August 27, 2009
Thursday 27th August. PSM, IoM to Beaumaris. 63 miles. 11.5 hours
It is quite comforting to sail with another yacht at night and keep in regular contact. Sea Lark has no radar. Their radar reflector was in the car. I was surprised by the volume of “traffic” off IoM given that some day-time crossings you seem to see nothing at all. Jan kept Sea Lark informed of what was heading their way. Jan understands the radar much better than me.
We had reverted to coward mode and not put the main up as I was not keen on crawling out on deck in the sea conditions and in the dark. Instead (shame on us) we used genoa and engine
The wind strength and direction was as forecast F4 NW, going W, going SW, going S and strengthening. The sea conditions eased gradually through the night and were even acceptable to Jan by 0600. We came through Puffin Sound at 0930 (against the last of the ebb) and were on the mooring for 10.30.
The weather decided to have the last laugh (it seems to have been laughing at us for 6 weeks!). A strong S/SW blew up before lunch time making the job of ferrying gear to shore difficult and very wet at best. Fortunately Derek Lumb was working on WS and helped us out using his dory. He was helpful again later jump starting Jan’s car as nearly 7 weeks of disuse had flattened the battery!!
Distance covered 750 nm
Engine Hours 100 (inc. Crinan Canal)
Islands visited 13
Bits broken or lost. Dinghy seat. Cooker grill. Boathook
The best bits certainly outdid the worst and the worst was thinking we were all going to drown for about 2 hours.
I learnt a lot about how much Soay can do and take, and (after a bit of a domestic) I also learnt so much about how to sail her, rather than make the tea, cook dinner, clean the heads…
It was exhausting, frightening, exhilarating, fun and a number of David Attenborough moments of pure joy. I would do it again but perhaps not until next season!
August 26, 2009
Wednesday 26th August
The forecasts gave some hope of a suitable break in the weather with F4 W and even NW promised. Unfortunately this was between late Wednesday evening and Thursday lunchtime. We convinced Sea Lark (based at Port Penryn) that this was the only opportunity between now and next week, as indeed it seemed to be. I have nothing against sailing at night other than:-
- No sleep
- No alcohol
- I get disorientated and think lights are nearer (or further away) than they actually are
We set off together at 2300. Pitch dark and a rough sea. Jan is by now a fully paid up member of the “smooth to glassy” club and understandably not keen on these “lumpy to sick inducing” conditions.
August 25, 2009
Tuesday 25th August. PSM
Yet another day of strong wind coming (later)/ possibly gale (later)/ small craft will die (later)/ don’t bother going home anyway as your house has blown down (later) etc. etc. forecasts. Despite this one yacht departed for Douglas rather than have a repetition on this morning’s shenanigans. In fact it really was quite a nice day, sunny with a fair breeze. We moved Soay to raft alongside the remaining yacht “Sea Lark” on the basis that having them as a fender against the wall was better. The death by “later” duly arrived later but fortunately from the SW so the night was distinctly more peaceful than the previous one.
August 24, 2009
Monday 24th August. Portaferry to Port St. Mary, Isle of Man. 32 miles, 6.5 hrs
Left 0730 about 2 hours before slack water locally. Made a bigger pig’s ear of departing than arriving
We had helped move a motor sailer “Dawn Bird” into the vacant berth next to us
In my morning befuddlement I had allowed for the strong ebb through the marina and the opposing SW breeze of 15 knots or so but alas, not enough allowance for the tide. We gave Dawn Bird’s davits a healthy clout and bounced gently off the end of the pontoon. No real damage and the owner of Dawn Bird was kind to us in his reaction
We then whistled down the Narrows at 3 knots through the water c/o engine and 8/9 knots over the ground c/o tide.
When all this water pouring at speed out of Strangford Loch meets the rest of the Irish Sea large and dangerous standing waves are created. If like us you are being swept towards them by a 6 knot flow of water there is little you can do to avoid them other than do what we did which was to go close in to Bar Pladdy rocks where the standing waves are less as the main flow is in the centre of the channel.
The sailing from Strangford to Calf Sound was an enjoyable reach in a variable F4 SW, although the sea state reflected the previous days stronger winds. We averaged 6 or more knots and went through Calf Sound (under engine) at 1308, 8 minutes after my calculations estimated that the flow there turned from S to N. I was pleased with our luck!
