Sugar 'n' Spice Weblog 4

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On Saturday 01 August we departed the anchorage at St Agnes at dawn under motor. The wind picked up from the NW as we approached the end of the shipping lane between the Scillies and Lands End and we were able to sail. There was more shipping than usual and most of it was altering course as the lane had finished. One ship the MV India was on a collision course and we decided to call them up on the radio and establish their intentions, as suspected it was about to alter course to proceed eastwards but we were thanked for our contact and wished a safe voyage. We made good progress and once past the Lizzard decided to press on past Dodman Point before seeking an anchorage for the night. We settled on Portmellon Cove just south of Mevagissey there were a few boats on moorings and only 3 others at anchor. A picturesque setting sheltered from swell and wind and very quiet on a Saturday night, (dont tell anyone else about it !)



With food and water starting to run down we decided to try and book a berth in Torquay for Sunday night but were told that they were fully booked so it we needed to find an anchorage again.

On Sunday the day began again with light winds from the west but they soon built to a F4 giving us a very pleasant sail past Plymouth and Dartmouth to an anchorage just short of Torbay at Scabbacombe Sands. There was access to the beach from the very hilly Devon cost path but apart from a motor boat that departed soon after we arrived the beach was empty.



We had a later start on Monday so that we could time our arrival at Portland Bill as the tide turned fair. The wind behaved as it had for the last few days light and motoring to start but lively sailing by the finish. We have seen groups of up to 10 dolphins several times a day every day since we left the Scillies the population in the West Country seems very healthy.

We anchored in Portland harbour for the night. In the morning we waited for a few boats to leave the marina before calling them up on the radio to see if there was room for us. Arriving early in the day seems to be a better way of getting a berth than trying to make a reservation and we were soon tied up in the marina. Jobs involved an engine oil change, shopping, much needed showers and filling the water tanks. In the evening a strong W wind developed and this continued overnight and on into Wednesday morning making even a marina berth uncomfortable and noisy when our intended 5am get up time arrived we turned the alarm off and tried to go back to sleep.

The wind on Wednesday was SW 5 to 6 but, as the sky cleared, there was a temporary lull at around 10:00 am. We decided to carry on, with the hardest manoeuvre being to get out of a blown on alongside pontoon. We executed a classic warping off by motoring hard against a bow spring and our big round fender to get the stern clear of the pontoon; then rapidly astern while casting of the bow spring. Once out of the harbour we unfurled the genoa leaving the mainsail zipped up in its stackpack. We were making 7+ knots with little effort. Because we had started later than intended waiting for a lull to get out, the tide had turned against us on a full spring ebb when we reached the Needles Channel off the Isle of Wight. As we bore away downwind through the channel we put the engine on as well to beat the tide. Either side of the buoyed channel waves were breaking but although quite large were manageable in the channel itself.

As we approached Hurst point we herd a pan pan call from Snagglepuss the Dufour that had almost bumped into us on a mooring in the Scillies. Looking inshore towards the Isle we could see them aground and leaning already hard aground on a rapidly falling tide. As they probably draw less than us there was little we could do to help and we continued on our way hoping that one of the motor boats fishing close to them would help, none did and the Yarmouth lifeboat was called out to ferry off an injured crewmember and stay with them until they refloated. We hope the injured crew member is OK and that they have managed to make their peace with the charter company.

As the evening drew on the wind dropped and remained in the SW making the anchorage at Osbourne House (Queen Victorias favourite residence) ideal for the night.



At dawn on Thursday the wind had dropped and become a light southerly we hauled anchor and after a while the wind increased to F2 and we were able to sail close hauled through the Looe channel. At 09:00 when the wind moved round to the SE and dropped, the engine was started and remained running for the rest of the day.

As we passed Brighton we phoned Sovereign Harbour at Eastbourne to see if they had a berth for the night but we were told that they were fully booked. Not to worry this was only plan B if there was too much swell running but with the wind now from the SE we wondered if anchoring would be OK.



After we rounded Beachy Head and passed Eastbourne the swell vanished and it was flat calm. We decided to carry on past Hastings to Rye where we anchored in the lee of Dungeness by the Rye fairway buoy. As we approached the wind increased from the SW bringing in small waves but Sugar n Spice was comfortable at anchor as we had a late supper and retired. During the night the wind died down and moved round to the NE making the anchorage calm.

We decided not to set an alarm for Friday wake up and just start when we were ready as the tide would not be fair till around midday. We had however become conditioned to early starts and hauled the anchor at 06:55. The wind was very light so it was on with the motor again we had checked on the MOD website that the Lydd firing range was not operating so we were able to stay inshore around Dungeness to keep out of the worst of the tide. The wind stayed light and we continued to motor picking up a fair tide as we approached Dover. We contacted the Dover Port Control to let them know our intention to pass by and were asked to keep at least a mile distant from the breakwater. As we passed Dover we herd another familiar voice on the radio seeking permission to leave Dover and head east. Richard & Cathy Brown on their motor yacht Attitude passed us near South Foreland and took this picture of us commenting on the motoring weather.



Luckily the comment seemed to do some good and a SE breeze set in and allowed us to sail with only a few short bursts of engine until we reached the top of the Gunfleet Sands and bore away downwind. We arrived back home at Suffolk Yacht Harbour at 21:00 just after LW and had to push through the mud for the last few metres to get into our berth.

In total we had covered 938 nautical miles and spent 14 nights in marinas 8 nights on moorings and 9 nights at anchor. Back to Top