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Summer Cruise - June 2011

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

Updated: 28-06-2011

Report from Ruth Jennings:

Gallery photos

Jester "Jester" (Dufour 41) and Tigger Too" in Pendennis Marina

Crew : Nigel Owen (skipper), Steve Worner, Lis Jones, Ruth Jennings

Plans were made at the end of May for the June week - with Steve having got us an early take over on Saturday and an extra Sunday as well - we would head West, pop round to St. Ives (for Steve) then on to the Scillies. As the sailing week approached emails were sent by those keeping an eye on the weather: "Anyone watching the forecast? Not looking brilliant on Sunday, rain and strong winds, otherwise not so bad." We all duly arrived on Saturday at Mayflower Marina and mid-afternoon set sail West as planned aiming to get to Falmouth. We were having a good sail but with arrival at Falmouth looking later and later decided to join "Islander" (Anne and Gordon) currently in Fowey with engine problems (using 1 pint of oil an hour), and going to start back Eastwards. Forecasts for Sunday continued to sound bad as we tucked into Caroline's tasty hot-pot brought aboard by Nigel.

Jester Black Rock (with seal on left) and St. Anthony's lighthouse beyond

Sunday morning, according to the skipper, there was a small window of opportunity to get further West so off we headed to Falmouth. But, as we reached the entrance the wind was stronger and the seas bigger - "a little lumpy" - 6 or more hours of this did not appeal so we turned around and headed back in for a lazy day at the pontoon followed by a trip ashore to the ever reliable Lugger.

Monday was much better sailing altogether and we made very good time to Falmouth where, after watching Navy helicopters playing, we joined "Tigger Too" in the sheltered Pendennis Inner Marina. All tied up, with beers and the biggest bag of nuts and raisins ever seen, Steve and Lis went off to find the Marina office. Quickly returning with shouts of 20 minutes to get out or we would be stuck until the following afternoon. Although the Inner Marina has a Cill and is accessible 3 hours either side of high water there would be no-one to open the bridge the following morning and they were closing at 6pm today. A rapid exit was made to the Outer Marina where we initially tied up to a "don't touch my wires" welsh boat then moved onto the Pontoon just along from the "Matthew" (there for Sea Shanty festival).

Jester "Tigger Too" sharing a berth with "The Matthew"
There were some "big" boats around - a 50-metre and 38-metre in for servicing and opposite was Abramovich's vessel with its smaller 4 spreader yacht / tender alongside. Dinner was corned beef hash aboard which some crew members followed with a stroll to Pendennis Castle and the local youths' car playground.

Next day would be the last opportunity to head for the Scillies but, with bad weather now forecast for Wednesday, it was decided that could wait for another year. Tuesday's overnight stop would be the Helford and then go East as far as possible. Lis wanted to see the Lizard light but ignored Nigel's bus time information so, having watched a female skipper HMS Severn out, we set out to sail there. We had a great sail, joined by a baby swallow on the "bathing platform", and anchored in Coverack for lunch where a passing windsurf instructor warned us that we had parked very close to, if not on top of, a rock. With little wind and a table booked at the sailing club we motored back and picked up a mooring in the Helford. "Tigger Too" were there as well and, as they were having problems with their dinghy,"Jester" provided a taxi-service.

Wednesday started with very light winds and as we faffed around trying to pole out the headsail (too big for the pole) the wind increased and we cracked off eastwards hoping to make Plymouth, the Yealm or even Salcombe. As our speed increased and knowing that "Islander" were also there - Salcombe became our destination with our ETA getting earlier all the time. The Navy were out again and having heard "RFA Orange Leaf" a few times we thought we might listen to what they had to say. Being a bit confused by their message the skipper decided to call them up and gave our position. After a short pause the response was: "We have you on radar - we will aim to miss you". Seems we were in their firing range! One tack only, into the Salcombe entrance, we joined "Islander" on their mooring buoy and all went ashore to enjoy a meal at the King's Head. The water taxi here was 1.50 (a bargain after Fowey at 2) and had a canopy.

Jester Lunch at Cawsand. Blowing 20 kts outside the shelter of Rame Head

With yet more windy weather forecast a vote was taken on where we would rather be holed up and the Yealm won. So, Thursday saw us head there with a small overshoot to Cawsand bay for a wet lunch stop. This was preceded by the helm throwing water over all the crew including down the hatch to the nav. table. Plans to launch the dinghy and explore were shelved as the wind increased and it got colder. So, skipper cooked a super Chilli to warm us up.

Friday saw further deterioration of the weather situation and the decision was made to jump ship as there was little hope of any more sailing over the next 2 days. As we headed back into Mayflower, through the Bridges, Gale warnings and updates were continually appearing for all sea areas on the NAVTEX. Gale Force 8 imminent, severe Gale 9 soon and, in Biscay already a Storm Force 10. A visit to the fuelling pontoon and then tie up and head for home - 2 days early.

A final safety message which we heard many times during the week: "Lifejackets are useless unless worn."