A first trip to the Channel Islands

I had booked Good Report to be lifted out of the water mid-August, with the laudable intention of making good use of the ongoing fine weather, to spend a week or two doing much needed external painting, varnishing and deck maintenance in the boat yard.

However at the last minute, Kate and I spontaneously decided to go for a little adventure together instead…and sail to the Channel Islands. This would not just be a first visit there, but also the furthest east I’ve ever taken Good Report – my previous furthest-east-point being Dartmouth !

I just needed a quick trip to the ‘Sea Chest‘ bookshop to buy a pilot book and chart, and then to the supermarket to stock up with fresh food (I still have loads of the surplus tinned and dry food that I took down to the Azores…and then brought back again,12 months ago) – and we were good to go. It’s a rather novel and refreshing experience to be able to leave with such minimal preparation or planning….but also hard to avoid a nagging sense that I might have forgotten something important!

Getting away was not completely plain-sailing however: Firstly the winds were not helpful being easterly – which blows Good Report sideways across her trot mooring towards the shore. It makes getting off our mooring really difficult. Plans A, B and C (which include trying to use the dinghy and outboard to pull Good Report’s bow or stern off the mooring into the wind) all failed. Eventually we conceded that we would just have to move the mooring stringer line to the windward side of the boat and depart up the very narrow lee-ward, shore-side channel and hope we didn’t run aground.

Our relief and sense of smugness at avoiding doing so however was short lived. Half an hour later, we were just motor-sailing past Plymouth Breakwater when the engine’s low pressure alarm started bleeping as we reduced revs. I shut down the engine and we tacked slowly into the nearby Crownhill Bay where we dropped anchor to take stock. The engine’s oil and water levels both looked fine (good) and there didn’t seem to be any issues with the cooling water intake (also good). A quick read of the Troubleshooting section of the engine’s Maintenance Manual suggested that a change of oil and oil filter was probably in order – something to do as soon as we arrived. In the meantime, we re-hoisted sail and finally set a course for Guernsey

The 97.4NM passage to St Peter Port, Guernsey was relatively straight forward, albeit slow – taking 261/2 hours (av. 3.8kn SOG). Overnight the wind fluctuated between F2 and F5 – but always from the east so we were beating into it as we headed SE – sometimes struggling to hold a course, sometimes making good speed. The weather was fine and sea generally calm however and we had a beautiful sunset and sunrise.

In between I had a very busy night crossing the mid-Channel shipping lanes. There were alot of ships about so I was kept on my toes, alternating between closely monitoring my AIS screen and peering out into the darkness to watch lights come and go. Twice I called up converging ships which looked like they were going to come too close for comfort. Credit to both Eli A (a 11403t Liberian registered container ship) and Alsia Swan (a 5717t Malteese registered oil/chemical tanker) – both of whom courteously responded to my VHF calls and then altered course to ensure greater sea-room between us.

By dawn the wind had completely dropped and I fired up the engine, keeping a close eye on the oil pressure and temperature gauges. Kate emerged from the cabin and relieved me for a couple of hours which enabled me to get some much needed sleep.

We continued under engine for the rest of the day through a calm sea, just leaving the main up as a steadying sail. I really don’t like motoring out at sea. Its noisy, smelly, polluting, expensive…and slower than sailing if there is any sort of sea running. It just feels unnatural for a sailing boat. I begrudgingly accept it as a unfortunate necessity when there is no/little wind. On the positive side it does enable you to progress in the direction you actually want to go AND you can charge every device you have !

The Channel Islands are famous/notorious for their strong and treacherous tidal streams. Our initial approach to Guernsey was slowed by the ebb tide so it felt like it took an age to close the island, but as we finally did so we got the benefit of the flood tide and swept along the southern side of the island, finally entering St Peter Port shortly after 18:00.

There is a serious sill between the outer harbour and the marina at St Peter Port. A Harbour Office launch initially directed us to a visitors pontoon to wait until there was sufficient water to enter the marina.

St Peter Port is a really interesting harbour, with lots of different parts. We got a great berth in the centre of the visitors marina (£30/night incl electricity) which is in the heart of the town…albeit were slightly dwarfed by bigger boats around us.

Wherever I lay my laptop (and can get a decent cup of coffee)…is my workplace.

A key reason for coming to Guernsey was to visit friend and fellow-Jester, John Willis – who had done the JAC’21 with me in Pippin. It was so lovely to meet up with John and his wife Angie, and they treated us to a lovely meal out in the very excellent Taj restaurant on the quayside – (which I got the slight impression was John’s second home!). My only regret is that we didn’t take a photo.

Apart from socialising, working, doing an engine oil change, and dog-walking…we did very little in St Peter Port, and were content to leave plenty of things to do/visit next time. Kate did however (of course) find a beach in the town to go swimming from.

After four days in St Peter Port – we decided to up-sticks and find a quiet anchorage for a few days before we had to head home. We took advantage of Guernsey’s VAT-free status to refuel (£1.13/litre), then motored over to the east side of the nearby island of Herm seeking some shelter from the predominantly westerly winds.

Belvoir Bay on Herm was a good sandy anchorage with a lovely little dog-friendly beach. Despite being on the sheltered side of the island, we did suffer a bit from tidal current generated swell at night. Whilst we were there we bumped into Hamish Southby-Tailyour and family on SV Equinox…who just happened to be anchored next to us. We also had a flotilla of some 60 swimmers circumnavigating the island come by – each with their own kayaker escort!

Kate swam from the beach to Good Report a couple of times…with a doggy escort !

….and we walked the 6mile coastal path around the island

At the end of the week we headed home. Initially there was very little wind so we had to motor again, punching into a short sharp sea of small waves which was not very comfortable and a bit slow. Kate and Kelpie retired to their bunks and pretty much stayed there for the rest of the passage.

We motored until about midnight when there was sufficient wind (F4) to sail, close-hauled on a course towards Plymouth. We again crossed the main shipping lanes overnight and if anything it was even busier than the passage over. Several times the ships seemed to come in a group of four in close formation…and there was no way I was going to thread my way through them – even if I had ‘right of way’. I just hove to and let them pass. Another time I changed course to work my way around a pair of fishing vessels that were slowly crossing our path. Just as I thought I could return to my desired course, one of them called me up on the VHF to warn me that they were about to do a complete 180 deg change of course…and I would need to effectively go back the way I’d come. The detour took me an hour and I lost several miles of hard won upwind position. Grrrrr.

