May 22, 2010
This will be my longest cruise to date on ‘Dream Catcher’ my Hurley 22 and probably my only chance to do a trip this long. Hoping to get to Ireland, Wales, South Coast England, Channel Islands and Brittany. Not sure what order, but as weather permits over two months departing on May 23rd 2010. Hope to be able to keep this blog up to date as and when I can during the cruise.
May 23, 2010
0323 Sunday May 23rd
Well I’m off, dropped my mooring in St Marys Harbour at 0323 on a clear night with a gentle ENE 2-3 as forecast. Had to cut up through Tresco channel on a falling tide to avoid going the usual longer routes to the East or the NW. I motorsailed up Tresco channel and past the yachts on the visitors moorings and out through New Grimsby sound until safely clear of ‘Kettle Rocks’. I would not recommend anyone who is not familiar with the drying areas of Tresco channel to do this in the dark, although straight forward enough if done at high water.
0416 Clear of any hazards off the back of Tresco, engine off and under full sail, 127.2 miles to the entrance of Cork Harbour bearing 332 degrees, 4.8 knots over the ground. A great night for sailing a with lots of stars out and a nice breeze, slight sea and swell. Already starting to look lighter to the East and the sun will soon be up. 0600 a beautiful sunrise, 5 knots SOG and 119 miles to go.
Only the second time I have made such a long passage across open water single-handed and the usual anxiety waiting to get going has long gone now that I am finally underway. 0715 Wind now freshened to ENE 4 and I struggled to get the first reef put in. The eye on the new mainsail is slightly too large for the reefing horn and jamming against mast when I try to hook it on. A new sail being quite stiff also didnt help. Need to bend the reefing horns out a bit sometime. Can always lash the reefing eyes down in the short term if it causes any more trouble. Moderate sea and swell, lovely sailing and getting 7.8 knots surfing down a few of the waves. Had to take the reef out again half an hour later, typical wind now steady ENE 3. Lovely sailng with blue sky.
A text book sail and managed to achieve 36 miles in the first 6 hours. Off to a flyer but I will have to wait and see if the wind holds as it is forecast to die away slowly by mid day and remain light over night. Have plenty of fuel on board if necessary to motorsail and the trusty 8 HP Yamaha 4 stroke outboard mounted in a well pushes her along very well at 1/3 to 1/2 throttle.
1536 Wind has dropped away and only making 3 knots, so on with engine. Making 5 knots again with 73.5 miles to go. Blue sky with the odd cloud and very hot, managed to get my lilly white legs quite sunburnt in last few hours. First outing for them this summer!
Steady 5 knots maintained and sea state almost flat. Treated to a lovely sunset but the wind has dropped right away. A long night of motor sailing ahead. Using about 1.5 litres of petrol an hour should be able to motor sail the whole lot and still have 15 litres to spare. Good job I carry lots of spare fuel in anticipation of this situation. Averaging 4.7 knots.
Since dark visibility to the north has reduced greatly and it feels like I am close to the edge of a fog bank. 0535hrs A lovely sunrise coming 11.6 miles to Cork entrance. A long damp and cool night motor sailing listening to the noise of the engine and ticking off the miles.
0830 Lovely clear sunny morning in Cork Harbour, ropes and fenders set ready. Turning into Owenboy River and heading up towards Crosshaven and the marinas. Picking my way through the local yacht moorings and decide to ask some people aboard a large grey yacht which marina can supply petrol. The couple onboard turn out to be friends of mine who i met in Scilly 5 years ago when they had a small catamaran. I raft up alongside them and go aboard for a cup of coffee while they check the almanac for marinas that sell petrol. A hour passes and I need to get moving to the Marina and get some sleep. They are waiting for the tide to go further up the river to ‘Drakes Pool’ so they will probably still be there in a few days when I intend to go to ‘Drakes Pool’ for a night before setting off to move up the Irish coast.
0930hrs Arrive Royal Cork Yacht Club and find an alongside berth. Its been 28hrs since departing and tiredness is getting a grip on me as I head up to the Marina office to pay. Now I have stopped and there are no more targets to achieve the body is shutting down. reasonable charges and full facilites here including free wifi and shore power. Friendly staff and pleasant atmosphere. Time to sleep. All in all a very good crossing and the forecast was accurate. I knew I would have to motorsail some of it but at least it gave me nice flat seas and steady progress in the right direction. Just what I needed for a first crossing to Ireland.
