Returning to Falmouth due to bad weather
29 June 2016 | King Harry Passage, Falmouth
Despite having said on my previous blog entry that we would only be heading into Falmouth under dire circumstances, we are now tied up on a pontoon in King Harry Passage, River Fal, Falmouth! Following a pretty good start with the weather, the steady change in forecast outlook and sea state was beginning to concern me. As Tuesday continued, the wind was steadily increasing to Force 7 and whilst not a problem in itself with Quasar IV, the sea state was degenerating rapidly into a confused sea, waves coming from multiple directions. By 1400 hrs, we were about 40 Nm from Falmouth and I took the decision to return to a haven on the South Coast at Falmouth. I am glad we did. Approaching Falmouth, downwind, the boat was travelling at 10 knots under 20% genoa only, no mainsail, with our wind instruments recording 35 knots from behind, so we were in a 45 knot steady wind, a Force 9 on the Beaufort Scale. Given time to build, this would result in 7 to 10m average wave heights at sea, ie taller than a two story house to the chimney! The photo shows Mark A at the wheel during an earlier stage of the escapade before the sea had really picked up. On arriving safely in the River Fal at 2100 hrs, I again checked the weather forecast which indicated steadily worsening conditions in Biscay over the next three to four days, so the decision to return was welcomed by all on board. We saw no other yachts at sea despite covering 40Nm, not a good sign! Mark unfortunately has now had to depart us as his window for the crossing has now expired. The next favourable forecast for crossing 'The Bay' is looking at a departure next Tuesday, no earlier, so we are relaxing on the pontoon at the moment and will undertake more repairs and extra preparation work during the week to help us on the next attempt where we will be a little short handed unless I find a willing volunteer very quickly. In 17,000Nm of sailing, this is the first time we have ever had to turn back and I do not regret it. Sailing is all about enjoying yourself and the line between being adventurous and being stupid has to be trodden carefully. When the sea is unhappy, it takes no prisoners. On our way back in to Falmouth during the afternoon, over 20Nm from land, the RNLI offshore lifeboat was heading out into the Western Approaches at 25knots into a Force 9 severe gale and atrocious sea conditions to no doubt assist or rescue a boat having a far worse day than us. Tonight? A Thai curry and decent bottle of red wine I think, moored next to a beautiful Falmouth Pilot Cutter, possibly with a few interesting stories to exchange under the tilley lamp on deck :-)
On Route to Spain!
27 June 2016 | English Channel abourd S/Y QUASAR IV.
At last! We have finally departed the UK and are heading for La Coruna on the North West Coast of Spain. We completed final boat checks, oil changes, sail repairs and wind vane steering checks before departing the Mayflower Marina in Plymouth at 1420 hrs today. The forecast for the next few days looks a bit lively (especially the 'Gale Force 8' bit forecast for tomorrow...) but we know QUASAR IV is up to it and I am sure the adventurous crew on board are up to it as well. We are sailing at the moment on a South Westerly course in roughly the right direction, parallel to the Cornish coast line. Our first 'bang out point' is Falmouth, however, unless we have some form of unforeseen dire emergency, we are not planning on stopping. We have a full tank of water, full tanks of gas, sunglasses and hats on and we are heading to the land of sun! No photos I am afraid is this message is reaching you via an HF SSB radio link and not broadband! The Sailblog for QUASAR IV is at www.quasar-iv.co.uk and on the right hand side menu you will see a link to Winlink Position Reporter. If you click on this link, you will see a red pin showing where we are and a line of blue pins showing where we have been. That's it for now, batteries only on board! Next update hopefully tomorrow at 5pm (ish).
Preparations in Plymouth, Mayflower Marina
24 June 2016 | Plymouth, Devon, UK
We are well on the way now for a departure across Biscay, hopefully on Monday, albeit we have a number of jobs that must be done before leaving. Tomorrow, I shall be reinstalling the entire gas system to eliminate the minor leak we have. The genoa will be coming down early tomorrow morning in order to stitch up the head reinforcing tape which seems to have lost a few stitches. Safety lines are being replaced and most important of all, provisioning day is here! This involves making an exact menu to cover seven days right down to the number of cuppa soups we shall each be drinking. The crossing should take about five days but we will provision for seven days to allow for any unforeseen contingencies that we may need to deal with. The trip from Brixham today took ten hours, motored all the way into a very heavy wind and bouncy sea - plenty of water over the deck - but the highlight of the day was a pod of about fifteen dolphins that visited us early this morning for about ten minutes which made up for the rest of the day. As it's nearly 10pm now, we should all be relaxing, but we are all working on boat preparations. I suspect it will be another late night!