Morning dawned over-cast, drizzly with the threat of heavy rain ahead. Kate obligingly roused herself to give me a couple of hours of much needed sleep, and in light winds we slowly continued to Plymouth arriving back on our mooring around 13:30 without drama.

The 98.4NM return passage had taken us just over 24 hours (av. 4.1 kn).

Heavy black clouds welcomed us back to Plymouth.

Able Sea-dog 1st class

No major adventures for us this year, but a couple of memorable trips so far that are worth recording…in particular as they were the first proper passages for my new crew-member – Kelpie.

Kelpie is a year old ‘Cockerpoo’. She is small, fluffy and very friendly, with distinct Tigger-like tendencies. Some (oh…alright, me) might call her ‘adorable’. She was the runt of her litter, has funny back legs…and has brought us a huge amount of joy and pleasure. But how would she cope with sailing ?

Kelpie comes from known sea-faring stock (her mother is Mika of SV Sula), but she was still to earn her own ‘competent sea-dog’ badge.

Working visit to the Isles of Scilly

In May, I mixed business with pleasure by sailing out to the Isles of Scilly for a week. In my current job (as the Environment Agency’s Coastal Engineer for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly) I have been working very closely with the Council of the Isles of Scilly on a variety of coastal issues, and I need to visit the Islands periodically (I really do !). Flights and accommodation during the summer are very expensive…and are often completely booked out anyway. So providing my own – low carbon, no cost to the tax-payer – transport and accommodation seemed like a justifiable win-win.

We left Plymouth after the start of the Jester Challenge, and I just followed a respectful distance behind the Jesters as they headed west. I rapidly lost track of Arelia and Sandpiper, but shadowed Opole and Louisa (both of whom had AIS Transceivers) well past the Lizard.

As we approached the Scillies our tracks diverged, but interestingly I didn’t feel the slightest pang of envy as the Jesters headed off into the Atlantic. It made me realise that psychological preparation is a very large part of undertaking such a challenge. I had no desire to keep on going because I hadn’t prepared for it mentally.

We had a really good passage from Plymouth to the Isles of Scillies in almost perfect SE’ly F4 winds, fine weather and calm seas, making the 100NM passage in 21 hours (av 4.8kn). There was a lot of traffic across Mounts Bay overnight, so I didn’t get much sleep and getting back into the single-handed sailors routine of 20min catnaps was a bit of a struggle.

After a bit of a nervous start, Kelpie acclimatised really well to being on board and to the motion of the boat. She was very happy in her boat-bed below or in the cockpit, and was brave enough to wander around deck, safely clipped onto the Jackstays with a short leash. Much to my surprise she managed the whole passage without needing ‘puddles’ (better than I could do !)….but lets just say she was very excited to get ashore.

I picked up a visitors mooring in St Mary’s harbour, where I remained for the week (£21/night). I’d brought all my work IT with me, so was very happy working in my floating office in GR’s cabin, but I actually spent a lot of the week in meetings or on site visits ashore. ‘Commuting’ to the Council’s office at Porth Mellon Industrial Estate involved a dinghy ride, then half mile walk along the beach!

Returning on a water-taxi to St Marys from a Community Meeting on St Martyn’s with work colleagues…and Kelpie. Kelpie just came everywhere with me, which was for the most part absolutely fine. The only two things I couldn’t take her to were into this actual meeting (No Dogs allowed into the community hall, so I had to reluctantly tie her up outside the building), and an evening Council Meeting (but Tanya – the Council’s Head of Environment – very kindly dog-sat her whilst I attended!).

At the end of the week, we reluctantly headed home. Stephen – the Council’s Project Director with whom I’ve been closely working – had kindly volunteered to crew for me on the passage back to Plymouth. Its been a long while since I’ve had a (human) crew – I’ve got so used to single-handed sailing. Being able to take over-night watches and actually get a few hours sleep (and not arriving exhausted) was such a luxury !!

We had a very gentle trip back in calm seas and sunshine (98NM in 22 1/2 hrs, av. 4.4kn), but disappointingly ended up having to motor half of it due to a lack of wind. Force 2 is just not enough to get Good Report moving under sail.

It was a joy having Kelpie with me. She loved the Scillies and became very at home on Good Report. She definitely earned her ‘sea-dog’ badge !

JC2022 and my new favourite photograph

I have very few good photographs of Good Report ‘in action’ – because of course I am always on board myself. So I’m always extremely grateful when someone else sends me a good photograph they’ve taken, and I really value such images.

…and this is my new favourite photograph of Good Report – for which I must thank Ewen Southby-Tailyour.

credit: Ewen Southby-Tailyour

It was taken in Plymouth Sound at the start of the Jester Challenge 2022. As the photograph shows it was a sunny, but pretty blustery day. Ewen (as the distinguished creator and – until last year – ‘non-organiser’ of the Jester Challenge, an event of minimal rules or organisation, which nonetheless does in reality require a fair amount of organisational effort!) was the official event starter, from his son’s boat Equinox which was anchored about a mile to the west of the breakwater. I (as the Plymouth branch of the ‘Jester Helm’ triumvirate that has taken over the ‘non-organisation’ of the Jester Challenge from Ewen) was buzzing around in Good Report, taking photos of the entrants as they prepared for the midday starting gun.

I came in close to Equinox, to say ‘hello’ and snatch a couple of pictures as we went past, with both vessels proudly flying our Jester burgees and Ukrainian-solidarity flags. Needless to say this photograph that Ewen took of Good Report was a lot better than the ones I took of Equinox.

The Jester Challenge 2022

Only four intrepid sailors took part in this years Jester Challenge – from Plymouth, UK to Newport, Rhode Island, USA. Numbers for this ultimate challenge are never very high, but the lingering impacts of the Covid pandemic on boat and skipper preparation can not have helped. So it was a great achievement for all four in just getting to the start line.

Giving the Skippers Briefing to the four Jester Challenge 2022 skippers in Good Report’s cabin – a bit of a squeeze, and some looking more relaxed than others! (L-R Bernie Branfield – ‘Louisa‘, Andrzej Kopytko – ‘Opole’, Howard Chivers – ‘Sandpiper’ & John Apps – ‘Arelia’)

As for the Jester event’s last year, we were based at the excellent and friendly Mayflower Marina in Plymouth, and I brought Good Report around too for the start weekend, which is one of the event highlights. Entrants are largely ready by this stage, so can spend the weekend finalising bits and pieces, visiting each-other’s boats and generally relaxing. We had a very good Skippers Dinner at Jolly Jacks restaurant on the Friday night, and then I gave the final Skippers Briefing on the Saturday evening, before the midday start on the Sunday.

