Goodbye Weymouth, hello Salcombe

27.04.2015: Farewell Weymouth … Hello Salcombe


Good morning Weymouth and Farewell

Weymouth had one more gift for my niece, her fiancé and I that morning – a pair of harbour porpoises came and spent the morning cavorting in tandem close to A-Jay, courting perhaps.  A wonderful sight that had the quayside crowded 3 deep for hours.  That evening Sam and Sarah arrived and joined me for a lovely dinner at ‘No. 4’ on the quayside.

Skipper’s Log 27th April 2015….

Outline Plan; ETD 0400, to Salcombe, West close round East Shambles, then 252°, check state of Salcombe Bar, anchor above the Bag, alone ….

Reveille was a cold, grumpy cheerless affair.  A-Jay clung to the pontoon, as if unwilling to leave, pressed by the chill wind, so half asleep I decided to reverse against a stern warp to swing the bows out before casting off and yelling at Yanni to get going … fast; thus we cleared the plump, plastic rump of the sleeping boat ahead by 2 feet, a manoeuvre perched on the precipice of disaster throughout, though I felt Lady Luck had deigned to visit; to witness boldness, or to gently nudge our bows? Whichever, we made it and I swigged hot, strong coffee in celebration as we puttered past Condor, lights ablaze, generators humming.

My little team barrelled round East Shambles in the darkness at 7 knots and swept through the rose hued dawn and out into the sky blue morning beyond … where the flirty wind all but deserted us.  Solent Coastguard cheerfully informed us of good sailing winds but we could find little more than 5 knots of it. Someone else must have had the rest of it. Time to dig out my 900 page biography of Beethoven and get Harry the autopilot organised.

West Shambles off Portland

West Shambles off Portland 

There was a sad moment, when a small, exhausted bird landed and clung to a guard-wire.  Frightened and exhausted, he eyed me nervously and decided certain death was a better option than staying and took off, zig zagging ever lower for the shore many miles away.

Riding the tide Westwards at a sedate 5 ½ knots we could see the broad loom of Lyme Bay to the North and later, Berry Head became visible to the eye and radar at 24 nautical miles.  Expecting more challenging conditions, I had prepared a commodious nose bag to graze on …


Hot baked beans and sausages

Read and butter

Tea and coffee

Ginger Nuts


Tensies, Elevenses …

E.g. Home-made flapjack (huge) topped with Belgian chocolate, Ginger Nuts




Bread and butter




Ginger Nuts



Coca Cola & water


Ginger Nuts



Supper (on arrival)

Chicken Tikka Masala

Pilau rice

NO Ginger Nuts

Those that know me will be aware that I enjoy the occasional lunch or dinner with friends or family, but I must add that the intake of food – calories – and liquid are both a pleasure and necessity on a lengthy passage for it helps maintain strength, warmth and concentration and thus morale, vital when already tired.

As the afternoon arrived, Solent Coastguard’s earlier prophecy proved correct and a tetchy contrary wind duly arrived, positioning itself comfortably on our nose like a scratchy pince nez.  Sometimes I set off in “point and go mode”, when covering distance to make an RV is primary and sailing secondary  –  this was, I felt, such an occasion.  So Yanni droned on, Harry wheezed away and Smiley slept as we motor-sailed straight at the tetchy wind, which swirled and danced at 27 knots, as we rounded Start Point.

Start Point

Start Point

My lovely cousin Sarah is a Coast Watch volunteer and helps man the Prawle Point post; she suggested I call ‘Prawle Point NCI’ on VHF 65, which I did to check the conditions on the Salcombe Bar and they reported the Bar was in a calm mood.  What a great service these volunteers provide.

As we motored slowly towards the estuary entrance packing sails and preparing warps, fenders, and anchor – just in case – Gannets dive-bombed explosively all around the boat, an amazing sight.  For a split second I panicked at the thought that the remains of my nose back might have escaped, but no, they had better fish to fry.

Anchored opposite Frogmore Creek (Salcombe)

Anchored opposite Frogmore Creek (Salcombe)

We dropped the hook 3.5 metres down into the primordial ooze, a cable West of Salt Stone Beacon, in grumpy solitary splendour far from the ‘madding crowd’, watched only by several still, sentinel Cormorants.  We’d managed 65 miles in around 12 hours from sails up to sails down.  Time for a glass of hair restorer…..

