Sugar 'n' Spice – Weblog 8

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At home in Ipswich, UK


51˚ 59.7’ N

1˚ 16.2’ E

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Levington, Suffolk, UK

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More on Fri 1st Aug.  Early evening high water & the rain finally stopped.  More boats had arrived seeking shelter from the windy conditions.  Given the conditions some were anchored too close for our comfort, so we upped anchor & threaded our way another ˝ nm through more rocks to St Helen’s Pool.  This is a pool of deeper water between Tresco & St Martin’s surrounded by rocks & islets making it a safe & sheltered anchorage, but further out from the inhabited parts of the bigger islands.



Another deluge hit as we anchored, but then we spent a peaceful night.

Saturday (2nd Aug) we took the dinghy over the shallows to the southern end of St Martin’s, where we could land on the beach (the nearer landing place would have been difficult because of the onshore breeze & resulting waves).



Up the hill in the little hamlet we found a café lunch, then carried on up to the daymark on the island’s high spot & back via a very convoluted coast path.  The tide was out so the return trip in the dinghy was longer round the exposed rocks & sand.

Sun 3rd Aug.  A prompt departure from St Helen’s Pool out past St Mary’s.  As the breeze picked up astern we poled out the genny, & put a preventer on the boom as the sea got rolly.  Mid morning there were several other yachts, some fishing vessels & several ships in view.  Then Wolf Rock & its lighthouse came abeam, & close by a huge cable laying ship.  It did not appear to be underway, but we gave it a wide berth.  The tide turned foul, we still had the genny poled out, but progress was very slow, as we gybed round the Lizard.  Late afternoon we dropped anchor off Coverack harbour.  55.8 nm.



The little village looked very attractive in the sunshine.

Mon 4th Aug.  Another prompt departure, again a poled out genny until a wind shift let us take it back to the regular side.  Early afternoon fishing boats, fishing gannets & a flash past of fishing dolphins.  Tea time we were in Plymouth Sound & headed through the lock to a berth in Sutton Harbour.  43.1 nm.

The morning of Tues (5th Aug) was spent shopping & Doug did a somewhat overdue oil change.  The local news was talking about Hurricane Bertha in the States.

In the afternoon, on a neighbouring bertholders recommendation, we caught a ferry (nice views of the City & Hoe, & Drake’s Island & the Sound) to Royal William Yard on the west side of Plymouth.  This is a part of the old Naval base that has recently been opened up & developed.  There are a lot of trendy eating places & apartments, & the ex Navy buildings are very imposing.



We walked back along the coast road, but at the Hoe the heavens opened & we cut the corner in a dash for the boat.

Wed 6th Aug.  A slightly later departure via the fuel berth, then sailing once in Plymouth Sound.  More yachts about than we have been used to, also several dive boats.  Sails down mid afternoon before entering the Dart estuary, so we could motor through Dartmouth.  It seemed very busy with the hustle & bustle of tourists ashore, plus trip boats, the ferries & the steam train across the water at Kingswear, but there appeared to be plenty of moorings & berths available.  Our destination was on up the river to anchor at the appropriately named Anchor Stone just short of Dittisham.  35.0 nm.



Another very peaceful place, herons & egrets on one shore, kingfishers on the other.

More on the radio about Bertha heading this way, but we cannot get a good enough phone signal to get more detailed weather information.

Thur 7th Aug.  A 7 am departure from the anchorage, & as we passed through a still mostly sleeping Dartmouth we took advantage of the better phone signal to get the essential updates to the weather forecasts.  Although Bertha would lose a lot of her clout crossing the Atlantic it seemed that from the coming weekend the weather was going to be very unsettled, windy & wet, for some days.  Our plan to dally up channel visiting nice places on both coasts looked like dashes between places where we could shelter & not much fun.  We decided to head directly back to our berth at Levington.

Out of the Dart estuary we started sailing.  There were fishing boats & various birds about, & quite a number of yachts heading the same way, taking the tide round Portland Bill.  Late morning as the tide turned against us we put the kite up for about 40 mins until the wind went lighter & the engine went on to help maintain the speed.



Early afternoon with a bit more wind the kite went up again for about an hour, then S of Portland with wind lighter & a strong tide against us causing a ‘floppy’ sea the engine went on to push us along the Jurassic Coast.  By 9 pm we were off St Catherine’s Point & its lighthouse on the Isle of Wight.  Overnight alternated between motoring & sailing depending on the wind.

8th Aug.  The skipper’s log for the small hours reads ‘many ships leaving Solent’.  Glad I didn’t get that bit, although I did get a couple of cruise ships, lit up like Christmas trees, when I took over at 3 am.  The dawn brought a very murky day, with a light wind astern, more motoring.  By midday we were round Dungeness, still murky, still motoring then mid afternoon we were through Dover, with only 1 ferry to dodge (very jammy) & the wind freed enough to let us sail a bit.  We dodged some ships heading up the Thames, & as dusk fell were passing between the turbines of the extensive London Array windfarm.  The turbines form geometric patterns & this is even weirder, & more spectacular, at night with all the accompanying lights than in daytime.  The 2 navigation buoys marking our channel seemed tiny & insignificant by comparison.  By 11 pm we were across the Gunfleet Sands, & set fair for a lovely sail into Harwich & home.  Just before midnight a very black cloud loomed across the horizon, there were spots of moisture in the air, we furled the genny & dropped the main just before the wind hit & heavens opened.  We crept through Harwich harbour, the rain made it difficult to see from one buoy to the next & the wind was pushing us sideways – we saw 30+ kts on the instruments, & a thunderstorm started.  Up the river we debated if we could get into the Yacht Harbour, let alone our berth, or whether we should anchor.  A slight lull meant Doug could pick up the channel marks into SYH, horror, our berth was occupied, but luckily another nearby was vacant. It was about 2 am Saturday 9th Aug.  272.3 nm.

The gale warning for Thames appeared on the Navtex at 1.49 UTC, about an hour after our BST arrival.

This storm was only the precursor to ex hurricane Bertha which rolled in later that Saturday.  If we had taken about 1 hour less on the trip from Dartmouth we would have been home ahead of it!


2014    Total Logged Distance to Galicia & return            2195.2 nm                                                                               [engine hrs       205.6]




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