Bellamanda Blog
This is the blog of Philippa (Phil), Tom (Martin to many), our son Stan and a boat called Bellamanda.
 
Back in Cowes
Tom
19/09/2011, Cowes

Above: Stan with his Nan.

Sorry for the lack of posts. We got back to Cowes and have been busy seeing family and thinking about what to do next.

Stan with grand parents and Oliver
Stan with grand parents and Oliver

Stan
Stan back in Cowes


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Salcombe to East Cowes
Phil
18/08/2011, East Cowees, Isle of Wight

Image above: Phil's Aunti Ann with Stan in Salcombe and below Stan with Phil's Uncle Mike.

Uncle Mike with Stan

9 weeks, 1621 miles, 29 different ports, and circa 350 nappies - we are back in East Cowes! As we sailed into the Needles Channel at 2200 on 16th August I flicked back through the log book for the last few weeks and remembered back to the night we had left the Needles on 13th June and how utterly terrified I had been. What the hell were we doing sailing off in the middle of the night with an 11 week old onboard? Almost half his life later and life onboard with Stan seems totally normal. Not always easy but totally do-able. We are home.

After a wonderful few days in Salcombe with Aunty Ann & Uncle Mike we set sail at 0610 on a grey Tuesday morning. Grey is the word that can best describe most of the passage actually. Grey sea, Grey Sky, Grey drizzle. Fortunately we had the wind and the tide behind us so at least we made very good time across grey Lyme Bay. We had originally intended to put into Portland for a day or so to break up the journey, however looking at the lunchtime forecast we decided to press on and head straight back to the Solent whilst the wind was in our favour. In hindsight we are so pleased that we did as the wind has now come round to the North East and brought the rain with it too.

Rainbow
Another yacht left Salcombe as we did and sailed with us as far as Portland.

As the afternoon at sea came to an end Stan had his first meal of baby rice at sea. I had visions of this being a nightmare but with him strapped in his chair on top of the galley it worked really well. With the wind behind us the boat rocks and rolls which is manageable. If we had been sailing into the wind with any kind of sea state it would have been a different storey with the boat healed and bouncing of the waves. Stan was fast asleep by 8pm and Tom and I got to enjoy a few hours of great sailing together - a rare treat these days. We were also treated to a spectacular sunset as we crossed Poole Bay. A fitting end to our first big adventure as a family.

Sunset
Sunset as we approached the Needles

We picked up a mooring buoy outside Yarmouth at 2330 to sleep. Stan had other ideas as we'd disturbed him as we moored up! Early the next morning Tom had us off the buoy and sailing down the Solent before Stan and I had even got out of bed. With the Solent tide behind us we arrived early at East Cowes Marina and parked on the berth right next to the one we lived in for a whole year. Our home feels like it is home again.

Alegre
Alegre limping home after pulling out of the Fastnet race. She motor sailed past Anvil Pioint and ahead of us into the Needles Channel.

What next? Stan gets to see his Nan (Grand Mum). We will spend the next few weeks taking Stan to visit family, seeing friends, going to Ben's wedding and planning our next trip which we will start in September. We will let you know our plans soon.

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19/08/2011 | Paul Norton
What a fantastic journey you three have had. I've really enjoyed the wonderful photos and also the well written story. Stan looks a real character and it has been obvious over the last couple of weeks, how much more manageable life with him has become.
I look forward to hearing of your future plans and will follow your adventures with envy.

My very best wishes, Paul
Dale to Newlyn to Helford to Salcombe
Phil
15/08/2011, Salcombe

Image above shows the Longships lighthouse off Lands End in Cornwall.

At 2000 on Monday 8th August we set off from Dale, Milford Haven bound for Newlyn, Cornwall. The 21 hour passage would not only see us cross the Bristol Channel and round Land's End but also see me celebrating my birthday.

