Welcome to the Maunie of Ardwall blog

This is the blog of Maunie of Ardwall. After a six-year adventure sailing from Dartmouth to Australia, we are now back in Britain.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Proof that Laura saw dolphins at last!

After years (about 10, I'm told, not 7 as previously mentioned) of failing to see dolphins with Laura aboard, her reaction as they (about 20, I'm told, not a dozen as previously mentioned) came alongside this time was suitably euphoric!

Photos from our final night in the Channel Islands and the passage home

This was the view from Maunie on Friday evening from our anchorage in Havelet Bay, just outside St Peter Port. Castle Cornet is a fascinating fort, with layers of ever more recent fortifications including German gun emplacements from the occupation. We enjoyed a very peaceful evening, with a few sea shanties wafting across the water to us - Friday Night is Music Night at Castle Cornet apparently.

Beating back towards Dartmouth

A slightly chaotic handover of the helm - an unplanned gybed followed seconds later!

Order restored - Amy back in control

Last job of the evening, back on the mooring in Dartmouth - Di makes the bread for breakfast

Photos from Sark

Here are a few photos from the past couple of days:

Climbing up from the anchorage at Havre Gosselin on the west coast of Sark

The view down to Havre Gosselin - with the private isalnd of Brecqhou in the foreground and Herm in the distance

The first view of Sark for most visitors - the tunnel leading through the cliffs at Maseline Harbour on the east coast.

Main Street in Sark - the taxi rank and bank

Maunie at the Havre Gosselin mooring, with the tide sluicing between Sark and Brecqhou behind her. Our previous experience of an overnight stay here was of some very rolly waves so we elected to head back to Guernsey for a more sheltered anchorage.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Safely back to Dartmouth

After a great daysail to explore Sark in brilliant sunshine yesterday, we came back to anchor overnight in Havelet bay, just below Castle Cornet at St Peter Port.

The forecast for today remained resolutely unhelpful - a force 4-5 from the north-west so a beat back all the way to Dartmouth making the 70 mile passage a 16 hour proposition at best. So we decided on a 3.00am departure to gain favourable tide westwards along the south coast of Guernsey and had a pretty good sail. We motorsailed for about 4 hours to clear the busy shipping lanes before the wind played ball and shifted to the west so had an excellent close reach back into the Dart, with a few dolphins making a brief appearance alongside.

We're all pretty tired, in spite of having managed some off-watch sleep but it hasn't stopped Dianne from making bread roll for tomorrow's breakfast. Photos to follow tomorrow when we get home.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

From Brittany to Guernsey

Low water at Treguier

We left Treguier just after high water at 10.00 BST and motored down the river and inside Heux lighthouse before heading North-west towards Guernsey.

Mid-morning snacks ahoy!

The weather was just relentlessly damp, with lots of drizzle and visibility of not much more than a mile: we just glimpsed the lighthouse at the Roches Douvres through the mist. The wind was dead astern and just a Force 3 so, after an hour with the spinnaker up, we put then engine on and motor-sailed for the next 3 hours. An otherwise dull passage was enlivened at 15.30 when sea-life-mad Laura finally spotted dolphins after about 7 years of sailing with us. We had about a dozen Common Dolphins (with some very young calves) with us for about 10 minutes, with much whooping from the crew.

Guernsey appears out of the mist

We arrived at St Peter Port at about 18.30 so joined a huge, 8-deep, raft of boats at the waiting pontoon until there was enough water at the sill to enter Victoria Marina.

Today, joy of joys, we’ve had bright sunshine all day! So we’ve dried all the damp foul-weather gear and had time to explore ashore. The La Vallette museum of the German occupation, housed in a WW2 German underground bunker, really brought home the challenges faced by the 23,000 civilians here during the 5-year occupation. In light relief we’ve just had an excellent meat at La Nautique restaurant and are planning the next couple of days – we’ll probably do a daysail to Sark tomorrow and then sail back to Dartmouth on Saturday.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Some photos from Treguier

We're writing this having just returned from a great meal at the Restaurant Ponton at the top of the marina walkways. A huge iced plate of shared langoustines, followed by a varied selection of main courses that featured steak, canard and moules, was topped off by some pretty special desserts. We're now contemplating a 9.30 (UK time) departure for Guernsey (after a quick dash to the boulangerie, of course).

I'm trying to add some photos from the passage across from Dartmouth but the website keeps hanging so it may have to wait till we get back home.

Just sorted the problem so here are the photos:

A boisterous channel crossing

Yesterday's forecast was for a westerly Force 5-7 so we decided to set off from the Dart at the relatively relaxed time of 06.00 (I'm not sure Amy and Laura would agree with this) to see what it was like.

We found a pretty steady F5 so had a fast close-reach as we headed almost due south, with a few Force 6 gusts under rain squalls. So, with 2 reefs in the main and one in the yankee we fairly flew along with plenty of spray and a few big waves over the bow.

The crew all did well in the fairly testing conditions, though we were all pretty tired by the time we reached the entrance to Trguier, some 90 miles later, at about 20.00, in heavy rain. A quick supper of chilli and rice restored us and we've all slept well so are about to go and explore ashore this morning.

Having trouble uploading photos at the moment so will try again later!

Sunday, 17 July 2011

A Force 6 shake-down sail

The strong winds arrived this morning as forecast so we went out for a couple of hours for a cracking sail in Start Bay. With a double-reefed mainsail and Laura on the helm, Maunie charged about the bay with spray crashing over her bow.

We practiced a couple of 'crash tacks' to simulate a man overboard situation before reaching back towards the Dart, only to be enveloped buy a huge rain squall that was showed as a bright yellow shape on the radar. We stopped for lunch on one of the river pontoons to refill the tanks with fresh water and then the girls went ashore for showers.

We're eating aboard tonight and hoping that the Force 6-7, possibly Gale 8, will blow through so that we can depart for Brittany in the morning. it'll be a 6.00am start so Amy's getting some extra sleep in now!

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Start of a week's cruise

We're back aboard Maunie with god-daughter Amy and niece Laura. We're hoping to get back to Brittany and the Channel Islands but the forecast is for Force 7-8 for tomorrow ( Sunday) so the planned channel crossing has been postponed for a day. We still aim to do a shake-down sail, well-reefed, tomorrow and hope that the wind will abate on Monday. At least the rain seems to have passed through so we've had a good day in Dartmouth, with a great lunch at the Dartmouth Apprentice and a relaxed supper aboard as the sun sets over Brittania College.
More news and photos to follow.