Sunset light glints on salted steel

Dan-buoy flag flirts with evening breeze

Normandy cross on red, proud symbol

Of home port and life left far behind


Viewed across restless darkening waves

Whale backed mudflat, brown and with some green

Home perch for black, still, sentinel Shags

Eyed by sulking, puff chested gulls


This is Salcombe, by Salt Stone Beacon

A-Jay floats, tied to primordial ooze

Restless, stirred gently by wind and tide

And skipper’s glass is raised to the World.”

Pleasant days with runs ashore to see cousin Sarah and her husband Roger and lunch with Auntie, 89 ¾ and Uncle one month younger than Prince Phillip.  The Harbour Master visited and politely relieved me of 90p per metre per night as Billy the Cormorant watched from atop an orange buoy, lazily unfurling his wings for a shower.  Billy the Cormorant folded his wings in salute as we puttered past in the dinghy, ramrod straight, chest out tummy in, true Guardsman style.  A grey heron greeted us later as we turned past Snape for the harbour…wonderful.

I have never been up ‘river’ in heavy weather, so it was a revelation to witness high winds and rain but calm water that barely ruffled A-Jay’s feathers ….  an almost eerie experience for a salty old dog.

We’ll bid farewell to my feathered friends and this delicious landscape tomorrow and head for a destination yet to be decided, but Westwards, always Westwards until Land’s End.

Toot toot

P.S. Still no sign of Ari the Arachnid – guess he must have jumped ship.



By ajay290

Life in Port ….

It really is time to leave Weymouth … weed is taking root on the waterline, the ship’s stores have taken a bashing in port and hair-restorer levels alarming.  Mind you, it IS tempting to hang out the window boxes and become an eccentric permanent fixture of the Weymouth quay-side as it really is such a nice place.  Radio Wessex has been my constant companion and I have successfully “guessed the year” twice these last 2 days, another indicator that I am almost a local.

The other thing that makes departure a necessity is that I have been hanging out with a faceless, nameless BT Hub and to say we haven’t got on would be an understatement …. he, or perhaps she lures me in and then drops me just as I get going.  I can entirely empathise with the American who, in a rage, took his laptop into a blind alley and shot it 8 times – he was done for unnecessary discharge (of a firearm).

The other aspect of being in port for a while, I have discovered, is that stuff gets EVERYWHERE and I mean EVERYWHERE.  I will not attach a photograph of the current state of my little home … I can’t find the camera anyway.  I only have a small sink, so washing up really does create a mountain.  The starboard side seat has long since been buried beneath stuff and I am confined to a small corner port side, surrounded by stuff, as I tap way.  My sleeping area has become a hovel into which I have to burrow.  I really must soon return to the discipline of being on passage … iron rations, little sleep and everything in its place.

I have a neighbour, about whom I am worried.  He arrived in a boat that sported Verdigris on various of its parts and a rusty screwdriver was jammed into the anchor winch.  Ropes were generally short of a strand or three and if it was a car, I guess it would be a MOT failure.  He popped over for a nervous chat and bemoaned the lack of a crew who had, it seemed deserted him.  How was he going to get to Brixham, 50 leagues hence, on his own?  How was he going to raise his sails, on his own? Did I have such problems?

No, I said as I didn’t have any crew … oh, says he, where had I sailed from – Poole?  No, Guernsey I said truthfully … Ahhh!  He said wandering off, muttering to himself ….. I was genuinely relieved to see a sailmaker arrive later to remove his sails, presumably for repair, and several people, none of whom appeared to have seen a boat before, arrived in the afternoon – so presumably he now does have a crew of sorts.

My mission is to make Salcombe to see my lovely cousin Sarah and husband Roger (also lovely).  This involves a trip across Lyme Bay, no big deal but don’t think Vazon or Cobo; think Channel for this is about 65 nautical miles minimum, depending on the whims of the weather Gods and whether the Skipper gets things right.  I plan to push on up river to moor in the ‘Bag’, close to Kingsbridge where Sarah resides.  In terms of journey time, 12 hours would be a sensible budget, with the expectation of a few more if things don’t go to plan, which they often don’t.  If they don’t, I could always return to Weymouth and take root …… I suspect I might pass my neighbour going in either direction, even though he plans to set out the day before.

Weather forecast is currently for NW F4/5 on Monday, which is great but it is a shame it couldn’t be pushing me, rather than fighting me.

