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Mayday 2011 - Charter from Mayflower Marina, Plymouth aboard "Jester" (Dufour 41)

Updated: 11-05-2011

Report from Steve Worner:

Gallery photos

Jester "Jester" (Dufour 41)

Crew : David Gist (skipper), Lis Jones, Caroline Stannard, Simon Stannard and Steve Worner

The 2011 Mayday looked like being a special weekend in that it coincided with the Royal Wedding so we were all available on Friday morning without the need to take extra leave and the boat was available for handover as early as we wanted - we did not bargain on the Weather Gods being against us. Friday started when Lis collected me from home and we were at David's ready to depart at 08.00. On arrival at Mayflower Marina, a quick couple of phone calls told us that Simon and Caroline were just turning into the Marina and the Charterer was on board the boat awaiting to carryout the handover. Caroline and Lis dragged Simon into 'Jolly Jacks', ostensibly for a coffee, but really to watch the wedding whilst David and I did the handover. By 10.45 we were also at Jolly Jacks and saw the Bride arrive at the Abbey before us guys left to load the boat. Timing is everything and as we completed preparations so the wedding ceremony was completed so we were able to gather for safety briefing and to cast off. By this time Nigel Owen had joined us briefly to check out Jester ( which he is skippering for the June week) and issue dire threats of the consequences of damaging HIS boat.

At 12.30, which a quick push from Nigel, we headed out of Mayflower, raised the full main and motorsailed out through 'The Bridge'and into Plymouth Sound. The wind was light and variable and despite several attempts, we were forced to motor towards Fowey. We did briefly sail once or twice when there was a bit more wind but this quickly disappeared and it was back to motoring. At this point I should perhaps point out that the forecast for the whole long weekend was Easterlies (possibly NE) so the idea was to head to Fowey on Friday, all points East on Saturday and leave easy sailing for the return on Sunday / Monday).

Common Dolphin Common Dolphin
The highlight of the trip to Fowey was when we joined by a small pod of Common Dolphins, Lis reduced speed and they played under our bows for five minutes before disappearing as quickly as they had arrived.
Approaching Fowey Approaching Fowey
We arrived to an unusually quiet Fowey and tied up on the Albert Quay Pontoon and strolled ashore for a leisurely pint at the Royal Fowey Yacht club before returning to the boat and taking her across to a mooring on the opposite side of the River ( the seasonal Pontoons not yet being in place). A quick call on the radio and Sam's Water Taxi was summoned to take us ashore at Town Quay and a meal at The Lugger ( probably the best value / quality in Cornwall ! And 60s / 70s music playing continuously).

Saturday started with a leisurely trip back across the river to make use of the facilities at Fowey Gallants Yacht Club and pick up supplies of Pasties. Some crew members missed this trip as they slept the sleep of the just ( or complained at the lack of breakfast in bed) We slipped at 09.30, with a reef in the main , we headed out of the harbour to find strong Easterly winds so headed out with the possible intention of leaving The Eddison Lighthouse to Port and then tacking back to Salcombe.

Yealm Bar Yealm Bar
Conditions were poor and after about two hours we tacked back in (basically to allow a West bound racing yacht to pass as he was on Starboard tack and bearing down fast with spinnaker flying). A quick check after 3 hours showed we had only made 5 miles to the East and with miserable conditions we decided to drop the head sail and motor for Plymouth / Yealm. Even motoring we were still only making 3 kts though the water although 4 over the ground into almost 20 kts of wind. We eventually reached the Plymouth area and motored on across the breakwater to Wembury Bay, picking up the leading line on St Werburgh's Church and then turning to Starboard to pick up the leading lines on the boards on the hillside before dodging around the two reds at the end of the sand bar and hanging a port turn to pick up the final two lines on the next hill. Having got this far it should have just been a simple case of following the middle of the river to the visitor's moorings and pontoons - but that's too easy! The first buoy we reached had a large Gin Palace attached complete with tender and this was sheering back and forward blocking most of the river in the near 30 kts of wind funnelling down the river - so it was a case of picking your moment to dodge past the moving target.

River Yealm River Yealm

We carried on to the visitors area to find some very selfish use of the pontoons but, fortunately, whilst we were checking out the area the Harbour Master showed us to a brand new mooring which we could use on the understanding that, should the owner turn up and wish to use it, we would need to swap with him as his own boat was on another mooring close by.

Having inflated the dinghy with a very efficient electric pump we went ashore to a very enjoyable meal at The Ship.

Bluebells, Wembury Bay Bluebells, Wembury Bay
Sunday dawned with high winds and no decrease forecast so we decided to spend some time exploring Newton Ferrers and Noss Mayo, once the tide had dropped sufficient to expose the little 'bridges' linking the different sides of the river. The trip ashore included a quick inspection of the Sailing club and finally a walk out around Yealm Head with it's spectacular display of bluebells.

After a brief return to Jester ( and dressing for dinner of course) we returned to The Ship for another evening meal.

Drake's Island Drake's Island
Monday, and yet more strong winds from the East so we headed out with three reefs in the main for what was a remarkly enjoyable sail around the Great Mew Stone and into Plymouth Sound with winds up around 40 kts. We dropped the sail around Drake's Island and motored up under the Tamar Bridges before returning to Mayflower Marina where we had great difficulty in tying up on the outside of the Pontoon due to the F8 winds blowing us off.
Beaufort, F7 Beaufort, F7
After discussions with the Charterer ( and Nigel's threats of the dire consequences of damaging HIS boat ringing in our ears) it was agreed that we would crew the boat whilst the Charterer put it into it's berth - we were very concerned that we would be able to stop the boat from piling into the marina walkway with (at times) 40kts pushing us dead down wind ( we had struggled to make 2 kts through the water when going forward and felt that there was a real danger of damaging the bows. As it turned out he managed to get her into the berth, only gently touching the pontoon with the bow.

Tamar Bridge Tamar Bridge

Having cleaned the boat and handed it back we had a quick coffee before heading North and doing battle with the holiday traffic on the M5. Definitely not the weekend we planned but enjoyable with good company all the same. Jester is a really lovely boats, with lots of attention to detail by her owners and a real pleasure to sail.