16 May 2017
We are reunited with Intrepid Elk after a winter/summer separation and it is good to be home again. IE has had a facelift and her shiny white hulls are dazzling once more. She has a beautiful new bimini (shade cover) over the helm seat, which Robert designed and which was fabricated in Portsmouth and carried back to France on the Channel ferry, much to the amusement of all. The mast has been re-installed and the deck is a mass of coloured ropes, waiting for the sails to be returned so we can redo the rigging. In the meantime, we are busy cleaning, repairing and restocking and our days are very full. With the onset of summer, we have plenty of daylight even if we need to duck the showers and battle the wind at times. We hope to set off once more at the end of May.
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IE preparation for winter
06 October 2016
Our sailing days for this year are over and we are once again busy getting IE ready for a winter in the northern hemisphere. This year, she will be in the water for most of the time, with a short interlude on land in a large painting shed, where she will have her hulls painted. In order to get her into the shed, her mast has been removed, and she is now bare and looks very strange. The process of mast removal was quite something to witness and play a part in, and we have learned a great deal. All the electronic connections in the mast had to be painstakingly removed and labelled before the heavy work began. It was a job that took many hours.
We will be here until the end of October, with some social visits to friends and family during that time, breaking up the daily grind of jobs, jobs and more jobs......then it's back to Perth for a change in pace and to re-establish our land ties.
30 September 2016
It was an inky black moonless night as we slipped out of the river and across the sand bar with fishing vessel Emma Louise behind us. Revle was on the bowsprit with a spotlight looking for hazards ahead. I was at the helm, peering at our chartplotter and concentrating on following our inward track. We put in one reef and raised the main and the solent head sail and headed east. The winds soon built and with an east going flood current we were soon going up to 15 kn over ground. We set a course to pass north east of the Traffic Separation Zone for Channel shipping, as it is illegal to enter it unless you pass perpendicular to the traffic. With some good luck in our timing, we passed through all shipping without having to divert at all. It is always amazing to see giant tankers and container ships up to 340 m long approaching at 15 - 20 kn. As France came into view we got an ebbing current and easing wind, both slowing us down, so that at times we were doing just 2 kn. When we entered the Cherbourg harbour we noticed that the passage had taken 14 hours - exactly as predicted. It was a strange feeling to have arrived at our final destination at last.
22 September 2016
We made a motoring passage of 35 miles to Plymouth Sound, then battled against strong currents up the Tamar River to an anchorage at West Mud where we spent a peaceful night. Plymouth has been a major naval base for centuries and we had some close encounters with modern navy ships in the harbour.
We moved to the magnificent Plymouth Yacht Haven for the rest of our stay. It is connected to the city centre by a small ferry departing every 30 minutes. The marina is at Hooe, on the eastern side of the Sound. We spent a wonderful day on Intrepid Elk with old friends from the 80s, who visited us from their home in Somerset. We walked along the scenic Hooe cliff edge with a magnificent view over Plymouth Sound.
18 September 2016
Our passage to Falmouth took us past The Lizard, a projecting headland with a ferocious tidal race. We passed a little too close and got caught in the race which was too bumpy for comfort. Approaching the Falmouth harbour, we had the excitement of crossing our track from June 2015 when we made landfall at Falmouth after crossing from the Azores.
Falmouth is like an old friend now, with its naval dockyard, shopping precinct and friendly marina. We visited Pendennis Castle, a fortification built about 500 years ago by Henry VIII to protect the harbour from attacks by the French or Spanish. It was decommissioned in the 50s and is open to the public.
We spend a lot of time working on Intrepid Elk, preparing her for arrival in Cherbourg next week. Then for a well-earned treat, Revle took me out for my birthday to Hunky Dory restaurant.
17 September 2016
We left the Isles of Scilly early in the morning to catch a light northerly wind to Land's End and the fishing port of Newlyn, just south of Penzance. We couldn't believe our luck, having another gentle passage through one of the most treacherous and notorious waterways in northern Europe. We galloped along at a good pace, fighting part of the way against a strong south setting current, trying to push us towards Wolf Rock. Sun shone and visibility was excellent as we approached Land's End. It was a poignant moment as we had not been here since August 1985. At that time, we had stood at the land's end lookout in rain and mist and saw a single yacht pushing its way south against a swell and strong winds to round the lighthouse just offshore. I felt at the time that I would love to sail around the Land's End lighthouse one day!
The south coast was spectacular as we sailed close to admire the beautiful cliffs with a few white sand beaches along the way. As we turned north towards Penzance, the fairy-tale castle on St Michael's Mount came into view. In the 4th century BC, Geek traders are thought to have settled on St Michael's Mount. Later, Cornish fishermen claimed to have seen an apparition of the Archangel St Michael and the fate of the island changed.
We entered the working fishing harbour of Newlyn and settled into a berth on the pontoon. Afterwards we jumped on a bus to Penzance and looked around the city centre.
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