Captains Blog 44 – Winter is Coming

Well, it’s been a while eh! Since I last time I wrote one of these.  I was still tanned and reasonably fit then, but now I’m a grey haired withered old hermit who occasionally pops his head out the cockpit, like a meercat on lookout, just to check the world is still alive.

Life aboard new boat is a strange never-ending game of Tetris, manoeuvring around or between the constant influx of new stuff to replace old stuff. Tools, all types and sizes, new and old, occupy those spaces normally reserved for proper sailing paraphernalia.

Anyway, it might be better to fill in the gap between handing over Gianti, to where we are now, tucked in here at Penarth marina.

Having moved onto the new boat we immediately set about cleaning wherever there was space enough to access the dirt and grime. Most was buried under mounds of belongings transferred from Gianti. Weeks were spent vigorously cleaning to get her (the boat) spik and span for the launch and subsequent sea trial.

Launch day arrived along with a serious bout of nerves, borne out of my lack of knowledge and experience in handling something of this size. Would she’d stay afloat when launched? Would she start? Would I be able to manoeuvre her into her temporary berth? I remember when I was  4 or 5ish, being terrified about crashing the model car, which ran on a rail around a figure of eight track at a park. There was no possibility of colliding with anything, but that didn’t matter. I just couldn’t get the fear of crashing out of my mind and it wasn’t a fear of hurting myself, it was the fear of the trouble I’d be in if I damaged something! This time the fear was justified, though thankfully the boat parking gods handed me a golden ticket and the nerves melted away as we slotted into our mooring.

We sailed in and around Plymouth for the next few weeks, trying to get to grips with the basics, while tackling the ever-growing list of jobs various locations, including the river Tamar, at Car Green Yacht Club, North of Saltash, where we used our friends, David and Nicky’s swing mooring.

We took them out for a sail in Plymouth Sound one day. They’d never actually sailed a Ketch before, so it was a great chance for them to see how she performed and for us to learn something from proper sailors.

It wasn’t long into the sound before David started trimming and tweaking sails. All 3 of them! It was blowing 19 knots and we were healed over sufficiently to allow water into the cockpit via the cockpit drain holes. “Umm, maybe we should put a reef in David, or, umm reduce the number of sails possibly?” Anyway, it was a good workout for both us and the Amel.

As the weeks moved on, so did we. Firstly, we nipped around the corner to Fowey, alongside Andrew and Gill on Gianti with a plan to meet Geoff and Niki on Penmar, the following day. The next day we received a message from Geoff to say that they’d broken down an hour away from Fowey. Time for Andrew and I to spring into action in our respective dinghy’s, armed with their massive 2.5 and 3.5hp outboard engines. We raced off, or more an energetic potter,  probably topping out at 3 knots! reaching the harbour entrance within 10 minutes or so.

Within an hour we’d reached the stricken vessel. The crews laissez faire attitude towards their dilemma was disconcerting. Surely they should be beside themselves with panic and fear, not welcoming us as though we’d arranged a casual get together over a pint and a sandwhich and have all the time in the world!

Dinghies secured either side of Penmar, we were off, like all conquering heroes, rescuing our friends from the perilous channel waters, bringing them to safety of Fowey harbour. Crowds had gathered waving flags as they whistled and cheered our heroic rescue, begging us to sign autographs and have selfies with them.

I know I made up the last sentence, but politicians make stuff up all the time and keep getting votes.

After a few great days we towed Penmar back into the Channel, where we abandoned her to the mercy of the elements, while we set off to Falmouth, or more accurately, the river Fal. We found a perfect spot to drop anchor, kick back and relax for a day or two. We took a little time for ourselves while cracking on with jobs, including upgrading to a new AIS.

Re-charged, we were all set to head over to the Isles of Scilly and had one of the best sails we’d had so far, on a perfect beam reach, arriving into the anchorage at New Grimsby, between Tresco and Bryher. We didn’t get to explore as much as we’d have liked due to a big storm coming in, but what we did see of the Islands was absolutely gorgeous and worth another visit.

So, the weather had forced our hand and we were off again. An overnight sail saw us into Dale, South West of Wales. A well protected anchorage provided a sound nights sleep, before moving on to Barafundle Bay the following day.

As a kid, I spent many happy holidays around this stretch of coast and as an adult had a similarly fantastic time climbing the limestone cliffs for which this area of Pembrokeshire is well known. We anchored off the beach and though it was a little rollie, it was a perfect spot to admire a stretch coast that holds so many happy memories.

Our journey took us onto Swansea where we spent a few days exploring and getting to know the city, before sailing on to our final destination at Penarth at Cardiff Bay.

By now it was August and we had a lot of work lined up, primarily for me! The first mate had secured a contract with Swansea City Council, so she’d be the bread winner and I’d be the boat labourer. This had always been the intention, so the fact that Sarah secured work so quickly meant that we could crack on straight away.

My life since that point has been a joyous rollercoaster of boat work. From replacing rotten timbers, rusty pipes, installing new vinyl linnings, windows, equipment, toilets etc. I’ve basically hibernated onboard for the coldest bleakest time, without the bonus of sleeping my way through it.

But now? Now I can see the light. It’s getting warmer and brighter and I’ve found religion, praise be.

And so, in a nutshell, that’s how things panned out once we’d moved aboard the Amel. I hope to pick up the pace now and start writing a few more of these now that the big list of work has reduced a bit.

Right, we only have a few weeks before we start moving again so I’d better crack on.

Captain Mac

2 Replies to “Captains Blog 44 – Winter is Coming”

  1. OMG how we’ve alwsys enjoyed reading of your fun adventures – so good to hear that you are very happy with your new Amel – didn’t we read somewhere that fiberglass boats are maintenance free🤣🤣
    We arrived back in
    Canada just over a week ago, launched last Thur and are getting settled in but as always there is stuff everywhere so still quite a shit show – this too shall pass and we are looking very fwd to our 54th sailing summer on beautiful Georgian Bay – we must be getting old eh😇
    Enjoy every Moment and thx for sharing


    1. How fantastic to hear from you both and thank you for reading the blog. It makes it worthwhile when we know you two are having a read!
      The mayhem involved in moving back onboard must be worth it if this is your 54th summer of sailing. Georgian Bay must be stunning and I’d imagine, a fantastic place to cruise.
      We’ll keep the blog posts coming, but in the meanwhile have a fabulous time and look after yourselves. 😁⛵👍


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