Right now I am trying to persuade Mallam’s Restaurant, 50 yards hence, that they do have a table for the kids and I tomorrow evening.

Toot toot!!

By ajay290

Weymouth Town

A-JAY Guestbook 18/04/15 – 26/04/15

DATE                         VISITOR                                                                       NOTES

18/04/2015              Annie Shilston                                                              Drove 2 hours to visit!  Wow!!

18/04/2015              Martin Shilston                                                             Special people 🙂

18/04/2015              Bud (Budweiser Shilston)                                           The dog

20/04/2015              Caroline Ford                                                              Lovely Sister

21/04/2015              Trevor Batcheldor                                                        Builder of the most outrageous AC Cobra, heard long                                                                                                                      before seen!  All round good egg….photo to follow 🙂

22/04/2015              Caroline Ford                                                               To meet Glenn Ford and see new house

23/04/2015              Ed Ford                                                                         Royal Marine Commando – nephew (TBC but sadly                                                                                                                         unlikely)

23/04/2015              Betty Ford                                                                     Gorgeous – niece (visit TBC) plus fiancee Phil

25&26/04/2015        Sarah Willis                                                                   Brilliant and gorgeous – daughter

Sam Willis                                                                     Not bad either – son!! 🙂

To all my visitors I say a huge heartfelt thank you!!!!!!!!!

I have calculated that if I tarry so long at every stop a}. the budget will blown and b). I won’t be back before the end of 2016, so really must start that passage plan for the journey Westwards!

Nevertheless, Weymouth is a great place, with real character – fish & chip shops, cafes, bars, boats, craft shops, entertainment, estate agents, solicitors and real people – a bit of everything and it’s pretty too.  I am getting used to popping outside in the morning and finding little legs dangling over the quay-side, children’s eyes fiercely focused on a fishing line, willing Mr. Crab on to the lure, oblivious of anyone or anything else.

You have to keep an eye on ‘elf & safety’ in Weymouth though, or you’ll be flattened by a mobility scooter, some of which look very racy …. Talking of racy, when Trevor and I arrived at the pub in THAT car, the entire bar staff came out into the car park to see what was going on as an AC Cobra doesn’t just arrive, it ARRIVES!!  I suspect we were a disappointment, but the car got the expected accolades.  Me? I felt like Biggles must have felt landing after an heroic sortie …. and the steak and kidney puddings were special…great day!


Housekeeping slipping a bit!


Something always happening here….


The Oberststurmbannfuhrer’s Orifice…


No need to walk anywhere in Weymouth….


View from the Poop Deck


A quick sketch in words of lovely Weymouth Quay  …..

Weymouth Quay 

“Harbour mouth, CONDOR squats, wings folded

Protector of the the old listing barque 

Orange lifeboat, still guardian knight

Brings real comfort to sailors passing


Cove Quay in the bend a bit beyond

Faces the Harbour Master’s Office

From whose view and the visitor dues

No boat skipper can escape for long


Stone and brick, dormer views, lichen roofs

Line the quay, lead to the lifting bridge

Past the eyebrow window-ed yacht club

The spans lift at 8, 10, 12, and 2


Allow yachts to move whither bound

Past the fishing boats and whizzy RIBs

Journey’s end or just the beginning

A wonderful place to rest awhile


The George, Ship, Royal Oak, Rendezvous

Quay side stand, magnet for the thirsty

Pavement table, cool wine or smooth pint

Slake the thirst and watch the World go by


Weekends bring visitors to the Quay

Precious time, so short, to chill awhile

Little people dangle string in hope

That Mr. Crab will take just their bait


SKY TV, the football match, a beer

Or three, a loud throng from Old Rooms Inn

Jostling amicably with others

Blends the spirit of Weymouth Quay.”

Running repairs required a classic JMW botch-job or two, a mix of epoxy, brute force and string, a combination I am quite good at.  We’ll see how the  main-sail stack pack and autopilot fitting respond to such treatment, as we head West, bound for Salcombe next week.

Right now the sun is shining and there is exactly 0.1 metre of water beneath our keels.

Toot toot for now …..

Skipper tries a selfie....

I think this is called a ‘selfie’….

By ajay290

Round Britain Slowly.  Time to Go…


Ms. Goldfrapp of whom I am a new and ardent fan, is keeping me company tonight on the stereo, as I sit in my cosy little cabin to write this, the first front-line ‘blogspatch’ of my round Britain trip.