Had two nights at Royal Cork Marina to catch up on sleep and get fully rested. Lovely weather and time to get to know the area. Its a pleasent twenty minute flat walk along the front to Crosshaven where there is a supermarket, a fish and chip shop and a couple of pubs. Apart from the boatyards thats your lot! I was expecting somewhere much bigger with all the large marinas here. It was a nice stay and I made full use of the facilities at the marina. I did a few minor jobs on the boat and sealed a weeping cockpit drain. Will be moving up the river to spend a night at the famous ’Drake’s Pool’ before setting off up the coast probably on thursday. I intend to keep costs down by keeping away from marinas but I would highly recommend a stay at the Royal Cork Marina.
May 27, 2010
After a nice couple of days at the Royal Cork Yacht Club I moved up to Drakes Pool 20 minutes up the Owenboy River. Said to be where Francis Drake hid his ship from the Spanish who were patrolling Cork Harbour. A fierce tide runs and you need to keep up enough speed to maintain steerage as you will have to navigate moored boats and the occasional buoy getting pulled under. Drakes Pool appears as you finish navigating a long ‘S’ bend in the river. You used to be able to anchor here but there are some private mooring buoys here now. Most people pick one of these buoys but an owner may well appear quickly and remind you it is private. They still seem to be happy for you to use it though. Have your mooring ropes ready to feed through an eye on top of the buoy, as the tide will sweep your bow away quickly. I arrived at full flood 2 hours before high water and there was 2 1/2 knots of tide running. I had to ferry glide with the engine driving to hold station above the mooring as I threaded the buoy. Being single-handed does have some draw backs but it all went well on the second attempt.
There are tall wooded banks on both sides with a road along one bank and a footpath next to it frequently used by walkers and joggers. It is a lovely little spot and a real bolt hole, you could understand how Drake was never found. How he managed to actually get a square rigger up the river before engines and without grounding is a feat in itself.
The grey ketch in the picture is ‘RONGLAS’ a unique and serious junk rigged ocean crosser. Designed and built by Jock McCloud incorporating many features of used by his friend the famous Blondie Hasler of ‘OSTAR’ fame. Google it for more information. Built of ‘Caschophen’ sheaved mahogany, very heavily framed and weighing in at 16 tons for a 43ft yacht. It was bought last year by some friends who I met five years ago when they came to Scilly in an early James Wharram design catamaran. They lived on her full time and spent the next five years cruising the French coast before looking for something bigger. ‘Ron Glas’ is a big step up for them and they have done a lot of cosmetic restoration work to her and are waiting here in Drakes Pool for a weather window to go direct to spain. It is there permanent home and a remarkable boat which I was fortunate enough to go aboard for a couple of hours. Good luck Tony and Sally.
Made myself some dinner and sat taking in the surroundings in the cockpit, lovely weather again.
Tomorrow will see me depart around 0800 with the ebb for either Dungarvan approx 40 miles or further on to Dunmore East approx 60 miles.
Note: Mobile phone signal is very weak here but okay for text messaging.
May 28, 2010
0700hrs Departed Dungarvan for Waterford approx 35 miles.
Need to be at Dunmore East in time to catch the flood up river to Waterford. LW around 1300 hrs but not exactly sure when the flood starts up to Waterford so will anchor for lunch at Dunmore East until it begins. A very strong flood up to Waterford so need to get it timed right. Aim to cover the 20 miles to Dunmore East by 1300 hrs but an hour or so later would still be okay. Leaving earlier has actually worked out well. The forecast is SW or SSW 2-3 becoming SSW 3-4 by 1900. Similar pattern to yesterday with the wind coming up with the tide in the afternoon.
Another lovely morning with bright sunny skies with a few clouds around mainly over the land. Very light winds as I head off down the entrance channel at high water +1hr. Motoring until I get clear of the channel and into open water in the bay. Engine sounds slightly different, I check to see that the tell tale is running and its fine. Thought it may have ingested some of the soft Dungarvan mud through the intakes on the leg. Very light winds again and spend the first hour just drifting out of the bay with the ebb. Decide to motorsail over to the coast and keep in close again to avoid the main tide and have a good view of the cliffs and many little coves and beaches along the coast. A few pot buoys but well marked.
