Brilliant Sail and A Tragedy

Tuesday saw us navigate out of the River Yealm (note to self and BW: pay a land visit one day) at a civilised 8:30am after being reprimanded by the Skipper that our noise about the boat (shutting lockers, shouting down from the bow, et al) is not acceptable and that we must do better in being quiet when in a marina or on a shared pontoon. Makes sense, of course. This morning (Wednesday) we’re quiet as a mouse. Mainly because we’re staying put for the day, for maintenance, in Falmouth so no early rushing about taking lines off and stowing fenders.


Well, eventful, initially. We got out of the river estuary into the English Chanel proper and headed ‘two seven zero degrees’ (due West) aiming, initially, for Fowey (said “Foy”). No sooner had we turned on to that heading of 270′, than the VHF radio bursts into life with a Mayday. Yes, a real life Mayday and not that far from us. Some man, sailing single-handed on a small 28footer out of Hope Cove (Near Salcombe) was being swamped and sinking. His voice was controlled but urgent as he explained to Salcombe Coastguard his predicament. In all the excitement he did not follow the strict VHF procedure but that mattered not as the Coastguard asked all the right questions, of course. His boat was named ‘Tanee’ and, apparently, water was coming in through a hatch that had either broken or had been left open. The Coastguard told him that the Salcombe Lifeboats (both) had been launched. (By coincidence, our instructor, Tank – see earlier Blogs – is a crew member on the Salcombe boats but we don’t know yet whether he was on duty). We followed the dialogue between Tanee and the Coastguard, heard the Lifeboat VHF take over and assume that he was rescued. I don’t know what happened to the boat but will follow up. Incidences of this kind are published on the Marine and Coastguard Agency (‘MCA’) press releases site at some point. If you’re really interested in following up for yourself, go to this link.. MCA Press Releases.


That excitement over, we continued our sail in brilliant, absolutely, brilliant conditions. A following tide, winds of 15-18knots, on a broad reach at speeds of 8knots or so. Waves of 6-8feet. Bloody fantastic. We were advised to use these conditions to try and acclimatise going below. This should help us stay off any seasickness feelings later and in, maybe, worse conditions.

Given those conditions, and the fact that we were making very good time, we changed destination to Falmouth and made it there, 36 nautical miles later, at around 2pm. At which point, Duncs ‘invited’ us to a boat cleaning lesson. An intricate part of the RYA syllabus – seriously. Hose, soap, sponges and a soft brush were applied with the obligatory elbow grease and we soon had RBE gleaming in the sunshine. It doesn’t help that we’re moored close to a new super yacht where you can see your face in the paintwork, literally, so RBE seemed dull by comparison even after a good scrubbing.  (This yacht’s fenders alone were the size of the Shepherd’s Hut).

So, after the cleaning duties we had time to mini-explore Falmouth before dinner (Beef and Ale pie and a pint) and early to bed after our ‘Card Game’.

[This ‘Card Game’ involves the handing out of a series of Flash Cards used to learn various points of the Yachtmaster syllabus,  such as the meaning of lights on ships, weather patterns, bouy shapes, sizes, colour, location. The game is that, if you cannot exactly state the answer that’s on the card, the card remains in your possession until you can. The object, of course, is to have as few a number of cards as possible. Currently I have about 20. Each evening we get fresh cards, so by the end of today I may very well have 25 or so. Study, study, study]

It’s mid-day and time for maintenance duties. Duncs has just invited me to a Nappy Fest. That is not some obscure West Country equivalent of a Mason’s initiation ceremony but for the use in mopping up the oil and water in the engine bilge.  Apparently it will be a “5-Nappy” job today. Well, I’m going in, as they say and I have not said that for 25 years – being the last time I went in for a nappy change. Bob, that’s you. 🙂


Day 10  15th April