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Cruise 8 - 15 September 2018

Dublin to Plymouth

Our cruise started in Dublin, the home of Guinness, although most of the crew chose alternative drinks when we eat in the very busy Temple Bar area of the city on Saturday. Three of the crew were staying on from the previous week from Oban so were well settled in to the routine of BB. I had been in Dublin since Wednesday and had heard all about the famine of the 1850s many times during our few days sightseeing, no fear of that as BB settled lower in the water as the shopping was unloaded!

So with skipper Paul, mate Matt and crew members Bill and Pascal as well as the previous week's skipper, David, we cast off from Poolbeg marina at 7am on Sunday to head off into a breezy but bright Irish Sea to head south with St Ives as the destination, roughly 200 miles south of us.

Watches were started pretty soon but off watch hands were frequently called to help with reefs being put in and shaken out as the wind varied between 15 and 25 knots with gusts to about 30. I've lost count of the sail changes as the conditions changed so often.

Mostly it was uneventful with some 'excitement' overnight avoiding ships, but we did see a pod of dolphins in the Bristol Channel, that always perks up a crew. The current as we approached St Ives was stronger than expected which prompted the engine to be fired up so we could anchor before the pubs closed, after 36 hours almost all under sail at very respectable speeds no one objected.

St Ives was reached just as daylight left for the day, negotiating the huge number of pot markers/yacht traps in the bay was a real challenge even though they were well marked. The green starboard mark was another matter, it was so tiny and unlit that we didn't see it until the next morning. Being the only boat in the bay that evening gave us a choice of which space between the pot markers to make ours, so the 'hook' was dropped and a very welcome dinner was soon cooking in the galley.

With St Ives promising a music festival the tender was readied and Paul, Matt, Pascal and I set off for the old harbour a short distance away, Bill and David preferring to have an early night after the long passage. Landfall for those in the tender came slightly earlier than expected as the engine ran aground in the harbour entrance about 100 yards from the shore. Quickly deploying the oars didn't help much with one being damaged and useless, the spring tide was ebbing so quickly we had to do something soon or we could be stranded The only option was to walk the tender somewhere, but where? As we were all very wet by then we decided to try to get back to BB and found enough water to float the tender and make our retreat!

St Ives bay gave us welcome shelter from the strong overnight south westerlies but they continued the next day and the planned trip to the Scillies was abandoned. Staying in St Ives to enjoy the festival was not an option either because the wind was forecast to veer north so the anchorage would be untenable. It was decided that we would to go to Newlyn, just 'round the corner' of Lands End, going inside the TSS but outside Longships lighthouse. Light or not, we didn't see land most of the day as visibility was so poor. But we didn't hear a foghorn either.

Newlyn proved an interesting harbour, after being promised that hammerhead on the visitor's pontoon it was occupied when we arrived so we rafted up alongside a big rusty maintenance ship which was outside of an even rustier old fishing boat. Getting ashore meant clambering over huge chains and heavy fishing gear but that didn't discourage a trip into the town to sample 'Proper Job', a local beer and witness the pub's 22 year old cat give some visiting terriers a shock, much like getting back on board did for us…. the tide had gone out a few more metres since we left and we had to climb a long way down a very rusty ladder on the harbour wall to the fishing boat which was about a metre from the wall. No one was lost into the mucky harbour but it was a sobering end to the evening.
Wednesday morning dawned much very much brighter, it was planned to leave around midday so most of the crew took the opportunity to look round Newlyn and find a launderette to dry clothes which had got wet during the tender trip earlier, leaving Bill and I to potter around on board. During this time the maintenance ship which we were rafted up to announced they needed to leave urgently, before the rest of our crew could get back. With the help of the maintenance crew, Bill and I rigged up some long lines and manhandled Brighton Belle to allow the ship to slip out. Pascal had quite a surprise when he returned and the ship was gone, but at least it made getting on board much easier with only one ship to clamber over! Newlyn is an interesting town, clearly still a busy fishing port but lots of holidaymakers as well.​
Leaving Newlyn we had 10 – 16 knot winds for a very pleasant sail around the Lizard peninsular to our overnight destination of the beautiful Helford River. 33 miles later it didn't disappoint and we tied onto one of the visitor buoys in time for a lovely sunset.
Time for dinner on board trying to lighten the larder and then we all set off to the Shipwrights Arms, again by tender. It was busy when we arrived but after a couple of drinks it suddenly went quiet and we were told the tender pontoon dries at low water. Rather than risk another paddle to float the tender we made a hasty retreat to BB again and just made it!

Next morning the sun shone again, with light winds we set off for Fowey. Only 25 miles to sail today so with lightish following winds we experimented with sails, deciding to pole out the genoa. It took a while to free up the pole which looked like it hadn't been used for a while. With 'George' on the helm and the crew focusing on the task on the foredeck we struggled with sheets and poles until we noticed the main, held by the preventer, was backed and BB was sailing backwards, 'George' isn't very good at spotting wind shifts and they caught us out, he certainly can't cope with sailing backwards! Fortunately the wind was only light so the poling out plan was abandoned and a we continued on a beam reach to the pretty town of Fowey, spending the night on a large mid harbour mooring buoy after the harbour master initially put us on one of the many visitors buoys before realising 55 ft was a bit long for them.

Another meal was eaten on board before we set of for an uneventful tender trip to the pub. Just by the Fowey pontoon are lockers for lifejackets, provided by the RNLI, what a good idea for visiting sailors. After checking out the bakeries for somewhere to collect some Cornish pasties the following morning we settled down for a drink or two in a friendly pub where Pascal ordered a huge pot of the local mussels and felt he was back home.

Next day, our last at sea, dawned fine and bright again, we had plenty of time to get to Plymouth so decided to go via the Eddystone rocks, about 12 miles south of Plymouth. With a lightish following wind again it was a chance to fly the cruising chute. It was a learning exercise for most of us, so led by Matt we dragged the huge sail from the locker, doubled it up along the side deck, and after some sorting out of ropes it was filling nicely, giving us a extra knot or two. More dolphins, or maybe they were porpoises, made an appearance on the way. The Eddystone lighthouse, the fourth one to stand on the rocks, was a photo opportunity not to be missed although we couldn't get too close.

Our arrival in Plymouth was at about low water, so with too little water to reach our berth or the fuel pontoon we waited at the marina entrance, giving us a good opportunity to start tidying up Brighton Belle. For our last evening together we found a delightful restaurant and enjoyed or first meal ashore since Dublin.​
The next morning we all went our separate ways, remembering a great week of sailing, none whom I had sailed with before. We had seen some beautiful scenery, sailed a passage longer than I have done before and apart from the day round Lands End we managed to sail nearly all the way. I met new BBSC members and look forward to sailing with them again, my thanks go to Paul and Matt for leading the week.

About the author

Graham Anderson

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