Trouble at Cremyll

May 16, 2015 at 6:26 pm

Duet and I left the comfort of Plymouth Yacht Haven yesterday afternoon and headed over to Millbrook to pick up some stainless steel fittings for the Navik. I stopped to pick up Bill Churchouse who was anchored at Cremyll on the way, and we ducked in alongside at Voyager Boatyard at high tide, very conscious that it dries. All went smoothly and we beat a hasty retreat.

After dropping Bill back off on his boat I dropped anchor nearby in 8 meters, just by the entrance to the channel up to Millbrook, at the end of the Cremyll moorings. The SW wind was pretty fresh and I let out 20m chain and another 20m rope as the wind was due to freshen over night. It did, but we held fast. However, I was aware that with so much scope I was in danger of riding out of the channel and onto the nearby mud flats. Low tide at 11pm passed without too much incident. We touched briefly but right on low tide, and I started the engine and pushed us off back into the channel where I threw out the little Danforth kedge I keep in a bucket on the pushpit, to help keep us out in deeper water. I didn’t sleep at all well at all though. The wind did freshen and I was mindful of dragging, or swinging round on the tide out of the channel onto the drying mud. I slept with the anchor alarm set to 20m on my handheld gps under my pillow (so if we moved more than 20m it would sound and I would wake). But I still woke a good few times as waves slapped the hull. The wind in the rigging had an ominous tone and it was very cold, even with my hot water bottle and thermals.

By 7.30 I was up and we had swung round on the tide, as the height of tide had lifted the kedge out and we were only in 1.2m of water (under the keel), and with 3 1/2 hours to go til the next low tide I knew I was heading for trouble, so I pulled in the dangling kedge and then upped anchor and moved, anchoring again further out in 7m again, probably only 10m away, such was the steep sides of the channel under the water. I didn’t bother with the kedge again though I didn’t let out as much scope this time either.

We held again well in the soft mud, however at some point next the wind veered to the NW and was by now gusting a good, regular f6.

The effect of this was to push us round and up onto the mud, but I didn’t notice in time… At just after 10am I was lying in my bunk and could feel Duet was touching the bottom, just a gentle sticking in the soft mud and an odd motion, but the depth sounder said there was still 0.8m of water under the keel. Which was odd as it had been bang on in the night; I tested it with a weighted line.

By 20 past 10 I’d tried to motor off, and Bill had arrived by dinghy but we were well and truly stuck fast. I’d done a quick calculation on the tidal curve in the almanac and knew we still had at least half a metre to drop: We were in trouble.

As I’d come to accept we were stuck, but still had some side to side movement I’d stood on the leeward side, which also happened to be the side away from the tide so she would settle that side down and wouldn’t get swamped by the incoming tide later. It was pretty clear that with still more than an hour to low tide, we were going over.

So started our gradual incline. I say gradual but it was actually pretty quick… Bill and I prepared by lashing the jerry cans (my heaviest items aboard) to the high side rail. I shut the seacocks so they wouldn’t fill with mud, closed all the locker doors along the sides of the cabin and moved items from the high side of the boat to the low side as they started sliding about.

By 11am I was wedged in the bottom of the cabin sole as the boat was at more than 45 degrees and sitting on the bunks was by now impossible. And Bill was sitting on the cockpit floor. We had Radio 2 on and joked about making a cup of tea.

It was all pretty solid and actually quite peaceful with the tide tinkling on the last parts of the hull in the water. It was also interesting to see what moved, as might happen, worst case scenario, in a knock down. I was surprised to find jars came out of the lower lockers at a relatively benign angle.

I have to admit now, that I was persuaded to abandon ship just before low tide itself, and watched her refloat from the comfort of a neighbouring boat, drinking coffee… But it was pretty quick again, and she came straight back up with no problem at all. After all, that’s what the keel is for, and luckily we were in lovely soft mud. A rocky shore, or a bigger fetch and bigger waves would have needed different tactics to protect the boat from puncturing her side, but she’s solid and just lay on her side like an indignant seal.

The wind and the tide did try and push her up onto the shore as she lifted, but her anchor snubbed her and she righted with a little rocking motion.

By 1230 she was upright, and I was back aboard. No real drama, but I’ve learnt alot today.

And if it’s never happened to you; it will… And when it does; don’t panic ;o)

Thanks for the photos and the help Bill.

And Denis for the coffee.

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You can just see me to the left practicing my "Abandon Ship" drill. Smug bilge keeler to the right...

You can just see me to the left practicing my “Abandon Ship” drill. Smug bilge keeler to the right…

Jester Challenge Symposium 2015

March 1, 2015 at 8:21 pm

I’m a bit behind with this blogging, but I was lucky enough to attend the Jester Challenge Symposium and Dinner, over in Ipswich at the end of January.

Now on paper it should have been pretty darn intimidating rocking up there, but I have to tell you that I was warmly received and made to feel very welcomed by the Jester family.

We had a whole 4 hours of talks followed by a Q and A with the Trans Atlantic Jesters, which, again on paper should have been a mini endurance test all of its own (I’m a fidgeter, if you ever get a choice don’t sit next to me…) but it wasn’t at all; really great, useful stuff and insights from everyone. I left at the end of the evening feeling very positive indeed about the Challenge, and very motivated to get on with my preparations. Let’s do this!

Basil Panakis has done a great job of editing down the 4 hours to a very manageable half hour video. Great stuff:

Weather Forecasting (or not)

August 26, 2014 at 3:23 pm

The weather’s turning rubbish, eh? I’ve had a few very chilly nights, and it seems every time I go out I end up beating into 20 knots of wind, regardless of what the Met Office has forecast. In fact I’m starting to grow distrustful of the Inshore Waters forecast as it seems to be often very wrong. For example for Salcombe-Plymouth I was forecast SW 3-4, but got a NW5!

Windguru seems to be more on the money though, and has the benefit of giving you 7 days and is localised. I’ve also just been recommended WeatherWeb which seems promising too…  Apparently there is a high coming at the end of next week, but it will be short lived unfortunately.

It is all very changeable though. Yesterday I saw 30 knots, while today the wind have been very light.  Looking last night I was going to try to make a dash for Fowey tomorrow morning (Wednesday). The tide is favourable after 6am (and it’s a Spring) and it’s 20 miles so should take 5 hours ish. Looking at this there is a window. The winds have moderated and would be from behind, and the wave height is lower (and this is really important for a little boat).

Apparently the Tall Ships Regatta is on in Falmouth this weekend, and it would be good to get there for that. Either that or I’ll be stuck here til next Sunday by the looks of it.

Watch this space…

I’ll be watching the weather…

windguru

Courtesy of windgury.cz

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