August 19, 2008
We’re behind schedule, says the skipper, so I think we had better make the next passage a long one..
How long is long? Well how far is it to Penzance? Work out the best time to leave..
Out with the tidal atlas etc and it soon becomes obvious that it is going to be a long haul but at least we should have almost slack water when we go and pick up a following tide down Cardigan Bay.
Oh yeah, well that went belly up quickly as we should have had 0.4 against us off Holy Island and instead we were pushing into 4 knots..
Down below, check the tidal atlas again, and no I haven’t got it wrong, it must be a local eddy or something that the atlas doesn’t show…
Round the South Stack light and we are off south again but even further behind, and the the radio bursts into life Securite Securite this is Holyhead Coastguard, all vessels in the Abersoch Bay are area please watch out fot large items of debris in the water due to THE NUMBER OF BOATS THAT WERE BROKEN UP on Abersoch beach last night…. That’s what a South Westerly gale can do when a mooring is exposed to the full force.
Anyway at least were are sailing again and its time to get the watches organised as this is going to be a long haul. Gary and I take over for the first night watch as we get down Cardigan Bay towards Fishguard and off goes the radio again. Pan Pan all vessels in the vicinity of Aberporth red flares reported. Well we are abeam of it but 20 odd miles away so we can’t help. Keep a lookout and listen in, and eventually we see some white parachute flares going up on the horizon. Time to hand over to Chris and Liz.
Noises in the night, is it a reef going in or one coming out? Try to get some sleep. Up on watch again and its blowing a whooly again, and the hand over isn’t what I expected. “Weather ahead is s**t, winds upto Bf 7 sea state rough to very rough off Cornwall, head for Milford Haven”
Ok so we are barreling along 8 knots boat speed, 12 knots over the ground so that’s 4 knots of tide and how wide is the channel between those two unlit islands? Thank God for GPS!
August 20, 2008
Its getting light and we are coming up to St Annes Head. time to call the skipper.
Its been a bumpy watch with me thinking that “we might need a second reef in soon” and daylight shows that we had the second one in all night anyway.
Still it was good experience in night navigation and some great sailing.
Now where are the markers for the west channel?
Ah here is the skipper and she’s all yours boss.
Little buoys bobbing in in the waves and beacons that look like lighthouses this approach has them all! There the cardinal fine on the port bow.. And we are into the sheltered waters of Milford Haven.
Head up into the marina lock and they are about to open it.
Watch out there’s a seal in here!
The gate opens, the tide is right for free flow anyway and we and the seal slip into the marina. 125 miles covered in 24 hours, not as far as John wanted but we are closer to home.
Time for a breakfast and then get some shut eye, but Gary and I have a friend in this area, I wonder if we can meet up. Ring him at 09:00 and say were in the marina, and he replies Which pontoon are you on, F well I’ve just got in as well I’m on my boat on G. So we call around for a chat before he leaves for home.
And then sleep, get up to go to the Nelson Hotel for supper, and then sleep again!
August 21, 2008
We sleep most of the day, refuel again, and then pull out again in the morning to the sound of the Marina Tannoy. “All vessels in the marina please watch out as the seal is about…”, he is obviously well known around here.
Watches through the day so that we will not be totally knackered come the evening and night and its a combination of motoring and then sailing in the afternoon.
Gary and I take over at about 15:00 and suddenly we have company.. A pod of striped dolphins all around us and swimming alongside. Grab the cameras.
I’ve had dolphins playing on the bow twice in Greece but never before in the UK, and its the first time Gary has seen this many. I’ve got about 10 on the starboard side and I.m sure there were another ten off to port.
Anyway it livens up our trip across the mouth of the Bristol Channel and its soon sunset and then time to pass the watch over.
Up again to take over and “Were off St Ives, and that flash over there is an isolated danger mark here on the chart” Watch out there are also fishing boats about, yes its dark out here and we’re nearly running into Cornwall..
I have another double flash on the bow, another Isolated Danger? No thats the Longships light leave it to port…
Single green light on the starboard bow, no masthead so probably a sailing vessel heading north. Oops its gone to red, she’s tacked..
Ok so now were past her and there is only the lighthouse and its rocks to worry about..
Coming down on the Longships and hey we’ve found Nessie! The light house is just like the head and those jagged rocks make the humps, nice moonlit night at times tonight.
August 22, 2008
Vessel astern of us, one red light and masthead. Power driven, port aspect, so why is the bearing staying constant?
Daylight shows an old style sailing vessel astern with wooden light boards in the shrouds, and they are angled just off line so you wont be able to see red and green at the same time!
If she had got really close to us I reckon you might find a position where neither light would show!
