Anniversary of Demelza’s departure from Pasco’s boatyard .

It is now a year since we left our mooring in this lovely creek in order to circumnavigate St Thomas’ Hospital in London. We are now settled back on a mooring by the rocks and beginning to have some new ideas of what to do next. But before we set off on any new escapades I thought it was a good time to do a bit of number crunching.

The best news is that thanks to many very generous relatives ,friends and unknown donors we have raised nearly £5000 to build a new well in Ethiopia . Work on this will begin in the near future.

We sailed and motored well over 900 miles despite having to miss out the Isles of Scilly. I hope to go there at a later date. This change of plan was due to being held up by some poor weather conditions .

At least 20 different people crewed, some of them even came twice. They were all excellent , very able and great fun. It goes without saying I could not have done the trip without them.

We went through 134 locks all ably supervised by Nancy Blackett. The most spectacular and memorable lock day was tackling the Caen Hill flight at Devizes . A large team from Forethiopia arrived from Bristol . They came to the top of the flight armed with picnics and energy and soon found efficient and fun ways of working with one another to tow Demelza down the 29 locks. It took us about 6 hours. Without their help it may well have taken us a couple of days.

There were three over night sails , ,special thanks to Gordon and Steve giving up such a lot of sleeping time.

Gin, only at East Cowes and Ramsgate. This abstainance was due to a lack of ice on board but it makes the evenings on the I of W and Ramsgate paticularly memorable.

Last night was extraordinarally cold but the full moon shining on the quiet waters of the creek made up for having cold feet.

I am now sitting in the cockpit in the warm sun. Nancy is resting after her morning  walk and a snow-white egret is feeding in the sea-weed. The boat is rocking gently on the outgoing tide and sound of the water on the hull is the music of the creek. 

Thank you everyone who made the circumnavigation of STH possible  and more importantly the building of a new well.

Best press on ,  

 I need to row ashore to fill up my water can! 

 

Friday 19th June

We were off the Lizard just after midnight . We were accompanied by a  miriad of stars, the Lizard lighthouse and a few boats .  We had two knots of tide against us. Steve was still at the helm. He had been there since 7am apart from the odd break. I checked the GPS every 30-60 minutes as well as having short naps every so often. Steve did not seem to need a sleep or more food although he did respond with some enthusiasm to a large bar of chocolate.

We both jumped out of our skins when  a helicopter suddenly flew up from behind us and seemingly nearly took our mast out. It then flew on towards the ?  passenger ship and looked as though it might be winching somebody off.

It seemed take for ever to pass the Lizard light. Steve was understandably convinced that we were going backwards. I was very glad we weren’t. After what seemed like an eternity we spotted the Manacles Cardinal winking away to the north. We set a coarse of forty degrees but after a while realised that the tide was still sweeping us in a westerly direction. To counteract this we eventually had to steer 80 degrees. I was very surprised.

St. Anthony’s Head lighthouse was our next point to aim for. The sky was beginning lighten in the east. 

  
Steve was still happy to stay on the helm, he had been there for 22 hours! I had another little lie down, apparently I slept for an hour and was woken because Steve wanted to know what to do next, we were near Black Rock.

  
It was 5.30 am. The Fal lay smooth and grey before us except for the intrusion of a single speed boat going out to sea. After that we continued to gently motor up on the rising tide. We had left the Fal on the 31st July 2015 in the early and now we were back, a peaceful feeling came over me, job done. 

The creek came into view, my mooring, was occupied so we picked up one near by. I guess we must have been rather noisy because Barry popped his head out of his cabin and said “welcome back Ros, well done”. He then disappeared, maybe back to his bunk but I could not have wished for a better welcome.

We tidied up the boat , Steve went for a row to explore the creek whilst I finished off. We rowed ashore and nearly fell in, what an end that would have been.

Bob was already at work in the boat shed. He was generous with his remarks . We plodded up to the bus stop , on the way we met Hugh who gave us another warm welcome. It was good to be back. 

Before I bring this blog to a close I would like to thank all the people who have supported me over the past 18 months, I could not have done it without you. It may sound odd but it has been an invaluable experience for me.

Finally , thanks the generosity of so many people , I will be able to hand over a cheque for just over £4000 including gift aid so that another well can be built Forethiopia .

Thursday 18th June 

Up at 5.30am to prepare the boat for our passage to Penzance . The visibility was excellent , such a contrast to yesterday when it was quite hard to find the first buoy. 

