Friday 24 May 2024

tash & co

I've had the week off work, but haven't got down to the boat yet. There was a small chance that the kids would come home today, so my week away sailing took a rain-check. But Charlie needed support with his feeding again last night. There's a small chance they might come home tomorrow. It's very close, but remains a waiting game. 

In any case, they're both doing well. As is their mum. Though she's a bit stir-crazy with cabin fever right now and really, really wants to bring the little ones home. When they're ready.

So maybe tomorrow. Maybe, if they come home, and we get them settled in, then maybe I'll get down to the boat for a night or two before I'm back to work next week. Though if I do, I expect Lottie will come with me, so any sailing, if we sail at all, will only be local. 

But I'd settle for that. 

Though I'd settle just for having them all home.

Did get to sail on the lake Wednesday. Raced the Laser, Amanda was put off by the rain (to be fair, she actually cried off with a sniffle of a cold, so maybe it wasn't just the rain). Was a great race. And actually, the rain, which had been a deluge all day, stopped just as I got to the club and set about rigging the boat. 

It was a good course, a shifty 10 knots, gusting up to about 17, a couple of decent beats. 18 boats on the start line, I guess more than a few put off by the weather (unlike Amanda, who had a sniffle!) I finished first in my fleet, but 4th overall. Which was annoying. But the sailing was great, the boats ahead deserved their win.

Thursday 16 May 2024

a morning cup of tea

Thursday morning and I'm sat at my desk with my morning cup of tea. Just had a call from my daughter, Tash. Twins are doing well, and she sounds happy but exhausted. They're both now out of their incubators and in cots in her room with her. Harry is feeding well, Charlie still is still struggling to take to the bottle so has the assistance of a feeding tube.

She tells me that once he's past this and coping with a bottle like his brother they they'll be coming home. A photo she sent me from this morning:

The reason for her exhaustion is that Harry is currently on three hour feeds, whereas Charlie is every two hours, and she's now doing all their feeds herself. I told her a sleep pattern like that was good training for long distance solo cruising in the UK. I think, sometimes, my sense of humour leaves her feeling bemused, rather than amused, but I like to think it at least shows I care.

The above photo was from Sunday, when I raced the Laser. It was a bit of a drift and the course lacked a decent beat which was frustrating, although in defence of the race committee, it would've been hard to set given the conditions.

However, had a good race at South Cerney last night with Amanda and the Albacore. An impressive 33 boats turned out on the starting line, which was exceptionally port biased; an unfortunate but necessary compromise as they're having to run the racing from the committee hut on the shore at the moment, as a pair of nesting coots have taken up residence in the Club's shiny new committee boat.

We started at the favoured end, close to the pin, furthest away from the shore, where it was just about possible to edge over the line on starboard if the wind didn't shift against you. We were lucky, it didn't, and we timed it sweetly, crossing the line and moving nicely just as the final gun cleared the start.

photo: camilla g

For reasons I can't fathom, most of the fleet chose to start mid way down or further to other end of the line, heaping themselves upon each other and spoiling each others' air. From our own end of the line, the opening leg to the first mark was a simple windward fetch after we tacked early on to port as soon as the solitary Aero and Laser above us allowed.

Now in the dirty air to our lee, neither of them felt the lift we enjoyed about a dozen boat lengths or so out from the mark, and both fell away to leeward, the Aero overhauling and taking the wind from the Laser behind us.

photo: sophie d

We rounded the mark cleanly, settling onto a starboard biased beat to the next buoy, meanwhile astern the Merlin came barging in on port to the Aero's starboard, upsetting the Aero's intention to do the same. We left them to their squabbles and threats of protest and sailed away into clean air, keeping our early won lead for the rest of the race and eventually finished almost three minutes ahead of the nearest boat, beating two Aeros into second and third place respectively by more than a minute even after correcting our times for handicap.

More than that, the sky was blue, the sun was warm, with enough wind to keep us moving, shifty enough to make the race challenging. It was a lovely evening, and very nice to be sailing in shorts and tee-shirt again.

