Gilly Crofton joined us for the day. Never having been to the Holmes - and willing to try anything once - she thought a day in the Cappucino Bristol Channel would be something to add to her list of 'first experiences'! Jon Lister joined us as a seriously able pair of hands and then we had the regular crew - Us!! This formidable team would have come in really high up the list (as last year) had it not been for the Skipper starting 10 minutes too early ...... the remedy for this situation is the wife should have nagged longer and louder (as she did last year!) and we might ... just might! ... have won the race! It was a fabulous day, sailing in the company of so many yachts (70 to be precise) with some great banter and a great party afterwards in Portishead's newly refurbished Youth Centre. If you've never participated in the Holmes Race - may I recommend it to you.
What a great piece of kit, a kayak in a backpack that can actually float, takes two men and - we think - will get us from A to B should our dinghy be snaffled by "baddies"! We also envisage having a fair few fun outings with a picnic paddling up rivers in the sunshine! Thanks to Jon Lister for doing the research ... now it's your turn to actually buy one!
We set off from Portishead on Thursday with high hopes of reaching Oxwich Bay in one day but we were thwarted by the wind which died off and we would have had to motor against the tide. We decided to pop in to Barry, arriving early enough to be able to phone 'Auntie' Nest who invited us over for supper. We picked up Kindred Spirit's trot and organised ourselves for our run ashore. We pumped up the dinghy and then had to wait a couple of hours for the tide to come in .... wading through the Barry mud is not an option! Then there was the challenge of getting out of Barry Yacht Club but this was solved by Nest who asked her neighbour Brian (a member of BYC) to come down and let us out. It was great to be met by Nest and Carys who had been escorted into BYC by Brian. We went home to Seapoint and had a lovely supper with Nest, Carys and Maureen (Nest's nursing colleague from Swansea) and then back to BYC (thanks to Brian again) for a very comfy night on board.
Swansea Coastguards ruined our plans and put out a gale warning so our trip to Oxwich was scuppered. Instead we set off for Watchet. It was quite a challenging sail but no rain so we were lucky. We arrived in Watchet and were given a berth on a floating pontoon - only to find a few hours later that we were stuck in the mud! We had heard about Watchet's problems with silt but had no idea that all but the outermost berths sank into the mud. Not quite what we had envisaged for our beautiful, shiny yacht! All things considered, an expensive overnight stay but we were rewarded by the Watchet Music Festival (an energetic cycle up the hill to Parsonage Farm to view the happy campers!) and a variety of bands (and noises!) which carried on into the 'wee small hours'. James did get his pint at The Star too, so his morale was restored!
We set off at midday, finally heading for Oxwich as the gale had passed through - or so we thought! With the wind on the nose and gusting 38kts it was a pretty tough sail across the channel. Humphrey took a lot of the strain but it wasn't so easy to read the papers! Not quite the rest cure in the sunshine that we had imagined! To cap it all we finally got to the Gower side of the channel and found that, without the promised wind shift, we weren't going to make it to Oxwich Bay before the tide turned so ........ we went into Swansea!
We woke to bright sunshine and decided to exit Swansea asap and head out to sea to enjoy a few rays of summer. Very glad we did as we had a good sail, managed to read the papers, whipped the fenders lines and generally enjoyed the day. The plan had been to go to Cardiff for the night but the wind died off around Rhoose and we would have had to put on the engine to make it to Cardiff so we put in to Barry once again. This time we rafted alongside Magic for the night in case Kindred Spirit came back up channel at the end of her bank holiday weekend. We had a fairly lively night as another storm came through!
It was raining, the sea was lumpy and the wind was howling ... not an auspicious start to the day. Still, with two reefs in the main, a reefed yankee and the staysail we set forth for Portishead. Luckily the rain stopped and with the wind from the South West we had a cracking sail across the channel, registering speeds of 8.5kts before entering Portishead on the 1215 lock having completed a total trip of 145nm.