Dale Rainbow
Dale Rainbow

The most beautiful 180 degree rainbow appeared over Milford Haven as we set off. From the outset we had a fair amount of swell which only got worse as the wind picked up. Having already completed one over night passage we knew that we could manage another one, however the swell made it very difficult to sleep. We also had to dodge a number of fishing vessels and cargo ships during the night. Stan didn't have a great night either meaning that by dawn we were all exhausted.

Sunrise in the Bristol Chanel
Sunrise in the Bristol Chanel

The overnight spillages included coffee all over the cushions, cereal all over the oven and baby sick all over the mat - delightful! Fortunately it was a glorious morning and by 0900 after birthday cards and breakfast both my chaps were managing to snooze, Carly the windvane was driving and I had a very chilled out hour on watch. At 1100 my birthday present to me arrived - a pod of about 10 Dolphins! They stayed to play for about half an hour - fantastic.

Dolphins just before Lands End
Birthday dolphins just before Lands End

Despite having the wind behind us there wasn't really enough of it to overcome the swell as we approached Land's End so we motored for a couple of hours to make sure we made the tidal gate going round the corner. We are often asked how Stan copes when it's bumpy. The video we have of him in his bouncer jumping up and down like loon with a huge grin on his face as the boat pitches and rolls around Land's End says it all really. As we rounded the corner the sea state improved immediately and we had a storming sail for the last few hours into Newlyn.

Newlyn was quickly re-named New Newlyn. We had been fairly unimpressed with the place on our first visit. In hindsight this had very much to do with the fact that we'd had a hideous passage from Salcombe. Then we had arrived in the middle of the night. It was grey and raining, it seemed very over priced given the lack of amenities, we were exhausted, tensions were running high and we were seriously wondering if we could actually do this sailing thing with Stan and all. Being back here again made us both realise how much has changed for us in the last weeks. I guess for me the biggest change is that I have regained the confidence I had lost. Whether we choose to continue to sail off into the blue yonder or not we have already achieved so much. This time we were equally as exhausted but in a happy "we know we can cope with it" sort of a way! The sun was shining too which always helps. After getting settled into our berth we stumbled into town for fantastic Fish and Chips. We were all in bed by 2130 - what a rock and roll birthday!

Birthday Girl
Birthday Girl

The following days tides meant that we had a quiet morning pottering about before setting off, Cornish Pasties in hand, at lunchtime. We had one of the most exhilarating fast sails around Lizard Point to The Helford River arriving late afternoon. Perhaps we had been rather naive in our expectations of a quiet anchorage - the place was like a giant car park for boats and absolutely heaving. We had wanted to anchor to save some mooring fees but there was very little space to do so and unfortunately the windlass decided to refuse to cooperate at the critical moment so we plumped for the less stressful option and picked up a mooring buoy. The next day Tom had a look at the windlass and anchor chain and discovered that the 80 metre chain was totally snarled up in the anchor locker having collapsed over on itself during previous passages. "Have you got a traffic cone on you?" Tom asks me. "Erm... nope all out of traffic cones! Why?" Tom's idea of how we can stop the anchor chain snarling. Of all the random fixes for stuff on board this has to be one of the weirdest suggestions.
Having sailed about 275 miles in the last week we were very much ready for a sailing free day so we took the water taxi ashore for lunch and a walk.

Stan in the Cockpit
Stan in the Cockpit

OK this bit is for the Grandparents - Stan is coming on leaps and bounds. He is managing to sit up on his own for short periods and will soon be too big to lie down in his bath! He loves grinning at himself in the mirror and in fine weather he has also been enjoying a kick about in his new play area - i.e. the cockpit sole. He has also been perfecting the art of tummy time and actually seems to be enjoying it.

Stan
Stan almost enjoying his Tummy Time

Stan in the bath
Stan in the bath

From Helford River we made the long day sail (12 hours) to Salcombe where we are spending a few days abusing the hospitality of my Aunty Ann and Uncle Mike Mitchell. This involves doing lots of washing - us and clothes and eating - alot! Brilliant.

