Where to moor LJ during the winter months was a pressing dilemma but after numerous phone calls we realised that returning her to her home port on the River Hamble under the watchful eye of Fairview Sailing was too good an offer to turn down. Our arrival home was agreed at early October which gave us time to explore more of the UK’s South Coast.
Arriving at Falmouth, we made straight for the top of the River Fal and a lonely river pontoon just south of Malpas. From this very quiet spot we became arrested with nature as the horizon was devoid of roads and buildings and the blackness of night was broken only by the sound of wildlife. Sadly, the grey skies failed to hold off their rain but our time here was brightened by a few glasses of wine shared with Alastair and Helen who excited us with their business plans for www.professionalpirates.co.uk (please look this up).
Truro appeared to be a short distance north and only accessible by dinghy – this required careful tidal planning as Truro dries at low water! Pottering up river in our trusty dinghy and dodging the occasional shopping trolley, the journey turned out to be about four miles further than planned due to the channel not being as straight as the charts implied! After a lovely sunny day, and with the water starting to re-appear, we embarked on our return journey. With the strength of the incoming tide, our poor outboard engine was working slightly harder than expected and coupled with the journey being that slightly longer than expected, I tried to eke out the diminishing fuel but to no avail and yes, with that familiar cough and a splutter of an engine fighting for life – we ran out of petrol … With the tide now racing against us and after attempting to row harder than an Oxford Graduate, I achieved only half the remaining distance back to Le Jouannet. Fortunately Nina managed to grab a buoy as by now I was in need of a defibrillator. With our pride in tatters and with passengers upon a tourist boat taking our picture we pretended we were merely bird watching as opposed to hopelessly holding on for dear life! Thankfully Alastair and Helen were just 5 minutes behind us who graciously sold me a cup of fuel in exchange for emptying our Gin and Wine cupboard.
Whilst returning to Plymouth, to pick up Chloe and Zane, more dolphins were spotted. However this was eclipsed when we spotted two adult Minke Whales with two cubs elegantly swimming near us. The next few days were spent sailing to Salcombe to experience the summer madness and back to enjoy the tranquillity of the River Yealm before returning our family to Plymouth.
Having foolishly invited us to ‘stop by’ their beautiful home when passing, and never ones to miss an opportunity to visit Warfleet Lodge, we spent a pleasant autumnal break in the company of Peter and Sarah. After a week of a stationary bed, Sky TV, great food and exceptional company we set off east for Weymouth and our transit of Portland Bill before entering familiar waters.
This is the fourth time we’d rounded this headland the and past experiences were of flat calm waters and a gentle breeze. As we closed in, we realised our luck had run out. Our timings were correct and I’d even changed course to head further south to avoid the ‘Race’, however an easterly swell and a north-easterly wind increased and we found ourselves surfing down waves at 12knots (only one of us found this an exciting experience!) . Turning for Weymouth and in the gloom of night we narrowly avoided a collision with HMS Royalist and landed at Weymouth Old town at 10.45pm. Somehow we found ourselves still taking off life jackets at 10.54pm whilst grabbing last orders in the Saloon Bar of the Harbour Inn by which time the horrors of ‘The Bill’ had all been reduced to a bit of a laugh.. well .. nearly!
Our first Summer adventure drew to an end as we passed through the needles channel and passed our start point of Yarmouth pier which we had said goodbye to some 6 months earlier.
Entering the Hamble we just clocked over 1200 nautical miles. Our plans to circumnavigate the UK hadn’t gone entirely to plan, but that said, as a consolation we can claim to have rounded the Isle of Wight. Normally, this 60 mile trip would take about 9 hours and is well reported in the chaos of the annual Round The Island race. We’d successfully managed to stretch this simple piece of navigation to over 1200 miles, taken 6 months to complete it whilst stopping at over 40 different locations and consuming sufficient wine from France to fast track our visa application for 2019.
Reversing back into our old parking spot, the boys from Fairview were waiting to take our lines and, for LJ, the maintenance starts all over again as we make our plans for the year ahead …..