Although Ocean Rainbow has been to sea on numerous occasions since our summer holiday, none of the trips have been to new places so have only warranted a quick mention on the blog. However, this trip is worth a mention as we had a great evening in excellent company when Ocean Rainbow set to sea in bright sunshine for a 'charity run'. The Jessie May Trust is the beneficiary of a generous donation from David and Pat Wells who, with their friends Ray and Ruth, enjoyed a trip to view the world famous "Avonmouth Riviera". There was a strong wind warning but with blue skies and calm seas we decided to venture forth. Once outside the lock gates we put two reefs in the main, had a tiny foresail and hoist the staysail. We had a great time with speeds up to 8.5 knots through the water despite the lack of canvas and Ray and David appeared to thoroughly enjoy their turns at the helm. We did have winds gusting 38 knots which somewhat limited the scope of our sail but all credit to Ocean Rainbow that everyone on board felt secure and completely confident in her ability to cope. OR's new crew worked hard with ropes and fenders, noone fell overboard, the ladies declared that the boat hadn't tipped up at all and we parked up without a scratch on OR's hull. After drinks and nibbles in the cockpit (G&T, no ice, no lemon - sorry!) the evening was rounded off by an excellent dinner in the Lockhouse - we would thoroughly recommend the bath chap & scallop starter! Our thanks to David and Pat, Ray and Ruth for their generosity.
James and Adrian (Goldsack) locked out of Portishead at 2030 and set off to Barry on the first leg of the delivery trip to Falmouth. They sailed for much of the way but resorted to the engine for the last hour of the trip. They rafted alongside 'Kindred Spirit' for the night having travelled 19nm.
J and A dropped off at 0730 and managed to sail to Woolacombe before the wind gave up! They had sails up and down for the next couple of hours but at 0300 they decided to start the engine and motorsail only to find that the battery power had dropped to below 30% and the engine wouldn't fire! All lights, instruments etc were turned off and the batteries recuperated enough to fire the engine ..... panic over! They decided to put into Padstow rather than carry on down to Falmouth and see if they could fix the problem. Entered Padstow at 0800 and moored stern to - 104 nm travelled. The day was spent sorting out the power problem and new batteries were ordered from Bristol ready for Claire to collect and transport to Falmouth on Thursday. In the meantime, Adrian had not been idle and had sourced the best breakfast in Padstow. By 1800 they were ready and locked out of Padstow to continue the trip to Falmouth.
Ocean Rainbow arrived in Falmouth and moored alongside on the Visitors' Quay at Falmouth Yacht Haven. A rather dull trip spent mostly under engine .... but at least there was no recurrence of the battery saga. Claire was there to greet them. 95nm travelled. Not one to miss an opportunity of catching up with friends, while waiting for OR to arrive in Falmouth, Claire had contacted the Inskips to ask them on board for drinks. Adrian had also contacted the Rickards on the approach to Falmouth to see if they could come on board! Both couples were able to pop across from their respective homes for a 'tea party'. The great surprise was to find Rupert Smith also moored on the pontoon - a lot of 'catching up' went on over a cup of tea!
Once the new battery was fitted Adrian set off for home leaving Claire and James to continue their summer holiday.
0745 we slipped Falmouth and set off across the Channel in a moderate easterly, we were somewhat surprised by HM's Navy appearing out of the mist and circling us but they soon disappeared leaving us to our sailing. However, at 1130 we picked up a Gale warning 'Soon'. By our calculations it would have hit us in the middle of the channel so we decided to exercise discretion, turned back and headed for St Mawes. We were safely moored on a visitor's buoy at 1300 and spent an idyllic afternoon in sunshine watching the yachts racing around the bay in ever increasing winds! Dinner on board was remarkably serene ... and James said 'delicious'!
We dropped off at 0900, but 2 reefs in the main, hoist the staysail and set sail in a stiff south-easterly. By midday the wind had dropped to 11kts and we hoist all the sail available! The weather was grey and wet with some lightening and thunder but otherwise the channel crossing was uneventful except for our small friend who stayed with us for over an hour! By 0900 on Sunday 27th May we were in L'Aber Wrach and rafted alongside an Ovni on the Visitors' pontoon. The harbour was incredibly busy after the Plymouth to L'Aber Wrach single handed cross channel race but we were lucky enough to be moved into the harbour at 1000 so it wasn't long before we had the bikes out and went to investigate the town. Not much there! The supermarket was up a significant hill and shut (being a Sunday) but we did enjoy the scenery and indulged in the first ice cream of the holiday. When we moored in the marina our lines were taken by Jean Golding .... we subsequently met up with Jean and John when we were invited on board ‘Classic Dream’ for tea, we then went ‘home’ for a brief spell and then returned for drinks where we met ‘Seahey’! As you will have gathered, ‘Classic Dream’ is a sociable boat! A really good start to our holiday in France.
