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May Day 2017 - Plymouth - aboard "Pantalamon" (Bavaria 36) / "Ventis Secundis" (Delphia 40) and "Barbarossa" (Bavaria 38)

Updated: 07-05-2017

Report from Steve Worner (Photos Steve Worner and Lis Jones):

It's the end of April so it must be time to head off to Mayflower Marina, Plymouth for Mayday weekend sailing trip.

We had 9 members who signed up but as we got closer to the weekend two jumped ship (Roger and Caroline) due to ill health. There seems to be a trend starting here with David Gist having badly damaged his knee when stepping down from the boat onto a pontoon on the Frostbite in February - all having been programmed to share a boat with Nigel! A coincidence or is there an underlying trend? Get Well Soon all of you!

After shuffling crews to balance the boats, Nigel and Ruth were paired with Simon on "Pantalamon" (36ft Bavaria) out of QAB Marina and Phil, Norma and Lis were lumbered with me as skipper on "Barbarossa"" (38ft Bavaria). The handover on "Barbarossa" was very smooth and she is very well equipped with huge new touch screen chart plotter on the binnacle. One of the best bits though is she is berthed on the end of a hammer head pontoon - as the owner says 'to make it easy for charterers to get in and out of the marina'.

Having stowed away our kit and food we headed off into the Sound and out through the 'Bridge' to the West of Drake's Island, raising the sails to leave through the Eastern Entrance.

Mew Stone and Wembury Bay
Mew Stone and Wembury Bay
A discussion took place on 'Man Over Board' and we had a couple of practice runs of Heave-To skills. Having spoken to "Pantalamon" we had booked a table in the Ship at Nos Mayo at 7.30 but their handover was taking a little longer than ours so they were not as far advanced as ourselves. When we arrived at the pontoon in the Yealm we were surprised to find it empty and very little activity (this was a common theme throughout the weekend with very few people/boats about) so we were able to choose where we tied up with the prime position for departing on Saturday.

We sorted out the dinghy and after an aperitif we headed up river to the Ship (another bonus was we were nearing high water so we were able to take the dinghy all the way to the pub and not worry about the tide receding before we needed to depart). At this time the other boat had not arrived although a voice mail message assured us that they were on their way. The pub was half empty and there was no pressure on us to order food so we hung on until 8.15 by which time tums were rumbling but just as we ordered food the other crew appeared and made rapid decisions on their choice of fare. A very enjoyable meal was followed by a trip back to the boats and a night cap on "Barbarossa".

The wish list for the weekend was to head East and go to Dartmouth/Salcombe but as has so often been the case the weather Gods were against us with Easterlies forecast for Saturday and Westerlies (possible gales at times) for the remainder - so the decision was to head to Fowey. Having just taken to our bunks we were invaded by Ruth who informed us that the heads were not working on their boat so she made use of our facilities and informed us that they would return to the marina early on Saturday to get the problem sorted.

Fowey on Saturday

Fowey on Saturday

Saturday morning and a relaxed start for "Barbarossa" and we departed at about 9.00 with one reef in the main to grey skies and a chilly Southerly wind right on the beam. We had a great sail touching over 9knts over the ground and as we were approaching Fowey the winds backed to an annoying downwind sail so we rolled away the headsail and motored into Fowey before dropping the main.

In the meantime the others had returned to the Marina and swapped to "Ventis Secundis" (Delphia 40) and were again trailing behind. Their trip was mainly down wind as they 'suffered' from the wind backing but a good sail. Having tied up on the pontoon at Town Quay we had our pasties for late lunch before heading ashore for showers. As we were preparing to depart for one of the half empty (note the continuing trend) pontoons, "Ventis Secundis" arrived so we moved a small cabin cruiser along to make room for her. Whilst they had lunch and showers we made our way to the pontoon for R & R. "Ventis Secundis" joined us a little later and a discussion took place on what we intended to do for the rest of the weekend (various weather sources / oracles were reviewed on line and a 'mean' weather forecast obtained) .

Rules of the Inn
Rules of the Lugger Inn, Fowey, in the 'Ladies'

A gale was forecast for Saturday into Sunday but would die out by early afternoon so the choice was to either sail back to the Yealm on Sunday afternoon or straight back to Plymouth on Monday - but it was decided to leave the decision until Sunday morning. The Water Taxi was duly hailed and pleasant (huge) meals enjoyed at the Lugger in Fowey, followed by a night cap on "Ventis Secundis". Sunday dawned and there was no strong feelings on what to do for the rest of the weekend until we realised that heavy rain was forecast that evening so a short trip on the water taxi was preferable to a wet ride in dinghies in the Yealm so we had a relaxing day with everyone doing their own thing. The decision was made to have a change from the Lugger in Fowey (much as we enjoy it) so we booked a table at the LUGGER in POLRUAN and enjoyed an excellent meal there, particularly local seafood. There are signs around the walls saying the food 'will contain traces of Cornwall' and 'will contain traces of the Sea'.

