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  • Writer's pictureMark

Passage from Brixham to Falmouth

Entry No. 8

I woke up this morning and had two thoughts.

  1. We’re in Falmouth!

  2. For a change, I’m going to write a blog about sailing!

As usual, I made the passage plan and the first action point was ‘Leave at 0700 sharp’.

I don’t know why but I get immense satisfaction from being perfectly punctual in the execution of that part of a passage. The rest of it get’s winged a little and generally speaking, that's fine when it comes to transiting between two ports with deep water in between.

Like the smug knob that I am, I asked Asha for the time just as the mooring buoy line dropped into the water in order to point out the fact that the splash it made was synchronised with the Brixham church clock chiming 7am! Deeply satisfied with the timely preparation of the ship for sea, the embalming of coffee and the ‘hard and fast’ ramming in of a banana, we were off!

Brixham had been lovely, a real treat of a place with an awesome Fish and Chippery. Asha wasn’t familiar with the importance of Fish ’n’ chips to your average Englishman or indeed the necessity to drown said comestibles in salt and vinegar but she followed suit and in an instant her Polish meat and potato DNA had been dealt a heavy blow by a true British classic. In fact it was Asha who insisted we go back for more on Tuesday night before we left yesterday morning!

We emerged from the safe flat water behind the breakwater and immediately punched into the not insignificant swell that had been created by the gale 8 that blew the previous day and night. The wind was fresh and the wave tops white as we hoisted sails and made our way out of the bay. We put two long tacks in under full sail with the engine on. The engine was probably not necessary but I was keen to get out and well clear of the rocks of Berry Head. The wind was blowing us onto them and they looked pretty menacing with masses of white water crashing and spraying all around them. Once abeam of the rocks by a mile or so we switched the engine off and cruised south down the coast. It was pretty rolly and Asha felt a little unwell but she soldiered on and Altor took us slowly but steadily rolling with the waves for 18 miles until we were at our waypoint south of Start Point. Here we turned and headed directly west. The wind was from the east and being directly behind us meant the start of hellish frustrations with two sails up. The mainsail shadows the jib so the jib flaps, collapses and then fills again with a bang that makes the whole rig shake. When sailing directly downwind you can have the mainsail out on one side and the jib out on the other. If you’re a sailor, this is called ‘goose winging’. If you’re an American and you don’t mind saying something that sounds ridiculous, it’s called ‘wing on wing’.

Goose winging is great but it doesn’t work with a big following sea. The waves overtake you and make the boat corkscrew around all over the place and this variation in course puts the wind on your quarter and once again, sails bang, flap, crash, the rig shakes and you wonder what the f*ck made you think you liked sailing in the first place!

However, as with many things in life, less is more (not the case with man sausage, engine size or tits. Ignore anyone who says otherwise - they are wrong, lying or both).

Quite often when you are sailing and trying hard to maintain control with lots of sail up, you are far better off to drop some sail, regain full control and most of the time this strategy actually makes you faster. It certainly did for us. We dropped the main and ran before the wind with jib only at a good solid passage making speed of 6 to 7 knots. This continued for 6 hours until the tide turned against us and our speed dropped down to 5 knots. This drop in speed is always factored in so it’s not a problem. I always plan on an average speed of 5 knots. Anything more is a bonus and it’s much better for your mental wellness to under estimate rather than over estimate.

I mentioned to Asha when we left Brixham that I thought this would be a dolphin day and I was right. As we rounded Start Point we heard the telltale blow from a dolphin’s hole, no idea which one, and there they were right alongside. They never fail to instil a feeling of pure joy. Talk about a lift! You can be having the best or the worst day, a dolphin will always make it better!

They weren’t particularly playful and didn’t stay very long. Later Asha commented that ‘they weren’t very good’. I had to remind her that compared to the previous 1000 days or so in which neither of us had seen a dolphin in any way other than on tv, this had to be viewed as a huge highlight AND to me whenever you see a dolphin, even if its everyday for the rest of your life, IT IS SPECIAL, OK!!!!! Asha did agree eventually and I’m sure the bruising will fade soon. She’s got a fast right hook when she thinks you’ve said too much!😂🤣😂🤣

One of the pleasures of this passage was sailing south of Eddystone Rocks and the lighthouse that stands atop. I’ve never been close before because on previous sails around these parts I have been coast hopping from port to port but thanks to the current cough and cold that is Covid 19 and having to avoid Dartmouth and Fowey due to quarantine type scaremongering, we straight lined it from Start Point to Falmouth taking us right passed it. It’s a pretty cool thing up close, but not too close! God or some other creator, the big bang, or whatever else you choose to believe made this place, had a good sense of humour!

“Hmmm, Let’s see - I’m going to make this beautiful part of the south coast with dramatic cliffs and generally stunning features and I’m going to dig out the bottom of the sea so it’s lovely, deep and safe. Or am I? Haha - I know, I will put these bastard jagged rocks right in the middle of nowhere and see who hits them”.…

Well, quite a lot of ships actually. Enough to warrant putting a bloody huge lighthouse on top although this in itself is like a beacon and had the same effect on me that shit does to flies. I just wanted to get up close. However, good sense prevailed and I stayed a sensible distance away but close enough to see the rocks sticking up and in some way appreciate the shear hell that discovering them by means of a loud crash and splintering timbers in the black of night might have felt to ancient mariners. The remains of the original lighthouse are still there to be seen albeit dwarfed by the new enormous dildo with a flashing tip which has saved countless ships from a truly horrific fate.

We cruised on passed and quite literally into the sunset. We rounded St Anthony’s Lighthouse in St Mawes, the one featured in the cool show that was ‘Fraggle Rock’, entered Falmouth Harbour and put our anchor down just as darkness was falling. A day’s sailing like that is exhausting. You’re never working hard enough to be out of breath on a downwind passage but being 100 percent switched on for the navigation, sail trim, welfare of the boat, all it’s components, catering and of course administering a steady stream of sun cream to the crew member with a 'hint' of gingerness is exhausting!

We did 83 nm in 14.5 hours, an average speed of 5.7 knots. To celebrate the successful passage, Asha treated herself to some electrolite effervescent stuff that you dissolve in water 🙄. I refused her more than generous offer and instead opted for beer, gin and tonic and baileys!

We got Altor warm and cosy and then went to bed. I slept a long, beautiful and deep sleep before excitedly getting up this morning to see our new surroundings.

This is another place that I love for many reasons. ‘The Chain Locker’ was one of my favourite pubs on my UK circumnavigation trip but thanks to the flu, it is of course shut so I will quickly get on with two of my other favourite Cornish things.

Pasties and clotted cream teas!!!!!

Approaching Eddystone Rock Lighthouse

The old and the new. It's 60 meters deep right up until about 100 meters away. 😳

Leaving Eddystone in our wake

Fraggle Rock lighthouse at St Mawes

The anchor went down just as darkness fell. Pretty good luck on the timing front.

Good morning Falmouth!

And goodnight.

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