The Cruise – Part 15
Saturday 10th May
I had a really peaceful sleep last night with boat tucked in behind Plymouth Yacht Haven and I woke to a gorgeous morning, there being just a gentle wind from the east. When breakfast was finished I beached the boat to take a postcard to the mail box and to dispose of my rubbish, then I used the yuloh to move the boat to a nearby pontoon where there was access to a fuel bay, but I discovered that the Yacht Haven only sold diesel. Petrol was not crucial, as I had a full can of 5 litres which would last for quite a while.
The day couldn't be wasted; therefore I decided to have a sail for the joy of it, with no particular destination. What a fabulous time I had! When clear of the Mount Batten Pier I hardened in the sheet and made for the western end of the breakwater. Speed to windward was on average 3.5 knots and the boat consistently sailed herself. A German Auxilliary, A 1412, armed to the teeth lay on our course and temporarily she took our wind. A quarter of a mile further along we came very near the lighthouse that marks the end of the pier and slightly ahead to starboard was the picturesque seaside town of Cawsands with its golden sandy beach. The cliffs nearby are cloaked with trees that overhang the low granite shoreline.
The Channel tide lee-bowed 'Faith' which eliminated any leeway. With nothing in our path I simply relaxed and let the boat look after herself. When about 2 miles out to sea I counted 43 yachts sailing their various courses; several of them were racing - colourful too, with their spinnakers and cruising shoots. Undoubtedly, the sailing was the best of the cruise so far. When approximately 6 miles offshore I tacked to port to lay a course to the east of The Great Mewstone.
When well to the north east of the River Yealm I brought the boat round onto a run for the return passage, but on the way while on the starboard tack a crossing yacht on the port tack failed to give way, and I had to alter course to avoid a collision. I made sure the skipper of the other yacht, by the name of 'Anodyne' knew he had infringed the rule for which he apologized,
Back in The Sound I anchored near the north side of Drake's Island where there was a lee and after a snooze I set sail for Millbrook Lake to the north of Mount Edgcumbe where I anchored in 6 feet of water, and there I spent the night.
Sunday 11th May
This was the day I had been waiting for, and it more than lived up to my expectations. To begin with there was very little wind, so I started the engine and headed through The Bridge. There were a few other yachts on the water, but there was no indication that there would be anything special. I and hundreds, if not thousands knew the Artemis Transat yachts would be leaving Sutton Marina for the start of their single-hand race across the Atlantic, with the start at 1400.
By 0950 'Faith' was anchored off Cawsand beach along with many others who had already arrived. As yesterday, it was sun hat weather and there was a festive atmosphere with the local sailing and rowing clubs on the water testing their skills at racing.
Throughout the morning more and more yachts anchored in any available space they could find, and beyond Plymouth Breakwater surrounding the start line there were thousands of yachts sailing or motoring. Tripper boats full of spectators, motor yachts, dingies and even canoes criss-crossed tracks while taking photos of the competitors' yachts. One or two of them tried making trial starts, but it was an impossible situation. Helicopters hovered overhead, presumably filming the event. At the eastern end of the line one of Her Majesty's vessels was the platform for the start line flagstaff and at the western end there was a large black inflatable buoy advertising Artemis.
I joined the many vessels gilling around the line to take photos and I succeeded with some crackers which I'll make available on the Internet when my cruise is finished. I anticipated incorrectly that the majority of the racing yachts would exit by the western entrance, but instead they made a leg through the eastern passage which meant I did not have a close-up view of them racing. Nevertheless, the whole thing was a spectacle, the likes of which I have never seen before. As I was so engaged with watching the event I didn't realize the ebb had taken 'Faith' as far as Rame Head, and the wind fell light, which meant a slow sail back to Cawsands where I anchored for tea. There I encountered a problem with the bolt fixing the mainsheet tang which had worked loose, so that it fell out. I was grateful the mishap happened when the boat was at anchor.
I could not mend the fitting, because I needed epoxy which I did not have in my tool kt; therefore I started the engine and motored to the peaceful anchorage by Plymouth Yacht Haven where I stayed last Friday night. This was a convenient spot because it was near the slipway at Mountbatten where Al plans to launch his Paradox on Monday.
Monday 12th May
My priority was to link with Al Law when he launched his Paradox, 'Little Jim'; therefore mid-morning I took up the anchor and motored to the large public slipway at Mount Batten where I anchored to await his arrival. The boat needed a thorough clean on the inside and this was the opportunity to do it. As I finished the task Al arrived and I pulled alongside the slipway to anchor the boat in shallow water so that I could wade ashore and give a hand.
The launching was a painless affair and by 1315 we were anchored alongside one another back at the Plymouth Marina backwater that I felt was becoming my territory.
We had lunch and around 1500 we set out to beach our boats so that we could go in Al's car to John Perry's place where the trailer was to be stored. Unfortunately my anchor was caught under a cable; therefore Al went ahead to buy some petrol and deliver the trailer. A half-an-hour later I managed to free the anchor by contriving a hook from a pair of pliers attached to a piece of rope which I used to lift the cable and drop the anchor at the same time to drag it free.
I beached the boat and took the ferry to Plymouth for shopping and to post this blog. Al and I will probably spend tomorrow in the area before setting off westwards the next day.