As well as managing the Plymouth end of things, I also took on the responsibility of doing the daily Tracking Map for the Jester website. This involved quite a complicated daily process involving collecting latest position information from participants’ emails or personal tracker sites… entering the data into a spreadsheet… running a bespoke programme to create a Google Earth Pro map of the boat tracks… then copying that day’s map file onto a Google MyMap site on the web – which was linked to the Jester Challenge website, so the world could see how the skippers were getting on.

It sounds quite complicated…and it was! However its a great addition to the Jester website, and Howard who created the programme and set up the system (but was participating in this years event so couldn’t actually run it) did a great job in – very patiently – training me up over a couple of Zoom meetings, and I did a couple of trial runs before he set sail over the horizon. As a result I got pretty quick at the daily routine and succeeded (as far as I can tell) in plotting everyone in the right position. No one ended up embarrassingly in mid-Africa at least !

I was really glad to do the tracker map, because it kept me involved with the event and in touch with how the skippers were faring. It was interesting to see their different tactics early on…but about eight days after leaving Plymouth they were hit by a very nasty depression working its way up the east Atlantic. The impacts of this forced both John and Howard to retire and head home (along with several entrants in the OSTAR/TWOSTAR race that set off a week after the Jesters and which were all following a more northerly route). Andrzej ploughed on through it and made it halfway across the Atlantic before damage to his rigging forced him to retire and turn back for repairs in the Azores. Bernie plodded on and also eventually made the Azores, where he too retired as a result of his slow progress. So in the end none of the Jester 2022 fleet made it to Newport, which was very disappointing. On the plus side, they gave it a go, all made safe harbour ok and they will I’m sure have great stories to tell of their adventure.

Jester 2022 final tracker map (Red Line =Great circle route; Green = Sandpiper; Pink = Arelia; Light Blue = Louisa; Dark Blue = Opole)

Bottom cleaning

This is the first year that I have not lifted Good Report ashore at some point over the winter for a few weeks of maintenance. I would like to think being able to do this is (at least in part) testament to the good job I have done in previous years. In reality it is probably as much to do with feeling that I had used up most of my accumulated boat-brownie points last year in taking part in the Jester Azores Challenge.

So Good Report has been quietly sat on her mooring all autumn and winter – pretty much ignored since our return from the Azores last year. Our only excursions have been an evening in August anchored off the Mountbatten Breakwater with Kate for the always brilliant British Fireworks Championship, and a ritual family trip on New Years Day across Plymouth Sound for a cold water swim off Mount Edgcumbe (though Skipper had to reluctantly stay on board in case the anchor dragged).

As a result Good Report’s bottom had accumulated a good growth of algae, with weed and barnacle trim in hard to reach crevices, and at the beginning of May I decided to dry her out alongside the wall at Yacht Haven Quay to clean her hull during low tide.

Getting ready: extra large fenders for supporting GR against the wall and a long ladder for getting on/off the boat; Power washer + long extension leads + all our garden hoses. Welly boots for standing in the mud !

Phase 1 went really well and by at high tide at 8am I had arrived at the boatyard, got Good Report off her mooring, motored over to YHQ’s wall and tied her up alongside . All I had to do now was wait a few hours for the tide to drop.

I used the time to set up and test my Power Washer…and for some reason it kept tripping the YHQ power supply! Complete disaster was averted when YHQ Manager Richard very kindly let me use the yard’s generator driven power washer. We managed to position it, and its accompanying IBC water tank, directly above GR and thankfully its 20m hose was just long enough to reach down to the ground.

Positioning Good Report at exactly the right distance off the wall was difficult…and I didn’t get it quite right. Once she had touched the bed I couldn’t move her sideways, and she settled maybe 0.5m too far out. As a result, as she dried out, she leaned over a bit too much. Her mast came perilously close to the top of the harbour wall, bending her Port cap shroud. I had to unfasten it at the deck to avoid damage.

Crawling into the gap between boat and wall to clean the Port side was a little claustrophobic.

Almost 12 months worth of algae and weed – possibly some of it brought back from the Azores.

YHQ’s power washer was miles more powerful than my device, and very effective at cleaning the antifouling – which was extremely satisfying. But the weed on the topsides paint was harder to remove.

Job done and looking good. I was finished long before the tide came back in. Hopefully last year’s antifouling will last another season !

Diesel cabin heater installed

For some time I’ve dreamed of adding a heater to Good Report’s cabin.  I don’t have gas on board, or a generator, and I have to carefully manage my electricity consumption – so the obvious choice is a diesel heater.

I’ve considered something like an Eberspacher or a Webasto diesel heater, or one of their cheap Chinese copies…and in the absence of anything else I might have gone down that path. But I wasn’t very keen on having something complicated that could break down (or of having to drill another hole through the hull for an exhaust)… and also I don’t really feel they are in keeping with Good Report’s traditional aesthetic. What I really wanted was something like a classic Taylors Diesel Heater….and I recently managed to pick one up second hand. And after much intricate design, and very careful installation….it is successfully up and running.

The only place to fit the heater was on the saloon bulkhead – where the bookcase used to be (so now I have to make a replacement bookcase somewhere else!). To protect the plywood bulkhead, the heater is mounted on a stainless steel plate, behind which I inserted a 12mm thick heatproof board.

The Taylors Diesel Heater is a very simple device. It consists of a stand alone fuel tank which feeds an adjustable ‘drip feed’ mechanism under gravity….which in turn supplies fuel into a burner ‘pot’ inside the housing. You light the burner pot with meths, and then after a few minutes allow the diesel to start dripping through.

The heater controls consist of (i) a fuel on/off valve (red tap) – which I added (ii) the drip feed control valve to fine tune the fuel flow rate to 80-110 drips/minute (iii) a thermocouple controlled magnetic safety switch (blue button) which shuts the fuel supply off if the burner goes out, and (iv) the drip feed fitting with glass window.

There are a number of critical installation measurements however which made it a very tight fit in Good Reports small cabin….in fact on paper it wouldn’t actually meet the installation recommendations. However I had a feeling that I could somehow make it fit and work…nevertheless it was a bit of a leap of faith!

The most critical challenge was working out how… and where… the flue could exit up through the cabin roof. Given the congested nature of the roof, there was only one real option – which was straight up through the middle of the port-side Dorade ventilation box. The tolerance on this was only a couple of millimetres in each direction – so this required very careful measuring, remeasuring and setting out (and measuring again).