Nikki and I both have next week booked off work. I'm hoping to go sailing. Without considering the forecast, I'm thinking of heading out to Falmouth, spending a day or three in Falmouth town and around the Fal and the bay, then making our way slowly back to Plymouth, via Fowey and, perhaps Mevagissey. 

Or we could go east to Dartmouth, and do the same but heading back west. It would be nice to see Brixham again.

Of course, if the babies do come home, that might shoot all plans in the foot. I'm not sure why they'd need me around, I'm just a granddad after all, but I'm not sure their Nan (to whom I happen to be married) will see things that way if (when) I suggest that maybe I just go sailing with Dad instead if she doesn't want to come.

Monday 13 May 2024

of dreams of Pelagia

"And you don't poison a musician, not even an Italian;"

This line made me chuckle.

I am about halfway through reading Captain Corelli's Mandolin by Louis de Bernières, finding myself totally enrapt in the book and wondering why I haven't read it before. I started it last weekend, after I'd finished reading Unknown Soldiers by Väinö Linna but had then abandoned Brian Moynahan's Leningrad: Siege and Symphony after hardly scratching the surface. I simply found it too dark for my mood at the time, but will likely return at some point.

At the point that I decided to put it down however, I was afloat in Fowey Harbour and my phone without connection. Unusual these days, even at sea, as long as you're within sight of land, but then this was Cornwall. So I had to settle for whatever I could find already on my Kindle.

And there it was. I don't remember when or why I bought it. I certainly don't remember downloading it. But I must've done both, and am happy that I did.

Petrella: Fowey and back

On the weekend of the 4th, Dad and I got to the boat for about 2030 Saturday evening. It was a bank holiday weekend, and I'd cut a deal with my wife whereby if I took her and our daughter out to lunch Saturday and then gave Tash a lift back to the hospital to look after the twins, I could go sailing with Dad for the next couple of days.

Nik had to work Sunday and Monday anyway, so my argument was that she probably wouldn't miss me, and Tash and the hospital had between them everything in hand with the twins.

Still not entirely sure how I got away with that.

Sunday 5th : Plymouth to Fowey
(22.8 nautical miles, 4 hours 42 minutes underway)

Sunday morning. 
Low water Plymouth expected 1031, so tide would run fair to the west until approx 1330.
Forecast 11 knots gusting 17 from south south east, showers, 13°C

High Water Fowey 1627 4.9m, low 2248 0.9m.

1017: Cast off Queen Anne's Battery, motor-sail across the Sound under main.

Leaving the berth was relatively straight forward; a series of shunts back and nudges forward with the wheel hard down to starboard, more astern to take the way off, more forward, and so on until I was lined up to reverse down the aisle and out to clear water.

It wasn't what I'd originally intended, as I'd hoped to get enough steerage to turn the other way and leave ahead, but it worked, and the best plans are those that can cope with adaption as they progress.

Our neighbour remains absent, so the only risk was knocking ourselves against our own pontoon. The wind was light on the port beam, so gave no trouble and we made clear water without mishap.

Almost on queue the rain set in and visibility dropped to less than a (very wet) mile.

1059: Penlee Point to starboard. Engine off, full main, 1x roll in the genoa.
COG 244° SOG 6.7kn Log 4.5nm; rain stopped, wind 11kn

We raised the main in the shelter of the Sound as we motored towards the western entrance. The sky was grey and low, the air thick with rain. Dad sheltered under the sprayhood, whilst I kept watch at the wheel, but let the autohelm tend to our direction.

We pushed on out of the entrance, Penlee falling off to our starboard side. At the point when we would've been able to see Rame Head were it not for the rain, I unfurled the genoa, cautiously leaving a couple of rolls in, stilled the engine and let the course fall away onto a heading for Fowey some 20 miles still distant.

As we passed Rame Head the wind veered until we were on a close port reach, but held to a steady 10 or 11 knots or so, so I released the rest of the genoa and we continued along under full sail, the boat making good speed over ground courtesy of a fair tide.

