Sailing it Alone in Storms and Sunshine – Mylor to Studland Bay

28th July: Idun getting Squeeky Clean

Birgitta is off home, on a variety of transports, taking all day. The journey went very well, but those who know me will appreciate that after being locked down and restricted both mentally and physically for quite some time now, and spending the summer more or less just the two of us on a boat far away from society, the idea of sitting in a taxi, and on crowded trains, negotiating tubes and stations in London, followed by more trains and another taxi with so many people everywhere and much too close, I was absolutely exhausted when I got back. But I did it. And I didn’t get Covid-19 again.

Dominic in the meantime oversaw the brilliant team at Mylor taking Idun out of the water and giving the hull, rudder and keel a very good power clean. But hang on, didn’t you just do this in Essex only a few months ago? Yes, but we had noticed that Idun went slower, and the growth showed through the water, and Dominic had scrubbed the sides and we even did the ‘rope under the hull’ cleaning. But as the pictures show, the hull was covered in weed, as well as some encrusting. This is a quick fix, and in the winter when Idun is out of the water we will literally emery paper the hull down to expose the copper coat properly – something that was not done at the start of the season.

29th July: A Stressful Night Sitting out Storm Evert in the Fal

After another night in Mylor, cleaning the topsides and getting used to being on his own, Dominic moved over to the Fal river to sit out the strong winds coming up. (And yes, Idun moved noticeably faster in the water after her clean!)

He anchored upriver in a good spot, only to be told by the harbourmaster that he couldn’t be in the channel, even though it was obvious the channel would be full of boats as the day went on. But not wanting trouble, he re-anchored. However, as the wind started up, and the tide changed, he got far too close to another anchored boat, and had to start the engine to avoid hitting it. It turned out this boat was aground. He chatted with the skipper who decided he would be fine aground, and they agreed a spot nearby where Dominic would move to. But lo and behold, while Dominic was getting ready, the other boat quickly moved off to that exact spot himself! So Idun set off yet again for a third anchorage. But somehow the winds were getting much stronger than expected in this river, and Idun dragged the anchor and Dominic had to find a fourth anchorage in the dark, on his own, in what was now a pretty full river. He found a good spot where he lay out 55m of chain and stayed there for the remainder of the night. He was not the only one having to re-anchor – there was much activity during the night with average winds up to 20 knots and gusting to 30 – which was probably half of what it was in the open. He was aware of the RNLI being busy going up and down the river helping boats in trouble and as daylight came he saw one boat grounded on the river’s edge.

We had kept constant contact during the night and I felt awful that Dominic had to endure this on his own. He on the other hand said it was just as well I wasn’t there as I would have absolutely hated it. Which is very true!

Distance 5.7NM, underway 56 mins

30th July – 5th August: Enjoying Life on the Helford River

Shattered and not wanting to stay in the crowded Fal, by midday the next day Dominic moved off to the Helford for a bit of a rest and some space. It was still very windy and the crossing was pretty rough – he was keen get settled quickly as he’d had no sleep and concentration levels were dwindling!

Distance 10.6 NM, underway 1hr 43 m

One day he walked to Falmouth (which is quite a trek!), bought some food and walked back again. 35,000 steps he recorded!

One evening he had unusual entertainment: “I’ve anchored in a huge expanse of water and the next boat that comes along chooses to go RIGHT NEXT TO ME. Now, he’s standing on his foredeck playing the BAGPIPES. I hate the sound of bagpipes.” – not a happy bunny.

Another day he went for a massive walk on the southern side of the river, having explored the famous Frenchman’s creek. Another 35,000 stepper. He was getting lots of exercise.

Fulmar, the boat we got friendly with in Scilly, also returned to the mainland not wishing to sit out another storm (they stayed for the last one), and Dominic met up with them and entertained on Idun. Fulmar is a ferro-cement sailing boat hand built by the skipper, a very different option to our modern, fiberglass Idun.

So what else did Dominic do? Well, a fair amount of time was spent planning, for example for a further installation of solar panels (doubling generation capacity) and a clever outboard lifting and stowage arrangement for the RIB as he’s decided he wants a more powerful outboard to go longer distances, at speed. With more power, the RIB can plane and it then goes very fast. We’ll still use the electric outboard for short trips as it’s perfect for that.

Hard at work planning future jobs on Idun

Friday 6th August: River Helford to Tor Bay

We had agreed before I left that Dominic could start the journey back towards the east coast on his own, if he wanted to, and after some lovely days in the Helford he set off for Tor Bay.

It was a long sail, and it got more and more windy as the day went on, with F7 winds in Tor Bay. He had a bit of a moment when the mainsail sheet (the rope that controls the mainsail) got jammed in a block which meant he had to take down the mainsail quickly and sail the rest of the way with only the foresail. As the wind was so strong, that didn’t matter at all but I don’t like the idea of him clambering about, doing risky manoeuvres with big sails out on his own in those conditions – at the time it was F7 wind in 4 to 5 meter waves!

He anchored outside Torquay but it was still F5 winds and very uncomfortable, so before nightfall he moved on and spent the night near Paignton.

Distance 77 NM, underway 11 hrs, average speed 7.5 knots, MAX SPEED 15.4 KNOTS – and that’s a record speed for us!

The guilty party

The next morning he re-anchored again to outside Brixham, by Fishcombe Cove where we’ve been before. Here he’s very near Totnes and his brother and sister-in-law, and he met up with them several times. He also took walks, as he does, and spent a lot of time, and money! in the Brixham chandlers putting his various boat projects in place.

Friday 13th August: Brixham to Studland Bay

Brixham to Studland Bay

Time to move on again a week later, and although this also was a long sail, it was a passage with good, strong winds and no mishaps whatsoever, and he was safely anchored in Studland Bay mid-afternoon.

We noticed the new seagrass protection ‘no-anchor zone’ last time we were there, and now they have added a new type of eco-moorings which use a helical screw anchor which is driven into the seabed and attached to the mooring buoy via an elastic band. This is such a good idea, and I’m sure the seahorses think so too!

More on the eco-moorings here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-dorset-57999730

Distance 68.7 NM, underway 9hrs, average speed 7.6 knots, max speed 12.8 knots

And soon Dominic wasn’t alone anymore on Idun, but that is for the next blog!

4 thoughts on “Sailing it Alone in Storms and Sunshine – Mylor to Studland Bay

  1. The storm sounds scary, and 15.4 knots is amazing! Are you sure he wasn’t foiling like the America’s Cup boats? Interesting that the block jammed – wonder what caused that?

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  2. Yea the 15.4 knots was most likely surfing down a big wave! Idun, the huge surf board… The sheet had jammed in the block as it had got very twisted. Dominic has now fitted a swivel block to where the sheet terminates, and we’ve now also got spare swivel blocks for both the foresail and the mainsail.

    We’re motoring towards Brighton atm. We couldn’t leave too early getting across the bar out of Chichester Harbour, and we were supposed to have enough wind to get us to Brighton before too close to low tide to get into the marina, but there you go. We have to bear the ignominy of motoring for an hour or two!

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