More on Salcombe next time.

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Position Update - Helford River
Tom
10/08/2011

Arrived Helford River. Great sail here. No phone signal or internet so no full update right now. We are staying here for two nights. ---

Position: 50 06'10.13 N, 005 32'46.18 W

Click on the blog's Current Position chart.

Mobile post from Bellamanda to www.bellamanda.com

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Position Update - Newlyn
Tom
10/08/2011

Arrived back in Newlyn, Cornwall last night after 21 hours at sea over night from Dale. Catching the tide at noon to the Halford River later today.

--- Position: 51 42'28.14 N, 005 09'22.68 W

Click on the blog's Current Position chart.

Mobile post from Bellamanda to www.bellamanda.com

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Howth, Ireland to Dale, Wales
Phil
08/08/2011, Dale, Wales

Image above: Stan trying his new carry ruchsack. It is still a little too big for him.

It seemed a bit daft to be in Howth and not have a day out in Dublin so on Friday we took the dart train into the city. We had lunch in Temple Bar, a wander up Grafton Street and around St Stephen's Green Park before looking around Trinity College.

Trinity College
Phil and Stan at Trinity College, Dublin

Ok deep breath - here we go. Our first 24 hour passage just the three of us. I will confess I was fairly nervous about how we would get on. Pre Stan a trip like this wouldn't have fazed us in the slightest but the combination of 120 miles of Irish Sea, a mixed forecast and the little man was a bit daunting. We had planned carefully and I knew we had 4 or 5 get out options if it all got too much. So we set off as rested as possible at 1520 on Saturday 6th August. The first few hours were great apart from the odd rain shower. Then as we got out further into the open water the sea state became increasingly uncomfortable. The remark in the 2000 log says "F*****g Irish F*****g Sea state S***e!" (Sorry about the language Mum!)

Stan was asleep by then thank goodness. He'd had a brilliant day so fortunately went down without a fuss. This enabled me to get a couple of hours sleep before taking over from Tom. When Carly the wind vane is working it's almost like having a 3rd crew member onboard as she does all the driving and we just take it in turns to keep look out. However in such a sharp lumpy sea state it's all a bit too much like hard work for the poor girl so Tom and I had to helm most of the night. As much as possible we ran a 2 hours watch system. Although even off watch Tom barely slept for more than 20 minutes at a time. Letting himself sleep when he's off watch is something he's going to have to get better at if we are going to do longer trips in the future. Fortunately by 0500 he had managed to get Carly working again which took the pressure off a little. The tide turned against us 2 hours before arriving in Dale so we had a bit of an engine slog to get in. The wind was really gusting by this point making the sea state very lumpy. It seems that the lumpier the better as far as Stan is concerned as the little chap slept most of the morning and of course right on cue waking for a feed just as we were arriving!

Towards Dale
Turning in from the sea around St Anne's Head towards Dale.

Here the fun began. We had decided to moor alongside the free floating pontoon in Dale Bay. There was plenty of room and the manoeuvre was a simple one so I asked Tom if I could take us alongside. All went well initially. I got us alongside and Tom stepped ashore. We were being blown off quite hard so once Tom had made the forward cleat fast he ran back to tie the stern line off throwing himself along the pontoon is some dramatic footballer diving fashion as he went. Picking himself up, he quickly tied us on. We were way off the pontoon but at least we were attached. Or were we? As Tom stood on the pontoon and I stood at the helm we both watched as in a dreadful sort of slow motion the bowline undid itself from the bow. It's ok I thought, we are still attached at the stern I will just motor us forward and Tom can reattach us. But the wind took the bow. "I'm going to have to let you go" said Tom. By this point the crew from a neighbouring yacht had come to watch. Great - an audience! As Tom undid the stern line and I motored away from the pontoon leaving him standing there it occurred to me that I was alone on the boat with Stan in his chair strapped to the galley top smiling up at me. "Let's go and get daddy shall we darling?" I smile with a confidence I am not feeling. "So that mummy can kill him when he gets back onboard" I mutter under my breath. I got the lines ready again and turned back to go alongside again.

