Welcome to the Maunie of Ardwall blog
Friday, 31 August 2012
Thursday, 30 August 2012
The good news is that the high pressure system is heading our way, giving brisk and cold northerly winds. This means we'll be blown southwards so we are leaving tonight to sail through the night to reach the busy shipping lanes off Ushant in the early morning light. The tide there will scoot us southwards and then we have a full 50 hour passage to La Coruna in northern Spain.
We met a really nice German couple in a beautiful 48 ft cutter called Stormvogel. They are doing the same as us and we compared passage plans. We'll set off at the same time so it'll be good to have another boat for company and photos, though their extra length should make them quicker than us (we'll see!). If your German is up to it, they have a really nice website www.wiedekamm.com
Last shopping in Falmouth then we're off
Tuesday, 28 August 2012
How did you spend your Bank Holiday Monday? Indoors, probably, judging by the weather and wishing you were somewhere sunny! We spent the Bank Holiday Monday morning aboard the boat, with the wind howling outside and the rain absolutely pouring down. We were moored up in the River Fal, just below Truro, so were well sheltered but we're studying the weather forecasts with extra interest. The long range forecast suggests that we might get away on Thursday as a rare thing – a big high pressure system – heads towards Britain; in the meantime there's still plenty to do.
Since Graham left work, we just haven't stopped working towards the sailing project. The time and effort required to sort out our house – emptying it completely for rental and sorting the contents for storage or disposal – has been a lot greater than we expected if we're honest. We only have a little house and no children so how difficult could it be, we thought? Well, having lived there 13 years we'd amassed all sorts of stuff, lots of it stored in the garage and loft 'in case it might come in handy'; most of it hasn't come in handy after all so it's been E-bayed or given to charity. Anyway having finally moved aboard our new floating home, we definitely feel we've cut the ties with normal life: no car, no house, just us and a boat.
On Monday we took delivery of our medical supplies, thanks to our Best Man who's a GP in this part of the world. Dianne took a 9 day Ships Medical course earlier in the year so we're licensed to carry prescription drugs such as antibiotics; the wet Monday was spent sorting out the storage and cataloguing of these.
So we're definitely on our way and it's an exciting and slightly daunting prospect. It feels odd to be of no fixed abode and not to have the daily routine of coming to the office but it's good to know that lots of people are following our progress. We're now in the luxury of the Falmouth Marina, with a big Sainsbury's close by for our last shopping in Blighty! Tomorrow will be all about planning the passage and securing the boat for sea. We've met a German boat also bound for Spain so will probably set of together early on Thursday,
Saturday, 25 August 2012
Wednesday, 22 August 2012
As we headed towards Start Point we had a visitation from our friend Joe who was on a photography job in a helicopter further down the coast. He asked the pilot to do a detour and circled around us a few times from not many feet up. We've yet to see his photos of the boat (and can't wait) but here's the man at work (well, he calls it work!):
We had hoped to be flying the new Yeo Valley spinnaker as he flew over but it was just a tad too breezy for us on day 1. We'd probably have been ok but in sailing we've learned that there's a fine line between looking good and making a proper balls up of it. Incidentally, the daytime international signal on ships for 'I have run aground' is 3 balls, one above the other, hoisted up the mast - could be the origin of the 'balls up' phrase!
Having waved goodbye to Joe we sailed on for our first overnight stop in Plymouth, some 40 miles or so. We were beating to windward the whole way but still had an excellent sail with 'Winnie' (the Windpilot self-steering gear) doing some of the hard work to keep us on course whilst we consumed hot Cornish pasties and admired the view.
We've anchored in the Barn Pool in the entrance to Plymouth, looking across to the Mayflower steps where the Pilgrim Fathers embarked on their great voyage. We're starting as we mean to go on by avoiding costly marinas whenever we can (though we still use their wifi). There are a few other boats here, including a rustic but well-used ferro-cement yacht. Ferro-cement seem an unlikely boat-building material but it was very popular for self-builds since you make a wire frame of the hull, cover it with chicken wire then dollop in layers of cement. The results are often a bit rough and ready looking but the hulls are very strong. Anyway our neighbouring cement boat is called Maid of Portland, which we rather liked.
Tomorrow we'll spend the morning in the continuing quest to find logical and memorable places to stow all our belongings (the aft cabin is a temporary dumping space at the moment) then will head off for Falmouth when the tide turns in our favour around lunchtime.
Monday, 20 August 2012
After last week's gale (apparently Thursday night was really wild with white water and wind-blown spray in the harbour) the weather has calmed down. We plan to spend the next couple of days here, sorting the boat and buying food stores, before heading down to Falmouth. There we'll meet our Best Man Simon, who's a GP in Truro, to collect our medical supplies then we'll watch the forecast with great interest to find a settled 3 or 4 days to sail down to Spain.
We've had wonderful messages and cards from friends - thank you all for your support. Just got to get on with it now!
Monday, 6 August 2012
With a glass or two of champagne to celebrate our voyage it was great to have friends aboard and it was a great opportunity to show people our floating home.
It's not been all champagne and strawberries though. During last weekend's sail we discovered a leak from the deck above the galley as we beat to windward with waves washing over the leeward deck. We found the source but getting to it involved taking apart the locker above the cooker and we then discovered that the microwave (yes we have one of those aboard!) was pretty rusty, indicating that this leak has been dripping gently for a while.
Wednesday, 1 August 2012
As you'll see from the photos, it's a novel sail - part spinnaker, part paraglider. It has an inflating 'wing' across an open slot in the upper third of the sail which makes it very stable and generates some lift at the bow of the boat. The slot also allows any sudden gusts of wind to vent through it, making it much more resistant to the sort of conditions we're likely to encounter in mid-Atlantic.
The sail also has a certain logo that you may recognise! We really needed another boat close by to take photos of us.
We're really pleased with the sail - the boat was very stable and went like a train. The wind got up a bit so getting the sail down a bit dramatic. We had a long beat back to Dartmouth for a well-deserved meal at the Royal Castle.
Here's the crew