We decided to return directly to Falmouth from Cherbourg, but deteriorating weather combined with sail malfunctions to push us into dangerous waters on a lee shore, a detour, and a rescue…

lifeboat 2

05 August 2019

12:00 (BST) departing Cherbourg under power. Breezy, but wind predicted to continue from the W or SW and shouldn’t get up too much.

13:00 Under sail. Wind picking up. We’re taking a route past Portland and Lyme Bay, so that we have places to run if we have problems.

15:00 Definitely breezier than expected, so we’ve but a couple of turns on the genoa

17:00 Speed freak Aleksandra strikes again! With the tide and wind to help, Amneris has just smashed all previous records with 9.1 knots SOG! Only for a few moments, though.

19:30 Jibe to avoid 50-metre Maltese commercial vessel that completely ignored a) our presence and b) our right of way. The skipper wouldn’t have need any electronic devices to hear what I thought of him.

22:00 Wind really picking up, and we’re experiencing the Chops of the Channel. It’s going to be a bumpy night.

06 August 2019

03:00 Passing south of Portland. Not only has the wind settled into a stronger than expected B5 with gusts, it’s also shifted more S than SW.

05:30 Chart plotter screen doesn’t want to work, so navigating solely with the traditional chart, pencil and compass method. Definitely gusting 30+ knots.

07:30 Change of plan. With the wind now almost directly from the south and threatening to increase, we’re heading for Torquay to hide (why is it always Torquay?). Not that we have much choice, as we’re being blown into Lyme Bay anyway.

09:00 Too much wind for the main in any shape, and the genoa is playing up again. We’re 17 miles from Torquay, and the engine is on.

11:00 The engine is overheating, and there’s a little smoke from the compartment. It isn’t designed for this kind of thing, can’t punch against the conditions, and apparently the cooling water intake is out of the water more than it’s in it. Amneris is disabled, and we’re still getting blown towards land.

lifeboat 1

11:12 Falmouth Coastguard, Falmouth Coastguard, Falmouth Coastguard, this is sailing vessel Amneris, Amneris, Amneris, over…

13:00 Tied up alongside in Exmouth marina. Falmouth and Solent Coastguard liaised with RNLI Exmouth, who sent the all-weather lifeboat our to tow Amneris to safety. It was a difficult call to make, as I was looking for another way out of the situation – or at least to stay where we were and not get closer to a crashing landfall. As it turned out, the Lifeboat crew and RNLI coordinator were rather relieved that we called in when we did. In a few hours the rain will start, and later this evening, waves will be blowing into the harbour. We’re going to be stormbound in Exmouth for a while.

One thought on “Our sailing adventures: a call to the RNLI and a lifeboat rescue when the weather turns bad during English Channel crossing

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