To the Lynher

(Continued . . .)

The early morning mist reveals four egrets. We enjoy the peace together.

(Click on image to enlarge – an extra click magnifies)


The tide is falling and I decide to wait till after lunch before leaving. There will still be an hour or so to the next high tide but it will be slackening. This gives me a morning to do odd jobs on the boat and time to sit and read.

Continue reading

No wind yesterday . . .

No wind yesterday but a fine day to run the engine.

I removed the sail cover and attached the halyard but left the lazy jacks in place as I didn’t expect to set the sail. As the Sound opened up it, it was almost empty – two vessels in sight, one trying to set a sail. A little later he had given up.


It was also a perfect day to anchor and run out the rode. I dropped anchor around 1300 close to Jennycliff near the Withyhedge beacon.


Then time for lunch, and, as I had bought the dinghy with me, time for some photography.


There were three naval vessels at anchor. The village of Cawsand can be seen in the sunshine on the far side of Plymouth Sound – (just aft of the pulpit).


All the metal work makes Blue Mistress look positively industrial. The depth is 7.7 metres – it had dropped from 8.4 metres in the 3/4 hour I had been at anchor.


The washed-out colours of January.


This simple rig holds the course giving plenty of time to go fetch something from below. It works just as well under sail..


The tide was low and the water slack as I passed the Cattewater Wharves.


Flinterlinge, registered out of Groningen, was busy unloading.


The Eye of the Beholder

Thank you, Max, for your comment. I have taken it on board. This is for you.

I stopped writing the blog for a while because the rest of life took over. Now I’m looking back again and wondering where the cumulative experience lies – what am I learning? Hence the following:


I slipped the mooring and motored the mile down to the Citadel. There was no wind, and very few boats out this early. I had Plymouth Sound more or less to myself.

With sails set – mainsail and genoa, we barely made headway, the tide doing most of the work. I poured a coffee from the flask and found a biscuit. Time to enjoy the moment. Time to reflect.

Two or three fishing boats emerged from Sutton Harbour, hustling their separate ways past me and out to the open sea.

This one caught my eye.


They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Well, there is beauty here but not necessarily the beauty of lines and colour, not in the magazine-image sense anyway. The beauty here comes from all that has gone before and all that is to come from this boat. It’s not so very different from the Ceres that I have posted on a number of times. We do like her lines but, in reality, she was a Westcountry trading ketch – it was the work she did that made her. (Tugster will understand this).

Passing in front of me now was someone’s livelihood – with all the political, economic, environmental, maritime safety, health and safety, technology and science issues that surround it. Those same issues that are increasingly pressing on you and me.

But, even in the face of all that, there were still elegant lines. For this one moment, for me only, this slightly ungainly metal workshop had created an almost perfect wave in an otherwise table-flat sea. And it was beautiful.

It’s those moments that I go to sea for – not to forget all the other stuff, (how can we?), but to add to the total experience of life.

On Sailing a Folksong – annual mooring lift

The row out to the boat was shrouded in the morning mist – the top of the tide increasing the deep silence over still water.

Others were busy too. It was the annual mooring shift to allow the Cattewater Harbour Commission to lift and reset the moorings – a valuable service that gives peace of mind but requires some swift work to oblige.

The buoys are stripped of their usual tangle of lines and shackles, most of which have been there all year. As a result the pins are usually well and truly fast.

In Blue Mistress’ case this is not altogether true. We lost a pin due to a poorly moused shackle earlier last autumn, so there is one new, easily removed shackle. In fact all three of the shackles on our stern buoy (above) were relatively easy to remove but the two on the bow buoy were jammed. It required a very large spanner, another one jammed in the shackle to hold it still and two of us to lean on it.  Thanks to Freya’s skipper for his foresight and help – I promise to buy a bigger spanner next time!


When I looked up the fog had lifted and the rowers were out.

It seemed to good an opportunity to miss, so I motored down to the end of Mountbatten Pier in the sunshine, catching “Sweet As” returning from an early morning fishing trip.

The emphasis then came on lorries parked for the weekend – here below the mark (DirFRWG),

and here in gentle salute on the Cattewater Wharf.

On sailing a Folksong – Sunday morning log

I was expected in Exeter this afternoon but checking the boat after the snow, the frosts and the rain of the past two weeks was a priority, so I seized the moment this morning.

The drive to Plymouth is about an hour and I got there about 10:15. By the time I had pumped up the dinghy, talked to the man who was going fishing in his ocean kayak and taken some photos, it was about 10:45 when I finally arrived aboard.

There is debris in the river from the heavy weather. In general, it floats past, but occasionally snags boats that are moored on the trots.

The mooring lines were as I had left them two weeks ago. There were no loose halyards. The sail cover was still firmly in place – it is too short and I have promised myself I will get one the right length one day. In the meantime, the boom end is covered by a square of canvas.

She looked neat in the morning sun.

The ten minute row demanded a small celebration.

Then start the engine (it fired first time!) and a look around before getting on with the several jobs I had planned:

The seagulls were enjoying the sunshine;

the fine house on the Cattewater shore was still overwhelmed by her industrial neighbours;

the boatyard on the opposite shore was the usual marvellous jumble of work-in-progress;

and the rowers were taking advantage of the weather.

A good day for a sail. Pity I had to return so soon.

On sailing a Folksong – a Sunday sail in winter

1030, Sunday 13th December

My first sail since the end of October.

Blue Mistress has ridden the storms reasonably well.

The forehatch has sprung a small leak. The sail bags are wet.

We have lost not one but two shackle pins on the stern lines.

