(4 July – 21 July 2019)
Barrie Pearson

This was the first rally for many years that was not to be led by Bill Greening in Niobe. I had been on many Bill led cruises and had learned from the great leader, so how hard was it going to be?

With a week to go, only two boats were signed up, Parity and Fairwind. Mandaley was thinking about it as was Harami. Then Sue received an email from Kevin and Pam Gray (Kyros) and also from Phil Scott (Friday’s Child) who would meet up with us if anywhere near Falmouth. Only Fairwind could do the total number of days with differing passes out for the others; Harami only being able to start three days late and needing crew swaps and the others having to get back early. Two crews said that they had a very strong preference for going west, so there we had it, the decision was made and over a week before we were due to set off. The only challenge now was fair weather and herding the boats together into some sort of rally.

FAIRWIND: Sue & Barrie Pearson (‘leader’)
PARITY: Dick Hoare & Richard Merrifield
MANDALEY: Martin & Sarah Greenhalgh
HARAMI: Tim & Christine Applewhite (part time) / Chris Sprules (part time)
KYROS: Kevin & Pam Gray – met up with them in Fowey.

LEG ONE  Fairwind, Parity and Mandaley - Chichester to Yarmouth Thursday 4 July
The weather was set very fair, with light easterly winds forecast. Easy one to Yarmouth to sit out a tide on the buoys outside, with a view of leaving for Dartmouth at 00:30 hrs on the Friday. There was some excitement on the first leg with the crews of Parity and Fairwind realising (on test) that they had navigation light problems, and Fairwind’s autohelm registering 100 degrees out on the ship’s compass. I failed to find the answer in the autohelm manual, but then the skipper (Sue) asked if anything was affecting the fluxgate compass? I then recalled that she had asked me to buy four tins of baked beans. It seems that one tin might be worth 25 degrees!

LEG TWO     Yarmouth to Dartmouth (00:30hrs) Friday 5 July
Setting off in the dark was done regularly in the old days, but was a novelty now. We were somewhat disorientated at first, but quickly settled down. image1aConditions were calm, so we motored out under a beautiful star lit sky. Although dark, the stars and the lights on shore gave us enough to easily make out the land, however, the sea was absolutely black. This combination of flat sea, ‘silhouetted’ land and a black sea was perfect; the lights on the buoys were very easy to spot. Nearing St Albans Head, we thought we had a 50-footer next to us to seaward. Eventually, the 50-footer disappeared but we did not notice her go.image2a This spooked us on Fairwind, being ‘Mary Celeste’ like. The rising sun was a treat at around 04:00hrs. We passed the Bill around 06:00hrs and made about 9 miles west before the tide turned against us. An easy but slightly boring passage across Lyme Bay was beautifully punctured by the arrival of a large pod of Atlantic White Dolphins (thanks to Richard for the identification).  I got the best video of dolphins of my sailing ‘career’ so far, and some great shots. We arrived in Dartmouth after 96nm, at 14:30 hours to learn that the 50 foot  ‘Mary Celeste’  was in fact the 31 foot Mandaley. Very deceptive at night!

We spent two nights in Dartmouth, the second night dining at the Royal Dart Yacht Club arriving heroically in three inflatables, Fairwind and Mandaley from the mid river pontoon and Parity from the west shore following a day with son Russ and family. image3aThe dining facilities and bar had only reopened some days before after a flood. On hearing this at the bar, three of us turned to look at the sea, some 20 feet below and puzzled as to how? It turned out that they had a 15,000 litre water leak from above the bar. The food and service were excellent. The trip back down a busy river was interesting in the dark and we all realised that an all-round white light was the order of the day; but where to get one was the challenge.
Unlike the Niobe rallies where the plan was usually to get as far west as possible in short time and then slowly come back (prevailing wind considerations), with this rally we decided to go against tradition and go west slowly because fair weather was forecast for some time and Harami was trying to catch up.