Tom; "This is good practice for you isn't it" he calls from the pontoon as I approach. He's grinning his head off. I just smile back through gritted teeth. Not quite ready to see the funny side of the situation yet. The wind had picked up so it took me 2 attempts to get close enough to the pontoon for Tom to hop back onboard.

As we motored round to the other side of the pontoon the conversation went;

Phil: "This is so going on the blog"

Tom: Groans "Oh no what about my credibility? I am supposed to teach this stuff!"

Phil:"Ha Ha!" Totally seeing the funny side now.

Tom "Erm.. Can I just remind you of Alderney?"

Phil "That was a dinghy I didn't tie on properly because I'd been at the vin rouge. This was your home, your wife and your son you failed to attach to the pontoon properly! Slightly more dramatic scenario don't you think?!"

Tom "Humph"

Once we were finally safely tied up along side we all spent the afternoon snoozing. Tom and I were both exhausted but also chuffed that we had made it here safely. We have just spent the day here resting before heading off again tonight for Newlyn. What better way for a sailor to spend her birthday tomorrow than at sea! Fingers crossed for a good passage.

Stan and Tom in the Cockpit
Stan and Tom in the cockpit



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09/08/2011 | Lin and Kerry Stares
Well Happy Birthday, Phil! Hope your day is fun filled but not with "mishaps"! Great to see how you are all getting along and to read of your adventures. What a happy little chap Stanley looks, he has such an infectious smile.
Take care and have fun. Lin xx
Position Update - Dale, Wales
Tom
07/08/2011

Arrived in Dale bay after 22 hours sail in a lumpy Irish Sea. More tomorrow.

--- Position: 51 42'28.11 N, 005 09'22.90 W Click on the blog's Current Position chart.

Mobile post from Bellamanda to www.bellamanda.com

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Carrickfergus to Ballyhome Bay to Ardglass to Howth, Ireland
Phil
04/08/2011, Howth, Ireland

So here we are in Howth then. Southern Ireland - lovely. We've both been at the Guinness this afternoon so please excuse us if this is a bit of a rambling blog entry. At least mummy having an afternoon pint of the black stuff helps Stan to have a nice nap!

Guiness
Stan and Tom

After a very peaceful night at anchor off Glenarm we motored the 20 something miles to Carrickfergus on 30th July. To make the most of the tide it was a 0645 start but this meant that we had most of the day in Carrickfergus to explore. We made the most of the 2nd night free deal that they offer and took the train into Belfast the following day. Stan's first trip on a train and to a big city - He was so overcome with excitement he spent most of the day asleep in his buggy.

On Monday we decided to head across Belfast Lough to Bangor Marina to refuel as we knew the fuel there was clean. As it was so calm and to save another marina fee we decided to anchor in Ballyhome bay for the night. We would love to anchor out more but there seems to be a lack of anchorages on the east coast of Ireland that are protected from the South and Easterly winds. (If anyone reading this knows of any good ones between Dublin and Rosslare please email us) We left the anchorage at 0630 to catch the southbound tides. It rained and drizzled all morning. There was very little wind and visibility was also very bad. Poor Tom got soaked on the helm whilst Stan and I stayed dry below. Fortunately by lunchtime we were arriving in Ardglass. About 2 miles out we came out of the fog and rain bank to a gloriously warm and sunny afternoon. Of course this also coincided with Stan wanting a feed (I swear that he has some sort of radar system that goes off in his tummy whenever we are about to go into a new marina) so Tom had to mill about outside the entrance for a bit whilst I fed Stan. We were welcomed into a very friendly little marina that seemed to be run by one man (Fred) and his dog (Ben). We spent the afternoon walking around the village, eating ice creams in the sunshine - anyone would think we were on holiday!