Poor mousing on my part – (yes, I did use wire), and not helped by the vastly increased run-off of water from Dartmoor into the Plym.


The wind was easterly this morning and gusting. I left the Sound through the eastern entrance and sailed happily south – course 180 degrees (M), until Dodman Point opened up  in the west.

I turned for home about 1330.

There were one or two boats sailing and a number of small fishing boats. Mostly I had the sea to myself.

Looking towards Devon in the east to Great Mew Stone and the entrance to the Yealm

and towards Cornwall in the west – Rame Head with Kingsand and Cawsand on the right of the picture.


The wind decided to back towards north which was exactly wrong for re-entering the Sound.

I was concentrating on clearing the eastern end of the Breakwater, when four dolphins appeared from nowhere . . .

They were intent on play, appearing randomly around the boat, racing passed or lazily rolling under the keel.

As they levelled with the cockpit, I could have touched them.

Delighted, excited and entranced, the tiller in one hand, the camera in the other, I took lots of images – mostly of freshly disturbed water.

They lead me on – (note the rapidly approaching conical mark on the end of the Breakwater), and, when I looked up, I had missed the entrance and had to tack very quickly.

My new friends immediately disappeared, and I was reminded of the Sirens of Greek Mythology.

“OK, guys, joke over.”

250 yards on, I tacked back and there they were again.

They escorted me to the entrance to the Sound, before swimming off – no doubt chuckling all the way back to sea!


I was asked last week why I hadn’t taken my boat out of the water for the winter.

There’s your answer.

On sailing a Folksong – an October Saturday

A perfect sail yesterday – sunshine and steadyish wind (maybe needed a little more for absolute perfection).

Starboard tack out through the eastern entrance to Shag Stone, then a close reach to Cawsand.

Plenty of other boats out.

We anchored for an hour or so’s picnic close inshore, a short distance from Cawsand and Kingsand

And enjoyed the run home to Cattewater wharves. picking up the mooring around 1700.

Good sail, good company. Thanks, guys.

On sailing a Folksong – a spring tide sail

We sailed round to The Yealm thinking, if we got it right, we could have lunch in Newton Ferrers. I wasn’t familiar with the river and certainly not sure about the tide – a high spring tide which would still be ebbing when we got there. The wind was from the west.

Leaving Oreston just after the top of the tide, we made fast progress even though the wind was light.

There is a wind level – low Force 2-3, when Blue Mistress‘ weight and shape tell against her when compared with less heavily keeled boats. A couple of yachts passed us in style.

We enjoyed the sail, boiling the kettle and making tea, talking of this and that.

However, rounding Great Mew Stone with plenty to spare, we had to concentrate as we  headed into Wembury Bay on a dead run, the genoa goose-winged to port.

There seemed to be more wind here and we occasionally surfed as the sea and wind piled up against the tide pouring out of the Yealm.  The sun reflected off the tops of the waves and boats not too far away disappeared hull down, to rise immediately on the next wave. Several boats were motoring out from the river, lifting their bows and showing their keels, as they worked into wind and sea.

We followed a boat ahead who seemed to know where she was going and watched as the foresail came down and she disappeared into the narrow entrance.

Our turn next. Not wanting to risk any sail inside, we lowered the genoa first, Charles negotiating the tricky task of keeping it inboard. Then into the wind, momentary chaos and the main came down. Then, boom secured with mainsheet, a few minutes of  grabbing, rolling, hurriedly tying flogging canvas – a less than neat job (below) but good enough on a moving deck.

We motored past the bar, watching the tide flow round the two port hand buoys before following the leading marks across the river, then through the many moorings to the first pontoon.

Choosing the outside of the pontoon to avoid the possibility of rafting, we accepted the weight of the tide would hold us against it. I hadn’t bargained for just how strongly it would hold us. The direction and force of the outgoing tide can be seen in the image below. Mooring lines were almost superfluous. Getting off would obviously be interesting – but first thing first – lunch.

It was good too -:)

It was about 1400 when we got back. Low tide at The Yealm entrance was 1500, giving 0.8 m clearance above LAT, enough for us if we kept to the narrow channel.

As expected. the weight of the tide was still holding the boat against the pontoon, but it had slackened enough for the two of us to push the boat off and move our large round fender to the starboard quarter. Removing the mooring lines had no effect. A combination of heavy push with boat hook at the bow and gentle astern on the engine with the tiller to port, brought her quarter onto the fender and her bow away. Briskly forward on the throttle and we left the pontoon headed upstream looking for space to turn – briskly because there is a certain point when the tide will catch her and she turns downstream whatever I do – in this case it would have been into the cruiser moored astern of us.

The ferryman had mentioned that they would be playing cricket on the sand bar today to celebrate the particularly low spring tide. The short entrance to the river is very narrow, a few yards wide, rocks on one side, sand bar on the other. The light surf was clearly visible on the exposed sand bar as we crossed the river towards it.

Yealm sand bar – Great Mew Stone behind

There were yachts moored in Cellar Bay as well as many dinghies on the beach. People were on the sand bar – the whole area a hive of activity.

Yealm sand bar – exposed at low spring tide

A few minutes later we were through the entrance into an altogether different sea to the one we had met in the morning.

Yealm entrance – the extreme right hand yacht is in the channel.

Sailing close-hauled across the Bay towards Great Mew Stone, we noted the exposed Inner and Outer Slimers, tacked across to clear the Western Ebb Rocks, tacked again before we reached them, cleared Mewstone Ledge and eased away onto a close reach across to Cawsand. Then home on the incoming tide.

It was one of those days. No broken records, no prizes, just a great day sailing.