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News & Events

Around the Island with Christopher Bell


At the start of the summer our Marina Host, Christopher Bell, took a sailing vacation around Great Britain on 'Swift Lady II' a Moody 29, with his partner and beloved 11-year-old Parson Russell Terrier. It wasn't all plain sailing on this fascinating voyage, with adventures along the way!

In his own words….

Having secured a three month sabbatical from my Host duties at Chichester, myself and Delia (Mrs Bell) planned a circumnavigation of Britain on our Moody 29. Our departure was delayed due to cooling problems on our old Bukh DV20, but once that was sorted we set off (clockwise) on May 30th, with a passage set to Lymington.

We experienced a beautiful sunset at Studland before heading to Portland and after a night in Brixham we motored to Start Point and sailed northwards to Caws, anchoring in Plymouth. The morning mist soon 'burnt off' on the passage to Fowey, a first call for us.

It was the passage from Fowey to The Helford (Durgan anchorage) that we were entertained by a pod of dolphins - such a joy and privilege! Engrossed in our adventure, we planned the passage from The Helford around The Lizard & Lands End to St Ives.... forgetting that the G7 Summiteers and security had descended upon this lovely Cornish Town! 

A quick call to the Harbour Master confirmed the 'Port' was open but with some restrictions and an hour after anchoring next to HMS Tamar (June 12) the Red Arrows gave us a wonderful display - I guess the G7 delegates enjoyed it as well!

Padstow was our next port and timing the crossing of Doom Bar added some spice to the trip. Padstow 'Steinland', is sometimes known as a Glue Port - once in, you're stuck...and we were, 12 days of Northerlies and more forecast.

Sadly with anchorages of West Wales being good apart from any wind mentioning the word 'North', we made the decision to abort the voyage. 50 miles per day was needed to complete the circumnavigation in the time left.

We left Padstow and on route to St Ives the forecast changed from F4 to F6....from the North.

We anchored off Smeatons Pier, St Ives; got Ozzy ashore and settled down for a 'bumpy' night. At 2am on June 27th we were experiencing gusts of F6 with a forecast of 'gusting to F8'.

We held position until 830am when we started dragging towards Smeatons Pier and were underway heading North away from the lee shore within 5 minutes. We had a conversation with HM Coastguard, Falmouth stating our intentions - stand offshore until the wind abated (forecast) then re- anchor off St Ives.

The wind didn't abate and the F8 was not gusts - but steady.

We had a tidal window to round Lands End so informed HMCG Falmouth of our 'new plan'. They very kindly tracked us on AIS and called us up hourly to check on our welfare. Large waves followed, battling F8 and torrential rain (visibility < 0.5 nm).

At 3.20pm, 10 minutes before our scheduled call from HMCG Falmouth - surfing down the large, breaking seas, the lower connection on our transom-hung rudder parted. Not-under-command and at the mercy of the sea, we broached several times - God bless Angus Primrose and his GZ calculations!

9 minutes after my call to HMCG Falmouth, Sennen Cove Lifeboat, RNLI 'City of London III' was underway and in 35 minutes she was alongside us.

They threw a line over the cockpit which I hauled in and made-fast; the RNLI crew then deployed a drogue. Next was the tow line forward - a bit tricky moving forward but fortunately the Moody 29 has a 'bathing pool' forward and this gave some protection. Tow line made good we made passage to Newlyn....3 hours 50minutes.

Cold, miserable but safe. The rudder parted 1 nm NW of Longships Rocks - the outcome could have been worse.

The Premier Marine Insurance Claims through GJW Direct were brilliant; we were towed to Falmouth by Jeremy of Danmark & Falmouth Boat Construction (FBC) who were given the repair contract.

Hull & equipment damage has been completed and we await the arrival of our new rudder before heading East to Chichester.

Meanwhile Premier Marinas Falmouth have looked after us exceptionally well.