Ahead of us was a chilly two day sail south through the Irish Sea so we made sure we had our winter woollies on. Our destination: Falmouth.
As we navigated through St George’s Channel and the Bristol Channel we made sure to use the current to our advantage, staying clear of the inshore eddies, counter-eddies, turbulent tidal races and overfalls. Fortunately we had neap tides so the currents were never stronger than 2kn.
After 260nm and two nights at sea, we arrived at the historic port of Falmouth. Rather than stay at the marina, we opted to stay on a mooring as the weather was forecast to be okay during our stay. There are plenty of reasonably priced visitor moorings, so we snagged one, launched the dinghy then checked in with the harbour staff. The shower and laundry facilities are good so we took our time to enjoy extra long hot showers.
Falmouth is in the county of Cornwall. If you like Cornish pasties (which I do), you won’t be disappointed by the number on offer at various bakeries and cafes as you walk along Market Street. Falmouth is a little hilly and it’s an interesting place to walk around. Either along Market Street to poke around the shops, or over the hill through the cemetery to Swanpool then back along the coastal path to Pendennis Castle built during Henry VIII’s reign. Once again we caught up with the crew of Coruisk and we bundled into a hire car so we could visit the impressive Southampton Boat Show. It was great that we managed to get there as I’d always wanted to visit this boat show. They had heaps of stuff for yachties, unlike some of the boat shows in Australia which seem to cater for fishing and power boats.
After a week it was time to continue our trip east. Our next port was Plymouth 40nm away. With noticeably warmer weather than up north (by only a couple of degrees) we enjoyed the afternoon of tacking our way into Plymouth Harbour along with other sailors out for the sunny afternoon. A short motor to our anchorage at Barn Pool Beach, west around from Drake Island, is where we stopped for the night.
The next morning we waited until we could see the channel markers through the dense fog then slowly crept out of the harbour passing a couple of warships on the way out.
Another glorious sailing day on the south coast. Dartmouth, 38nm away, has an easy entrance. There are a few options to anchor or berth the boat. Just before the three deep water floating docks (where we berthed) is a waste barge where you can drop off your rubbish and fill water tanks. There’s also a diesel barge nearby too. Reeds Almanac lists the options.
Once settled in we dinghied across to the pretty town to pay our harbour dues and have some lunch. Across the water we could see the Dartmouth Steam Train puffing its way along the tracks. After a couple of nights at Dartmouth as a blow went over, we sailed out of the harbour passing the Dartmouth Castle onto Portland Harbour 52nm to east. Again we only stayed overnight dropping the anchor in the well protected Portland Harbour.
From Portland we had a 50nm sail to our next destination which took us by the narrow entrance at ‘The Needles’ which leads into The Solent. Fortunately for much of our trip along the south coast the tide is at neaps and we’ve managed to catch the currents also going in the right direction. Entering The Needles at the wrong tide in the wrong conditions can be quite treacherous. But not that day. We sailed our way through the dozens of small craft to drop anchor at a quiet spot off Osbourne Beach on the north coast of the Isle of Wight. The next day we motored our way through the Saturday sailors across the short few miles across The Solent into Gosport – our home for the winter.
Gosport is well positioned to catch trains or buses around the UK (a quick 5 minute ferry ride to Portsmouth then trains to London). The marina is open to the sea so the water stays fresh, unlike some of the locked in harbours. The climate is a little better down here, and the winter berthing rates are far more reasonable than London and other places along the south coast too.
The naval town of Gosport has everything we need all within walking distance – supermarkets, chandlery, cafes, library, bakeries, fish and chips, etc. It’s also a great location to cycle around and easy to take the bikes on the ferry across to Portsmouth or the Isle of Wight.
This whole area, which includes Gosport and Portsmouth, has a proud naval history. Many of the allied vehicles for the D-Day invasion boarded ships from Gosport and there are historic signs around the place with photos and interesting information.
Nearby is the Royal Navy Submarine Museum; across the water is the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, Henry VIII’s flagship the Mary Rose, the HMS Victory, from which Admiral Nelson commanded the victory at Trafalgar plus a whole bunch of other naval things to visit, including the Explosion! Museum of Naval Firepower.
The largest warship ever built for the Royal Navy, HMS Queen Elizabeth, recently arrived and now has its home at Portsmouth. Looks like we’ll be doing some ‘naval gazing’ while we’re here!
So that’s it. The sailing is over for 2017 and we prepare for a long stay through a cold winter. It’s unusual for us to stay in one place for any more than a few weeks so I’m hoping it will be a nice change.
We have plenty to see and do in the UK over winter, but I am also looking forward to spring when Blue Heeler heads back out sailing.
But before I get too settled, I’m taking a quick trip to Melbourne to see my family, leaving Wayne to keep warm and enjoy pies, mushy peas and a few weeks of peace and quiet!
If you’re in the area, do drop by! Until then…