I got a stainless steel flanged 4″ pipe section from a chimney website, to create the hole through the cabin roof, through which the flue pipe passes. This hole overlapped with the existing (smaller) ventilation hole so needed some delicate bodgery to cut out and then make good. However I was extremely pleased with this solution, as (a) it provided an air gap around the flue pipe – maintaining normal ventilation from the Dorade box, and (b) the upstand (within the Dorade box) provides a baffle preventing any water that might get into the box from entering the cabin.
The permanent deck fitting mounted (millimetre perfectly!) on the Dorade box top in front of the ventilator – with a removeable section of flue and H cowel in place. I lagged this external section of flue with some exhaust lagging to minimise the temperature differential between the inside and outside sections ..which should help with ‘draw’. When the heater is not in use, the flue and cowel are removed and replaced with a simple plywood cap which I made up.
I took the opportunity of this project to re-varnish the top of the Dorade box and to add the protective brass strips…as it gets stood on alot !

The other critical issue was the location of the fuel tank – and the vertical height between it and the drip feed mechanism. Taylors’ recommendation is that this should ideally be 1220mm…and a minimum of 600mm. Without putting the tank outside on top of the cabin roof (something I did consider), the only place I could really fit it was under the cabin roof by the forward hatch However this only gave around 450mm of head.

Prior to installing the heater in Good Report, I rigged it up at home to make sure everything fitted together…and it actually worked. Whilst doing so I experimented with the fuel tank head, lowering it to around 400mm. I just had to open up the drip feed valve a bit more…but otherwise it worked fine.

Testing at home: with the fuel tank suspended in a rope cradle, I could gradually lower it and carefully measure the height between it and the drip feed to replicate what is actually possible on Good Report (less a couple a of inches for good measure)

So that gave me the confidence to proceed with my plan A fuel tank installation

The 1.5gallon fuel tank fitted very nicely into this unused space in the fore-peak. The main residual challenge is getting a hose into the lid on the top for refilling – tight and awkward, but possible.

I also added a fuel filter…

This is actually a Webasto heater filter (bought on special offer). I like it because it has a metal filter membrane inside which can be cleaned and re-used. Also it has a valve on the inlet, so it can be isolated from the fuel tank when cleaning.

This project took a couple of months to complete. This was partly because of the above installation challenges, and partly because I had to keep buying extra bits and pieces. In addition to the second hand Taylors Heater unit itself (which came with the fuel tank & straps, two straight sections of flue, the H cowl, deck fitting, drip feed valve and magnetic thermostatic switch)…I ended up buying the following additional components:

  • A new thermocouple
  • Several meters 3/16″ fuel pipe
  • Fuel filter
  • Fuel on/off tap and mounting plate
  • A bunch of brass adaptors, couplings and compression fittings… to make everything fit together – because nothing is the same size ! see sketch below)
  • An extra 0.5m section of flexible flue pipe
  • Stainless steel flanged 4″ flue pipe
  • Exhaust lagging
  • Stainless steel backing plate, and heatproof board
  • A tube of Loctite 572 thread sealant (magic stuff!)

However it is now all done, and it does seem to work. I ran it for an hour last weekend – very satisfying! Nice to actually finish a job too 🙂

It will be very useful if I head north this summer….maybe not so useful if I head south ! But I am sure I will be very thankful for it in the future.

Plans – as we emerge from Lockdown

Well, the sun has finally come out, we are about to reach step 1 on our roadmap back to post-pandemic freedom, and there is reasonably positive chatter about the prospects for the Jester Azores Challenge this summer…so things are looking up !  

The current, and third, Lockdown (I’ve forgotten when it actually started) has felt more challenging than Lockdown 1 (which had a certain dramatic novelty and coincided with a lovely sunny Spring) or the rather half-hearted Lockdown 2 (did we actually notice it ?). I don’t feel entitled to complain – because we have been extremely lucky to be insulated from the worst impacts of the Covid pandemic over the last year, and in many respects are quite happy in our working from home isolation in rural Devon – but I have noticed that my mental health, general motivation and energy levels have all really dropped in recent months. This could of course be nothing to do with the Covid situation….and just be down to the miserable and wet winter we have had.

But with the sunshine comes new energy, and we now have target dates to look forward to.  Time to “get a grip and pull my socks up“. Whether the Jester Azores Challenge happens or not, I am determined to go somewhere in Good Report this summer, and have booked extended leave accordingly. So I am focusing on getting myself and Good Report ready for an offshore adventure …and may end up deciding exactly where at the last minute.

As usual, the more I think about it, the longer my jobs list gets. But I will try and summarise the main ones and put some order to it:

MAINTENANCE. All the normal stuff really, not particularly exciting – but must be done at some point:

  • Engine Service,
  • Scrub and anti-foul hull,
  • Replace anode,
  • A good internal clean and wash,
  • Varnish external brightwork,
  • Wash and inspect all running rigging,
  • Wash cushion covers (possibly – will subject to ‘sniff’ test first)

REPAIRS. These are frustrating because in an ideal world they wouldn’t be needed, but in the real world they are, and they take up scarce time, energy and money. Key ones include:

  • Completely rethinking my mainsail reefing. This proved to be a major problem last year due to just too much friction in the reefing lines, and serious jamming of the topping lift in its mast sheave – which combined to make reefing under pressure (which is generally when you need to reef) extremely difficult. I just about got away with it in the F6 and F7 winds I experienced, but in heavier weather it could prove pretty serious. Not sure whether to give up on trying to reef from the cockpit and just return to doing it all at the mast, or not – but I have to fix.
  • Fixing my Tiller Pilots , so I can self-steer under engine or in very light winds. My old Raymarine ST2000 Tiller Pilot worked really well en route to the Scillies, but then packed up completely on the way back (I think due to water ingress – my fault). I need to get it fixed (again). Perhaps more annoyingly I have a more powerful ST4000 system which should be my mainstay but which just trips out when I adjust course to Starboard. I’m not sure if it’s a wiring issue, or something wrong in the control unit…so I need to investigate and resolve.
  • Fixing an annoying – and as yet unidentified – leak right over the Nav. Station. I can’t just leave a bucket on the chart table all the time !

There’s probably a whole bunch of other things, which I haven’t thought of – but that’s not too bad really. The reefing issue is really critical however.