LEG THREE    Dartmouth to Salcombe, Sunday 7 July. Harami joins the rally
An easy trip in lovely weather, but again motor sailing. We arrived in Salcombe during Merlin Rocket Week, so somewhat busy. image4aThe BAG (long mid river visitor pontoon) was filled with a big rally, so the friendly harbour staff found us a spare private mooring, three rafted up.
image6aThe next day, the three crews went up the ‘river’ to Kingsbridge in two inflatables, some 2.8nm. A small town but with a large Tesco in which Martin and Sarah found an LED camping lantern. Tesco sold two more after a text was sent to Dick and myself. All crews were now fully prepared for night excursions on busy rivers of which Devon and Cornwall have many.
We decided to stay three nights to give Harami a chance to catch up. We had learned that Tim had secured Chris Sprules as a crew (for one week anyway before he had to return to attend a wedding) and we had also been advised that Harami was on her way via Yarmouth and Dartmouth. image5aMandaley left to spend the day anchored at Burgh Island where Agatha Christie wrote some of her novels in the island’s famous Art Deco hotel. In the end, they stayed overnight as in Sarah’s words, it was like the Mediterranean. Harami arrived on Tuesday just as the Merlin Rocket start line had been set across the creek. The harbour master held her progress up for about fifteen minutes whilst the start was completed. Sue got a photo of this with Harami in the foreground, taken from some distance at the National Trust Overbeck property (house and sub-tropical gardens) high on the west headland.
That night, the leader made a unilateral
decision that the crews had suffered too much sun and scenery, so the rally was booked to eat facing a wall with no natural light.image7a The Fortescue Inn was perfect. We arrived early and had a drink in the open ‘yard’ area. This soon became very busy filling with tanned youngsters wearing questionable attire. The leader thought it wise to guide the (male) crew members with dropped jaws to the reserved table at the other and more appropriate end of the Inn. The ride back in the water taxi with the backdrop of the lights of Salcombe and setting sun rounded off a perfect evening.

LEG FOUR    Salcombe to Plymouth, Wednesday 10 July.
image8bThe first sail of the rally with a fresh NNW wind at around 12-15kn. Mandaley was half way there leaving from Burgh Island, so she had a trip up the Tamar before docking in the Queen Anne’s Battery marina (‘QAB’), making the most of her shallow draft. Parity and Fairwind had an interesting experience with a naval ship. This ship with ‘H86’ on the side, approached us in turn coming within about 150 metres and cruising at our speed and parallel to us. Whilst this was very intimidating, we noted no guns on board, so we tried to work out what the ‘H’ was – not the usual D/F/A/P/M insignia? It was in fact a Hydrographic vessel which was likely surveying the bottom! Unscathed, all four boats gathered at the QAB late afternoon which was the first full marina experience of the rally, including the price! Good facilities and meal in the Royal West Yacht Club premises on site where a lady member made us very welcome.
Parity and Harami had decided that Plymouth would be the extent of their westerly passage due to timing and crew swap issues (Christine Applewhite was arriving to replace Chris) and both crews would spend Thursday sight-seeing in the city including climbing  Smeaton’s lighthouse, before deciding their next move,
LEGS FIVE   Plymouth to Mevaggisey (Mandaley)/Cawsands (Fairwind), Thursday 11 July.
In the morning of Thursday 11 July, Mandaley motor-sailed to Mevaggisey to dry out in the lovely harbour whilst Fairwind cruised some of the Tamar, finally dropping her hook at the lovely Cawsands at the mouth of Plymouth Sound.
LEGS SIX A   Plymouth to Dartmouth (Parity) /Salcombe (Harami) Friday 12 July.
Parity and Harami motor sailing out of Plymouth, the former to Dartmouth to start the trip home and the latter to Salcombe to await the next crew swap.
Parity journeyed on to Portland on Saturday 13th July, using the western back eddy and the inshore passage to round the Bill. They enjoyed the outdoor entertainments offered by the marina before setting out to Yarmouth the next day. They had a rest day in Yarmouth before their final leg home, arriving Tuesday 16 July. Harami now in Salcombe would later re-join Fairwind and Mandalay on the home leg back from Devon.
LEG SIX B   Cawsands (Fairwind) /Mevaggissey (Mandaley) to Fowey Friday 12 July.
Fairwind and Mandaley converged on Fowey where they were to meet up with Kevin and Pam Gray. Phil Scott had communicated that he had a problem with his boat, so would have to miss out. Pity. Dinner was arranged for the six of us at the Fowey Gallants Sailing Club (‘FGSC’). Unfortunately, Sarah cut her hand rather badly on arrival in Fowey; given it was 16:30hrs, Sarah thought that she and Martin could still do dinner if they went quickly to St Austell A&E, some 6 miles away. Unfortunately, after the usual 2 hour wait the medical staff decided that given they had no one who had stitched a wound for over a year (?!), they were sent off to Truro where at around 22:30hrs the wound was eventually glued. Sue and I dined with Kevin and Pam during which we learned that they had lived in Cornwall for some 30 years and were members of DQ because they bought Katmando which is moored there and was on purchase, a ‘project’. They regularly sail Kyros from their home port of Falmouth. Lovely evening with them but it was a shame that Sarah and Martin were not able to join us.
Sarah and Martin eventually arrived back at 00:10 hours and I ferried them from the quay to Mandaley in Fairwind’s tender with the all-round white light held above my head to stop it blinding me. It served its purpose because a fast moving black rib with no lights sped through the trots across my track some 25m in front of me on the way over!
image11aBoth crews spent Saturday and Sunday in Fowey. Mandalay was joined by Henry and Christa (Martin’s son and partner). They sailed out to Polkerris Bay for lunch on the Saturday whilst Sue and Barrie walked to Gribbin Head day mark (National Trust) via some lovely coves and beaches. Whilst on the cliffs we saw the 4.5nm FGSC Polkerris Race with some 25 dinghies (Fowey Troys and Fowey River Dinghies) and a single clinker-built patrol boat pass by below us. image9aLovely sight. We all dined at the FGSC that evening where I was thanked by one club member for turning up for the Polkerris Race; one Cornish beer too many we thought! On the Sunday Martin and Sarah said goodbye to Henry and Christa who were off surfing on the north coast of Cornwall. Sue and I walked along the coastal path heading east to image10aPolperro where we encountered more lovely coves. We also spent time in the ‘alternative Fowey’ being Polruan on the east bank of the Fowey river. There we walked around a long-standing fishing boat repair yard C. Toms & Sons Ltd to find trawlers from Scotland, Ireland the East Coast high and dry. We also found a classic telephone booth painted blue which was the village library. Fascinating place.

