Portishead to Jersey and back

From novice to competent crew, by Jo Sutton

When I set off from Portishead on 18th May on Molia with my husband Mark and our friend Tim, I was feeling distinctly nervous. We were heading to Jersey, to visit our daughter, a junior doctor in St Helier, a round trip of 1070 NM.

We had agreed our strategy in advance to address my principal concerns: a wardrobe full of warm clothes, a good supply of anti-seasickness remedies, and plenty of leeway in the schedule.

It was a phenomenal start. The sun came out as the tide and wind swept us past the Holms Islands. We tied up for our first night away in Penarth Marina, had a celebratory beer in the evening sunshine and dinner at The Deck. The sun continued to shine every day for the next 6 weeks!

Tim, left the boat at Padstow. Over the next two weeks, with just the two of us on board, (having already done Nash Point and Hartland Point) we rounded the various other ‘legendary’ headlands: Cape Cornwall, Land’s End, The Lizard, Rame Head, Bolt Head, Start Point, Portland Bill. While I excitedly took photographs of my favourite West Country holiday resorts – unrecognisably small in the distance.

The channel crossing, from Portland to Guernsey, was the leg I had been most nervous about, and in the end proved to be one of the easiest – both because of the lack of wind and our guest crew, an extremely experienced nephew. We motored the last outward stage from St Peter Port to St Helier in a fog, which lifted only as we rounded La Corbiere and we were met on the pontoon outside the harbour by our daughter, thrilled to bits that we had come to visit her by boat.

The combination of good weather, careful planning, guest crew members and a very patient husband meant that I was more relaxed for the return trip. We retraced our route, stopping overnight in Dartmouth, Plymouth and Falmouth and we were comfortably tied up in Pendennis Marina inner basin, as the Fastnet race started from Cowes in winds gusting 40+ knots.

With our final guests joining us at Newlyn, we were ready for the homeward stretch – Newlyn to Padstow and then Padstow to Penarth. The first day was idyllic – dolphins off Land’s End, sunshine all day and the wind behind us. The second day proved more challenging, with the southerly wind eventually reaching 20 knots apparent, and increasingly heavy rain from the early afternoon. We approached the locks at Penarth as the light finally disappeared, two hours ahead of schedule, drenched and glowing with an immense sense of achievement. And as a measure of how comfortable with sailing I had become the final hours to Portishead the next day were a breeze!

See the full voyage on molia.org/v40-jersey

Posted in Cruising Story.