1210: Squall just through. Dolphins. Wind 17kn.
2x rolls in genoa, full main
267° 5.9kn 10.9nm; SE of Looe
Close hauled on port tack

The squall came through quickly and without much warning, the wind increasing and veering further until we were having to fall off our course to remain close hauled as it quickly climbed to around 18 knots. The rain, persistent through out the morning, increased dramatically in a thick crescendo and Petrella began to heel sharply, trying to round up, the autohelm struggling to hold her down to her course.

I let the genoa go, it's loud flogging summoning Dad up from whatever he'd been doing below as I hauled in on the furling line to put a couple of judicious rolls back into the sail. Headsail appropriately reefed, Dad tailed the sheet whilst I ground the slack in on the leeward winch to retrim the sail.

And so I was hunched over the winch, grinding and staring over the leeward rail into the grey sea as it foamed past us when I saw the first dolphin, barrel rolling as it came out from under the hull to stare up at me with what incredulously felt at the time like a cheeky grin.

It's funny how the mood of the boat changes the moment they appear. I went from wet, bedraggled, overworked and a little stressed to childlike delight, the weather and conditions forgotten, Petrella left to tend herself whilst I spent the next twenty minutes clambering around the boat watching a pod of about half a dozen dolphins play.
1307: Close reach, wind dropped to around 10kn, full sail
270° 4.9kn 15.5nm; Polperro to starboard

At some point before they left us, the rain ceased and the wind dropped back down. Once I was confident the weather wasn't going to throw any more surprises at me, I unfurled the rest of the genoa again. Out to the south west I could see the cloud beginning to break.

1402: Sun out, 8 to 9 knots wind, beam reach
280° 4.0kn 19.8nm; Lantic Bay to starboard

The sun is almost as welcome as dolphins on a chilly day, and has almost as an uplifting effect on the boat's mood. The sea was still rolling with about a meter and a half of swell, pushed in by the weather out in the Atlantic, but the wind had dropped and backed to the south. With the tide turning foul now, our speed over ground was falling away.

Past Lantic Bay, we fell further off the wind to make for the harbour entrance. The rolling of the sea frequently shook the wind from the sails, leaving the main and genoa inelegantly slapping.

Ahead a procession of racing yachts crossed in front of Gribbin Head and made for the river mouth. Most would be clear and out of our way by the time we got there.

1427: Engine on, genoa away. Dropped main a little later in the shelter of the harbour

No longer making any serious way, the sails were slapping annoyingly, so we rolled the genoa outside the mouth of the harbour, sheeted in the main and motored in under mainsail. In the shelter of the harbour we found a bit of space and turned towards the Polruan shore to put Petrella head to wind. Dad minded the helm whilst I rolled the mainsail, winding it quickly onto the boom without any mishap or complication.

The harbour master's launched pulled up alongside and, on confirming we weren't part of the visiting racing fleet, directed us to a visitor's buoy in the moor field on the east side of the harbour.

1459: Pick up buoy in Fowey, engine off

As we picked our way through the field of buoys and moored boats, I jokingly called over to the racing crew now relaxing en-mass in the cockpit of their 36' Beneteau yacht on the mooring next to ours not to watch. Dad made his way up to the foredeck with a line and I nudged slowly up into the current towards our mark.

Dad's first couple of attempts to lasso the buoy failed, but on the third try he got the line around it and made us secure. I left the engine running in neutral "just in case" whilst I threaded a second line through the loop on the top of the buoy. The freeboard on Petrella is twice that of Calstar, and something we're going to have to get used to.

We were in Fowey. We got the tender out, Dad inflated it whilst I fuelled the outboard, and within an hour or so we were ashore and enjoying a beer and the brief company of some old friends at the Fowey Gallants Sailing Club, before heading on to one of our favourite restaurants, Sam's, for supper.

The rain held off until just after we were back aboard the boat, and then it began to pour.

22.8nm covered in 4 hours and 42 minutes underway, engine time 1 hour 4 minutes.

