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Old 30 August 2014, 05:36   #1
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Country: UK - England
Town: Poole
Boat name: El Mono
Make: Ribtec 9M
Length: 9m +
Engine: Yanmar 315/Bravo III
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 368
Poole -> Penzance -> Poole - trip log

I planned a solo trip over the August bank holiday to visit a friend down in Penzance - why hit the holiday traffic when I could go by RIB….? Extended RIB cruising is something I've wanted to do for several years now, especially since watching threads on Round Ireland, Round Britain, etc. on here. As the week progressed the forecast was fairly unsettled for that weekend, with some fairly nasty weather coming in somewhere between Sunday and Wednesday. But hoping there'd be some windows to complete passages, on Thursday 21st August I set off from Poole.

Short video of the trip here:
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Old 30 August 2014, 05:36   #2
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Country: UK - England
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Make: Ribtec 9M
Length: 9m +
Engine: Yanmar 315/Bravo III
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 368
Things I discovered en route (in no particular order, and no doubt some things I've missed):

1.) Don't assume you can always hold the course to want to. Whilst I'm used to tacking in a sailing yacht because of the wind, I hadn't really thought about "tacking" in the RIB due to the swell/waves.
2.) Always be prepared for incoming bad weather/rain. Even if not wearing the wet weather full kit, when under way I kept it in a dry bag clipped to the helmsman's leaning post so I could easily reach it without having to turn out lockers.
3.) Keep some basic food and water handy - I had some snack bars and the like in the dry bag for quick energy, as being single handed there's no one to take over for you.
4.) Don't solely reply on a single source of electronic navigation. Continual pounding took out the chart plotter a couple of times during the trip as connectors worked their way loose. I was running my Garmin handheld plotter as a backup at all times that was tied to me, and I had paper charts in the dry bag just in case.
5.) Especially if single handed, "heave to" and have a rest every so often on a long passage. I found myself having a 5 min rest every hour or two, just to give me a quick break, eat/drink, check the engine compartment, check navigation, etc. It's pretty hard to drive a boat at 20+kn and do any meaningful navigation at the same time if you're single handed, so best to briefly stop to check things.
6.) Gecko helmets are wonderful in rainy conditions, but I still haven't worked out how to make it play nicely with glasses! I always find my glasses end up wonky however much I adjust them - probably need to make the helmet fit a bit better.
7.) Always have plenty of fuel onboard in case you don't/can't stop at your planned destination. I topped the (~350l) tank up after most passages, partly to see accurately how much I was using, and partly to ensure I had a decent range.
8.) You do get tired after several hours of helming a RIB. Do double check your navigation to make sure you aren't doing something completely stupid, and make sure you maintain a good lookout. If you're a bit dreary and visibility isn't great either, at speed it's easy to miss/misjudge things.
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Old 30 August 2014, 05:37   #3
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Country: UK - England
Town: Poole
Boat name: El Mono
Make: Ribtec 9M
Length: 9m +
Engine: Yanmar 315/Bravo III
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 368
Day 0 - boat launch

Arrived from London 22:00, hooked up the RIB to my Defender and towed to the yacht club and dropped into the water ready for the off.


Day 1 - Poole to Salcombe

Having only dropped the boat in the water late the previous night, I spent the morning checking it over, testing things, loading kit and filling with diesel. A shame, as the morning was fairly dead quiet and would have been a wonderful run, but by the afternoon winds were picking up to 20kn. By 12:30 I was ready and left the marina to head out of Poole. A reasonable chop around Durlston Head as I passed Poole Sea Safari, but St Alban's close in wasn't too bad. Weymouth Bay was actually pretty choppy, and I did vaguely consider whether it was worth carrying on, as Lyme Bay would no doubt be worse! As I approached Portland the shelter it provided gave way to calmer seas, and Portland Bill itself close inshore was fine. There was a nasty swell from the west running in Lyme Bay which made it impossible to make a direct course to Salcombe at any speed without continual banging and slamming. As such, I headed north to get an easier ride, and with the thought that I would eventually gain some protection from the land. Even so I was probably averaging only 15kn, watching as continual rain clouds started over Salcombe and made their way towards me along the coast and inland.