IMPROVEMENTS – much the most interesting and enjoyable part …and my major plans (which will each deserve separate blog posts in their own right) include:

  • Installing a Taylors diesel heater (a cheeky mid-lockdown ebay purchase) in the saloon. Complicated because a very tight fit – but will be great !
  • Improving stowage below, by building some new lockers, shelves and drawer units in the galley, the saloon and the heads. Involves lots of detailed measuring, designing and joinery work to make the very most of small and funny shaped spaces. It’s what I realise I love doing the most!
  • Heavy weather functionality. There are three discrete aspects to this:
    1. making everything below and on deck ‘knock-down-proof’, 
    2. sorting out my heavy weather sailing tactics and associated set up on deck, and
    3. sorting out my ‘abandon ship’ and safety equipment.

As I contemplate more exposed offshore passages, each of these becomes much more of a critical aspect that needs really thinking through. I’m doing a lot of reading at the moment – which is giving me much food for thought, and a little (healthy) anxiety.

  • Working out a better solar panel fixing position. I bought two cheap Chinese flexible 100W solar panels off Amazon last year – and they were great! I also doubled my battery capacity to 220Ah by wiring in a second domestic battery. The combined effect made a huge difference to my power supply, and made me a little more relaxed about my electricity consumption. Certainly, I never ran out of power – as I did on my trip to Ireland in 2019. I just moved the panels around the boat to point them at the sun for maximum efficiency – tying them to the handrails etc. This worked pretty well, but I think for a long offshore passage it would be better to have them more permanently installed somewhere – maybe on the aft pushpit.
  • Offshore weather…I need to think about how I get weather forecasts offshore – and potentially also enable others to track me once I am out of VHF (and therefore ‘Marinetraffic App’ range

Its worth briefly reflecting on the things that worked well last year…and didn’t break:

  • My Monitor Wind Vane continues to be fantastic;
  • my Beta engine worked without fault;
  • the solar panel/battery expansion was brilliant, and enabled me to run a very small fridge which was a great luxury;
  • my Chartplotter and AIS worked properly and were much used;
  • I was very pleased to have successfully flown my new Asymmetric Spinnaker on two or three occasions without catastrophe – I think this is going to get a lot of use!;
  • I’ve got used to Good Report’s new hull colour (I actually quite like it) and all the re-seaming, painting and varnishing work I did on the topsides hull last winter seems to have stood up well
  • …and finally I took great strides in my culinary capabilities (baking very acceptable scones in the frying pan being a highlight).

Good Report is still in the water, and I plan to take her out in April just for a couple of weeks to antifoul and make use of shore power for key projects. In the meantime there is lots I can do at home…and need to get on doing. If I have time I might even go for a sail !

High and (almost) dry !

I went out to check Good Report today (ie not sunk, stolen or vandalised… with bilges full of water or flat batteries etc)… and you can imagine that this was a bit of a surprise !

We have particularly high (and therefore low) spring tides at the moment, and I arrived pretty much at low tide to find Good Report careened hard over. Thankfully she is on soft mud, so I don’t think any damage has been done. The bilges were gratifyingly bone dry.

Climbing up on board was quite tricky, as she was at angle of 40o which is more than she would normally get to even hard pressed, so it was interesting to clamber about inside and out seeing what it is like to be at that angle. If we were sailing at this angle, the whole starboard side deck would be under water.

Technical :

Today’s tidal height range was 5.57m – 0.54m (Devonport) with low water (0.54m CD) at 12:50 GMT which was shortly after I arrived.

Looking up today’s Surge forecast at the National Tidal & Sea Level Facility indicates we may also have had around 0.25m to 0.30m of negative surge due to the current high pressure (1034 Mb) system – making water levels even lower.

So the actual tidal height at low water might have been around 0.24m to 0.29m above Chart Datum. Our situation today was not helped either by a brisk ENE’ly wind which pushed the whole trot in towards land.

Around low tide, I dipped the water depth on the seaward side of the boat from the dinghy at about 0.55m (Depth at d/s buoy = 0.51m and 0.59m at the u/s buoy). This suggests that the mud level at our berth is around 0.31m to 0.26m below Chart Datum.

We floated again at 14:15, when only a small amount of mud was still showing at the toe of the rock bank immediately opposite our berth. (This is a good visual clue as to whether there is sufficient water depth to approach and berth on our mooring). The Tidal Ht at 14:15 = 1.45m CD, and allowing for the negative surge, this would give an actual tidal height at the time of just floating of 1.20m to 1.15m CD.

I dipped the water on landward side of the boat at this time to be 1.45m – which is equivalent to our 4’9″ draft – so that makes sense.

Tomorrows spring tides are 4″ greater still (range 5.7m to 0.4m) although possibly with less negative surge…so I expect the same thing will happen again.

Summer 2020 cruise: Part 3 – working my way home

With strong winds forecast for several days, and the worst of Storm Ellen due to pass by on Thursday (20th Aug) night, I decided to stay put on the visitors mooring in Helford Pool for a couple of days. 

A busy, and choppy, Helford Pool. Worth the £22 /night mooring charge for peace of mind during Storm Ellen.

Although very windy, Thursday was for the most part a sunny day so I decided to explore the beautiful Helford River in the dinghy. I could only view Frenchmans Creek from afar as the tide was so low – though it looked like it hadn’t changed much since the 17th century setting of Daphne du Maurier’s classic novel…so I guess it will wait for another occasion!

Instead I let myself be blown up Navas Creek until…..

Moments before disaster !

I was just thinking of turning around due to the shallowness of the water in the channel (though it was so muddy I couldn’t see a thing) when the outboard must have hit something on the bed and the propeller’s shear pin….sheared. The strong wind which was blowing me quickly further upstream, so I quickly grabbed the oars and pulled strongly against it. On the second stroke, one of the aluminium oars just buckled and snapped in half ! With the tide at its low point, both sides of the river consisted of broad muddy banks. From a distance they looked relatively firm but when I managed to get myself to one side and stepped out of the dinghy, I sank to my shins in soft, smelly, black mud…urgh !

I paused to take stock. I was literally “up a creek without a paddle” ! I was about a mile from Good Report on her mooring on the main Helford River. I had no means of getting back to her (there was no way I could paddle against the strong tide and wind with one oar) but I couldn’t stay where I was perched on the muddy water’s edge…. I would be blown further and further upstream as the tide came in. I couldn’t get properly ashore without getting absolutely covered in smelly black mud…and even if I could, then what?

I decided I needed to get myself onto one of the small craft moorings in the middle of the channel and hope for a tow from someone…at some point. I waded the dinghy out through the 18” water and squelchy mud, and tied up to a vacant buoy. At least I was now secure and not going anywhere, and could clean up myself and the dinghy.

