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Booze Cruise / Mayday 2019

Updated: 27-05-2019

Report by Simon Stannard (Photos Simon Stannard) aboard "Lilly Anne", a Bavaria 34.

"Lily Anne" Crew: Ruth , Simon, Caroline and Nigel; Skipper: Roger

Adventures of "Lilly Anne"

The Voyage of Lilly Anne
The Voyage of Lilly Anne

I don’t have to do the victualling, I am not the First Mate and I am not Skipper, this is good as I have no responsibilities and can enjoy sailing with an experienced crew - it doesn’t get much better than this! Then the Skipper says would I ‘mind’ writing the Trip Report? I might not be particularly good at reports but given the circumstances I can’t really say no. So here goes:

Friday was a pleasant sunny day if a bit cool, not the heat wave we had experienced in 2018. Roger was the first to arrive at Falmouth Marina and obtained the handover check list from Cornish Cruising. Ruth, who had volunteered to do the victualing, was in Sainsbury's getting the stores. So, when Simon arrived, he and Roger began the handover process. The check list was not well organised but most of the items were located, although not the glasses – can’t drink wine and beer without glasses something would have to be done.

"Lilly Anne" is a Bavaria Cruiser 34 with a more modern layout that does away with the Navigation Station but has good sized cabins for her length. At no point did Cornish Cruising appear on board to brief us on intricacies of “Lilly Anne”. So, a trip back up to Cornish Cruising’s office was necessary to report on the lack of glasses. The only staff member present was a Labrador that liked to be stroked. Eventually a human appeared and offered us seven pint glasses in their boxes which we accepted - well it was that or nothing.

By now Ruth had finished the shopping so we began to store "Lilly Anne". Much to our pleasant surprize Caroline and Nigel appeared sooner than anticipated, so we were quickly ready for the off.

"Lilly Anne" was little bit unusual, she had two wheels and two main sheets one running through the port clutch and other in the starboard clutch. That took a little while to understand until it was realised there was no Traveller.

Berth G25 was tucked away in a corner with other vessels tied up around her. The pontoon access for ‘G’ was at less than 90° to G pontoon with a large yacht was moored along-side it. That meant there very little room to move astern before a collision would occur. The combination of tide, wind and extremely limited space for manoeuvring was the cause of much debate between the crew on how best to cast off. There were several changes of plan until Nigel realised that "Lilly Anne" was equipped with a bow thruster. No one had told us that and the controls were hidden away near the cockpit sole on the starboard side. With Nigel at the helm (much to the relief of the other crew who didn’t fancy carrying out what was going to be an extremely tricky cast off) we went astern, there was perhaps a boat and a half’s length clear of pontoon G25 before we had to move forwards to avoid the large yacht. The bow thruster was engaged to swing the bow clear of pontoon G25 while forward pulsion was applied to avoid a collision with the yacht astern. The bow moved but not far enough and a rapid application of astern was needed to avoid a collision with the end of pontoon G25. The bow didn’t hit G25, but the miss-distance was only a few centimetres, a pretty close call. A bit more application of astern, forwards and bow thruster got "Lilly Anne" free of the pontoon trap and we were off motoring along for an appointment at The Heron Inn, Malpas.

Note the other yacht moored astern of Lilly Anne
Note the other yacht moored astern of Lilly Anne

This turned out to be a bit of shake-down cruise. Firstly, we had difficulty with the Chart Plotter which we assumed was our ignorance. Fortunately, Simon had his iPad Chart Plotter with him so it was brought up on to deck and we were able to navigate safely up the River Fal cutting the corners where it was safe to do so. The Heads holding tank was found to be returning dirty water into the toilet bowl, which was not very pleasant.

We tied up to a buoy off Malpas Point, during which Simon broke his glasses, only to be told by the Harbour Master that we would ground at low water, so would need to move on before then. The dinghy was inflated and launched, but then we discovered that the outboard would not start. We had to swallow our pride and request a ferry service ashore from the other club boat, “Donna Louise” .

A lovely evening was spent in The Heron, we then returned to “Lilly Anne”, let go of the buoy and motored down river to a pontoon with sufficient water beneath it a low tide.

The Heron Inn, Malpas
The Heron Inn, Malpas

The Skipper had arranged with Cornish Cruising to replace the outboard and have the Chart Plotter checked. Saturday morning we cast off early had headed back to Falmouth Marina. .

Large Ship in the Fal
Large Ship in the Fal

On the way down river we had an exciting moment with the chain ferry when the wind and tide drove us towards the ferry at alarming speed before the Skipper was able to pass safely astern of it.

Passing the Chain Ferry
Passing the Chain Ferry

Back at Falmouth Marina the outboard was replaced and the Chart Plotter checked and found not to be functional but no replacement was possible, so we would have to rely on paper charts for the weekend with the fall back of the iPad where close navigation was necessary. We also took onboard a full gas cylinder for “Donna Louise” .

Back out into Carrick Roads and then into Falmouth Bay, destination Fowey. Easier said than done.

We were keen to sail but the wind and tide made it difficult to progress eastwards. The lighthouse at St Antony Head remained in view for an eternity until we were forced to motor sail or miss the planned evening meal in Polruan. The long tacks gave us time to work on the Heads and between Nigel and Roger the unpleasant problem was resolved, although none of us were keen to use the Heads much during the weekend.

Long tacks off St Anthony Head
Long tacks off St Anthony Head (Outward tracks is the zig zag shown in yellow)

We motor sailed heading eastwards to Fowey. There were times when the wind was sufficient to allow the engine to be turned off, but it never lasted for long. The approach to the Town Quay in Fowey was interesting as the water was full of small craft behaving erratically by the pontoon. We decided to raft up against “Donna Louise” and gently nosed our way in giving the small craft time to move out of the way, although one vessel seemed oblivious to our presence, but drifted away from us just in time.