Ardglass
Ardglass Bay with the marina in the background

The passage from Ardglass to Howth was 55 miles - one of our longest passages for a while. The 13 hour sail was definitely diverse. We left the anchorage with barely 3 knots of wind in glorious sunshine. After motoring for the first couple of hours the wind began to pick up and we sailed. Very slowly to begin with but sailing never the less. At about 1100 we had our most exciting wildlife spot since leaving the Solent - A Minke Whale!!!! Tom heard the distinctive blow as it surfaced and shouted me on deck. Wow. So awesome to see such a creature in the wild.

As I made a note of the whale sighting in the log I noticed that the baro had dropped 4 millibars since we left. Hmm we were in for some weather. By 1200 we had changed down from the No 1 to the No 2 headsail and by 1600 we had put the first reef in as the wind was up to 20 knots from the south east - we were sailing south. The next 4 hours saw our apparent wind reach 30 knots. With the tide with us and the wind against us the sea conditions went from moderate to rough. The largest wave Tom saw he reckoned was 4 metres. Life below for me was becoming increasingly unpleasant in the swell. Stan on the other hand - completely oblivious. He was giggling in the forepeak every time we slammed up and down a big wave and had the longest afternoon nap he's had in weeks tucked up safely in his rough weather bunk in the saloon.

Despite feeling queasy I was also hungry so as Stan was sleeping I made Tom and me an early dinner. As I passed Tom's food up to him something occurred to me.

Phil: "This is why you married me isn't it?" I said dryly.

Tom: "Why is that then?"

Phil: "So I could make your dinner when the weather's rough"

Tom: "Absolutely!"

Phil: "Humph"

We motor sailed the last couple of hours into Howth. I was VERY glad to arrive indeed. All 3 of us were shattered. Tom from looking after Bellamanda. Me from looking after Stan. And Stan from well...just being Stan.

Howth Seal
Howth Seal

So today we've had a quiet pottering day about Howth. Most marina's we have visited seem to have a resident seal. Howth is no exception. (See pic of whopper Seal) Bit of a walk, bit of lunch out, nice chats with the other sailors along our pontoon including an American family also heading south for the winter on Sophia (the boat not Stan's rubber giraffe). All good.


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06/08/2011 | Mum
Just loving Tom, Stan, Sophie and the pint of Guiness!!!
Lots of love Mum xxx
Position Update - Ardglass, NI
Tom
02/08/2011

From thick fog to bright sunshine. Arrived Ardglass at about 2pm. Howth tomorrow. Full update soon.

--- Position: 54 15'42.83 N, 005 36'20.99 W

Click on the blog's Current Position chart.

Mobile post from Bellamanda to www.bellamanda.com

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Glenarm to Carrickfergus, NI
Tom
31/07/2011, Carrickfergus, NI

Photo above shows Bellamanda in Gelarm Bay

We got the dinghy out and had a walk around friendly Glenarm yesterday. It's good to get Stan off the boat for a while although transporting him in the dinghy is like a military operation.

It always surprises me how fortified the police stations are here in Northern Ireland - even in a small town like Glenarm. I spent a some weeks photographing here in Northern Ireland a few years ago. I hope I can think the survailance cameras and tall fences are a symbol of the past and not a necessity of the present.

Cloghan Jetty, Belfast Lough, Northern Ireland
Cloghan Jetty, Belfast Lough, Northern Ireland

Another day of no wind yesterday so we motored the short 22 miles down to Belfast Lough and into Carrickfergus marina. The only ripples an the water seem to be from out wake.

Mew Island lighthouse at the southern entrance to Belfast Lough
Looking east to Mew Island lighthouse at the southern entrance to Belfast Lough

Today the wind has picked up but it's in the South. We have been spoilt by following winds so far this trip. The Southerly means head winds when we leave here tomorrow or the day after.

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