image12aDuring the trip we saw many very large jellyfish. The Barrel Jellyfish was the largest and the picture shows one some 50% of the size of one that ghosted by under Fairwind’s tender in the Fowey river. I was unable to get my iPhone out in times to take a photo – honest!

LEG SEVEN Fowey to Dittisham (‘Dipsum’) Dart River, Monday 15 July
Fairwind and Mandaley set out at 0730hrs motoring at first and then sailing as the wind picked up. We passed Plymouth, again seeing much naval activity. The wind picked up forcing us to reef just before we reached Bolt Tail. There is always rough water along the Bolt Tail/Head stretch to the west of Salcombe but it was quite manageable. On the run north around Start Point to Dartmouth, we heard another boat on channel 8 comment that Dartmouth was full. We decided to ignore this and press on. Both boats arrived in Dartmouth at 1930hrs to find it very busy but not really full. We motored up to Dittisham to look for a  visitors mooring buoy and found two, but unfortunately they were only rated for 8m boats. We motored gently on to drop anchor in a very peaceful stretch of the river by the boathouse. After a quick meal, we retired, ready for the 07:30 morning start for Portland.
LEG EIGHT Dartmouth/Salcombe to Portland Tuesday 16 July.
Fairwind and Mandalay ghosted quietly out of Dartmouth as Harami had done from Salcombe. image13aTim had secured the services of Chris Sprules again who heroically travelled by all means of public transport, including the Dart Valley Steam Railway from Paignton, to get from Chichester to Salcombe to crew Harami back.
We crossed Lyme Bay in quiet conditions, debating as we went along whether we should take the inner passage. It was decided later on to go two miles to the south (i.e. into the ‘slack’ Race) and see what the conditions were when closer. It turned out to be rather gentle and accordingly all three boats ‘cut the corner’ and turned sharply north up the eastern side of Portland. Martin telephoned ahead to book a table for six at the Cove House Inn (recommended by him) on Chesil Beach for 2030 hrs (last service 2100hrs). We just made it and enjoyed what was to be the final rally dinner, in a lovely location.
LEG NINE Portland to Yarmouth / Newtown Wednesday 17 July
All three boats left early in the morning, the first being Fairwind at 05:30hrs. Motor sailing all the way, some 7 hours; Fairwind to Newtown and Mandaley and Harami to Yarmouth. Mandaley intended to go to Newtown, but decided on the way that they needed more fuel and water and stopped at Yarmouth. Fairwind happened upon Niobe with in Newtown with Bill, John and Kip on board, out for one night. We joined them for drinks and a chat – just like old times. The next day Sue and I we had lunch at the New Inn in Shalfleet and are pleased to report that it is back in award winning ownership. LEG TEN A Mandaley and Harami sailed back to Chichester in moderate conditions. LEG TEN B Fairwind sailed back on Friday 19 July experiencing rain and 22/23 knots gusting 28.5 knots in Hayling Bay; amazing that the last sail of the trip was the only one with rain and a blow. Perhaps we were just lucky.

If prizes were to be awarded, then to Mandaley for the furthest west and the longest and most expensive taxi ride,  Chris Sprules for his daring travel itinerary supporting Tim Applewhite in Harami and Dick and Richard for the most steps climbed.

A very interesting rally with a few ‘firsts’ and some interesting crewing challenges. Fairwind logged 406 nm overall, but Mandaley can boast more!

Thanks to all the crews for making it so enjoyable.

Barrie Pearson
July 2019