Monday 6th : Fowey to Plymouth
(22.7 nautical miles, 4 hours 58 minutes underway)

Forecast 7 knots gusting 11 from north, showers expected from 1300.
High water Plymouth 0445, so tide fair to east until roughly 0745.
Sunrise expected 0544

We got an early night Sunday evening in anticipation of an early start back Monday morning. It was still dark when my alarm went off at 0400, but the wolf light was just beginning to creep into the sky by the time I crawled out of my bunk fifteen minutes later.

I'd deflated the tender and lashed it to the coach-roof the previous evening, and we'd only put the barest minimum of the cockpit tent up; the bimini, sprayhood and the zipped-in centre piece that connects the two, so taking everything down and readying for departure was a swift affair.

0515: Drop mooring Fowey

Departure was simple. Released the remaining line to the buoy, dropped back a little, then set ahead and turned for a gap in the moored boats to take us out into the main harbour and then towards the entrance and open water.

The town was quiet and still, except for the flashing yellow lights of a utility truck doing its rounds emptying the town's bins. The predawn sky was gently lit with subtle streaks of amber from the east.

0545: Sails up, engine off, wind 10kn N
101° 5.0kn 2.2nm; Lantic Bay to port

The northerly wind was not harsh, but had a distinct chill to it. The sea state was ruffled but calmer than the day previous, and our course had us set on a comfortable beam reach to port. The sky ahead glowed orange between broken clouds as the sun threatened to crest the line of headlands stretching out towards the east.

I could see a solitary yacht leaving Fowey astern of us and the glimmer of a partial rainbow above them crowning the receding mouth of the harbour. Five minutes to clear the mouth of the harbour and then they too had their sails up.

A fair tide and a light breeze saw us making good way.

0600: 095° 5.1kn 8.4nm; Looe to port
Close reach on port. Wind northerly 13kn

0605: Dolphins

The dolphins were welcome but brief, too brief for the camera. They circled a few times, playing in our wake and on our bow wave, then returned to competing with the circling gannets and gulls for their breakfast.

A little later, I wrote in the log "0624 pos. Basking Shark to starb?"

It was too big to be a dolphin, and solitary, but arced through the waves like a dolphin so I didn't really think it was a shark. I've not seen one (yet) and whilst I know they're about in these waters, I imagine they bask, as the name implies, and don't broach.

Although large, it was too small to be a humpback, and had a definite, crescent dorsal fin, although again, whilst it had the same curve and elegance, it seemed in wrong proportion, too small and too far back to be a dolphin's fin.

Nattering with Amanda about it whilst later racing the Albacore last Wednesday evening, she, who knows about these things much better than I, suggested it could've been a minke whale. Looking up some photos on Google, I think she might be right. I didn't get a photo, it was a hundred yards or more distant, and broached only twice, so the moment was brief and unconfirmed, but the thought that it could've been a whale does make me smile. 

And reminds me that it's a wonderful, enchanting wilderness out there. Sure, it'll break you or kill you if you don't give it due respect, and yes it absolutely scares me, some times more than others but the caution is always there. But it is always a privilege to be a part of it, for however transitory a moment.

That's enough of my waxing lyrical. Sorry, but cetaceans will do that to a fellow.

0800: 088° 5.5kn 14.1nm, wind 13.5kn N

0915: Passed close to a Dutch frigate outbound from Plymouth and rounding Rame Head, winds whilst passing headland close on port bow and pushing past 18kn. Hands very full managing the boat.

It always seems to all happen at the same time. Approaching Rame Head, we watched a warship emerging from Plymouth, passing Penlee Point and heading out to sea. And then she turned, pointing directly at us. For a moment, we were dead on to each other, then she adjusted her course a few points to port and it we could see that, if we held ours, we'd be comfortably clear.

At the same time the wind began to build and veer, and we found ourselves close hauled on port and heeled to 25° or so, the boat trying to round up towards the rocks of the headland as I tried to eased our course down with the header to stay on the wind, conscious I couldn't bear away much without crossing into the path of the warship.