In life I find there is rarely a best time to go or indeed to do, but often there is a better time to go or do, so 17th April 2015 was, for me, that better time to go and do.  Farewells said, my team and I slipped slowly between the ghostly pier-heads at ‘o-sparrow-fart’ on 17th April and out into a cold grey dawn.  I left Smiley in bed as this was going to be a bouncy motor-sail straight into a keen wind, destination Weymouth – one for Harry the Autopilot, Yanny the Yanmar and me, there being no sign of Ari the Arachnid, a stowaway discovered during our previous trip.  Maybe he had a sixth sense about what was to come and jumped ship.  I did wonder if spider’s get sea sick – with 8 horizons to control probably yes.

How different things are alone in the cold dark!  It always surprises me and for a moment I was disorientated and it took a little while to identify flashing navigation lights and unfamiliar shapes.  Anyway, we eventually got our act together and headed out down the Little Russel and past the Platte Fougere Lighthouse bound for a close rendezvous with the wicked Casquets, with their long history of shipwrecks, as the good burghers of Guernsey slept soundly in their beds, dreaming not of shipwrecks or cold, dark dawns.

We marched into an irritable sea driven by a North East wind blowing from 25 to 28 knots, as dawn broke and the Casquets loomed to starboard.  Rounding close to the West of them, we turned to head out into the shipping lanes, the crossing of which I always think, is a little like pushing a three wheeled pram across a motorway, except today someone was also spraying us with a hose.  The wind touched 30 knots mid Channel, which made me wonder whether I was being an idiot, but A-Jay and the team seemed unperturbed so I took courage – after all to turn round would be little better and to run before the elements to say, Brixham to the West, would have meant many more hours at sea.

We held our course perpendicular to the shipping lanes, one eye on the radar screen in return for which we were left alone by the lumbering giants ploughing up and down the Channel, for they knew better how to avoid me than I them.  It was a long journey so I set up a routine of munching, drinking (coffee and water), snoozing in the cockpit for a few minutes at a time, writing up the log and marking up the chart.  Normally I also read, but it wasn’t long before my copy of Motor Cycling News disintegrated in the salty wetness …..

Gradually my waxed pencil smudges crept slowly across the chart until Portland Bill, with its wicked race where ships have disappeared without trace, flanked to the East by the evil Shambles, came into view, a great moment and none too soon, for frankly I was fed up with being bashed around.  The wind eased from Force 6 or 7 as we closed the coast and it was a pleasure to tie up alongside Cove Quay, less than 12 hours after leaving Guernsey.  OK, I know, the Condor Express ferry can do it in 2 ½ hours!

Time, I thought, for my reward – a well-deserved glass of hair-restorer, in the form of a wonderful 2008 Rioja, the gift of a dear friend who shall remain nameless.

In retrospect if I was to do a cold, rational analysis of the logic of making such a crossing in a small boat, in those moderately challenging conditions, I could only conclude that it is not something many unfit old boys would want to do.  But for me, the elation of doing it, even though that elation accounted for a tiny fraction of the experience, was enough.  And it has got me to the start line for THE VOYAGE!

Time to rest …

Sleep for me, either friend or mocking foe

Which he will be, I never know

From night to night whether dark or light

If mocking foe, I cannot smite


Lying still upon my back, arms out straight

Breathe deep, erasing thoughts till late

But mocking foe usurps my welcome friend

Sadly now a regular trend


Action thoughts bring worries too, like dark wraiths

Oft real enough to test my faith

Now lying on my side I watch those sheep

Or count to ten to help me sleep


Sleep like smoky wisps seeping through my brain

Stills my mind, takes me down again

To depths where dragons roam and seagulls fly

And the moon looks down as I lie


Soon comes the dawn with cockerels crowing

And with the light comes wind blowing

From the North gives chill to the new day

With no sleep I’ll cope as I may…..”

That night, he was a friend.

Weymouth is a lovely spot to tarry a while, particularly if friends and loved ones are due to visit you, as was the case for me….mind you, it is here that I also re-discovered how useless I am at packing.  Having triumphantly and hastily stuffed my clothes into water proof vacuum-seal bags, I found I had no idea of a). what was in each bag and b). where I had stowed the wretched bags.  It took 20 minutes to find a fresh pair of pants which were lurking up in the forepeak locker.  Maybe I’ll repack – but then again, maybe I won’t.

By ajay290