Sunset from Polruan quay
Sunset from Polruan quay
When we walked down to the quay there was a lovely sunset which we would have missed had we gone to Fowey. We summoned to water taxi to be confronted by not one but two drivers as there was a trainee (no real need to worry as the trainee normally drives the Polruan - Fowey ferry). We boarded and headed out only to execute a handbrake turn to return and pick up two more passengers. Off we go again but the same thing happens so back again but this time with a promise there will be no further repeat. We all gathered on "Barbarossa" for a nightcap and quiz hosted by Norma (for those who do not know she hails from the good old USA and intends to apply for Citizenship later this year) with questions mainly based on British history and culture.

Monday saw us depart around 8.30 with one reef in the main and full headsail but the wind was directly astern so we dropped the main and sailed on headsail, making good progress under grey skies and F4/5 winds on a comfortable course of 120deg.

West entrance to Plymouth Sound
West entrance to Plymouth Sound
When we were approaching Rame Head we jibed onto 070deg and the rain started so we radioed "Ventis Secundis" with the decision that we would refuel at QAB (easier access to fuel pontoon) before returning directly to Mayflower Marina. As we were approaching the Western entrance to the Sound we realised we were being caught by the Royal Western Racing fleet but only a very fast trimaran and catamaran caught us before the finish line. Having refuelled Lis took us back to Mayflower where we had lunch of pasties (what else) before tidying away, followed by a quick coffee in Jolly Jacks before hitting the road for an easy drive back home.

A very enjoyable weekend on a lovely boat, despite not having the best of weather.

Report from Simon Stannard (Photos Simon Stannard) aboard "Pantalaimon" (Bavaria 36) / "Ventis Secundis" (Delphia 40):

It was a difficult start to this Mayday trip. Roger Francis, our nominated skipper and the victualler became ill and had to pull out, Simon had already agreed to take over as skipper if Roger was unavailable and Nigel and Caroline offered to do the victualling. Then Caroline also had to pull out. Fortunately, Ruth from the other Mayday crew bravely volunteered to change boats and do our victualling as well. Thank you Ruth.

The crew met up at QAB Marina on the Friday afternoon, contacted the charterer, (Liberty Yachts) and made their way to "Pantalaimon". "Pantalaimon" is a 36' Bavaria, a little old but looking good as she had just had 8000 Pounds of work done on her because the owner is in the process of selling her.

A very thorough and protracted handover was carried out by Shaun of Liberty Yachts. We were still doing the handover when news came through that the other crew on "Barbarossa" were already underway for the River Yealm. Eventually the handover was complete, the yacht stowed and the crew ready. Simon took "Pantalaimon" off the mooring and out into Plymouth Sound where the sails were raised and the engine turned off. Ruth took the helm and steered us around the Mew Stone and into Wembury Bay. The wind died away, it was getting late, would we be in time for the pub meal? So engine back on and we motor sailed into the River Yealm. We moored up on the pontoon near "Barbarossa", but they had already left for the pub. It was HW so we quickly set up the dinghy and outboard and motored up the river to The Ship at Noss Mayo where Steve Worner greeted us as we came ashore. For a Bank Holiday Friday the pub was strangely quiet, so we were able order food and drinks straight away. A nice meal in good company was had, although it was quickly consumed as the tide was dropping and we didn't want the dinghy to be stranded.

Topic of conversation was where to go for the weekend, eastward or westwards? The consensus was that west was best due to nasty weather forecasts for Sunday and Monday making Start Point wind against tide and Salcombe Bar problematic.

Back on "Pantalaimon" we discovered that the flush on the heads was seized and the waste outflow sea cock (recently replaced) jammed. There was no phone signal, so no way of letting Liberty Yachts know of our problem. We decided on an early start Saturday morning heading back to QAB, calling Liberty Yachts as soon as we had a phone signal.

