This will be the first section of my intended Uk voyage transferred from my boat log book and smartened up a bit. For interests sake i use the smaller moleskine brand notebooks and nowadays tend to use a double page for each voyaging day and single pages for the times i am just down there doing jobs : my layout is that of having the sailing stuff on the left hand side, tides , weather, courses, positions etc and then the notes to the right…blog stuff goes there initially too before it gets written up.
For those readers that are interested i tend to follow a personal format written up in very brief notes form with my own abbreviations eg DH (dandy hole) and symbols such as a drawn anchor, i also use a format that often begins with ‘plan’ and then ‘tides’ ‘weather’ etc. I rarely keep an exact hourly log rather i take and record positions and observations as they become relevant.
1.(first planned day of trip) Thursday 23.02 Plan : leave work , drive home and drop work clothes off, pick up sailing bag, shop for fresh food, get straight aboard and head down. Aim to leave 1-2 hours after high water at Calstock. Likely departure 0500-0600. Go decision if reasonable visibility.
2100. Aboard boat and all gear and food temporarily stowed. Feels cold. No moon but reasonably clear sky.
2. Friday 24.02
0500. Very cold aboard. Awake and coffee. Decision to go so fender board secured ashore, motor dropped and started, rudder and board down, lines off and go.
Narrative : it was a very cold night when i got to the boat, it was also low water so it took me several trips to transfer all the fresh food and remaining kit down a slippery ladder in the dark and deep shadow on that side of the yard. For speed i just left all the food in bags and stowed it all in the empty space in the heads compartment, made a hot drink, put the board in and got myself under the sleeping bag. As soon as i could i extinguished all light to try and get some night sight. The alarm went off at just after 0500 so i immediately made coffee and had a look outside the hatch : very dark but there was enough light in the sky to allow me to see the difference between the water and the deeper shadows at the bank. I decided to go so got the motor running, the boards down and started getting the lines and fenders sorted out….i lie alongside with a long plank to keep the boat off the wooden and metal posts. By 0530 i was motoring clear and making for the first and very dark corner on the river.
0700. Slow careful passage downriver with little light, very cold on the river so i anchored at pentille corner to wait out most of the ebb and for full daylight. 0900 up again, very cold inside the boat i fact difficult to get warm , more coffee and away down the river. Sails up off Weir Quay and initially a slow close reach to clear the river section. 1000. Cleared river, passed under both bridges, some video captured. Came up on wind and beat up to sandacre on nearly slack water. Anchored on all warp fairly close in. Poor weather expected so change of plan = sail up to dandy hole, continue sailing trials and then rest up at anchor in dandy hole or lynher. 1200 Anchor and KB up. Faffed about a bit to get sail up but eventually had a good beat predominantly on one tack. Beat up to DH under full sail and anchored just to the north of the main bend. Only boat in the anchorage was Shandoo (shanty boat) 1320 At anchor in 10 feet. Rest of day off apart from sorting and stowing food. 1600 Total change in weather, now very grey and overcast.
First day narrative : it was a slow and very cold start on the river, slow because it was difficult to judge the banks exactly and cold as predicted with the lightest of northerly wind blowing me downriver. I decided to stop and anchor at the first favorable place which is the long bend just downriver of pentille castle. I got my head down there but found it very difficult to get warm again , in fact i kept waking up shivering so i just got up again at 8 ish, had coffee and made a bacon sandwich and just got going again. I motored the first section but got sail on in a clear stretch below Weir Quay and had a good reach down to the bridges. I tried getting some video using my everyday camera but the colour balance is almost black and white and the sound is such that it seems i am reaching in the southern ocean. I sailed under the 2 bridges with the last of the ebb at around 1000 and then beat up into sandacre bay where i anchored inshore for a couple of hours before getting underway again under sail and beating up the lynher to dandy hole where i planned to wait out the expected bad weather over the weekend. It was still clear until around 1600 when it completely clagged in. The only boat at the anchorage was a Wylo type called Shandoo which seems to live there permanently now and looks a total shanty mess.
2.Saturday 25.02. Plan : rest day at dandy hole, re-organise food and clothes stowage, rest and relax day due to severe weather forecast. Write up tides and get weather forecasts as normal but no plans to move as yet.
1400-1600 Very grey and wet with squally showers and a lot of wind overhead. Decided to go and explore the channel upstream where the Tiddy splits off from the Lynher below St Germans quay. Found channel ok and motored into the Lynher with potential plan to anchor overnight but couldn’t find any sheltered spot, in fact the wind was blowing hard into the river. Difficult to get back upwind under power , heavy rain and wind squalls coming through. Back to DH , add chain to anchor rode and anchor well inshore under western bank, plan to settle on the mud at low water.
Overnight : heavy rain and harder gusts.
3.Sunday 26.02 Gales all areas except somewhere down near Spain !. Plan : move from dandy hole, sail back downriver towards jupiter/sandacre, anchor there until slack and then run back up Tamar to shelter at Pentille reach.
0845 Off under power and then sails up reefed, fast short run back to sandacre, initially ok but very strong gusts and heavy rain showers set in. Anchor seems to be dragging even with the 8kg D type plus chain and plenty warp. Quite uncomfortable at times. 0945 Decided to leave as anchorage not tenable. Motored past moored boats in sandacre and then back under bridges and ran back into the Tamar. 1200 Under bridges again. 1345 At anchor in pentille reach corner in visible wind-hole close in under bank, board and rudder up. Gave up !
4.0520 Up anchor and motored back to yard. Very dark on river, very high tide, nearly sailed straight onto cotehele quay because tide was so high. Initially unable to tie up at yard properly due to very high tide there. Heavy wind and sleet showers.
Narrative. I had hoped just to have a couple of days of bad weather to sit out and then to be able to sail down to the sound and out around to the Erme and maybe down the coast to Salcombe. The shipping forecasts put paid to that with one that went “there are gale warning in ALL areas except, and the exception was somewhere down south near Spain. Added to that both the Erme and Salcombe bars would have been a dangerous proposition with this much wind. I couldn’t really do very much except kick myself for not putting my electrics box on board which would have given me a couple of useful jobs to do. Instead i re-stowed the food and stores, swept and swabbed out lockers and spent a lot of time kicking back and reading. I did get completely out of sequence with the shipping forecasts which meant a lot of time unplanned listenning to the sheer tosh on R4 with lots of shouting w****r at PC idiots on the radio. On saturday i did up anchor just to shift berth but while i had my gear up i decided to at least go and explore the channel into the lynher proper under the small rail bridge. It was even more exposed there and i couldn’t find any shelter so i gave up on that idea and motored back to the hole where i rebuilt my primary anchor rode with chain and the larger 8kg D type anchor and then found a spot close inshore under the western bank with wind rushing through the trees above. On the sunday i listenned to the o520 shipping forecast and made the plan to abandon the trip temporarily so up-anchored, sailed back to sandacre bay but found it uncomfortable and a lee shore so after a short break there i gave up and ran back up the Tamar again to shelter in the only windless spot close under the high bank near Pentille. Next morning i listenned to the forecast but with little change i just motored back upriver. Annoyingly i ran right over a submerged branch which lodged up against the rudder, it took some time to clear that, then i got confused slightly at cotehele and came close to running up over the quay until i realised what the posts were !. Finally i was difficult to tie up in my berth as the tide was up over the wall and the tying-up chains were about 6 feet under water.