1234hrs After motor sailing under full sail and engine at low revs now able to cut the engine. Broad reaching 4.5 knots Irish radio 1 on in the back ground, quite entertaining. Wind SSW 2 and Hook Head light house visible on the bow. Swines head just before Dunmore East coming up and should be at Dunmore in plenty of time. Tidal info on chart plotter showing tide still ebbing from Waterford. Wonderful toy!
1322hrs Arrived Dunmore East Harbour, stowed sails and anchored close in behind the local moorings under the cliff in 5 metres at low water. Anchor holding fine but water not clear enough to see the bottom. Remembered to put up my anchor ball and settled down to lunch in the cockpit. Lovely and sunny and just in out of a small swell that is coming across the outside of the harbour from the south. Probably not so comfortable at high water here. The inner harbour is a busy fishing port and probably best avoided by yachts but the anchorage is much prettier than I was expecting. A Hurley 22 on one of the local moorings but can’t make out a name.
The entrance to Waterford is wide with the distinctive Hook Head and light house on NE side and Swine’s Head on the SW. Saw one yacht out motoring around as I came in but thats all the yachts I have seen out sailing since Cork. Where are they all?
1440 Departed Dunmore East under engine with half a knot of flood. Looking up the entrance towards Waterford you can see a headland a mile or so in on the port side called ‘Creadan Head’ which to me looks like it offers much better protection as an anchorage than Dunmore East. You can tuck right in behind it for a way and even probably dry out further in.
After half an hour slipping along with the flood at 6 knots you start to see it narrowing ahead as you approach a spit marker and East Passage. You will probably see a life boat on its mooring here to and a ferry crossing. The tides are very strong here as you get swept through East Passage at 8 knots! Now you are in the river proper and if you study your chart don’t need to follow the markers and can cut inside most of them until past Cheek Point. Lovely scenery as you go along and a couple of little boat yards tucked away on the banks. As you go around ‘Cheek Point’ you will see a power station to starboard and if it is a SW wind you will start to get a fresh breeze funnelling down and wind against tide chop on the water. There are also some strong tidal eddies for the next couple of miles as you pass a large dockyard and go past a little island just before Waterford. Still doing 6 knots comfortably at low revs.
The final straight approaching Waterford once past the island slowly reveals the city and it isn’t the hard transition from countryside to city that I thought it was going to be, a pleasant surprise. There are a couple of modern apartment developments and small marinas before you get to the three large Marina pontoons at Waterford City. The visitors pontoon is pontoon ‘C’ and is the last one you come too before the Tug boat berth. Have all your ropes and fenders ready as there is a very strong tide at full flood, it was running at 4.5 knots when I arrived!
1755hrs Tied up alongside Waterford. You can moor on the inside or outside of pontoon ‘C’ and will need to raft up when busy. I tried to get to a vacant berth on the inside but my little outboard struggled to stem the tide and berthing successfully took a few attempts and wasn’t pretty. My propeller being behind the rudder doesn’t give you very good steerage but luckily a local man appeared after a while and was a great help taking a rope and spinning the boat around for me when I ended up bows on to the pontoon and beam on to the 4.5 knot tide. Needless to say I ended up berthed with my fenders and ropes on the wrong side! No damage done thanks to ‘Tom’ who took my rope. I expect many people mess up berthing here. The pontoons are all wood capped so no real harm can be done, just a couple of marks to polish out sometime. A very good days sailing and I am facing the right way to leave.
Note: Allow three hours to get from Dunmore East to Waterford at full flood. You could do it quicker in 2 1/2 hours but if you motor harder but up to 8 knots with the flow is fast enough for me.
