Early this morning, with a southerly wind of around gale force coming straight through the harbour entrance, my otherwise ‘idyllic’ mooring at the pontoon by the Dartmouth Harbour Office almost became untenable. The trouble was, ‘Bumper’ was attached to the pontoon and she was being blown forcefully against it by severe gusts at times. An hour or so before high water conditions were really bad. I had to borrow a large ball fender from the ‘African Queen’, a nearby charter fishing boat. ‘Bumper’ was certainly living up to her name! She bumped the pontoon over and again, but thankfully no damage was sustained.
This is all part-and-parcel of cruising small boats. Those who engage in this activity have to take the rough with the smooth.
As the tide ebbed, so the water became more stable and the wind decreased in strength. Heavy drizzle helped put a damper on the scene, but gradually the wind abated and by the afternoon the sun shone, although a few clouds scurried overhead. The speed of the clouds is always a good indicator of what the wind is like at sea. An experienced yachtsman always observes the clouds before putting to sea.
When it’s too windy for sailing there are always little jobs that can be done on the boat. I checked the fuel, the engine water intake and the fresh water. I cleaned the fenders and bought a new one in case ‘Bumper’ finds herself in a similar position to last night.
For an afternoon walk I took the main road out of town to find the nearest garage where I could buy diesel. The road just kept going up and up, and around and around, but after about a mile and a half I found a BP garage. Instead of carrying the two canisters of diesel back to the yacht I decided to catch the bus, but the driver would not let me enter his vehicle because I was carrying fuel. Therefore I linked the cans together, one at each end of my scarf to make a bridle, which enabled me to carry them on my shoulders.
Several local and visiting yachtsmen have asked me about ‘Bumper’s’ junk rig. I had to be honest and tell them such a sail will not allow the yacht to point as high as a Bermudan type, but the other attributes, especially the ease with which it can be reefed, more than compensates.
No gales have been forecast for tomorrow, and I’m hopeful I’ll be able to make some progress by reaching Salcombe. We shall see ………...