The mile or two to PSM from the Sound was rough and I had great fun getting the main down outside the harbour. How I love grimly clinging on to the boom with a mouth full of sail ties gently explaining to Jan how I would be tickled pink if she were to perhaps consider pointing Soay a little more into the wind (she already was!). Although I think boom stacker bags and lazy jacks spoil the appearance of good looking yachts (like Sadler 32s), one is high on our winter shopping list along with a motorised winch and a cockpit tent
We were the only yacht in the outer harbour when we tied up at 1400. Tying up to a harbour wall was a new trauma for Jan. She doesn’t do ladders. She did today and scowled at me for hours. Once tied up I had to inflate the dinghy to take Jan and Oscar ashore. Oscar doesn’t do ladders either. (Jan doesn’t do 20ft ladders, Jan does 10ft at best – Oscar confirmed to me (Jan) that he doesn’t even do 10ft!)
We were joined later by 2 other yachts who rafted up behind us. All 3 skippers got together for a chat on deck between 0200 and 0400. The wind had strengthened and gone into the SE and put a very strong scend into the harbour. It was HW and we were all adjusting mooring lines and fenders. Sadly Soay’s pulpit and aft port side sustained some minor damage from the wall before I was able to address the problem. Problem addressed mostly with four letter words.
August 23, 2009
Sunday 23rd August. Portaferry
20 plus knots of SW even in the shelter of the marina all day
One yacht on the Strangford side of the Narrows appeared to have broken away from it’s mooring overnight and was on the rocks.
We stayed put, as did everyone else in the vacinity
The forecast (XC Weather) said it would drop mid evening. It did much to our amazement
August 22, 2009
Saturday 22nd August. Portaferry and back to Portaferry
We like Portaferry, but not this much
Sailed up to Down CC, intending to spend the night on their pontoon
Good sail on flat sea with seals and dolphins
Got there. Sod off, it’s a “club day/ sail past” or something. No visitors, no pontoon, no moorings available.
P.S. This is not a comment on the Club who I know from personal experience usually welcome visitors but sod’s law dictates visitors will turn up on the one day a year they’re not welcome and if no other arrangements are offered, visitors may be a bit miffed
Returned to Portaferry under engine. Now windy again. Made a complete horlicks of berthing with strong tide pushing Soay at an angle to the strong wind at yet another angle to the pontoons. However pride was restored a little later when “Duberry Superyacht” arrived (with extra added bowthruster) and made a much bigger horlicks (and a dint in the pontoon). Laugh? Me?
Fine day up to 1930. Then rain and increasing wind in the marina (S, 20 knots mid-evening)
August 21, 2009
Friday 21st August. Bangor NI to Portaferry, Strangford Loch, NI
Left 0700 on the strength of a Met Office forecast that claimed “4-5”. We got “5-6” with a rough ‘wind over tide’ sea thrown in.
Initially OK. Sailed through Donaghadee Sound, except for a short burst of engine to avoid a tidal set onto Deputy Reefs
Sail as far as Skullmartin. Close hauled and reefed in 20 knots of SSW
Motor-sail then to inshore of South Rock and on to Strangford entrance
Rough again. Mutiny, mutterings and unhappiness from crew
Jan and Oscar are getting rather fed up of these “exhilarating” days. I don’t blame them
Swept through Strangford Narrows at the top of a spring tide at roughly 8 knots. Avoided a HUGE erection (not something I have personal experience of) in the middle of the Narrows. It generates elastictrickery for 1000 local homes apparently
August 20, 2009
Thursday 20th August
Ditto above. How easily the days pass. Stay in bed. Leisurely cup of tea. Walk the (by now) desperate dog. Buy paper. Return. Read paper. More tea. Late breakfast/ lunch. Shop. Return. By now G&T time. Drink. Evening meal. Bed
August 19, 2009
Wednesday 19th August
Sitting in the marina listening to the wind howling in the rigging.
August 18, 2009
Tuesday 18th August. Portpatrick, Scotland to Bangor, NI. 5 hours, 25 nm.
Not the brightest decision to cross the North Channel in the weather as it turned out. The reality was significantly different from the inshore forecast which have been consistently poor
We set off in 22 knots of SW and ended up in mid North Channel with 28-30 knots and 2/3 metre waves. I’d forgotten (did I ever know?) how rough this stretch of water can be. Used the engine all the time plus reefed genoa for the first couple of hours
I capped this all by trying to fit my little finger through the turning block for the genoa sheet when we eventually ditched the sail. Blood mixed with seawater all over the sheets and in the cockpit is not a pretty sight!!
Thankfully in marina by 1600 hours. Cost me (another) meal out!! Not easy to eat one handed
Forecast for well into next week is poor. Strong winds
Really am getting fed up of the poor weather, like many others I suspect!!