May 29, 2010
Friday evening 28th May 2010
After arriving and sorting the boat out I went to see what the procedure was for boats arriving out of hours. There is a board at the gangway which gives you a telephone number to ring for the Marina Superintendent. He took brief details about me and the boat and sent me a telephone number by text which was a specific to my phone and my boat and you ring it to open the gate. I had been warned by Tony and Sally in Cork that they have a strange system here. Its okay for locals because they are only paying a local call rate. Visiting boats from other countries are paying roaming charges and even with my Vodafone passport deal it is costing me a 75p connection charge and then what ever my normal rate would be in the UK. Ouch….that adds up if you go in and out a few times a day, so be warned! You obviously must make sure you have your phone with you at all times as well. If you decide to wait for someone else to open the gate and follow them through you might be in for a long wait. Its very quiet here and there only seems to be a little bit of activity on week ends when a few locals come down to check their boats.
The Marina Superintendent turned up about an hour later and I paid him for two nights. After mentioning that Tony and Sally had said you do good rates here for more than one night he said there was no problem staying an extra night or two. He would just leave my gate number activated on the system for a couple of extra nights, no charge. He gave me a key for the showers and toilets and I proceeded to pay him the 24 Euros for two nights. I wanted to pay by card but you can only do that at the Town Hall which is now shut for the weekend. I had two 20 Euro notes and he had no change so he just made charged me 20 Euros instead. A great deal I thought, Tony and Sally said it was good here, I can see why they stayed 10 days. n Irish Navy mine sweeper came in early evening and pulled up ahead of the visitors berths. Glad he didn’t come earlier when I was coming up the river!
It was now getting late so after ringing home I nipped up into the city centre to have a wonder around to get my bearings and find some food. Yep fish and chips again and an hour walking around. Seems like quite a nice place as city’s go. It was just starting to get dark so I headed back and rang the number to open the gate. Nothing happened and it went through to an answer machine. Two more times it happened and I was getting concerned because not only was I locked out this was getting expensive in phone calls. I rang the Marina Superintendent and left a message for him stating I was locked out. It was now nearly 10pm and then a local guy appeared and he couldn’t get his number to activate the gate either. We got chatting and he had had the same problem a week ago and saw how the Marina guy had reset it. When no one was looking he managed to get it to reset after three attempts and then we finally got it to work. He was staying onboard his Benateaux 36 for the weekend and invited me onboard for a coffee. We had a good old chin wag about sailing and each others boats and by now it was midnight. Really helpful and friendly the Irish I have met, its so refreshing. Back to my boat and phoned home again, and finally got to bed at 0130. So much for an early night to catch up on the 3 1/2 hours sleep the previous night.
Saturday 29th May 2010
0800hrs In bed enjoying best sleep for days. Knock, knock on the side of the hull……..Hello…….Customs!
It was a grey drizzly morning and a man and a woman in uniform were standing on the pontoon looking very sheepish after realising they had woken me up. They apologised and took my details and asked for my passport and registration document. Glad I put her on the Small Ships Register now. They thought better of coming aboard as it would have been a bit cosy for the three of us, that’s a definite plus for small boats. They were very friendly and not at all officious and even started telling me about things that were available in the city. Well wide awake now so might as well get up. Drizzle supposed to clear to showers then brighten later.
Took my time and had some toast and coffee and had a chat with Tom who had taken my rope when I came in. He has got a river boat on the opposite side of the pontoon to me and seems to come down regularly through the day. A quiet man but again very friendly and helpful. Hoping the Marina guy might appear with an electricity card so I can use my laptop without draining the battery. Had another coffee onboard Fea’s boat again at his insistance and another good chat. When I mentioned I was hoping the Marina guy might show up with an electricity card he opened a drawer a threw me a couple. He wouldnt except any payment so in the end I just took one which would give me 10Kw, plenty to run a laptop. More Irish hospitality for you, what great people.
It was now midday so I went back aboard my boat and had something to eat and got ready to go into the city. Needed to pack everything I might need into my rucksack just in case the gate didn’t open again. A few more people around on the pontoon today, a little busier at the weekend. Need to go on a good walk to get my leg muscles working and go right around the edge of the city and then back into the centre a good hours walk. Sun breaking through and quite warm now. A group of people start assembling in a little square in the middle of the precinct dressed in nautical Breton style costumes. I stop and watch as they perform several ballads and songs to an appreciative audience. Its some sort of sea shanty weekend here in Waterford. They were very good and in time honoured tradition they packed up and disappeared into a local bar.
