after the Junior Offshore Group fleets left. We sailed for a bit in very light winds. The light winds gave us a chance to try out Derek's symmetric spinnaker for the first time. It flew! Albeit that the light winds meant that it didn't completely "fill". Then on to the splendid Newtown Creek for an overnight anchorage.
With a reputation for being very busy at the height of the summer, there we only three other boats in the anchorage we chose. Lots of fading memories triggered as I was last at Newtown Creek maybe 40 years ago when myself and three school friends sailed my parents' Wayfarer over from Christchurch Harbour - it's surprising looking back at it that our parents were so laid back about a bunch of 15-16 year olds doing this!
|Newtown Creek to Wooton Creek||2019-05-20||
From Newtown Creek passing Cowes and on to Wooton Creek.
Another sail and motor, leaving Newtown Creek and sailing round the top of the Isle of Wight and passing Cowes. Then on to Wooton Creek and a gentle motor up to the top of the navigable part of Wooton Creek. We then moored up alongside a pontoon at the very friendly Royal Victoria Yacht Club.
Much of Wooton Creek dries at low water and in this case the pontoon we were moored to had a shallower "draft" then the yacht so it was quite a climb back on to the yacht at low water.
|Wooton Creek to Beaulieu River||2019-05-21||
From Wooton Creek, past Cowes and Fawley and into the Beaulieu River.
We left Wooton Creek and sailed across the Solent to the Beaulieu River. We motored up the river past Bucklers Hard and towards the top of the navigable river. We then moored up at Buckers Hard marina (which we feared would be frighteningly expensive but was actually quite reasonable when compared with the Poole marina and given the excellent facilities).
|Beaulieu River to Lymington||2019-05-22||
A short sail round from Bucklers Hard on the Beaulieu River to the Town Quay at Lymington.
We left the peace and tranquility of the Beaulieu River and after a short sail reached the yachting mega-centre that is Lymington. Because we were so early in the sailing season we were able to tie up at Lymington Town Quay without rafting. Derek's brother and family were keen to try some sailing on his yacht so he took them out for a sail towards Yarmouth. Then a very pleasant dinner at Stanwell House Hotel.
|Lymington to Studland||2019-05-23||
A sail from Lymington out of the Solent past Hurst Castle, past Christchurch Harbour and on to an anchorage at Studland.
After leaving Lymington we sailed past Hurst Castle to leave the Solent and enter Christchurch Bay. We sailed past Christchucrh Harbour - where I learnt to sail 40 years ago - and on past Hengistbury Head.
As we sailed over Christchurch Ledge we encountered a small patch of overfalls. These were no problem in a 32 foot Westerley Fulmar but the experience was somewhat different when I encountered overfalls for the first time at this spot about 40 years ago in my parents' Wayfarer!
We then sailed on past Boscombe and Bornemouth (taking photos of what has now replaced my parents' hotel on the cliff above Boscombe Pier) and then we set a course for an anchorage at Studland.
As we were nearing Studland we encountered three black RIBs with dark clad men on board. Shortly after, a large military helicopter joined us overhead and started transferring men from the speeding RIBs to the helicopter. Although Poole is a major Royal Marine base, I would guess these might have been from the Special Boat Service.
|Studland to Portland Harbour||2019-05-24||
From Studland past St Albans Head to Portland Harbour with a stop at Lulworth Cove.
We weighed anchor early at the Studland anchorage to be able to get past the Lulworth Gunnery Range before the army started firing at 09:30. This meant an inshore passage past the St Albans Head. While not in the same league as Portland Bill, St Aldhams Ledge does have a bit of a "reputation" and the inshore passage doesn't always exist (see here and here for a couple of fun Youtube videos of yachts rounding St Albans Head). In our case we were crossing about mid tide with maybe a F4 against the tide so we could have expected some lumpiness. In fact, it was a pussycat - no idea why! Then on to the circular inlet in the cliffs that is Lulworth Cove. When we dropped anchor there we were the only yacht there - the benefits of early season cruising! Then on to Portland Marina. Built for the 2012 Olympics the place is huge.
|Portland to SYC on the Exe||2019-05-25||
From Portland Harbour, round Portland Bill to Starcross Yacht Club on the Exe.
As ever, a rounding of Portland Bill by the inshore passage required careful planning. In our case, this meant that to get safe and helpful tides we had to be off the end of Portland Bill at 16:30 - a late start given the long sail to the Exe after the Bill.
As we left the excellent Portland Harbour there were fleets of Oppies and Toppers training. We then closed the Bill near Grove Point and the tide helped us speed down the 5 metre contour line to round the Bill. Again, we had the obelisk at the end of the Bill lined up with the red band on the lighthouse (meaning we'd be far enough off the rocks but - usually - not too far off to be in the race).
The biggest challenge - once again - was to avoid the swarms of tiny appallingly marked lobster pot buoys that appeared to be laid out like some minefield grid!
After passing Pulpit Rock on the west side, we started heading off towards the Exe. With the late start, this meant that we'd be going up the Exe in the dark. However, it also meant that we decided to sail in the light winds after it got too dark to see the lobster pots also scattered in Lyme Bay.
The trip up the Exe was OKish. The lights in the fairway are better than when I last did it in the dark - maybe three years ago - but there are still two unlit buoys (numbers 14 and 21 IIRC) in the Exe itself. Additionally there are a few large metal mooring buoys that encroach too far into the marked channel meaning a risk of a serious "ding" to a boat's gel coat without local knowledge and/or someone with a decent light on the front of the boat to spot them. Back on the mooring at SYC at 01:30.
|Thalmia to Topsham||2019-10-16||Up to Trouts at Topsham on Thalmia ready for her winter lift out.|