The Lads Trip 2016 - Sark to Starcross

We had decided to depart about lunch time and prepared the boat for a 1400 hours departure, slipped the mooring buoy and headed out of the lea of the island only to be hit by a F6 on the beam. I took the decision to return to the mooring and wait for the wind to abate as forecast so round we went and picked up the mooring again and snoozed til 1800.

Off we set once more two reefs in and main and a F5 over the port side. Just as we passed Guernsey the fog rolled and remained with us for the next few hours until we approached the shipping lanes.

As we knew it would be a long passage we had decided to take two hour watches and I took the first one hand steering in big four meter rollers that were coming up la Manche, feeling quite alone in the fog Bob resting for his watch it was also quite a thrill.

I was not looking forward to crossing them in fog, but as we have AIS onboard hoping that the big boats would see us. For some strange issue with the electrical system the radar refused to power up.

Crew: Sandy Garrity, Bob Watson


The Lads Trip 2016 - Alderney to Sark

The Lads Trip is a very relaxed cruise and with all the boats safely arrived in Braye the crews met up for dinner after which we were all free to do our own thing. Several boats headed back the the Devon coast, meanwhile I wanted to keep a promise that I had made a few years earlier and visit a couple who used to live quite near us in Devon. A few emails were exchanged and we agreed meet up in their new home on Sark.

After a relaxed breakfast we ventured out of the harbour and into the Swinge at slack water, Bob recounting terrifying stories of the reputation of the channel for swallowing yachts whole, safely through the channel we headed off on the 25 mile hop to Sark.

About half way between the islands we were passed by six people on a rib doing well over 20 knots. The first time I've seen a rib used for any other purpose than fun.

Bob at the helm on passage between Alderney and Sark

When I purchased Aphrodite the previous owners advised me that there was an issue with the engine at low revs where it would just cut! On coming to the mooring buoy it took this moment to demonstrate this little trick and the most inopportune moment as we were just about to pick up the buoy, but with Bob's engineering expertise and careful rev management we picked up the buoy on our second go.

La Greve de la Ville - Aphrodite is the center most boat.

Crew: Sandy Garrity, Bob Watson


The Lads Trip 2016 - Starcross to Alderney

The annual Starcross Fishing and Cruising Club "Lad's Trip" to Alderney has a bit of a reputation for not arriving in Alderney usually due to wind direction or weather, but it always takes place. We may end up in Alderney, Falmouth, Cowes or if it is really bad Topsham.

This was my third "Lad's Trip" and during earlier trips had visited, Falmouth, Plymouth, Salcombe and Dartmouth.

For the week before the trip all the skippers and crew had been keeping a keen eye on the weather and when we all met up on Thursday evening for the boat briefing everybody was happy to head off for Alderney and agreed that we would all retire to the bar, then the boats before heading out on the morning tide.

It was an early start 0230 when we finally slipped the mooring and headed off down the river to the open sea. Still dark threading our way down river as the skipper of a boat that I had only just taken ownership of was a challenge, but as we motored down to the safe water mark at the mouth of the estuary I felt comfortable and knew this was the start of a whole new set of adventures.

After the safe water mark we raised the sails and headed south wards towards Braye on Alderney in the Channel Islands. With the wind coming from the north we poled out the genoa and went wing on wing. Looking round it looked like we were the first boat in the fleet to get away as behind us we could see sails being set in the first glimpses of daylight at 0330 UTC and fully expected to be over taken at some point.

As the sun broke over the horizon, always a spectacular sight, an hour later we knew we were set for a cracking day on the water. With daylight we could relax a bit as other vessels were easier to spot.

An informal watch routine started, both Bob and I taking turns to rest while the other kept an eye on the weather and other vessels.

We had planned to do some "sight seeing" the Channel Light Vessel, but the decided to head on a more direct course and allowed the boat to move gently up La Manche before crossing the shipping lanes, always an exciting experience.

Crew: Sandy Garrity, Bob Watson


First Sail on Aphrodite

Time to take Aphrodite out to sea and see what is what. Bob Watson a keen sailor and climber was happy to come out and put the boat through her paces.

We took the dinghy to the mooring, climbed onboard, prepped the boat for sea, started the engine, slipped the mooring and headed down the Exe past Exmouth and out to sea.

While I had been out with the previous owners for a test sail now was the time I could put her through her paces and see what she could do. A few things quickly became apparent the sails were bigger, they felt much bigger. She moved faster and accelerated faster than the old boat.

Out at sea, where we had some room, we set about testing her on different points of sail, checking how fast she would respond to the helm and slow down when needed.

For lunch we hove to off Dawlish only to discover that the genoa got tangled with the spreaders and the UV strip separated from the sail! Frank the sailmaker would have a small repare to do during the week!

All in all Aphrodite performed well. She handled well, I could turn on a sixpence, a big difference from my previous boat and was certainly faster.

We had our play and headed back up the Exe to the mooring. I had been told that while the engine was in good order it did have a habit of "stalling" at low revs! On the first approach to the mooring buoy she stalled (we were ready for this) and she restarted at the first turn of the key. Thankfully we picked up the mooring on the second pass and put the boat to bed.


Round the Bay

All times are UTC.

Crew: Sandy Garrity

Trip Stats: Distance: XX nm, Under way: X h XX m, Average speed: X.XX knots, Maximum speed: X.XX knots.

Sunrise: 0542 hrs Sunset: 1931 hrs

Weather: The shipping forecast issued by the Met Office, on behalf of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, at 12:30 (UTC+1) on Mon 8 Aug 2022 for the period 13:00 (UTC+1) on Mon 8 Aug 2022 to 13:00 (UTC+1) on Tue 9 Aug 2022

Trafalgar (issued 2315 UTC) Northerly or northwesterly 3 to 5, occasionally 6 in northwest, becoming variable 2 to 4 in northeast for a time. Slight or moderate. Showers. Good.

© Met Office Synoptic Chart 08/08/2023


Aphrodite's New Owner

Saturday 4th June 2016

I had know Aphrodite for some time, she had spent several winters in the same yard as me and I had coveted her from a distance.

Sometimes fate deals you a strange hand and things that you had never dreamed of happening actually happen. Her previous owners knew I loved the boat and had come to the decision to leave sailing, at least for a while, and had called to say that Aphrodite was going to be put on the open market and was I interested. Following several telephone calls and meetings on board she was transferred into my stewardship, you never really own a boat, in early June 2016.

She is named after the Greek goddess of love, beauty, pleasure, and procreation. Well she was well loved by all of her previous owners and in a way a gift from my parents as she was purchased with some monies left following the death of mother.

She was lifted into the water in early June and taken down the river to her mooring at Starcross where I would spend the summer beginning to learn her ways and, as every owner does, make her my boat.

It was a very still morning as we took the tide we slipped the from Topsham Quay the previous owners took command of her for the very last time.

Aphrodite at Topsham Quay on the river Exe

I always enjoy the ride down the river at the start of the season as there is always an air of anticipation. This year doubly so as Aphrodite was a very different boat to my last one - she had honed my skills and given me a huge amount of enjoyment, but I had outgrown her and was looking forward to the adventures that lay ahead.