After doing a little shopping and more walking I got back to the boat quite shattered and after a little rest tried out the electricity card. Success it works, I have shore power. You need to remember to remove your card from the machine once it has read it before it will work. Just as i sat down at the laptop an Irish Coastguard rescue helicopter came in and did a display with a small rib and then a afterwards a local tug put on a display with his water jets. Thanks guys! I know the Irish have been incredibly welcoming and hospitable but I don’t think it was just for me?…..or was it?
Wrote some posts to add to upload to this blog when I find an internet cafe tomorrow. Spoke to home again and turned in at midnight. A great day getting to know Waterford.
Sunday 30th May 2010
0830hrs At last a full eight hours sleep, feeling a lot less tired now. Spent most of the day writing posts to get this blog up to date while I have access to shore power. Sorry no photos taken today. Went ashore late afternoon and found an internet cafe and updated the blog. I didn’t realise photos cant be clicked on to expand and view when I do updates off line, but I will remedy that when I have proper internet access again by uploading them again. Had a shower and headed back to the boat and had a leisurely dinner aboard. Quite grey all day today but the wind has gone down now and the clouds are moving by much slower. Only real reference you have of what the weather is doing up a river. Looked at the weather for the rest of the week while online earlier and it looks like the winds are going to be mainly from SE to SW tomorrow, then NW 4-5 Tuesday morning NW 3-4 by early afternoon and dropping NW 1-2 by late evening. Possibly a good day to leave for Wales? Light and variable winds from various directions on Wednesday and S or SE 3-5 on Thursday. Light S or SW on Friday and light SW for the weekend. Tuesday might be a more steady wind and give an opportunity to sail without having to motor a lot of the way. Lets see how accurate Magic Seaweeds forecast turns out to be. The U-Grib forecast I used coming up from Cork was not very accurate but the Magic Seaweed forecast coming up from Dungarvan to Waterford was spot on.
The way I have the boat organised is working well and I am pretty snug and not wanting for anything, apart from perhaps some way of playing my mp3 through a some speakers instead of earplugs. Now I’m just getting fussy! Need to work out tides and best departure times for crossing to Wales. Might even move down to Kilmore Quay Marina first if forecasts are not accurate. Time for a late dinner aboard and some sleep.
Monday 31st May 2010
Grey but bright today with a SE wind increasing through the day as forecast, going to become wet and misty overnight with some heavy rain but clearing quickly with winds going light W or NW by morning. Thats the weather window I need to get to Milford Haven in Wales tomorrow before the winds go S or SE by midday on Wednesday. Its approx 80 miles from Dunmore East so it would be nice to get down the river tonight and start from Dunmore East in the morning. Otherwise I will be stuck here until the ebb starts at 0945 tomorrow and by the time I get to Dunmore East it will already be midday. Means going down at about 2100 hrs tonight and getting there in the dark but the channel is well marked and by then the fresh SE winds should have gone down and will be going around to light W or NW. Could be wet and misty though. Need to get across St Georges Channel before any SE winds start. Hope to leave Dunmore East around 1000hrs and average 4 knots to Milford Haven with an ETA of 0600hrs on Wednesday morning. Hoping to go North of the ‘Smalls’ so that I can divert to Fishguard easily if necessary. Will also allow me to cross the shipping lanes closer to 90 degrees.
Walked to the petrol station this morning and got 15 litres of petrol in three cans. Cost was 19.79 Euros but they charged me 68 Euros by mistake. Good job I checked my receipt before leaving the garage. They couldn’t work out how to refund my debit card so they gave me a refund in cash. I will be able to use the Euros in the channel Islands or Brittany anyway. Lugged the fuel back to the boat and had lunch and finished preparations, with a last check on the weather and update of the blog at the internet cafe. Its been very pleasant here and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a bolt hole on this coast. Feeling relaxed but looking forward to moving on again now.
