Tooted at 5 times by a warship

 

June 2006

Set sail for Padstow alone. Why? The Friday night before the cruise, family decided to celebrate a birthday in a Swansea restaurant whose name begins with B. Family was not well on Saturday morning so they went home to recover. Chance of a lifetime to go it alone, and the Padstow cruise was on the horizon from 06:30am. Through the lock at 7:00am and full speed with a following wind. Usual fishing line with a chinaman on the end brought the usual result. Nothing. Tide was not strong, and the wind was even less. Thus a long 14 hour trip to the mouth of the Camel. But arrived safely at dusk, and managed to tie up single handed alongside the western side of Padstow harbour. Quick pint or three then a well earned sleep.

Following day the pangs of regret set in, no family, just alone in Padstow with all those pubs. The crew eventually turned up in a car, parking cost a fiver a day, which nibbled in to the Guinness allowance, but not too badly. Weather turned up the heat knob, so we sweltered in the boat, in the pubs and restaurants, tough going these holidays. Rick Stein’s fish and chips proved pretty good, more than can be said for his Bistro. Harbour master was his usual helpful self, and we earned our Christmas card by buying electricity cards. A trip to Rock on the Ferry, gave us a good view of Padstow from the other side of the Camel. Mako turned up, and its crew boosted the Padstow kitty for a while.

Four days in Padstow is enough, despite its pubs and pasties, we plumped for a Monday morning departure. HMS Cornwall was at anchor in Padstow Bay, local boats thronged with holidaymakers made the trip to board the warship. The wind was up, though not too strong. A northerly direction cooled us after the last few hot days. A lobster pot without a pick up buoy came I sight. No problem until we saw the long line from where the marker would have been. A right angle turn was made to avoid the rope trap, but we were soon enough back on course for New Grimsby Harbour. Five miles out of Padstow Mako steamed passed on her way to St Mary’s. The 13 hour trip was well under way when a fin or two appeared near the boat. Basking sharks made their appearance, some going north and some going west. Our course took us SSW, not too far from the 7 Stone Reef. The radar picked up the lightship, and the occasional ship as well as the rainstorms. The waves were perky, as was Triton. Jumping up and down, and from side to side, crew was down below, skipper hanging onto the mainsheet, keeping watch on the grey horizon, and the radar. The main needed to be reefed, the genoa rolled in a few turns. The wind was from the north, cool after all of the heat in Padstow. The Scillies require reasonable weather, and this was the second year on the trot that the weather had been tricky here. 7 Stones reef passed by, and eventually the radar picked up St Martins. Soon enough the islands came out of the murk, Round Island stood erect, a frightening sight in the lumpy seas. The waypoint that marked the entry to New Grimsby harbour was neared, the engine and autopilot pointed us into the wind whilst the sails were put away. The boat turned back into the welcoming inlet, and motored through the dusk towards what we hoped would be an easy mooring buoy. Alas that was not too be. Triton motored down the line of buoys all with boats attached, then back up the middle of the anchorage, to find a boat every 70 yards or so. A spot we had anchored a couple of years ago seemed to be vacant. So we headed close inshore anchor at the ready, and seemed to be in the right spot before dropping it. The boat was put in reverse to pull out the chain, and secure the anchor. Alas nothing happened, we were dragging on the rocky seabed. Orders were given and the boat gathered some forward way whilst the anchor was hastily recovered. It was now quite dark, and the skipper was wondering where to try again.

Fortunately a large nearby Brixham trawler hailed us, and offered his starboard beam to raft onto. The darkness and rain helped to make the easiest decision of the day. We accepted without too much hesitation, and were soon well tied up to the large old boat. We shared a bottle of wine with the skipper and mate, on the decks. We learned the Leader was 140 years old, and was on charter.

The night brought a well earned rest, along with scurries of rain and wind. The wind and rain, and the secure mooring made for a great night’s rest. The morning dawned, and we were soon up looking out onto a dull day, with rain and thunder echoing around the Scillies. Leanders guests were soon up, want to explore Tresco and Bryher. We exchanges pleasantries with them, and video’d the thunder and lighting. Soon enough we felt we ought to go and sort out our own anchorage. There was now a gap or two in the line of anchored boats, so we cast off Leander with good wishes to and from the skipper and crew.

A quick trip up and down the line of anchored boats found the best space to set our anchor. That done, we felt secure, and after a burst in reverse, Triton seemed to be well secured to the seabed. Lunch followed, more boats departed. A resolution to go onshore at Bryher now seemed possible. The inflatable was inflated, and the outboard was mounted. The trip alone was made in a few minutes, the crew wishing to stay aboard and recover from the thunder. A Nantucket Clipper was seen anchored nearby, and having a link with the Offshore Yacht Class Owners Association, a contact shout was made. Alas the skipper was asleep, and the crew felt unable to disturb him, so the opportunity to talk was missed.