It always feels, in the moment, more dramatic and compressed than it actually is. I eased the main through the worst of the gusts, which stopped Petrella from trying so hard to round up towards the headland, but kept us straight on our course as the Dutch frigate passed under our lee with about a cable's length or two to spare.

041° 3.0kn 19.4nm; Cawsands on port.  Close hauled on port, foul tide.

The eased wind but gave us a lift, backing significantly as we passed Penlee Point, letting us just lay the lighthouse on the western end of the breakwater. Close hauled in light wind and against a foul ebb tide, we were making progressively less way as we closed on the western entrance. We had a couple of close shaves with some perilously placed and very poorly marked lobster pots but, more through luck than judgement, didn't snag any.

0920: Engine on, genoa away, motor sailed the last short stretch into the Sound, dropped main in the shelter of the Sound.

1013: Alongside QAB

Putting into our berth went without significant mishap. Our neighbour was still absent, so we had plenty of room, but in some ways I think that makes it harder, as I had fewer points of reference to aim for. I came in wide again, leaving the final turn a fraction too late, the wind blowing us off our finger pontoon.

A bit of jockeying with the throttle ahead and astern corrected our line however, and I got the midships spring onto the end cleat a fraction of a moment ahead of Dad lassoing the forward cleat from where he stood ready at the bow.

22.7nm covered over 4 hours 58 minutes underway, engine time 1 hour 23 minutes.

Sunday 12 May 2024

Pancho & Lefty (Townes Van Zandt)

Always loved the tune to this song. Sun was balmy and warm in the back garden, and the promised thunder storm slow arriving. So spent a very pleasant hour or two out there (I suspect) annoying the neighbours whilst learning it.


Conscious I still have a post in draft that I haven't posted yet. Sailed to Fowey and back with Dad last weekend. Was a good passage, if a little cold and wet at times.

But meanwhile, had my first cuddle with a grandson yesterday (Harry; Charlie had to make do with his Nan) and had a lovely sail with the Laser today, a 1st and a(n annoyingly) 4th place with the Laser.

Thinking I might head back down the Petrella for next Sunday, if the weather's kind.

(my daughter took the above photo)

Thursday 2 May 2024

FOSSC: ghosting

I didn't sail this weekend. I'd planned to race my Laser at South Cerney, but Saturday night's gig was a late one so, to my shame, apathy leading to a general reluctance to get out of bed on time Sunday morning defeated me. The unseasonably cold forecast of around 6°c for the day possibly also had something to do with it.

As did the fact that my wife, usually, had the Sunday off work. So, when I eventually got up, I took Nikki out to lunch in town instead. 

Her dad, Harry, turned 80 on Saturday. Of course, I had a gig Saturday evening, so the party was deferred until Sunday afternoon when the kids joined us, and we we took him and Nik's mum Lil over to my brother-in-law's house in Stroud for what was, essentially, a tea party. Albeit an alcoholic one for those of us who were not the designated drivers.

It was a lovely evening.

This Wednesday, I took a (literal) rain-check with Amanda and skipped racing with her at South Cerney, and instead revisited my old club at Frampton-on-Severn to catch up with some old friends and crew for my mate Geoff in his Enterprise "Ghost".

The weed is beginning to make its presence known, but hasn't yet reached the surface, so the whole of the lake was still available to race on. Very light conditions coupled with persistent rain drawing in for the evening supressed enthusiasm amongst the general Wednesday evening fleet, but seven boats were still there on the start line.

We made a good start, taking advantage of the very port biased line, and made it to the windward mark first. A little confusion over port and starboard led to us almost rounding it the wrong way, but Geoff recovered well with a quick gybe that brought us back around to the right side and put everything right.

We then maintained our lead for the rest of the race until the penultimate leg of the last lap, when Mike snuck past us on the downwind leg in his Laser. But we clawed it back on the final beat, finishing both first on the water and after handicap, giving Geoff and Ghost a good win for their first race of the season.

It was a good evening's racing. It probably rained throughout, but if so I didn't notice. It's certainly warmed up a bit since the weekend.