By a stroke of luck I had the number of the Helford water taxi in my phone …and a phone signal. So I called them up, explained my predicament and asked whether they could come and rescue me. They could and would…but not until the tide was higher in a couple of hours’ time. So, for two hours I just sat in the dinghy waiting. I didn’t have anything to do except contemplate the meaning of life and periodically measure the water depth using my remaining oar. I could see people ashore at the yacht club a couple of hundred yards away occasionally looking at me with some curiosity – but no one came over to investigate. I was very relieved when eventually I saw the little water taxi coming round the bend. We lashed the dinghy to the side of the launch and it wasn’t long before I was safely and happily back on-board Good Report, thinking the £15 charge was money very well spent !

The offending sheared shear pin

Overnight Storm Ellen really kicked in. Despite being in the relative shelter of Helford Estuary the wind averaged around 35 knots (Force 8) and I recorded a maximum of 53 knots (Force 10). It was pretty rocky. I was very glad to be on a solid visitors mooring and though I got up a couple of times in the night to check things, all was ok.

Storm Ellen – a good day NOT to be in the middle of the Celtic Sea

Without a functioning outboard and with only one oar, I couldn’t now get ashore in the dinghy …but Friday was a miserably wet and windy day – so being stuck on board was no hardship. I thought I’d try my hand at some pan-top baking by making some scones. But first I had to work out a way of weighing out the ingredients. I had some fun inventing a simple balance scale…and using ginger-nut biscuits as my weights.

For the record: 1 Morrisons Ginger Nut biscuit = 10g

I cooked the scones in my lidded frying pan over a low heat…and they turned out really well !

First efforts

Saturday (22nd Aug) – I had a good sail the 12NM up to Falmouth

One of the half a dozen huge tankers that always seem to be anchored off Falmouth

I had booked a berth for a few nights at Pendennis Marina (£36 /night incl elec) – my only major expense of the holiday. Kate drove down for a day trip on Sunday with home grown tomatoes and cucumber, and critically my spare pair of dinghy oars. I impressed her with my scones (!) and we had a romantic trip around Trago Mills (!!) before she had to drive home again for work.

Note…when in Cornwall, its ‘jam first’

With much foresight I had brought my work laptop and phone with me, and so for the next three days I ‘worked from home’ from on board Good Report – which was how I justified my marina berth. In this time of permanent home-working it occurred to me that I could do this much more often.

The EA’s new ‘Falmouth Office’

Storm Francis blew through on Tuesday – bringing F8-9 winds and heavy rain and once again I was very glad to be securely berthed.

Storm Francis approaches

On Wednesday I walked up to the Honda dealer in Penryn and got a replacement shear pin for the outboard. Pendennis is a good marina, and it was nice to have some hot showers, meet some other boatowners and be able to wander around town a bit…but by Thursday I was really ready to leave civilisation again and get back to somewhere a little more isolated. I sailed back to the Helford River… to catch up with Peter, Lucia and Beatrice on Sula  who were anchored there, and early the next morning (Friday) we left together heading back towards Plymouth.

The early morning was windless and flat calm, but the wind picked up once offshore. I got the Asymmetric up, but made a bit of a mess of the running rigging and spent a while going around in circles whilst I sorted myself out. This was a bit frustrating and I dropped a mile or so behind Sula, so we didn’t actually sail together – which would have been nice. The wind was on the aft quarter (about 30 degree off dead astern) causing the mainsail to shadow the headsail which was hard to set. I tried various arrangements, and settled on poling the Asymmetric out on the windward side and ‘goose-winging’.

As the wind veered slightly to the north and strengthened, we ended up on beam reach and flew along. At round 16 knots we felt overpowered, and I dropped the A-sail and continued with genoa in F5 and F6 NNW’ly winds.

Around mid-morning I decided I wasn’t quite ready to return home… and changed course for the small community of Polperro instead. Not having visited before, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. The small harbour dries out, but I hoped to anchor/moor in the very narrow entrance channel which looked like it would be very exposed to South and East winds. With the wind from the NW this felt like a good time to visit. Nevertheless it was pretty scary …and I had my heart in my mouth as I motored in very cautiously with rocks only a boat’s length away.

I was the only yacht there and picked up one of the six visitor’s moorings (free). Later – on advice from a local fisherman – I put a long stern line onto a second buoy so there was no risk of swinging either across the path of boats entering the harbour…or into the nearby cliffs. At which point I could relax.

I really liked Polperro. Not just because it is incredibly picturesque in an ‘archetypal Cornish fishing harbour’ sort of way…but also because it’s relative inaccessibility made it feel quite intrepid to visit. Having said that it was full of visitors, and when I tried to go out for a pint to mark my final night of the trip it was pretty difficult to find a seat in any of the village’s (socially distanced) pubs…but I eventually did

Not a bad way to finish my holiday

After a very pleasant evening, uneventful night and relaxed morning I left Polperro around midday and headed home in a brisk N’ly F5 wind.

Another good beam reach back to Rame Head, a sedate cruise through Plymouth Sound and by 16:45 I was back on my mooring having sailed all the way up the Cattewater.

Total Trip statistics:

  • Plymouth (via Coverack) – Isles of Scilly (Porth Cressa, Great Ganilly, St Helens Pool, St Martyns Bay) – Helford River – Falmouth – Helford – Polperro – Plymouth
  • 20 days
  • Distance Run = 254 NM
  • Passage time = 52h
  • Overall Av. Speed = 4.9 knots
  • Engine Hours = 28h

Summer 2020 cruise: Part 2 – The Scillies

Thursday (13th Aug) morning was very misty. The wind had shifted, most boats were leaving Porth Cressa and I was ready to move on too. Ireland was not looking very viable as a destination given my limited time and the forecast for the next week, but there remained the possibility of a dash across the channel to Brittany early next week. In the meantime, I decided to seek out my friends Lucia, Peter and Beatrice (and dog Micah) on their blue-water cruising yacht ‘Sula’ who had sailed over from Plymouth the previous day and were anchored in the Eastern Isles.

The Pilot Book makes accessing and anchoring in the uninhabited Eastern Isles sound pretty hairy and they do look quite hazardous on the chart with lots of rocks and reefs…but actually with care, it was very straightforward. Once again, winds were light and the sea calm and I motor-sailed the 6NM around the southern side of St Mary’s – pausing only to enjoy some inquisitive dolphins along the way.