We slipped at 1100 (nearly without me as I got caught up in some fangled thing that the french put on the pontoon and use to catch their warps and then I couldn't leap high enough to get back onboard ... a mad scramble around the pontoon, over another boat and a flying leap at the pulpit saw me back in one piece!) and headed for Ushant. Why Ushant? For no better reason than Edward gave James a book for his birthday entitled 501 islands you must visit before you die! It was a great place to visit but we did have a shock initially as we thought the island had a prison ship! The ship turned out to be the harbour wall (built without any consideration to the architectural impact of this monstrosity from the sea!) and, having taken a peak behind the wall, it will come as no surprise that we decided to move on to another anchorage which proved to be very much more welcoming and picturesque – the Baie de Lampard. We picked up a mooring buoy and then set about pumping up the dinghy for our foray ashore. James valiantly rowed and we stepped ashore avoiding the smelliest mud and weed! We investigated the island on foot and the guide book is right, it really is a lovely island, we found a local hostelry where we had a beer and then we headed for home and supper on board Ocean Rainbow.
We slipped from our mooring buoy at 1030 and set off for Cameret. Sadly not so much wind so Humphrey was put to bed and Angus (the autopilot) took over … we entered Cameret marina at 1630 and settled ourselves on the visitors’ pontoon. Not wishing to waste any time we got out the bikes and set off to investigate the town. We replenished our stores at the local supermarket, searched for somewhere to buy a battery for James' sailing watch (failed miserably) and arrived home in time to find ‘Seahey’ mooring up on a neighbouring pontoon after their sail from L’Aber Wrach. Nikki and Peter joined us after supper for cheese, a nightcap (or three) and sailing tales!
We slipped at 0930 and set off for the Raz de Sein where we found 4.5 knots of tide helping our progress in an otherwise ‘windless’ situation. With such slow progress we refined our plans and headed for Le Guilvenec for the night. We entered the harbour just after the fishing fleet had come home. It was a really pretty sight. Our mooring was at the end of the harbour where we found 'Elementary .....' already secured. The Watsons - Bill and Joy to be exact - moved Elementary to give us a little more space on the pontoon which was extremely helpful! They joined us later on for a 'wee dram' and some more sailing tales.
We set off in carefree mode only to find the log not working! Great fun and dramas as we (or should I say James) attempted to fix the problem. Who would have believed the amount of water that can spurt up through such a small hole in the hull. Luckily we were well prepared with towels, sponges and mops so it didn't take too long to return the boat to her normal state once the log was back in working order. We did see dolphins who amused us for almost an hour but then the wind dropped off seriously so we tried fishing ... total waste of time, nothing caught, not even a nibble on the line but the weather was beautiful which was compensation. We dropped anchor at Ile de Glenans for lunch and a snooze and then set off for Ile de Groix having made the decision that Belle Ile was too far for this year's holiday with the wind so light. We flew the cruising chute for a couple of hours which is always fun but then the wind died and we resorted to motor sailing towards Port Tudy but only for a short while before we were able to sail again and were rewarded with dolphins playing alongside the boat. We approached Port Tudy at 1845 and by 1915 we were rafted 3 deep on one of the hammerheads. Very nice french neighbours who didn't object to us clambering over their boats to get ashore and explore. It was a pretty port but so jam packed it isn't one we would recommend!
We slipped the raft, dodged the incoming ferry and exited Port Tudy all sails set heading for Concarneau. The trip was not without incident! Our MOB drills were challenged as the mackerel line went overboard. Picking up the line was easy enough with Claire’s well honed skills, the tricky part was trying to free the line from around the propeller and rudder! James donned wetsuit and goggles, armed himself with the breadknife and went overboard . The operation was completed swiftly and it wasn’t long before we were able to sail again. We even managed some more time with the cruising chute up but not sailing in the right direction! In the end we dropped the sails and motored into Concarneau in beautiful sunshine. We found that ‘Classic Dream’ had arrived the previous day and was nicely tucked up out of the way of the ‘Glenans’ fleet of crazy learner sailors! Apparently the secret is to arrive in Concarneau before the Glenans fleet return to harbour ... we’ll know for the next time. Once settled, we invited Classic Dream on board for drinks and then we went ashore for supper and enjoyed moules & frites washed down by a fair amount of local wine! (Now there’s a surprise!)