I'm hoping to get down to Plymouth with Dad at some point this coming weekend, hopefully to sail, though that will be dependent upon both the weather and family situation.

My daughter and the babies are doing okay. There was some distress across the weekend with Charlie, who has developed colitis, which led to the possibility of moving him down to Bristol for surgery, but that's receded now and he appears to be stable again, albeit on an intravenous diet of various blended drugs and antibiotics to nurse him along.

His brother Harry is now doing very well, to the point that he's even taking some of his feed from the bottle now, and there's talk of liberating him from the incubator to a cot within the next couple of days.

For now, of course, they remain at the hospital's neo natal unit, but their mum is able to stay with them.

Friday 26 April 2024

SCSC: hotdogs & trophy races

I had my first swim of the year last Sunday. It was a trophy race at South Cerney, so four races in total, two back to back in the morning followed by two back to back in the afternoon. The forecast was for around 10 to 15 knots across the day, but gusty. A partially cloudy day, with a bit of sun breaking through, the temperature was around 10°c but the northerly wind was decidedly chill.

I chose to sail the Laser's standard rig. 

The first capsize came in race 2. I rounded the leeward mark, and hardened up just as a big gust slammed through. Before I could react to spill the wind, the boom had hit the water. It was a painfully gradual affair, but, hiked out as hard as I could be at the start of proceedings, it was easy to roll over the gunwale and straight onto the dagger-board, and so stayed dry and recovered quite quickly. 

Not without losing about five places though, as the rest of the fleet sailed past.

The second capsize, later that day came in race 4, and was a much wetter affair. Rounding the same mark  as before and hardening up onto the beat all seemed to be going well. Tack to starboard to get out into the clearer air away from the shore, a header, tacked back to port. A gust, hike out hard. 

And the wind simply stopped.

Taken somewhat by surprise I was a little slow to pull my weight back in, so the boat toppled back on top of me. Knowing we were past the point of no return I slid out into the water, then tried to kick my way back aboard, putting as little weight onto the boat as possible, but over she came.

It was as gradual and as inevitable a capsize as the previous one, but this time I was left to ignominiously swim around the aft of the toppled craft and pull myself up out of the water and onto the dagger-board to right her.

If there was any consolation, it was that the water was probably warmed that the wind-chill.

Wednesday evening's Hotdog was a much more civilised affair. Amanda and I raced the Albacore. Despite the light conditions of the evening, northerly at 5 knots, it was a very good turnout, with a fleet of 26 boats on the start-line. 

A downwind start, we managed it beautifully, albeit not over the line too soon only by the skin of our teeth and more luck than judgement. We cleared the first mark easily ahead of everybody else, but three downwind legs followed by a very starboard biased single beat back through the following fleet to windward meant that everybody else sat on our wind for three quarters of the course meant that we couldn't escape the lighter, smaller boats, so finished 7th after handicap.

Still, it was a lovely evening in good company. And we cleanly beat all my friends in the Laser fleet, and most of the Solos.

On the home-front, Tash was discharged from hospital on Wednesday, whilst the twins still have a few weeks to go. She came home for a few hours, but they found her a room in the neo-natal unit that's looking after the boys, so she was able to move straight back to them and will be able to stay until they're ready to come home too.

They've had a very rough couple of days, both not keeping their food down and both losing a little weight, along with jaundice and concerns about their potassium levels that the doctors seem unable to explain but are working to address. They're in the best place, being well looked after, and their mum is with them.

Saturday 20 April 2024


I met my grandchildren today. Briefly, and only through the Perspex of their respective incubators as they slept. I understand they're both doing well, both growing; Charlie now 3lbs 11oz, his brother Harry 3lbs 9oz. Their mum is feeling understandably beat up, but whilst she might not believe it, I can see in her face that she's healing more as each day passes. 

I have to confess, I found myself surprised at quite how small they actually are. I shouldn't have been, but there you go. In the photos Nik and Tash had shared with me that, until today, had been my only acquaintance with them, they both seemed somehow bigger.

