The Westcountry Cruise 
based at  Mosquito Sailing Club, Torpoint, Cornwall
24th- 26th May 2014.

 

 

Photo above Janet Byrde

Photos below Jack Mann & Philip Meadowcroft

 

Report by David Davies (W318)

We returned to the Mosquito Sailing Cub this year, perfectly located as it is on the River Tamar and providing great cruising opportunities. Frustrated by inclement weather in 2013, we had high hopes of enjoying the tranquil upper reaches of the River Lyhner as well as undertaking a more challenging coastal cruise to Newton Ferrers on the River Yealm and re-visiting the pretty Cornish seaside villages of Cawsand and Kingsand. After a promising level of initial enquiries, the number actually participating was disappointing this year. However, four Wanderers, our supportive Drascombe and a safety boat set off on the Saturday morning at 11.00am under overcast, drizzly skies towards Drake Island.

We half expected some assistance from the safety boat to get us past Wilderness and Devils Points where the tide was at its fiercest, but with a reasonable breeze from the north west, we all cleared the narrows independently and left Drake Island to starboard. As expected, our flotilla had been joined by Phil Marshall's 19 foot Hunter and we waved cheerily as we departed the Sound by the Eastern Channel with Jack Mann and his crew Ron, setting the pace. We approached the Shag Stone, with the clouds clearing and the seaward horizon shining with the promise of imminent sunshine. Fifteen minutes later, having cleared the Great Mew Stone and the little hermit stone hut on its seaward side in favourable winds, we had every expectation that this would indeed be a most memorable coastal cruise for all the right reasons!  

 

 

Yealm Head greeted us and we tucked inside the river's entrance to find Cellar Bay and the beach where a picnic was to be enjoyed.  After two hours of very favourable wind, we had reached our first landfall. The top of the tide was at 3.00pm, so after lunch it seemed perfect timing to leave the Wanderers on the visitor's pontoon around Misery Point and climb aboard the safety rib and Drascombe for a quick drink at the Ship Inn. The sun was now bathing the picturesque cottages of the adjoining villages of Newton Ferrers and Noss Mayo and as we sat in the shelter of the pub's waterside garden, we had no idea of what was brewing around the corner.  

 

 

 

Making our way back to the pontoon half an hour later, it was clear that conditions had deteriorated. Several yachts had arrived and more seemed to be vying for space. Philip and Jill Meadowcroft bravely took off on their own towards the mouth of the River Yealm, whilst Jill and I more cautiously were rafted alongside the safety boat. Jack had chosen to leave his crew to help the other dinghies, and battled on single handed. In a very short space of time, it was clear to all however that with the wind gusting in excess of twenty knots, there would be no survivable return passage. The sea state in the mouth was 'boisterous', (rather like Nigel Farage's, whose success in the Polls coincided with this happening), and everyone independently turned and ran back into the shelter of the upper reaches.

What to do? Various proposals were made but Philip took the initiative by phoning for two cabs to take the majority back to Torpoint to recover cars and trailers for a Dunkirk type evacuation. There are no short cuts from Noss Mayo to Torpoint with a ferry to negotiate both ways, so it was not until 7.30pm that the exercise was complete and we departed the now muddy Newton Creek, which hours previously had hosted such a convivial relaxed group in the beer garden.    

 

 

Phil Jackson, his wife Kath and daughter Izzy had decided to sail home. Their subsequent e-mail summed up their experience.

'Not a balmy summer sail back from the Yealm. We made it back ok but very wet. Yours was the wise decision- bearing off around the Shagstone was at best exhilarating, at worst quite scary. A couple of big waves broke right over the boat and filled the cockpit. Izzy shared her chocolate pudding with the fish off the Mewstone.'

Dinner at the Club, originally scheduled for 7.45pm had been re-arranged for 9.15pm and boy, was the roast beef and all the trimmings consumed with much gusto, followed by cholesterol enhancing desserts. For most, our beds greeted us sometime after midnight. We had learned to our cost that Windguru's and Met Office forecasts are not always to be relied upon. 

Sunday dawned sunny but the wind speed had decreased little, so having recovered three further boats from Noss Mayo where they had remained overnight, it was decided once again to leave the River Lynher for another day. The alternative plan was to drive to St German's where the quayside and sailing club would provide an ideal picnic spot, which indeed it did as we sat looking across at Brunel's majestic viaduct and the upper reaches of the river. With a couple of hours to spare before the evening's refreshments, we returned to Torpoint via the gardens of Antony House which is managed by the National Trust but is still home to the Carew Pole family. It is described as one of the finest surviving Queen Anne buildings in the West Country and the 'blurb' invites you to breathe in the sweeping views as you explore the landscape garden which includes a formal garden with topiary, modern sculptures and the National Collection of Daylilies. It's certainly an intriguing place and was of course the film location for Alice in Wonderland. With no sign of the Mad Hatter's tea party, we decided to forego our customary cream tea.

Monday morning was a cracker. A light breeze, brilliant sunshine and the promise of another Cawsand cruise. Leaving the Mosquito Sailing Club at low tide, we retraced the passage we had made on Saturday, but with Drake Island behind us, we turned west and sailed parallel to the breakwater past Fort Picklecombe and into Cawsand Bay. Phil Marshall and his family accompanied us again and joined us on the ever diminishing sands of the beach as the tide crept in and our sandwiches similarly disappeared. Not wishing to disappoint, it was agreed that we should re-visit the Orangery at Mount Edgcumbe for our long awaited cream tea. On arrival however, the Bank Holiday crowds had already invaded Plymouth Unitary Authority's offshore estate and demolished the entire stock of scones, so we had to make do with a cup of tea. Alas, we have some making up to do in 2015!

A big thanks to Jack Mann and Andrew Kewell for all their support and hard work in helping to organise and support the weekend and to Ged Kennet and Alice, Ron and Matt from the Mosquito Sailing Club, Phil and Jill Meadowcroft, and Janet & Anthony Byrde in their Drascombe for being such resilient participants.

 

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