I have been reviewing the cruising year mainly by way of sorting and editing the hundreds of photographs i have taken during each stage of this years passages and anchorages.
My plan this year was to start a slow voyage in stages around the UK and trying to go into as many of the harbours , estuaries and rivers and as far into them as i could reasonably go. The actual voyage was to have started with a quick out and back tour of the west country as far as Falmouth and the Helford river. Heavy weather at the outset had me sheltering just a few miles from base and i eventually sprinted down to Fowey in marginal conditions, got as far as Falmouth and decided to stay there for a while because its got plenty to offer the small boat sailor and has a really nice river just an hours sail away : the Helford (title picture) where we had our Easter cruise.
I kept the Liberty at Mylor for several weeks while exploring the rivers and creeks inland. I spent a lot of time in the Fal river itself and frequently beached the boat in Ruan creek which was so peaceful that i think i only met one other sailor there and one kayaker. I was waiting for an oppurtunity to get around the Lizard and into the far west of the west-country and maybe do the offshore passage out to the Scilly’s and/or round lands-end and go up the north Cornwall coast. That never happened mainly because i never had a good weather slot that was long enough to get around to Penzance. The other problem with that plan is that there is precious little shelter on the north Cornwall and Devon coasts and then a passage going north-east would have tied me in to a committing trip up the Bristol channel…..going up isn’t so bad but getting out again can be a bear in a small boat.
At some point at Mylor i realised that there wasn’t much to be gained from hanging around there and what i really needed to do was lift the boat out and scrub/antifoul. That would have been a very expensive job there and with a period of westerly’s the best thing to do seemed to be to sprint back to base over a couple of days and slip at Calstock as the yard was just starting to have space.
It was after that when my plans broke down a bit. I had an extended period of bad back pain which knocked me out from sailing for close on 2 months right in the middle of summer but Calstock boatyard were very good about letting me stay on a mooring until i could move again. The back injury really changed our summer plans in that we should have had 2 weeks solid cruising but instead we decided that the better option was to head off to the Lakes for a while and it was during that trip that we visited Norfolk and went boat hunting.
The middle part of the year had me really thinking about the direction i wanted to go with boats and cruising and the eventual outcome of that was the visit to Chichester and buying the Devon Dayboat which is my winter project. My main efforts during the summer were rather more about my own fitness and trying to avoid more problems with my back. The first actual sailing trip after our holiday was a quick overnight in the Yealm which went well : in fact we went back there for the first night of our recent trip.
At the end of the school holiday season we always try and get leave together and this year it looked very good for 2 weeks sailing possibly including a trip out to the channel islands . After just one nice day we had 10 days of increasing and wet westerly’s so we spent that time sprinting from shelter to shelter : Bigbury-Salcombe-Dart-Torbay and finishing with the Exe estuary and our new autumn base.
Dried out for the end of summer scrub at Exemouth.