Thursday 18 April 2024

Charlie & Harry (b. Thursday 18/04/2024)

Meet the new crew. Arrived little earlier than expected, but mum and babies all doing well. Seems I'm now a grandad. I am, admittedly, biased, but I think they're both adorable.

Monday 15 April 2024

Petrella: around the Breakwater

Took a day trip down to Plymouth with Dad on Sunday. Forecast for the morning anticipated cloudy but dry, wind in the west, light in the morning but building to around 18 knots by late afternoon.

After an early start, we arrived at the boat for 0945. The wind had started to pick up by the time we got the cockpit tent down and stowed, the engine started and all the lines shortened ready to leave. The shelter of the cockpit tent is a wonderful luxury to have, but taking it down and putting it back up again does suck up time at the beginning and end of the day. We're getting quicker, but it was still 1125 before we were set and ready to cast off.

The close manoeuvring involved in leaving or returning to our berth is still proving to be a bit of a challenge. Leaving was helped by the fact that our neighbour's berth to starboard was empty, giving me plenty of room to swing as I reversed out, but it still took three or four attempts of shuffling backwards and forwards before I got Petrella lined up to reverse down of the aisle and into open water.

The prop walk to port when she goes astern is only slight, but it seems to take quite a bit of water to be running over the rudder before it bites enough to provide any steerage. Out into the Sound, we headed over to Jennycliff Bay where we practiced for half an hour under power, manoeuvring around a yellow buoy that we used as a reference point, experimenting with how she turned and how much room was needed both forward and astern. It helped. But it's still going to be a while before I'm completely confident with this.

Practice over, we left the shelter of the bay, put the sails up, stilled the engine, and spent the next couple of hours enjoying the weather and 10 to 12 knots of nice, steady wind. We beat over towards the western shore before tacking and laying the eastern entrance. Out into the open sea, we held our course until we neared the Shag Stone, before tacking again to round the outside of the Breakwater and lay the western entrance.

Back into the Sound, we ran downwind towards Drake Island, the wind shifting as we headed further into the Sound to lift us nicely up onto a course back to QAB. Finally, approaching Jennycliff once again, we rolled the genoa away, started the engine and turned into wind to drop the main. Fenders out and lines set, we headed back to QAB.

Our neighbour's berth was still empty when we arrived back at the marina. Dad stood ready with the bow line, whilst I nursed her in, aiming to drop the midships spring onto the end cleat of the finger pontoon. I initially misjudged the effect of the crosswind and came in too wide to reach, with the wind blowing us off the finger. Dad judiciously held off throwing his line, so I reversed back out and made another approach. 

Still too wide for me to reach the end cleat of the finger, but Dad managed to lasso the far horn of the front cleat with his line. 36' is a long distance to communicate over however, and clearly pleased with his throw, he then held the line rather than securing it to Petrella's bow cleat. 36' of boat is a lot of weight to hold in your hands, so although the line served to stop the bow blowing back off, I couldn't motor astern against it. I should add, all this wasn't Dad's fault, but the fault of a crummy briefing from his skipper. This was his first time on the bow line in a very long time.

In any case, I nudged her astern just enough for the prop walk to bite then took the way straight off with a gentle nudge ahead. I did this a few times, slowly edging her stern back in. Meanwhile a kind gentleman off a neighbouring boat came over to get Dad's line fully onto the pontoon cleat. Before the gentleman was able to take my stern line I'd already walked the stern of the boat back in enough to get the midship's spring hooked over the end cleat, and we were back home and safe.

So leaving and returning were far from textbook perfect, but we achieved both without any undue panic, and without hitting anyone or anything in the process of doing so. And we had a lovely couple of hours sailing out and around the Breakwater. My ambition is to get my boat handling competent enough to be confident of handling her in and out on my own if needs be. We've still got a way to go with that, but for now I was happy with the day's work.

9.2 nautical miles covered over 2 hours and 40 minutes underway, 1 hour and 16 minutes of that under power (funny enough, 38 minutes to get out, play on engine then put the sails up, and 38 minutes to drop sail, set lines and fenders and come back in).