A trip around the UK in a Bavaria 46 in Autumn 2011
This blog is published chronologically. Go straight to the most recent post.
Thursday morning we went ashore at about 10 o'clock with a real gale blowing outside the harbour. Swell coming in from outside all through the night had meant that the boat was pitching and rolling about on her mooring buoy and we hadn't had much sleep. Dale had run us ashore in the tender to have a shower and a walk, but when he got back to the boat he saw that one of the lines round the mooring buoy ring had worn right through during the night, leaving just one (the skipper had very sensibly put on two as a precaution). For some reason, and I still don't know why exactly, he reacted to Dale's news by shouting that they had to leave harbour now, slipped the remaining line and set out straight into the sea towing the tender. By this time Hilary and I were on the round the island walk and we saw the boat leave the harbour and set out straight into heavy seas to get to a more sheltered anchorage on the island opposite (St Agnes). The wind was really strong (Force 7 or 8) and half way across the sound we saw the tender flipped over and boat coming to an abrupt stop. Eventually we saw they had lashed the tender more or less upright to the back of the boat and they carried on round to the other harbour. We went over later by the ferry and heard from Dale that it was even more dramatic than it looked - the tender was of the type that has a rigid boat shaped hull with a big fat inflated tube round it (a mini rib in fact). When flipped instead of just skidding along as I presume a normal inflatable would, it dug its nose in and went right under the water, stopping the boat like a huge sea anchor - the strength of the ropes towing her must have been tremendous. Given the conditions and the fact that they couldn't haul her in against the power of the waves meant that Dale was shouting they should cut it free, but Mark the skipper was determined to save it and eventually, by dangling right out into the sea with Dale holding his legs and Caroline holding Dale's they managed to get another line round it and haul it in and secure it as we had seen. The outboard was still on it but was of course completely flooded.
When we got over to St Agnes later in the day we found that Mark had spent all the rest of the day stripping the outboard down and had got it going again so we weren't completely marooned and were picked up again. Poor Dale had spent the afternoon unblocking the toilet, thereby apparently earning his yachtmaster certificate.
The new position of the boat was much more sheltered and had been happily anchored all afternoon but Mark thought we should have an anchor watch all night where we took turns to sit by the GPS in case the anchor drag alarm went off. We were slightly bamboozled by this and when Caroline asked me what an anchor watch was exactly, I said that you took the spare anchor, put it in your cabin and kept a careful eye on it all night. This crack even got a laugh out of Mark, but only when it was repeated to him a day or so later.
The underlying wind had been dropping during the Friday morning though it was still gusting at over 30mph. We were all a bit worried about the leg back to the mainland. It's about 4 hours from the Scillies to the Lizard, once you are round the Lizard then you get protection from the heavy swell (assuming it's coming from the west as it was). Mark the skipper tried to get in touch with the Scillonian which is the ferry that comes out to the islands every day to find out what the sea state was like. Unfortunately it had delayed departure as it too was worried, about the seasickness of the passengers presumably as of course there is no safety concerns with a ship that big. All the forecasts we had agreed that things would get better however so we set off somewhat apprehensively. As it turned out it wasn't so bad, the waves were enormous but at least they were coming from more or less behind us, so that you couldn't see them if you didn't want to! They were also even and quite widely spaced so you could steer ok and even surf down the backs of the bigger ones. A 46' boat surfing is quite a thing, usually you can only do that in little dinghies!
We got round the Lizard OK and after that it was plain sailing up to Falmouth with the only problem being that entering Falmouth harbour by night is an absolute pig. With good visibility you can see a complete maze of flashing green and red lights and some of the brighter ones are actually farther away, and therefore look nearer, than the ones that are closer. Trying to make sense of them is a nightmare added to which the only real hazard is a big rock right in the middle of the channel which is lit with lights so faint that we just could not find it. We kept to the Eastern shore though and slunk into St Mawes at about 10.30pm exhausted and with half the crew already asleep.