Nigel, Roger, Ruth and Caroline sailing to Fowey
Nigel, Roger, Ruth and Caroline sailing to Fowey

After a short stay on the Town Quay we chose to stay overnight at the Lifeboat pontoon, again the club boats rafted together. Saturday evening was spent in The Lugger at Polruan, not Fowey. Again, it was a good evening.

The Fowey Lifeboat
The Fowey Lifeboat

Sunday morning was sunny and still in Fowey. After a stop off at the Town Quay we got underway, hoisting the main, more in hope than expectation. Today’s destination was the River Helford.

Simon at the Wheel in Fowey
Simon at the Wheel in Fowey

We headed out into the English Channel, rounded Dodman Point and turned westwards. At times the sea was glassy smooth and we kept a good look out for Dolphins. Unfortunately, it was not a Dolphin day, although we did see one Porpoise which crossed our bow some way ahead and several large jelly fish, but that was it.

The smooth conditions meant that progress was again by motor, but good for reflections in the water.

Calm Waters off Fowey
Calm Waters off Fowey

“Donna Louise” was in sight of us all day, although she was a little quicker being a bit longer.

Cruising in Company with “Donna Louise”
Cruising in Company with “Donna Louise”

During the afternoon “Donna Louise” called us up to say they were going to pass inside of Gull Rock, we opted to follow them. As ““Donna Louise”" was a little faster than us much of the time we were playing catch up but not getting very far.

Passing Landward of Gull Rock
Passing Landward of Gull Rock

Eventually I think this must have got to Nigel. His expert sail trimming knowledge was applied and stopped "Lilly Anne" from losing any further ground to “Donna Louise” ; how does he do that?

“Donna Louise” was equipped with an in-mast furling system and they chose to round up off the Helford to furl her main away, we carried on passing her and made a slick job of dropping our mail into its Stack Pack, so we entered the River Helford before “Donna Louise” . The weather, never warm, cooled down considerably under a large black cloud as we motored up the Helford looking for a buoy.

We found a suitable buoy and moored up with little difficulty. Time to get the dinghy inflated and the outboard set up. This time the outboard worked. Leaving "Lilly Anne" we made our way over to the sailing club pontoons. Our landing was a rather inelegant when on stepping ashore Simon stumbled, stepped back onto Nigel’s hand (who was holding the dinghy against the pontoon) and fell over, fortunately, landing on the pontoon not in the water.

As we walked off the pontoon Phil noticed a man who appeared to be in trouble, we went back to investigate. The man was sitting in a partially deflated dinghy and getting damp. He was struggling to get off the dinghy. We supported the dinghy and the man was able to haul himself on to the thin arm that divides the berths (not intended to carry the weight of people) but his weight forced the arm down and the painter tied to the arm and his outboard became so tight that he could not release his outboard.

The weight of the outboard together with the man’s legs was causing the rear of the dinghy to submerge. In an attempt to remove the outboard Phil borrowed a knife from a person passing us on the pontoon and cut the line. Unfortunately, we still couldn’t remove the outboard due to very solid anti-theft lock. We helped the owner on to the pontoon and he went to his car to get the key for the lock.

Once unlocked the Outboard was released and we lifted it off dinghy which then began float again. We then helped the owner to lift his Dinghy out on to the pontoon. The Owner thanked us for helping him and we said our goodbyes.

Dinghy had got caught underneath the pontoon where the metal brackets ripped the material of one of the buoyancy tanks. You can see the tear if you look closely at the image, it’s near the bow.

The Damaged Dinghy
The Damaged Dinghy

After the excitement we had drinks and a meal at the Sailing Club before returning to the yachts without further incident. After packing away the dinghy we were invited aboard “Donna Louise” for wine and snacks. Had a great evening with good company and the two crews playing against one another in a series of pub quizzes – there was even a Brexit quiz!

Monday morning dawned clear and calm. After breakfast we slipped our mooring and headed out for an early lunch at St Mawes. Low tide at Falmouth would be early afternoon and we knew that low water would a difficult time to approach and enter the marina, so the plan was to get there early.

The winds were light again but we did manage some sailing to St Mawes, before finding a buoy and mooring up for lunch.

We watched a guy freeing his anchor from large clump of weed and perhaps other stuff as well. It seemed to take all their attention and at one point the crew appeared not to be aware that were drifting in confined waters. Eventually, the anchor was freed without incident and off they went.

After lunch we slipped out of St Mawes and headed back to Falmouth. A ferry flying a Union Flag with a happy yellow face on it passed us and the sun had a halo around it.

As usual “Donna Louise” arrived first so we were behind her in the queue for fuel berth. That meant we had to wait our turn which took a very long time. Meanwhile the tide was falling and we were trying to hold our position off the entrance to the marina in an area with restricted manoeuvring room. Eventually, the inevitable happened and we came gently to a halt as the keel dug into some soft mud. Going full astern after what seemed like long time, but could only have been a few seconds, we broke free of the river bed slipped back into slightly deeper water.

Shortly after the grounding the fuel berth became free. It was with some relief that we entered the marina, refuelled and returned to berth G25 where, fortunately, the other yachts were not at their berths so it was an easy approach to our pontoon.

We had overcome all the difficulties put in our way to enjoy 74NM of Cornish coastal cruising in good weather. A bit cool at times, but least it was dry with nice sunsets. The Skipper had selected good evening venues and the crew were good company.

The Voyage of Lilly Anne
The Voyage of Lilly Anne