May 31, 2010
Monday 31st May 2010
It looks like there might be a weather window to cross to Milford Haven, Wales on Tuesday. The fresh SE 4-5 winds today will moderate overnight and become WNW 3 by 0700hrs and then NW 4 through the morning and then decrease 2-3 by mid to late afternoon. Going back to the SE by Wednesday. The only problem is I need to go down river with the tide and high water isnt until 0930 on Tuesday. Going down to Dunsmore East or Creadan head takes 2 1/2 to 3 hours and thats a good head start to have in the morning. I will depart at high water slack tonight but it will mean pushing into a SE 4-5 wind against tide from where it widens at East Passage. Oh and the forecast also says heavy rain all night, lovely! The channel is very well marked and all the buoys have lights and I will still have some daylight until East Passage.
2050 Depart Waterford City Marina in heavy driven rain and want to at least get to Creadan Head and anchor ready for an early start in the morning. Under motor only and still pushing into 1\2 knot of tide against me. The flow hasnt quite turned yet but doing 4.5 knots comfortably. Get a bit of tidal assistance down past the container port and power station but as I start rounding ‘Cheek Point’ the shelter from the banks is lost and the SE 4-5 lets me know its there. A short chop is building and it will only increase as I pop out of East Passage. Fortunately it isnt full ebb but he seas build as I leave East passage and I am bumping along at 5 knots but not slamming. Speed drops slowly as the chop builds and I eventually end up huddled under the sprayhood bouncing along at 3.5 knots towards Creadan Head and Dunsmore East. It more like ESE here and I wonder if Dunsmore East is a wise place to be as it seems more exposed than Creadan Head to me. Probably going to be a lot of movement in the harbour moorings. The light is failing fast and the motion continues to deteriorate but still not slamming and pushing on okay. Perhaps I should have stayed at Waterford I start to think but then I wouldnt be going past Dunsmore East until early afternoon and would have missed the fresher NW winds in the morning.
2345hrs At anchor under Creadan Head in an amazingly comfortable sea state, but absolutely soaked from the heavy driving rain. It was a bit of a slog for the last hour but now that its full ebb the seas are only going to get worse and although Dunsmore East is only 2.5 miles away it would have been another hour before I got there. Very black now and hard to spot the towering presence of Creadan Head only 100 metres away. As I approached I remembered the advice I was given by Tom at Waterford who said not to go in past the head more than 300 metres as there is a wreck with a sharp spike there! I am in 3.7 metres of water with 25 metres of chain out and its just hanging limp as the tide keeps spinning me all the way around. Must be some sort of back eddie around the point, but its keeping the swell down. Its miserable just a few hundred metres away off the head. Happy that the head is providing the shelter I hoped it would but I am concerned that the anchor hasnt dug in properly, or that the spinning around is going to break it out, so I leave the chart plotter on anchor watch and the depth sounder on. Every now and then I shine my torch at the headland and just pick out the rocks on the shore. I dont seem to be dragging anywhere but its making me nervous. Remove my wet gear to drain off but go to bed fully clothed in case a quick exit is required. As the boat spins I can here the chain gently rumbling along the hull every few minutes. LW is 0315 and there should be 2.39 metres here. Put up my new LED anchor light and try to get some sleep. Alarm clock set for 0600 just in case I do get to sleep.
June 01, 2010
Tuesday 1st June 2010
0530hrs Awoke after a fitful sleep at anchor Creadan Head. Forecast was spot on its a different world out there now. WNW 1-2 slight sea and swell off the head. Damp air but the rain has gone and there is some low cloud. The anchor didn’t drag and I get the usual routine underway. Coffee, bowl of porridge, flask, make sandwiches and snacks for the whole trip.
0705hrs Depart Creadan 85 miles to Milford Haven, eta approx 20 hours. Full Genoa and 1st reef in the main just in case its fresher out clear of the head. The reef isnt required and under full sail against the flood making 5 knots, perfect! Drying my wet gear from last night in the cockpit and just wearing a thin fleece. The clouds are breaking and its blue sky. I looked at three forcast yesterday before leaving Waterford and they all agreed on the weather for overnight and today. I wouldnt have come down from Waterford if they were giving stronger than a SE 4-5. Nice when it all goes to plan.