The day dawned dry and bright so ideal to investiage the delights of Concarneau by bike. However, before setting off we prepared to move Ocean Rainbow to the pontoon alongside Classic Dream in readiness for our Jubilee Celebrations and Safari Dinner Party. This is when we discovered that there's another secret to Concarneau – don’t park on the hammerhead when other crazy French people are trying to tow out a boat! If they’d given any indication what they were trying to do we could have had fenders out - as it was we had to resort to pushing and shoving and cries of general outrage as poor Ocean Rainbow had her beautifully polished starboard bow scraped! James got to work with the rubbing compound etc etc and it wasn’t too long before almost all traces of OR’s close encounters had been erased but our planned bike ride was somewhat delayed! However, the sun still shone so we duly set off on the bikes for an investigation. Having toured all the sights we found a supermarket and replenished our fresh stores, returned to the boat and made a picnic and set off down the coast to find a beach and somewhere to go swimming ... well perhaps not swimming! Our timing was immaculate! No sooner had we settled on the beach than the rain started and the clouds got blacker and blacker ... we packed up fairly rapidly and beetled home where we rugged up to wait for the clouds to pass.
Classic Dream, Ocean Rainbow and Ayesha of St Mawes in Concarneau
Menu On board Classic Dream:
On board Ocean Rainbow:
On board Ayesha of St Mawes:
We slipped early from Concarneau in the grey and drizzle – before Classic Dream and Ayesha of St Mawes had stirred. The winds freshened as we progressed from south westerly F3/4 to westerly F4/5 and finally north westerly F6 by which time we had reduced sail considerably. At this stage the log stopped again so we went through our (by now) highly polished routine of buckets, towels and mops. It was a good sail despite the rather dull weather for most of the trip. We arrived in St Evette, picked up a mooring buoy and finally the sun came out.
We dropped off the mooring buoy heading for L’Aber Ildut via the Raz de Seine and Chenal du Fort. With F3/4 we decided to reef the main before entering the Raz but as things turned out it was really quite calm and we had a very pleasant passage. The wind then started to drop off so by lunchtime we’d shaken out all the reefs and by the time we approached the Chenal du Fort we were motor sailing! We were very surprised to find that despite the tide running at 6 knots the waves that had built up almost stopped us in our tracks and the sea represented a boiling cauldron. We were even more surprised to find a yacht heading towards us against the tide .... still he was French so presumably he knew what he was doing!
We approached L’Aber Ildut and made our way via a fairly narrow channel, past some trots, some working vessels offloading mounds and mounds of seaweed and around the corner into the most idyllic harbour. We tied up alongside the pontoon to make use of showers etc and then went off for an exploratory bike ride around the town having been assured by a local (who happened to be English and a resident for the last 22 years!) that it was the Harbour Master’s day off and we would probably be allowed to stay alongside the pontoon overnight. After a mammoth search up hill and down dale we gave up the search to find copious amounts of french wine to replenish our stocks prior to crossing back to the English side of the channel. Instead we found one tiny little store with basic essentials, a few bottles of wine and no bread! It goes without saying that by the time we had left the wine stocks in the shop were severely depleted. (Bread could be purchased in the local bistro only the bistro was out of bread so – no bread!). Having returned to the pontoon the Harbour Master caught up with us and invited us to move to the trots! An unusual mooring routine which we succeeded in mastering after the second attempt!
With the wind behind us F4/5 we set off from L’Aber Ildut with the main and staysail only. It wasn’t long before we reefed the main as the wind continued to increase and we steamed along towards the Scillies. By 1800 the wind had died off and we'd shaken out all the reefs. We charged the batteries for an hour and continued our passage setting the sails for night sailing at 2000 with a reefed yankee and main. By 2130 we put a second reef in the main as the wind started to freshen. At 0100 the battery power had dropped to 30% so we started the engine and at 0200 after a severe gale warning we altered course and headed for Padstow. Very disappointing ... but it proved to be a wise decision. We did have the unexpected surprise of having a basking shark joining us. The photo doesn't do it justice but Claire is still honing her photography skills! Our approach to Padstow, however, rather belied the impending weather as we were definitely slowed down by not only the lack of wind, but the plethora of water skiers and canoeists that the bright sunshine had brought out! If it wasn't for the continual gale force wind warnings we would have thought we had turned tail and run unnecessarily! At 1700 we finally rafted alongside an french boat and waited for the gates at Padstow to open. Trip from L'Aber I'ldut 186nm in 33 hours
Gale Force 9/10 blew through from the South West totally justifying our decision to rug up and Claire's subsequent spending spree in all the yachtie shops! James did benefit too but he was glad to escape on Saturday ... the credit card was about to snap!