However, the inflatable was soon on the sand of Bryher, well pulled up from the low tide line. With camera and a sun hat, the skipper of Triton was soon exploring the small island. A walk up the main roadway past several houses brought a superb view of the Southern Isles. A mass of rocky islands was seen poking out from the sea, looking a bit fearsome to say the least. But this is what the Scillies are made of, and I was thankful to be securely anchored in New Grimsby harbour, and was having the freedom to wander with relative safety about the island of Bryher. Bryher has a peak, on which the islanders store their water. Photos were taken from the peak, towards Triton and the New Grimsby Harbour. Videos were taken from Triton back towards the waving skipper. The only pub wasclosed, but a shop was visited and a Guinness can was bought and enjoyed. On the return walk to the dinghy, some potatoes were spotted for sale, with the notice saying these would be the best spuds you would ever taste. For a quid, I thought they would be a reasonable buy, so they were taken back to Triton. They were cooked and proved very tasty. Several spuds were kept for out garden to grow next year.

The return trip was made, the fishing rod collected and hunting trip now ensued. After an hour or so of casting with my favourite lure, a bite was has. It was a marauding hit made by a pollock, and quickly afterwards the big fish was seen jumping from the water after my lure. Alas I lost my lure on the rocky sea bed soon after, and fortunately the large pollock was free to roam New Grimsby Harbour for another year at least.

The next morning with a calm and dry forecast noted, Triton’s anchor was weighed, and a course for Padstow was made. The trip was quite eventful, not least for the Basking Sharks and Sunfish. The course between Grimsby Harbour and Padstow just clips the Traffic Separation zone. With no shipping sight, Triton took the short cut, crossing the zone at 45 degrees. As we were about to leave the TSZ, a radar contact showed a ship approaching some 5 files away. Soon it was obvious it was HMS Cornwall, a Royal Navy frigate. The battleship was steaming a quite some speed directly towards Triton. When it was 2 miles away, he turned, and tooted five times. There were no other vessels in sight so I assume Triton was having her rudder slapped for not crossing the TSZ correctly. Next time I will do the proper thing.

The approach to Padstow was made in the dark, as the harbour gate did not open until 00:30 in the morning. Our arrival in Padstow Bay was made at about midnight. Rather than go up the river with its strong currents, we circled in the dark for 30 minutes. A final approach was made when the gate opened. We tied up thankfully and noted several other boats arriving. We tied up behind Lady Tamarind from Milford, and enjoyed a chat with the skipper the following morning.

The crew now had to take the car home. We planned to meet up in Neyland and have a quiet week-end in the river. I planned a trip from Padstow to Dale, noting the forecast was for force 5 southwesterly winds. In the afternoon, I motored slowly out of Padstow. The main sail went up with a little difficulty, but once out of the river all sails were successfully hoisted. The wind was on the beam, with strong force four. Heading away from the coast, I realised that we were going quite some distance off shore. The long trip wore on and the wind gradually increased. Surprisingly, I was able to call the crew some 30 miles off shore on the mobile phone.

As dark approached, I decided a reef in the mainsail and genoa was better done whilst there was some light. This done, I was treated to a spectacle of a family of dolphins. The younger members of the pod were only three feet long. Perhaps because off the presence of these youngsters, the pod all surface together, six or seven dolphins surfaced at the same time.

Soon the coastal lights loomed on the horizon. The radar picked up the St Gowans shoal light and buoy. I was aware of the Crows Foot rock, and double-checked my course. The course took up between the Turbot Bank and Linney Head. The lights of the buoys almost made the radar and chart plotter redundant. Alas the wind was now gusting a force six, so loins were girded to put another reef in. As the Milford Haven Heads were approached the wind reduced and the seas calmed. At 2’oclock on Friday morning, Sheep buoy was passed, a course was made for Dale pontoon.

Now the chart plotter came into its own. The night was dark, no moon to light the way. I had hoped to moor up to the pontoon, It was too dark to see if there was any space, so a change of plan was executed. I looked for an anchor spot, and was surprised to come quite close to anchored boats with out an anchor light. Soon a spot was found, the anchor was set, and light hoisted. After a can of beer, sleep came easily.

The following day, with a gale forecast for the week-end, we decided to end our holiday early. I sailed home alone with a good wind on the stern. I sailed goose winged all along the Gower coast, then turned left into Swansea Bay. Soon enough I was tied up on Triton,s berth, the sailing holiday over for another year.

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