I anchored in a large pool to the west of Great Ganilly island, close to ‘Sula’. There was one other boat anchored a little way away…so it felt nicely secluded. Great Ganilly has a couple of lovely small sandy beaches and some fantastic granite rocks which really do look like the animals they are named after (Seal Rock, Turtle Rock and a Dragons Head). Mostly it is dense heather, hidden brambles and a lot of red berried plants (that look both appetising and poisonous in equal measure). It was nicely quiet.

I spent quite a lot of time over the next couple of days with Sula and her crew – which was lovely. We shared food and ate together on board Sula – so much more spacious than GR !

We also went out for a couple of hours fishing. After a bit of a slow start we caught a bunch of decent sized pollack – which was very exciting. I can’t remember the last time I actually caught a fish – 15 years ago? We cooked them on Sula’s BBQ…and had them for dinner. Their flavour was somewhere between ‘tasteless’…and ‘not very nice’, which was such an anti-climax after the euphoria of the catch. Note to self for the next time I catch a fish (probably in another 15 years time): don’t bother with pollack !

Sula moved on after a couple of days, but I remained to have another quiet day doing jobs on board on a beautifully warm and sunny day. As the sun was going down, I could tell we were going to have a great sunset so I rushed ashore and scrambled up the island’s rocky ridge …to get a fantastic view…and some great photos

Sunday 16th Aug – with the wind firmly in the west now, I decided to move on again and having carefully motored out of the Eastern Isles, I had a short, but fantastic sail up around the western side of St Martins, and into St Helen’s Pool – an anchorage amongst small islands between St Martins and Tresco. Taking advantage of some light winds I rather cautiously flew my big Asymmetric Spinnaker for the first time. Having the snuffer sock made single-handed hoisting and dousing much easier than otherwise…but there are still a lot of lines to manage ! I’ve got it specifically for light wind conditions off shore, particularly on beam/broad reaches…and I was pretty pleased with my first efforts with it.

St Helens Pool is quite open and spacious, and probably more sheltered than it looks on the chart, but it has a very narrow entrance (St Helens Gap) to the north and very strong tidal currents running through it. However once anchored we were quite comfortable. Some strong westerly winds were forecast for the next week, including a couple of gales, and you could sense most boats were positioning themselves a few days in advance. So it was quite ‘busy’ with probably 8-10 other boats anchored there. No 3G signal however….so to take part in the weekly family Zoom call I had to climb to the top of St Helen’s island. I got my timing wrong so missed the call anyway…but was rewarded with a fantastic view of much of the Scillies.

I also stumbled across a solitary and tumbledown stone building which had a faded notice saying it used to be ‘St Helen’s Quarantine Station’. Established in 1764, apparently any ‘plague ridden ships heading for England’ had to wait here until declared free of disease. Given the current global pandamic, maybe it should be re-opened !

Monday 17th was my window of opportunity to dash across the channel to Brittany, before strong SW winds closed it. I was quite tempted. However this was also the day that the government brought in new 14 day Quarantine regulations for people returning from France (and I heard that France reciprocated with 14 day quarantine for visitors arriving from UK)….so that was rather the end of that !

Instead I sailed back around the north end of St Martins to re-join Sula at anchor in St Martins Bay on the eastern side of the island. Once again I had a really fantastic – but short – sail in brisk W’ly F5 winds – both successfully hoisting my Asymmetric again, and then flying into the bay at 6+ knots on a beam reach under full main and genoa slightly on the edge of control ! Exhilarating and I was very tempted to turn around and go out again.

St Martins Bay was spectacularly beautiful. A long sandy beach with heather clad hill behind and rocky headlands and islets around. Apparently good sand holding – at least where Sula and Good Report were anchored at the northern end of the bay. No 3G signal again except on the island’s highpoints, so we had to take every opportunity ashore to check the forecast – which was now showing 2-3 days of westerly gales later in the week.

In the meantime however I had a lovely couple of days with Sula’s crew again in mostly sunny weather. We walked across the island to re-provision in the small shop in Higher Town, as well as some bread from the famous bakery, and locally produced meat and milk…and I also bought some fantastic vegetables from a roadside stall,.

Not a bad haul…

I did a bit of snorkelling, and tried my GoPro camera out underwater for the first time…and the we all walked across the island again to treat ourselves to Adam’s Fish’n’Chips.

Tuesday night saw the beginning of several days of strong winds (Storm Ellen) – as forecast – and it was an anxious night. I let out a load of extra chain, and got up every hour or so to check that we weren’t dragging our anchor. We didn’t and we were fine…. but I didn’t get much sleep !. Given that the winds were forecast to further strengthen over the following 48 hours I decided to head back to the mainland ahead of the worst of it and before the seas got too large. So –  taking a seasick pill just in case – I was up and away by 8:30 am the next morning, bidding farewell to Sula and her crew who planned to sit it out.

Although well before Storm Ellen really arrived, the passage back to the mainland was probably the roughest that I’ve sailed single-handed. The wind strengthened from an initial F6 to a solid F7 gusting F8. The sea was rough with approx. 4 to 5m height waves rising well above the deck. Thankfully because the wind and wave direction was largely from behind us, our motion was not too bad. I sailed most of the way with two or three reefs in the main and a couple of in the Genoa, but we still made good speed. I’d decided to tow the dinghy which was a bit risky in the conditions – but mostly ok. However she took on quite a lot of water which forced the inflatable floor up to the extent that it looked like it might get blown away. I hove to – not completely convincingly – pulled the dinghy amidships and climbed in to bail out most of the water and reseat the floor with one hand…whilst clinging tightly onto Good Report’s toe rail with the other whilst we rolled heavily around. It was a bit of a hairy manoeuvre which felt akin to jumping on and off a galloping horse whilst holding the saddle !

Overall both boat and skipper coped very well and we made good speed – timing our passage back around the Lizard perfectly to catch the flood tide …which helped us achieve a top speed over the ground of over 9 knots ! As we closed land near the Helford Estuary in the gloom of dusk the wind strengthened noticeably bringing a light but penetrating rain – though we were by now sheltered from the worst of the waves. I was glad to get in just before it became too dark, as there are no navigation lights in the Helford River…and even gladder to find and pick up a vacant visitors mooring in the crowded Helford Pool. The 68 NM passage had taken us 11½ hours…at an impressive average of 5.9 knots !

With another two days of SW’ly gale force winds forecast, I decided there were many worse places I could be.

To be continued /….