We left just before 7am with a sense that we were beginning to get the hang of Padstow harbour. As we left the Camel estuary,  the sea began to build up but we felt it was manageable. In any case , if we turned back we would be locked out of the harbour . I think it is fair to say that the waves were the biggest I have ever experienced on Demelza. The climb to the top of each wave made Steve and I clip ourselves onto safety lines. The bowsprit pointed at the sky. The boat balanced momentarily on the crest and then hurtled down the slope , buried the bowsprit in the sea and then began her journey up the next wave. Steve and I must have sounded like a couple of kids at a fun fair. It was a shame we were not in a position take photos, we were pretty busy holding on. We decided to pass between the Quies  and  Trevose Head. It was a relief when the sea settled a little. This happened once we had passed through the sound and we thought the time had come to try to sail. Luckily we had put a reef in the mainsail before we left the harbour. The sailors amongst you might be wondering why we did not put up the sail before we left port. We had no idea what we might find and with hind site I think we did the right thing although it was a bit of a caper to get it up.

We turned the faithful engine off and sailed for seven hours  at 7 knots  with a favourable tide across the huge bay towards Cape Cornwall . It was just about perfect, NW wind force 3/4, clear sky and a slight to moderate sea.

When we reached Cape Cornwall we were able to sail quite close to the shore. It is so rugged, isolated and inaccessible . We sailed passed Pendeen lighthouse, I wondered if there was anyone there. 

The Bristol Channel was still devoid of vessels . In the course of 12 hours we had seen one sailing boat, one large motor boat and one fishing boat, a lonely place.

By this time the tide had turned against us and we had slowed down to  two knots so we turned the engine on. 

Our next place to make for was the Longships lighthouse which rises majestically off Land’s End . As we slowly approached we debated as to whether go round it or slip between the headland and the lighthouse. In the end decision became clear . Seas thrashed over the rocks around the lighthouse and over the Kettle’s Bottom rocks , we took the safe route.

  
Our next point was to pass the Runnel  Stone rocks. Once passed there we had to decide whether to go into Newlyn or carry on through the night to Falmouth. The weather forcast was for a settled night . The sea was calm, visibity good and we both felt able to commit to an overnight sail . 

We thought it best to reef the mainsail in case the predicted wind arrived but later we took the mainsail down. I cooked supper for us both, tidied the galley and prepared the chart table for a night passage. 

The sun set behind us and the Lizard light beckoned us towards the East. Ahead of us we saw the bright lights of some ships, one turned out to be a sort of passenger vessel and the others fishing boats.  

     

Wednesday 17th June

Padstow gave us a peaceful night. Just as well, we were up at 5.30am. There was fog in river, oh , just early morning  mist. The forcast was not ideal but seemingly not impossible. We left the harbour at 6.30am and crept through the ? temporary fog to the open sea but still very poor visibility . There was wind against tide, waves occasionally dolloping over the side of the boat. Ten hours of this did not appeal. We turned tails, put full throttle on the engine, rang the harbour and were allowed in with seconds to spare.

The day was spent pottering , sleeping and enjoying Padstow. In the late afternoon we were entertained by the Truro Wind Band. 

  
After supper we had an early night in readiness for another big day tomorrow. 

Monday 15th June

Today’s the day! I was in London and Steve was in Newbury , we managed , with the aid of our brilliant transport system  of buses and trains to meet at Watchet Harbour by 5.30pm. Actually, I arrived half an hour before Steve and was treated to a right royal welcome by a local bagpipe player. He entertained me for quite a while , a moving performance.

Steve arrived and we discussed our plans with the help of tea and Frances’ fruit cake , it was a stunner . we looked at the weather forcast and the tidal streams and decided to leave straight away.  

 It was a crisp , clear and windless evening . The Somerset Coast glowed in the evening light. We motored along at about 4 knots but as the tide was with us we were making at least 7 knots with the greatest of ease. 

I cooked supper, a simple affair of sausages, potatoes and various vegetables. After that we settled down to enjoy the coast and await nightfall. 

The stars began to appear and I got sleepy. Luckily Steve is a night owl. I kept an eye on our compass bearing and our position and napped in between.

The sun went down and gradually the stars appeared but it was a moonless night. The coast was a dark outline and the sea slipped peacefully away beneath the hull.