Passed West Bay in a slight drizzle, and by then the wave fetch had slightly reduced so continued parallel along the coast towards Exmouth. Exmouth to Start Point was very sheltered, so easily ran at 30kn down that stretch, which tends to be my max cruising speed with the engine turning at about 3200RPM. Conditions off Prawle Point and the entrance to Salcombe were fairly nasty, slowed me down to 10-12kn, and visibility wasn't great either. Was glad to finally close in on Salcombe Bar and have a protected final stretch into the harbour arriving 18:00. Met the harbour master I dealt with when sailing there back in July, arranged to stay overnight on the Whitestrand commercial pontoon (~£20 for my RIB), checked the boat over thoroughly and put it to bed. I had hoped to get a bit further, so hadn't really checked out accommodation in Salcombe - there isn't actually that much within the town itself. Having got my parents on the case back at home, the only place we could find with a room for one night was the Salcombe Harbour Hotel - newly refurbished and a very nice treat! The room was spotless, the service impeccable and the food wonderful. Complimentary gin and sherry decanters in the room as well…

Passage time: 5:30
Mileage: 120 NM
Fuel used: 127 litres
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Old 30 August 2014, 05:38   #4
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Country: UK - England
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Day 2 - Salcombe to Falmouth to Newlyn

An excellent breakfast in the hotel. Had to be off the commercial pontoon by 08:30, so was onboard in good time and headed off to the fuel barge, which also opened at 08:30. Filled the tank (reasonably priced at £1.20 a litre), and headed out for 09:00 to start the next passage. Plymouth Bay wasn't too bad, managed to maintain a happy 20kn. I wanted to go to Falmouth anyway to do some shopping and have a lunch stop, so kept a few miles off the coast as I headed west. Hit a rain shower off Plymouth for which I quickly stopped and donned full foul weather gear. Thankfully the shower only lasted 10 mins, and as I continued towards Falmouth the sea became flatter and I increased speed to 30kn. More rain just as I approach Falmouth Harbour entrance and the Black Rock at 12:00. Proceeded to the visitor haven where I first topped up with diesel (fairly expensive at £1.50/litre) stopped for a short stay (£9 for 2 hours for my RIB), went ashore for lunch and to buy some birthday presents.

Passage time: 3:00
Mileage: 60 NM
Fuel used: 71 litres


By 14:30 was ready to leave and hop round the Lizard to Newlyn. Was pretty sunny and conditions improving all the time, so had a fast run out across Falmouth Bay past the Manacles buoy towards the Lizard. Some slight rolling swells off the Lizard, but still happily maintained 17kn. Mounts Bay seemed slightly choppier so again I headed slightly north to better ride over the swells and gain some more protection. Was tied up in Newlyn by 16:15, and arranged with the harbour master to leave the RIB there for a few nights. Having sailed there a couple of times before I really like Newlyn - unlike Penzance it's accessible at all states of tides, and despite mainly being a fishing port the harbour master is incredibly friendly and helpful towards leisure boaters. I then walked ashore to some friends who live locally.

Passage time: 1:45
Mileage: 34 NM
Fuel used: N/A (didn't fill up at Newlyn)
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Old 30 August 2014, 05:39   #5
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Country: UK - England
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Day 3 & 4

At rest in Newlyn and Penzance. Fixed a slightly dodgy connection on the diesel return pipe to the tank that had a slight drip into the bilge.