Handed over to Chris and Liz as we entered Mounts Bay and laid off a course for the Lizard, time to sleep
Came back up on deck as we got there and then carried on for the Start Point, lots of names that I’ve heard about before but have never seen from the sea.
Not due to take over for an hour or so but can’t get back to sleep.
Time to cook some breakfast, bacon butties anyone?
August 22, 2008
Heading for the Start Point and back on watch just after we pass the Eddystone with Plymouth and Dartmoor visible to the north.
Abeam of Salcome and heading for Brixham for tonight
August 23, 2008
Arrived here last evening after a great sail up from the Start.
Saw what I think was a shark jump right out of the water and splash back in followed by a frenzy of activity just below the surface.
This was followed by another burst of emergency traffic with a boat heading into Dartmouth at 25 knots to meet an ambulance.
Anyway we got into Brixham and moored in the marina to complete 235 miles in a single passage, 36 hours at sea.
Boss has given us the day off to recover so we must be back on schedule now.
August 24, 2008
Off we go again for another longish passage but should only be a daylight one this time.
Checked with the Coastguard that all the firing ranges are inactive so thats great.
Start the watch system again as it will be a long day.
Off goes the radio again Securite Securite This Is Warship Portland Warship Portland, position x,y all vessels please be advised that we are about to carry out live firing of guns and missiles out to a range of eight nautical miles.
Slam a waypoint into the GPS at x,y Set a proximity alarm for 8NM, and oh s**t we are inside the circle and only five miles away. Left hand down a bit Gary!
Grey vessel on the horizon , bearing checks with the GPS, HMS Portland, Type 23 Duke class frigate, sistership to HMS Iron Duke that Gary and I had a look around at the boat show back in January.
Then we had a long chat with the Gunnery rating about her 4.5inch fast firing turret, fifteen rounds on automatic and then let the barrel cool down… and then another 15 if there is anything left of the target. She also has Harpoon missiles I believe, not someone you want to mix it with.
Yes I know they operate the ranges on a “clear range policy” so they don’t shoot if they can see you, but what if they don’t see you or shoot it off in the wrong direction. Left hand down a bit more Gary!
Clear of the area at last and I can see Portland Bill, now to go close in shore to avoid the tide race.
I didn’t realise just how close to the lighthouse you have to go , missed the worst of the seas but caught the edge of them ..
High speed vessel on the port bow, Weymouth Lifeboat is going somewhere in a hurry. It is Sunday, lets hope they are only out training, otherwise someone is in trouble west of Portland.
Yellow buoy fine on the starboard bow! Check the chart, Target Buoy for Naval Gunnery in the Lulworth range….Securite Securite This Is Warship Lancaster Warship Lancaster, position a,b all vessels please be advised… How many Duke class frigates do the Navy have and cant they use the same bit of sea for their pop gun trials.. Lets get out of here!
Anyway clear of the zone again, and off Swanage.
More radio traffic, someone has found a sailing dinghy inverted about 10Nm South of Anvil Point, Coastguard tell them that it matches one cast adrift from a yacht earlier when it capsized under tow and they couldn’t recover it, so no-one is in trouble. Swanage Lifeboat launched later to recover it but couldn’t find it, perhaps it had eventually gone down.
I can see the Needles, nearly there now but where is that elusive North Channel to avoid the banks and the worst of the tide..
August 25, 2008
Lymington to Gosport on a bank holiday Monday, just like a normal weekend.
There are more boats out here than we’ve seen in the entire trip, I had forgotten what a crowded bit of water this is.
Vessel on the bow, on port tack, vessel on the starboard bow closing on starboard, go behind her, and then watch out for the other one…
Liz and Chris have phoned their family to be down on Gillkicker Point to see us come in. Skippers on the helm and knows these waters well but how close in can you go to that point? I thought they wanted to take pictures not shake hands.
Up the small boat channel into Portsmouth harbour, traffic everywhre..
Left hand down a bit and go for berth Sierra 3, got it!
Jump ashore and tie her up and were done (apart from the packing, cleaning etc)
Two Invincible class carriers opposite us, Illustrious and Ark Royal, and a strange shaped submarine, get the glasses out, foreigner, but isn’t that an Indian flag? Yep, and it turns out that they got the Russians to build them 10 Echo class diesel subs. OK but she is still a long way from home.
Last check through the cabin and lockers, and where did all this stuff come from.
John calls Gary down for a chat and gives him his Competent Crew certificate, 850 miles , 12 night hours on watch, three or four passages over 60 nm, including one of 235 nm. That was one hell of an “In at the deep end Competent Crew course!”
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