Waiting, waiting

We’re in Falmouth and the big news is that the genoa furler broke last Sunday.  Whenever we tack, we need to partially furl the genoa since it needs to pass between the forestay and the staysail to go over to the new leeward side.  On Sunday, on our way from Dartmouth to Salcombe, the furler started working very slowly and then completely stopped.  We checked the fuse, we checked for halyards wrapped around the forestay – neither was the issue.  So for the first time since I have had the boat, I used a winch handle to furl the sail up manually.  It’s a long job – 22 turns with the handle for one roll around the forestay!  After we arrived in Salcombe, we checked all the electrical connections, the relais for the furler, all seemed ok.  The next day, I called Reckmann, the manufacturer, and was told the furling motor was likely defective and one should have a spare.  Well, that’s one spare I DON’T have on Kincsem so now we’re waiting for a replacement motor, and a spare, to be delivered by UPS.  So far, three expected delivery dates they have given have passed without the package arriving.  This morning I had the good sense to call UPS and was told that they were waiting for clearance instructions from me.  Unfortunately, the email they had used to notify me was wrong because they copied the (correct) email on the shipping papers wrong.  They obviously also ignored the bounce back of the email.  That’s why you pay E210 for the overnight delivery! 


Well, we’re not only waiting for the furling motor, we’re also waiting for the weather.  As I’m writing this, we’re sitting at a mooring in Falmouth harbor awaiting the arrival of 45 knot gusts this evening.  Once this little intense low has passed, there will be 2-3 days of SW winds – directly from where we want to go.  Only late Monday or Tuesday will the winds turn favorable for our run down to Madera and the Canary Islands.   So we’re waiting and keeping ourselves occupied with boat tasks. 


Falmouth is a nice little town centered around the huge natural harbor which has 600 boats on moorings.  Some moorings have names – ours is called Cutty Sark! 


The sail from Portsmouth to Falmouth was quite pleasant and again we did not have to go upwind as much as we had feared – still, the log book shows 22 tacks over the 8 days of sailing.  After a boisterous sail – upwind - across the Solent, our first stop was Cowes, the sailing center of the South Coast.  It is actually a very small town with not a lot of room for boats at all.  But then there are several iconic places to see first hand:  Beken of Cowes, the famous yachting photographer, the clubhouse of the Royal Ocean Racing Club which organizes races like the Fastnet.  It looks a bit run down unfortunately and was closed.

Cowes highlights

RORC office

Royal London YC

And then there is the Royal Yacht Squadron, the second oldest yacht club in Britain.  It’s history is closely linked with the Royal family and the club is probably the most exclusive in Britain.  Thanks to my membership at the St Francis YC in San Francisco, we had the opportunity to visit the club and has an extensive tour of the facilities as well as the obligatory gin and tonics. Quite the experience! 




At the Royal Yacht Squadron


Getting out of the Solent was a bit difficult with adverse tides and no wind.  But at least the sun was shining! 

Passing the Needles

Our next stop was Poole, a large natural harbor which is very shallow.  To get into the harbor one has to pass a “chain ferry” – a ferry that pulls itself along its path by a chain running from one shore to the other.  The handbook warned that each year, several boats would misjudge the ferry which cannot take avoiding action and collide with it, with the result that the boat would be drawn under, break up and come up in bits and pieces on the other side!  We managed to avoid that fate.  Our plan was to anchor in one of the creeks on the South side of the harbor but  caution was clearly needed since the two electronic charts I have on board showed dramatically different depth.  We had had a similar experience in Stangate creek in the Thames estuary and in Harwich where it looked like the C-Map charts were showing consistently pretty much exactly 3 meters less depth than the Navionics charts where we had wanted to anchor.  It turned out that Navionics was correct in those places but in Poole, the opposite was true:  there was no way we could get to the anchorages describe in the handbook and shown as deep enough on Navionics but too shallow on C-Map.  So we anchored just outside the main channel opposite some large modern houses which my resident British friend Ben said was some of the most expensive real estate in Britain.   Nonetheless, a good night and time was had by all!   


Poole anchorage where Sous-chef Achim prepared an elaborate dinner under the close supervision of Chef Christoph! 

The next day we were headed for Weymouth, one of the many summer resort towns on the South Coast.  We couldn’t believe our luck as we were sailing downwind for much of the day, in brilliant sunshine and with Code Zero and genoa wing to wing.  So calm were the seas that no poles were needed!  Ben was stretched out on the aft deck donning nothing but swimming trunks most of the day! 


Weymouth harbor is quite picturesque but our berth was right next to a carousel and a wheel of fortune, both going strong and loud as we arrived.  Luckily, the weather deteriorated quickly in the evening and we had a quiet night. 


Weymouth is right North of Portland Bill, an iconic lighthouse and cape in the English channel, which we rounded the next day.  It is well known for its overfalls and although we had barely 20 knots of wind, Kincsem struggled a bit going upwind in the wind against tide conditions.  She, like most modern boats, doesn’t like waves that are as high as long!  After an overnight anchorage near Brixham, there were three brave souls on board who took a swim off the stern of Kincsem – the first such swim by anyone in many years.  I was on high alert to treat the threatened hypothermia but luckily, did not have to jump into action.

Exhaustion has set in from the swim.  Or was it the liquid evening last night?


After another beautiful upwind sail in real sunshine, we reached Dartmouth on the river Dart.  Dartmouth is an attractive town with a castle at the entrance to the harbor as you come into the river.  As good tourists, we took the long walk out to the castle and admired the many cannons well arranged to sink income enemy ships (mostly French).  There was even a chain run from the other side of the river to the castly which could be tensioned at the castle end to block incoming traffic.  Luckily, the chain is no more and there is no chain ferry.  Here, the ferry from the Kingstown side where our marina was to Dartmouth was towed by small tugs which were connected to the ferries’ side by an ingenious system of lines.  As the ferries beach on both sides of the river to let cars pass on and off, they cannot have a propeller without turning each time they go from one side of the river to the other.  The tugs avoid that by problem by pivoting their stern from one side to the other as they are pushing the ferry in one or the other direction.

Approaching Dartmouth

On the Castle

Off to Salcombe

Our next stop was Salcombe, another attractive tourist town on a charming river.   To get there, we had to round Start Point, another iconic place in the English channel.  The Salcombe river runs quite hard and it was a bit tricky to get Kincsem tied to a mooring ball in the strong flood current.   For that to happen, we somehow have to thread a thick mooring line through a steel ring on the buoy a meter or so below the bow. We use the mooring tool I purchased on the Duesseldorf boat show many years ago once or twice every few years and it’s quite complicated to use!  After that experience, however, we took action:  Ben demonstrated the proper use of the tool on video, which future crews will be able to consult!  Here in Falmouth Ben put the tool to good use and managed to thread our big lines through the massive ring of the Cutty Sark mooring!

Ship got stuck in this house?

First Impressions of Falmouth


Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published