At about 06:00 the next morning the tide in the River Yealm was flooding strongly. On the river channel side on the pontoon was the Plymouth Sailing School yacht "Phoebe", the yacht that we had charted last year. There was some shouting and on looking up I saw that "Phoebe" was adrift her bow close to the pontoon and hull partially across the current, she was moving quickly with the flood. Strangely one of their crew members was still on the pontoon. An impact with another yacht moored on the pontoon was seconds away when the skipper put Phoebe in hard astern. The engine roared away then cut out. I heard the skipper's panicky voice in the stillness of the morning say 'sh**! Rope around the prop.' The burst of astern power was just enough to pull the bow clear of the other yacht, but now "Phoebe" was drifting across the river towards a line of moored yachts. I was convinced "Phoebe" had avoided one collision only to be in another. "Phoebe"'s skipper raced across the deck to the bow and struggled to remove the pin holding the anchor in place. It seemed to take ages but suddenly the pin was out, the anchor free and "Phoebe" came to rest in the river without having hit anything.

A short while later we were rigging the slips when the marooned "Phoebe" crew member offered to help. For some unknown reason instead of helping to rig the slip he released bow line. Fortunately the springs were still in place so we stayed fixed to the pontoon. Despite his unhelpful assistance we did transfer the marooned crewman to "Phoebe". Perhaps his understanding of mooring lines was the cause of "Phoebe"'s problems?

Once out in Wembury Bay Nigel called Liberty Yachts who were not too pleased to hear of a blocked heads. They thought we had blocked toilet, but we had not used it. They offered to get an engineer out or to let us change yachts, we opted for the latter as it put us in control of events.

Getting back into QAB was interesting with lots of yachts coming out of the marina for the races that day and a cross wind that was strong enough to make close quarters manoeuvring difficult. One aborted attempt at mooring was made before deciding to approach the pontoon stern first which worked well.

In QAB we transferred all our stores to the replacement and bigger yacht, "Ventis Secundis" a 40' Delphia, but then had to go through another check list.

Eventually ready again for sea we had a quick breakfast at 11:00 before casting off. Nigel took us off the berth through Plymouth Sound before Ruth took over to head westwards along the Cornish coast, destination Fowey. A good sail followed despite the poor forecast of high winds, a little bumpy here and there but making up to 7 knots with two reefs in.

At Fowey we opted to stop off at the Town Quay for a couple hours. On leaving the Quay the wind was blowing "Ventis Secundis" strongly onto the pontoon. The first attempt to spring off only resulted in us moving along the pontoon a few metres. So we re-rigged the springs and tried again with better results, we got clear of the pontoon but "Ventis Secundis" struggled to swing her bow through the wind, even the application of the bow thruster had no noticeable effect. The outcome was that "Ventis Secundis" found herself in a cul de sac of moored, highly varnished, wooden sailing dinghies. The skipper struggled to avoid bumping into the dinghies and after a couple of very near misses managed to back out of the cul de sac into clear water, a nerve wracking couple of minutes.

Ventis Secundis at Town Quay pontoon, Fowey
"Ventis Secundis" at Town Quay pontoon, Fowey

The Saturday evening meal was taken at The Lugger in Fowey with the crew from "Barbarossa", again the pub seemed very quiet for a bank holiday weekend. The weather forecasts continued to be a major talking point due to the different predictions being made, with the Met Office inshore forecast predicting very poor weather. The eventual outcome was a decision to stay put in Fowey on the Sunday.

Sunday evening the two crews tried the other Lugger, in Polruan, another good meal enjoyed. The crews later returned to "Barbarossa" where Norma Bridge tested their combined knowledge on 'Britishness' with somewhat mixed outcomes.

Monday morning "Ventis Secundis" left Fowey for Plymouth under cloudy skies with a variable wind that at sea occasionally gusted close to 30 knots. The passage was downwind and we had to gybe a few times on route. On Ventis Secundis foredeck there is an inverted U tube cable conduit. At each gybe the jib sheet got caught under the U tube and could only be released by someone going forwards, which was not ideal in the conditions on route. Soon it was raining continuously and the planned anchoring at Cawsands Bay for a pasty lunch was dropped in favour of a quick return to QAB. Pasties to be consumed once tied up. During the passage a Mayday for man overboard was received. Ruth took the details but their position was a long way west of us, so we were not able to assist with the emergency and there were many other Yachts west of us.

As we approached Plymouth Sound the leaders of a yacht race from Fowey began passing us making for busy and colourful scene. One benefit of the race was that the owner of "Ventis Secundis" was on board one of the race yachts. He arrived at QAB just before us, so was keen to take our lines as we came into the berth.

An interesting weekend in good company but with poor weather we had less sailing than hoped for.