Penzance Rumination

Penzance eccentric??  Well, you can have a full size pair of chocolate stilettos in various hues with your coffee at Maria Cia, all made on the premises.   I settled for gooey Portugese  chocolate cake, which the proprietor agreed was zero caleries at weekends.

Back in the dock I realised it was the first time visiting since 2004 that I had managed to connect to the power and water points, though my hose ended 2 boats away.  Still, buckets, agility and a little cussing had Pippin clean and shiny.  I felt it important to face a challenge looking smart – it’s an old Army habit; defeat or victory, always look your best.

As I prepare to again say farewell to delightful Penzance, I am delighted to note that those pesky twins ”Elf & Safety” have yet to reach these parts – you can still boil yourself alive in the showers, same price as 5 years ago.  Mind you, I don’t think the passcode (incuded in the leaflet) has changed since at least 2004, when  the last batch of leaflets was printed.  Judging by the large pile of leaflets in the office, it will be a while until it’s changed I guess.  Debit card machines haven’t reached here either – strictly cash only.

Spreading the charts out on the saloon table and ruminating on the forthcoming passage I spotted my little book ‘Spanish for Cruisers’, bought on the basis that my knowledge of Spanish is zilch.  Being an old soldier, I am good at tactics and have decided that mine will be to flag the phrases required and demonstrate total incompetence, whilst pointing to the requisite phrase with the biggest smile I can muster.  Its bound to work as I know the Spanish to be charming and courteous.  True I won’t have a clue about the reply but body language might give me a hint.  A reserve tactic might then be to solicit the assistance of gorgeous daughter in law Emi, if it’s something really important like where is the restaurant?

The seagulls were in action early this morning, picking over the remains of captain fry ups refuse though not mine, for some reason.  Perhaps my taste is too eclectic for them I thought, wandering off to the Tesco Express for UHT milk and emergency water.  Rosie filled my bags and clearly did not know where Guernsey was – but to be fair to her, she didn’t want to know either.  Penzance was quite enough for her.


Boat checks completed, it was time for a little passage planning.  Compared to the intricacies of tide rips, headlands, narrows and rocks, planning to cross a wide expanse of blank chart is relatively easy, even if the actual doing of it is not.  There also comes a point fairly early into the trip when turning back is not an option.  Looking at the weather forcasts, it seems I might need plenty of diesel – but then one never knows as those in the 1979 Fastnet Race found out.

I shall write no more about that, but will meet you at the other end, wherever that end might turn out to be; I might be tempting fate, but I do feel  lady luck owes me…….


By ajay290

Pippin Heads South Until the Fruit Cake Runs Out

If perhaps the number 4 had brought me a string of bad luck, number 5 ended it, for it was the fifth and final pre departure disaster; it was the death of Pippin’s elderly bow thruster which had vainly given it’s all, assisting the harbour dory berth a wounded and rescued Pippin against a stiff northeaster.

Now it really was time to go after weeks of angst filled delays.  Confidence battered and temporarily at a low ebb, it was appropriate to call my mate Roger, to assist with Pippin’s exit from her berth on a gusty afternoon.  Job done and Hercule the wind vane took over as Pippin trotted gently downwind towards Jersey, to stretch our legs gently.  It was good to be going and, as the wind rose, I pointed Pippin for home into another northeaster, which teased at 19 knots as she put her shoulder down pushing out an easy 7 knots towards Sark, then home.

The first Fray Bentos (steak and kidney) of the season slipped down a treat before bed in a calm Hevelet Bay, secure in the lee of Castle Cornet and it’s ghosts, as Pippin lay tethered to the Rocna anchor buried deep in the sand.

Next day fishermen’s bobbers appeared too close too often, preventing complacency as Pippin surged down Guernsey’s south coast, ambushing every last scrap of wind to make good speed.  A loan fishing boat fell astern as Guernsey slid deep into the mist at coffee time.

Certain routines need to be adopted off shore, not least the switch to bucket and chuck it mode.  Pippin has a thoughtfully designed cockpit for this, just the right width and depth to safely adopt the correct position, though two particular dangers need to be borne in mind.  The first is a bucket slide at the critical moment, and the second is wave action causing physical collapse into the bucket.  Both will cause much cussing and even more mess, though thus far this routine has been managed without incident, though there is a long way to go.

Then there is the galley routine, which gets harder with age, as you struggle to decide what meal to prepare.  You decide on lunch, but then you have to know what you have got in ship’s stores and, if indeed you have the desired items, where on earth you have put them for boats have lots of lockers.  This is where Mrs Woodman’s fruit cake (revealed in the page of the same name as this blog) comes in, as I discovered on not finding the preferred lunch menu – it makes a reliable anytime filler.

There is often, mid English Channel, a querulous beam sea particularly if the wind isblowing from east or west for at some point it will do battle with tide.  This is why a cross Channel dash dash is a good workup for a longer trip, helping as it does the rediscovery of one’s sea legs.  Quite why it’s sea legs not sea stomach I have no idea, except I suppose, that both are to do with balance.

Though it was grey and cool, a beam sea kept me honest but didn’t stop Pippin surging forth with the occasional !urch in the light winds.  Pippin is well equipped with a selection of electronic gizmos, all if which consume Amps with relish, so I switched eveything off, bar the geriatric little Garmin GPS and the ship’s VHF, lest someone needed to tell me to get out out of their way.  Hercule of course consumes nothing, iron soldier that he is and fortunately seemed to know where England was.

With visibility now less than a mile, crossing the Worlds busiest shipping lanes is interesting at jogging pace amongst giants as fast as trucks.  Ray the Radar likes to show off in such conditions, though sometimes wharhe has to tell me is more terrifying than ignorance and the mark one eyeball – which spotted the pesky trawler half a mile off port bow.  By nightfall I sat transfixed at the myriad blogs on the screen, each a ship, and Marvelled that noone hit anyone.  User the radar guardians alarm against intruders in a vain attempt at rest, to no avail for the alarm clanged incessantly.

A bright dawn broke, Pippin still afloat, England in the form of Lizard Head where it should and Hercule still stolidly at his post, though sadly  the morning was lost to greyness and cold.  Typically a sailor’s wind piped up as the Rocna anchor headed for the sea bed off Penzance after 130 nautical miles.  Time for a fat boys – assuming that I had and could find the ingredients.


Penzance was as I last found it – eccentric and irresistible.  I felt like a native.  Even the pubs WiFi remembered me from last time.


Some of the boats in Penzance Dock are a little bigger than Pippin and like to get up CLOSE!!!


Well, the next sail depends on the weather in Spain, but we will go soon.

Cheeri from a special little place.




By ajay290