Beware the Lesser Spotted Dogfish

Well, since my last entry I have acquired a new crew member… whoop whoop! I have loved the challenge of sailing alone, but it has been fab to be a skipper with crew! Although my new crew has sea legs and excellent helming skills this is from his history of sea fishing, so I am definitely going to have to work on his love of sailing… I am going to enjoy this new challenge… 

The only down side about gaining my new crew member has been the introduction of fishing (7 dogfish, 4 crabs and a whiting caught in 2 hours!) from Poppet with which came the demise of my one and only nautical tea towel… oh and the smell of lug worm! Totally gross! However this has definitely been a price worth paying and we even saw dolphins! 

Setting sail solo

Well last weekend I actually went sailing solo… a couple of friends had helped me with fitting an autohelm and my nav lights and my new (2nd hand) Mercury 4 engine was in place… what was stopping me!? (apart from being terrified of course!) 
Well it was a beautiful day, and light winds so perfect for me to shake out the sails! So I get Poppet all ready, hank on her foresail with a down haul, get the main ready to go and just as I am sorting the mooring lines out the marina chatterbox comes along (no it’s not actually me!!) and we chat about nothing for a while, as I am trying to get away along comes someone else and stops and asks if he can take our photo – oh heck no! But a photo he takes (apparently for marina marketing! Aren’t there any other solo females setting sail for the day chatting to a chap leaning on his stick? Oh apparently not!). 
Well I manage to leave the berth in one piece, and set off towards Puffin Island. I didn’t get the hang of the autohelm, so I may as well not have had it. I motored out of the channel and then pulled up my sails… off comes the engine… it was lovely out there… 
I then get a call from a friend out at sea – your foresail is rather small is that the biggest you have? Oh poop! The sails were put back in the wrong bags last weekend! So, down comes the foresail, unhanked, up goes the slightly larger one… 
Well it did make a difference, from 2.5 to 4 knots (I do love Poppet but I really don’t expect to get anywhere in a hurry with my sail trim skills!!) 
​Anyway… just as I arrive at Puffin, the electrics all fail, battery flat. Engine going but not making a difference to the electrics, I get the sails down, then motor (apparently way too close to a sandbank  – oops – where is the depth sounder when you need it) over to my friends boat. Then of course, I panic, engine dies, I go up front to get the anchor down anyway and struggle with the foresail being in the way! Nightmare! But once the anchor was down and I sat down it was sooo lovely (just a tad too cold for shorts lol!) and I saw and heard some puffins flying by.



So I had a cuppa and a bite to eat while watching all of the sand banks appear around me. Yep – I had definitely been over them! But I had anchored on my own for the first time! Yey! 
Well once the tide was high enough again we head out of the anchorage, so I pulled up my anchor, nearly mowed my friends boat down and once again manage to get the sails up, I did panic a little once when I saw a muscle farm area and turned the engine on instead of tacking! Then I thought what on earth did you do that for and then tacked and turned the engine back off again! I tell you this is still all very new to me! It is one thing sailing with someone else who knows what they’re doing, but it’s a completely different thing when that someone is you and there’s no one else on board! A blooming massive learning curve for me this is!!! 

Anyway – I sailed to the Conwy Channel and then motored back in. When I got back to my berth I did ok at getting in but managed to catch my bow on the life ring at the marina while I was stood on the pontoon. Oops! They are keeping an eye on me now – I recommended they don’t fix it for a while to give me time to get a handle on getting into berth! 

Well – I enjoyed my first solo sail – and my first visit to puffin island. Loved it! All told, a lovely day…