Day 5 - Newlyn to Salcombe

Sunday had been absolutely miserable, continual rain and strong winds, which only got stronger overnight as forecast. My friends house overlooks Mounts Bay, so Monday morning I stood in the lounge watching the white crests in the bay and the rain squalls come through. Considered the fact I might have to stay another day. By midday there was a break in the clouds, the white crests had mainly vanished and things were looking much better. I decided to at least see if I could get round the Lizard to Falmouth before the next front came in, or failing that would just return to Newlyn. So I quickly packed up, ran down to the boat and was moving by 12:30. The Ribtec made short work of the following sea across Mounts Bay, only once stuffing the nose slightly. Much larger swells off the Lizard, but still perfectly manageable at 15kn, so I carried on. Having rounded the Lizard conditions in Plymouth Bay seemed better than forecast, perhaps slightly sheltered by the headland, and so I decided to head straight for Salcombe. With a following sea all the way I kept up a steady 20-25kn, with the boat handling these conditions beautifully and needing very little driver input - only some throttle off/on with particularly large waves. As I approached Hope Cove and the final few miles to Salcombe the conditions worsened with very heavy seas and breaking waves slowing me down. I was glad to round the final headland and run into Salcombe Harbour by 16:45. Harbour master tells me it's been so miserable all day that only a single yacht has come into the harbour. I filled up with diesel and managed to arrange the same spot on the commercial quay overnight, and this time found a cheaper room at the Victoria Inn right on the quay that was superb - very clean and had everything I needed for a night's rest.

Passage time: 4:00
Mileage: 76 NM
Fuel: 122 litres used from Falmouth -> Newlyn -> Salcombe.
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Old 30 August 2014, 05:39   #6
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Country: UK - England
Town: Poole
Boat name: El Mono
Make: Ribtec 9M
Length: 9m +
Engine: Yanmar 315/Bravo III
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 368
Day 6 - Salcombe to Poole

Had to move the RIB off the commercial quay by 08:30. Raining and miserable as forecast, so I put it on the visitor loading pontoon and go ashore for breakfast in Morgan's Cafe. Live wind readout at Prawle Point is only 12kn and has been lessening since I've been watching, so whilst it's still raining by 10:00 decide it's time to leave. I put on full foul weather kit and head out, into serious swells coming over the Bar. Once clear of the Bar conditions improve, and I'm soon up to 25kn - with reduced visibility don't really want to go any faster. As I clear the headlands and move into Lyme Bay, sunshine breaks out and it's really quite warm. Continue across in a following sea at 25-30kn, passing a number of yachts on passage as well in both directions. Slightly lumpy conditions off Portland Bill, this time I'm a few miles off, and whilst not too bad clearly it's the final straw for my leaning post, the driver's side mounting for which shears off. I've never liked the thing - it's a poor piece of design mechanically and ergonomically, so finally gives me a reason to ditch it! A trip to Biffers will be coming up this winter I hope… In any case, with a bit of rope I could jury rig it to the mounting plate on the deck, so it was still useable and I continued the final leg to Poole. Larger seas off St Albans, but I was soon heading past Swanage and up to 38kn giving the engine a final blast as I headed up the channel into Poole. Entered the harbour at 13:20, and proceeded to the yacht club - journey complete!

Passage time: 3:20
Mileage: 86 NM
Fuel used: N/A - didn't fill up in Poole
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Old 30 August 2014, 05:40   #7
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Country: UK - England
Town: Poole
Boat name: El Mono
Make: Ribtec 9M
Length: 9m +
Engine: Yanmar 315/Bravo III
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 368
Total mileage: 387 NM
Engine hours: 19
Total fuel: 400l (estimated based on consumption during the trip, as I didn't fill up on return in Poole)
Average cruising speed: ~ 22kn
Max speed: 37 kn
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Old 30 August 2014, 06:07   #8
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Thats a great write up, and quite inspiring. I really fancy a few trips like that myself. Need to get some suitable clothing first though.
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Old 30 August 2014, 09:43   #9
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great vid, trip n write up, well done on all counts
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Old 30 August 2014, 12:33   #10
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Originally Posted by Chris Caton View Post
great vid, trip n write up, well done on all counts
Wot he said. Great write-up and thanks for sharing.
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