On sailing a Folksong – one nautical mile

I woke on the boat on Saturday morning to a slowly clearing sky and little wind. By the time I had prepared for a morning’s solo sail, the sun was emerging.

The spring tide had been flooding fast when I had my first cup of tea but was now less fierce.

Leaving a fore and aft trot mooring single-handed can be tricky. The tide makes all the difference.

Blue mistress, like all the others on the trot, is moored looking downstream. She has two stern lines – one to each quarter and  two bow lines over the bow roller.

This morning, the incoming tide allowed me loosen the port quarter line and drop the starboard one. This let the stern drift to starboard away from the trot line but still stay attached to the buoy. Lightly lashing the tiller to port caused the bow to want to turn to starboard, away from the forward buoy. Engaging the throttle very lightly to hold her against the tide, I went forward, dropped the bow line to port, releasing the bow to swing slowly (the long keel helps here) out to starboard. I returned aft, dropped the stern line and pushed the throttle gently forward.


Now that Blue Mistress is more or less as planned (always more to do, of course), I have time to look around and enjoy the surroundings as well as the boat. The early morning was crisp and clear, so, camera in one hand, tiller in the other, I motored down to the Sound enjoying the ride. There was nobody around. I had the water more or less to myself.

What follows is that early morning trip down the Plym – from the mooring to Plymouth Sound, a little over one nautical mile, highlighting some of what I saw:

The entrance to Hooe Lake

Astern, the sky was still heavy with cloud over Oreston and Plymstock.

Cattedown Wharves. The previous evening, I had watched a ship enter Plymouth Sound via the western entrance. She was busy unloading when I returned to the mooring later. She left silently in the night.

The entrance to Plymouth Yacht Haven. Little movement there.

Further downstream, through the moorings, the buildings on Plymouth Hoe were catching the sun.

The Hangars that were a part of RAF Mount Batten and are now boatyards. The Mount Batten Centre is this side of them.

Victoria Wharves.

Queen Anne’s Battery with the Royal Western Yacht Club, the home of OSTAR, on the far right. The National Marine Aquarium is in the centre.

The austere ramparts of the Royal Citadel

The entrance to Sutton Harbour and the Barbican.

Smeaton’s Tower and the Hoe with Tinside Pool beneath and the Royal Plymouth Corinthian Yacht Club on the right

And, round the end of Mount Batten Pier, the Sound itself, with the Royal Navy much in evidence.

A lone fishing boat scuttled past, in a hurry to get to sea, her wake underlining Drake’s Island with the Mount Edgcumbe Estate in the background.


The mainsail set without the battens snagging the lazy jacks. I’d had a hard time of it the previous afternoon, but there was less wind today. Then the genoa – and we made a starboard tack in under Jennycliff where the wind was stronger as it hugged the short Fort Bovisand to Ramscliff Point stretch of coast

Tacking onto a close reach, it took an hour and a half  to cross the 3 nm of the Sound from Jennycliff to Cawsand –  a patient and gentle 2 knots.

Close to the top of the tide, the Breakwater was washed by the slight swell, the western end bathed in the morning light.

There was even less swell in the Sound and Blue Mistress sailed upright and silent.

In towards Cawsand, the wind increased from around Penlee Point, and we made 4 knots right up to the trees that come down to the water here.

A nod and a wave to a man on his boat anchored close in, and then the second tack of the day to look along the outside of the Breakwater.

But by then the wind was dropping away further and my 1.5 knots (and falling) would not get me back to the mooring in time.

Stowing the genoa, I motored back across the Sound and up the Plym again.

This was not sailing as sport – but sailing as therapy, the cares of the week blown away.


An hour later and barely three miles away, I was stationary in the car, caught in two impatient lanes of holiday traffic waiting for an accident to be cleared. Hey, ho . . .

One thought on “On sailing a Folksong – one nautical mile

  1. Pingback: On sailing a Folksong – those lazy jacks again « bill’s boatblog

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