We left Padstow at 0815 just after Carpe Diem who had been rafted alongside as a temporary stop on her delivery trip to Finland. After such foul weather we were extremely lucky to sail in fair winds and weather all the way to Barry. We did fly Charlie but we had so many sail changes to try and keep on course we gave in eventually and put Charlie to bed and turned the engine on at 1730 ..... James was totally shattered! The remainder of the trip to Barry was continued under motor arriving at 0100 when, once again, we rafted alongside Kindred Spirit.
We slipped our raft at 0900 and made for Cardiff barrage where we locked in at 1030 and then on to Cardiff Yacht Club for a final night before returning to Portishead at the end of our holiday.
Slipped Cardiff at 0830, locked out at 0900 and set sail for Portishead. We sailed all the way home in fair weather and finally moored up in our normal berth at 1215. 947nm mile travelled.
We locked out of Portishead at 5.30pm and made our way to Barry where we rafted alongside Shiraz and spent a very comfy night. Friday morning we set off down channel in lovely conditions to Oxwich Bay arriving at low tide which made dropping a hook a very easy operation. All was peaceful and quiet with a little bit of fishing, drinks in the cockpit and then dinner below. Nothing prepared us for the change in wind and the rollers that made our night very interesting! It was as bad as Tongue Bay in the Whitsundays and we spent periods at very peculiar angles. Still, nothing fell out of cupboards or off shelves so at least we proved we had stowed our kit sensibly. Saturday finally dawned and we decided to play safe and head for Swansea but not without a struggle. Our anchor had managed to snarl an abandoned mooring line exactly through the eye of line. It was a real mission to get our anchor up and James had some sore muscles as evidence of the effort he'd put in to help the windlass! We then had a wonderful sail up to Swansea and rather regretted leaving Oxwich Bay. A very calm night in Swansea and we set off on Sunday for Penarth. We made it to Penarth by early evening having had a great sail in sunny conditions. Monday the rain came in and we thought we were going to be soaked but luckily by the time we left the skies had cleared a little and we were able to sail a good deal of the way back to Portishead under cloudy skies without getting too wet - actually it was only James getting wet as Claire was busy in the galley and avoided the worst of it! Safely back in Portishead after a trip of 180nm.
We finally set off down channel on April 5th, locking out of Portishead at 5pm and setting off at a leisurely pace (we were, after all, sailing against the tide!) for Barry. We arrived in Barry and spent the night tied up to the Pilot Buoy which meant a slightly rolly night as the Pilot boat went about its duties, but we did keep our anchor chain clean!
Friday morning we set off towards Milford Haven but it became obvious that we would not make it to Neyland until quite late so decided to stop off at Caldey Island. We anchored in Dinkum Bay in calm waters without a boat or person in sight. Idyllic. The weather was fine too which was a bonus after the slightly bumpy trip down and the threat of squalls.
This morning we woke to overcast skies, but it wasn't raining! We set off for Neyland anticipating rain and squalls but were rewarded by sunshine and good wind as we approached the Milford Haven Estuary. We sailed up as far as the fork in the river but left further investigations to another da, returning to Neyland Marine Haven and a very nice mooring on a hammerhead. We were very surprised to find Nos Paket arriving barely an hour after us. Bit of a coincidence to find your almost neighbours from Portishead Marina turning up as almost neighbours in Wales! Still it gave us a chance to catch up with Chris and Nicky before they carried on up to Scotland for the summer.
|Drinks on board OR before heading to Neyland Yacht Club to catch up with the locals.||We returned to OR for supper on board. A lovely position to catch the sun - and to moor!|
The day dawned rather damp but we had good winds and set off for Oxwich Bay. As the day progressed and the weather forecast became more gloomy we revised our plans and went into Swansea Marina. Not quite as romantic but the rain and wind during the night confirmed the wisdom of our choice! We had a good night's sleep which is more than could be said had we stayed the night in Oxwich Bay!
We headed back to Portishead. The weather forecast was dreadful and we decided to cut our losses and spend the last day of our Easter break in Portishead making sure everything had a chance to dry out - including ourselves! It was a good decision and actually it was a really pleasant and productive day and a lovely relaxed end to our first trip of the season.