Summer 2020 cruise: Part 1 – destination unknown

What with all the consequences of the Covid situation, the resulting postponement of this years planned Jester Azores Challenge, and being exceptionally busy with numerous projects back at home….my first sail of this very strange year didn’t happen until August ! I should probably be very thankful that it happened at all.

But having got Good Report’s mast finally re-rigged, I had booked a couple of weeks off work and was determined to go “somewhere”.  Exactly where – Ireland ? Brittany ? Channel Islands ? Scillies? around in Atlantic circles ? – I didn’t really mind. I was just happy to stock up with provisions, head out of Plymouth Sound….and see where the wind blew me.

As usual ‘leaving’ actually took several days and involved a familiar pattern of stages:

  • First of all there were inevitably some outstanding but critical repairs/improvements that were still needed either for sea-worthiness (replacing a section of rotten cabin roof) or comfort (addressing a bad deck leak above my bunk).
  • Then there was the lengthy ‘start of season’ process of equipping and provisioning – with car loads from home and trips to the chandlery and supermarket followed by multiple dinghy runs out to Good Report on her mooring loaded up with food, kit and essential ‘stuff’.
  • This was then followed by several hours stowing everything in a seamanlike and shipshape fashion (and hopefully reasonably logically – so I could remember where everything is!).  
  • I finally had my ritual ‘departure breakfast’ at the Mess café at YHQ, when I also caught up on the latest wind and weather forecasts
  • Finally, finally – just when I thought I was ready to cast our lines, a couple of last minute disruptions (a misplaced critical chartplotter card – panic ! until found in my “important documents” folder; and then a sudden thunderstorm) inevitably delayed my actual departure.

I’ve come to accept that this is all part of leaving for a big trip and ‘normal’ …and so to just relax and enjoy spending a few days doing these things, and not be overly impatient to ‘get away’ before being actually ready.

Eventually however the ‘must-do’ tasks were all done – or relegated to ‘nice-to-do’ status and added to the list of things that could be done at some point later during the trip. And so having spent four days ‘preparing’ I finally left Plymouth mid Monday morning (10th August)….destination – to be determined along the way.

The wind was NW’ly F3 which encouraged me to ‘turn right’ out of Plymouth Sound and head roughly SW on a nice beam(ish) reach (so Ireland, Brittany and Scillies all remained as possible destinations). However by lunchtime it had dropped to F1 and I had to turn the engine on and I ended up motor-sailing all afternoon until the breeze returned mid evening.

Our passage down towards the Lizard was relaxed and uneventful on a lovely warm sunny day with a flat calm sea, and thankfully my little Tiller Pilot managed to steer Good Report most of the way without my help. Catching the tide around the Lizard (the UK mainland’s most southerly headland) is absolutely critical on a small boat like Good Report even in fine weather, and our timing meant I was going to have to battle against the evening flood tide. So instead, around 9pm, I headed into Coverack – a small village / bay about an hour or so to the north – where I anchored for a few hours whilst I waited for the tide to turn. The bay was sheltered from the NW and the holding appeared good. I took the opportunity to grab a couple of hours sleep and do the first of my outstanding ‘nice to do’ jobs – namely re-soldering a broken aerial connector and so getting my VHF functional again.

I was up again at 2:15am, to haul up the anchor and leave in a stiff offshore  breeze, which fairly soon dropped as we got further away from land – so once again I had to motor-sail through the dark. My VHF got tested (successfully) almost immediately when I got a call from the yacht ‘Luce di Mare’ which was tracking parallel to me half a mile away.

The skipper was confused by my lights – and wondered whether I had left an anchor light on. I hadn’t…but I could see the problem. I have two sets of lights and because I was motor-sailing, I had switched on my power vessel ‘navigation lights’ (ie forward facing steaming light half way up the mast, and forward facing port/starboard bi-color on the bow light plus aft facing light on the stern). However, the steaming light was reflecting off the mainsail and looked like a 360 degree all round light – like an anchor light. This posed the interesting question as to which lights one is supposed to show when motor-sailing – motoring ‘navigation’ lights or sailing ‘mast-head tricolor’. Based on this experience I’ve changed my policy, and in future I will just use my ‘mast-head tricolor’ whenever I have sails up – regardless of whether the engine is on or not. It was good to have a successful VHF conversation (I still find the VHF a bit intimidating), though I refrained from pointing out to Luce di Mare’s skipper that she was showing BOTH sets of lights, which was also very confusing and I’m sure definitely not what you are supposed to do!

We made good progress motor-sailing down and around the Lizard, being helped by the ebb tide and then turned west for the Scilly Isles. Initially the wind remained NW’ly F3 meaning that we were hard pressed but comfortable in a sea that had a slight swell but was otherwise calm. Around breakfast time the wind veered around to the North and stiffened slightly giving us a better angle and I could turn the engine off at last.

The weather was very grey, overcast and very misty throughout the morning, and at times visibility was down to around ¼ NM…which is not a lot. A commercial vessel traveling at say 15 knots will cover this distance in 1 minute…and if I am travelling at 5 knots in the opposite direction, then we could converge and collide in just 45 seconds.  Its quite a busy area for shipping (both fishing boats and cargo ships) and my AIS really came into its own picking up several large vessels heading towards me. They were completely invisible in the mist, but showed up on my AIS linked chart plotter, on which I could monitor their direction and speed (and find out what sort and size of vessel they were) and make decisions around holding my course or changing direction, as dictated by the ‘rules of the road’ and/or common sense.

I arrived at St Mary’s around lunchtime, the 99 NM passage having taken me 25 hours 20 mins overall which included 5½ hours anchored in Coverack …so about 20 hours of passage making at a very respectable average speed of about 5knots. Calm seas make such a difference !

With strong northerly winds forecast for the next few days I anchored in Porth Cressa on the sheltered southern side of Hugh Town. A lot of others seem to have had similar thoughts, because the bay was quite full with about 20 other boats when I arrived, which increased to about 30 odd over the next 24 hours. But there seemed to be room, and we were quite comfortable.

I was very happy to spend the rest of the day catching up on some sleep (“Recovery day”) and pottering about. I also set about my biggest ‘nice to do’ project that I had brought with me – which was to wire in a second domestic battery, a new battery monitoring gauge… and a pair of solar panels…about which I will have to write a specific post.

The following day I went ashore into Hugh Town for a couple of hours to stock up on some fresh provisions, have an ice cream and a bit of a wander around. The Scillonian III ferry was in, and there were quite a lot of tourists about – which must have provided some welcome business for the local shops – but I didn’t feel like dwelling really and I happily returned to Good Report to continue working on my electrics.

To be continued /….