Ian McNee’s Grand Voyage – Week 1

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Well I set off eventually on Sunday 26th May, for my Grand Voyage, to try and sail around the UK (or get as far as possible). This was a bit later than I wanted, but better late than never. I had tried to leave the day before but had some engine trouble and headed back to the mooring for the night. After fixing the problems I decided to sail my way over to Cawsand Bay to anchor for the night, it was a fairly blustery day and the first proper sail of the day, and it was a pretty messy affair, hopefully nobody was watching me too closely….

It’s important to look good on the high seas.

My night at Cawsand was my first time using a new anchor that I bought; a 7kg Manson Supreme to replace the original 7kg CQR that came with the boat. I was quite pleased with how quickly it dug in compared with the old anchor and I had a pretty comfortable night.

The next day I made my way around Rame head and headed for some port on the other side of Whitsand Bay, but I hadn’t yet made up my mind which one. I was thinking possibly either Looe, Polperro, Fowey, Mevagissey but in the end I opted for a little bay just south of Mevagissey called Portmellon. The water here was very clear and I could easily see the anchor set in the sand below. Just before I left Plymouth I had stocked up on a variety of canned food from a wholesaler’s on the outskirts of town, well known for selling out-of-date items, and it was at this point I began to question the wisdom of this move as I spent all of the 3rd day at anchor in Portmellon with stomach issues.

Feeling better the next day I headed towards Falmouth, and it was a fantastic day sailing. With sunny skies and blowing a F3/4 from the south west I made good progress westwards, albeit close hauled. In fact ever since I left Plymouth I had been heading straight upwind, which was a bit annoying but a good chance for me to practice helming and trimming the sails. I decided on the way to not go all the way to Falmouth but to anchor off Porthscatho, but a couple miles off the wind really picked up and suddenly I was struggling to make any progress upwind at all. Looking at my GPS track it was clear that when I tacked, I was just turning around 180 degrees and retracing my steps. Eventually after a wasted mile or two I got better at trimming the sails and started making progress upwind. I refused to put the engine on until I was almost within anchoring range, after all if I wanted to motor I would have bought a speedboat. I don’t know how long I’ll keep this up but at least I’ll save a few £££’s on diesel….

Alongside in Falmouth.

After a fairly sleepless night bouncing around in the swell I headed for Falmouth in the morning and got a spot in the marina. I arrived very early so I had plenty of time to look around, have a shower etc. My girlfriend Ness joined me in the evening (her journey via train sounded almost as arduous as my own) and we dined al fresco on the poop deck, so to speak. The next day we went to the maritime museum (always recommended) and then headed up river to spend the night.

Nice little anchorage up the River Fal.

The next day was fairly dreary so we just hung around in the river and then in the late afternoon headed upriver to Truro on the rising tide. In the upper reaches the navigable portion of the channel is very narrow but clearly marked with posts. In Truro we found ourselves in a pub called the Old Ale house, where there are barrels of free monkey nuts and apparently it’s the done thing to just chuck the shells on the floor, which of course I obligingly did.

Making a right mess!

In the evening the berth alongside the pontoon dried out completely and we ended up stuck in the mud at a somewhat uncomfortable angle for the night. Ness had to go back to work the following morning and I caught the early tide back down the river.

Deep in the Truro mud.

There was no wind at all in the upper reaches and going down the river was like gliding on glass. Passing Falmouth I got the sails up and headed south to Coverack, upwind all the way, naturally. In fact I’m starting to think some higher power has taken a dislike to my intentions and is actively trying to blow me back to Plymouth. Looking at the forecast for Wednesday, when I want to get around Land’s End, it seems their intentions aren’t changing anytime soon.

Water like glass.

As I write this I’m anchored off Coverack, and the swell has been fairly boisterous, so I’ve got a “flopper-stopper” rigged and also set up an anchor bridle arrangement to get the boat pointing more into the swell instead of the wind. It seems to be working well.

So far, so good. It’s been fun so far, not too tiring or anything and some really nice days. I am making rather slow progress though, maybe the weather will be more favourable once I get around the corner into the Bristol Channel…..

This is just taking the piss now!

2 Comments

  1. Keep the spinnaker in its bag for the return journey 😊😊

  2. Nice one Ian, I have been back for 2 days, didn’t have time to read your blogs before but think you are doing a really good job. I hope you get better weather than I did. I only got my shorts on for 4 days in the whole 8 weeks, the rest of the time was spent in full foul weather gear.

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