0920hrs Making 6 knots over the ground off Hook Head, great sailing in bright sunshine goose winged, wind WNW 4. Lot of tide effect for several miles out off Hook Head and a moderate to rough sea. Dream Catcher is in the groove and ploughing along comfortably. Surfing down the odd wave at 7.5 knots. 47 miles to my waypoint South of the ‘Smalls’ light house the other side of the shipping lanes. Decided to go south side so that I dont have to navigate through the off lying islands in the dark tommorrow morning on the approach to Milford Haven in a foul tide. I did the route inside the islands in a small catamaran with an outboard engine in 2005 against a spring tide and SE wind. Not recommended, it produces a horrible short sea and swell. Knocking the speed off you if you try and sail or motor against it.
1115hrs Well it was too good to last, wind has died away to a very light NNW 1. 38 miles to ‘Smalls’ waypoint motor sailing. Have to look at the positives, a chance to charge for the battery after having anchor light and chart plotter on all night.
1447hrs Managed to sail for the last couple of hours at 4.5 knots, gybing down wind but winds just getting lighter all the time as forecast. 24 miles to ‘Smalls’ waypoint. Looks like I have had the best of it and will be motor sailing the rest of the way. Shorts and t-shirt lovely and warm, but a cool wind. Still listening to mad but funny, Irish radio station!
1715hrs Have an escort of 6 dolphins, which increases to about 15 over the next hour. Watching them go off in little groups and jump accross the swells as they hunt for fish I presume, but always returning to the boat.
2015 Dolphins have finally gone after 3 hours of coming and going from the boat. Great to see so many of them but too fast for me to get more than a picture of one fin! Clear of the shipping lanes and the ‘Smalls’ light house now. Only saw one ship in the distance, 17.7 miles to St Ann’s Head at Milford Haven. Motorsailing 4.5 knots making good progress but he tide is turning foul soon and that will slow things up. Temperature dropping fleece and windproof on.
2320 It was a lovely sunset but the sea state is becoming sloppy as we get nearer the off lying island of ‘Skokholm’ which I will be skirting close to. The Bishops and Clerks were visible before sunset off to port and the island of Grass Holme and its bird colony is visible from a long way out. The full force of the 2 to 2.5 knot tide is pushing me in towards ‘Skokholm’ and I am having to steer up on course some 30 degrees to hold my course clear of it over the ground. Usually motorsail at around half throttle but having too push the outboard up to 3\4 throttle here. D’ont like working her that hard for long periods but needs must.
2345hrs Close to the edge of main approach channel to Milford with Skokholm just coming up off the port bow and an Irish Ferry comes looming up behind and passes within 1\2 mile to starboard. Couldnt give him much more room anyway with this tide running, quite close enough thankyou. Damp and cold and very sloppy sea and swell, no wind, just tidal effect. The glow of Skokholm light is close to port and St Ann’s light is on the bow now.
0117hrs Passing St Ann’s Head and sea state improving along with speed.
0210hrs On a buoy at Dale Bay, a few miles inside Milford Haven entrance to port. I have been here before and it is an easy approach at night. As well as a visitors pontoon which was full, there are lots of local moorings. I couldnt make out any visitors buoys in the dark so just picked up a local mooring. The first one I tried didnt look too strong so I found another. Flat calm in here and a beautiful quiet night, trying not to make any noise tidying everthing away on the boat and stowing the sail. Couldnt sleep straight away so finished off with some coffee in the cockpit watching the stars and taking in the glow of lights from the oil terminal across the harbour. Battling in against the tide seems a world away.
June 02, 2010
Wednesday 2nd June 2010
Up at 1000hrs after a nice sleep and had a very leisurely breakfast of toast and coffee. Tried my new vodafone broadband dongle but he signal was too weak to download pages for the weather forecast, Typical! Will move down to Neyland Marina some time today as I could do with stocking up on food stuffs for the next leg. I ring them to book a berth near the outside so that I don’t have to maneuvre into a tight spot. Free wifi down there so will do a big update on the blog and see long range forecast. Can’t get petrol at Neyland, its ten minutes drive away! They suggest I go to a waiting pontoon off Dobb’s Point opposite Neyland entrance on the way. There is a fuel petrol station just up the road.
1350 Departed Dale Bay after a very leisurely morning in glorious sunshine with just a light southerly breeze. Motored out and unfurled the Genoa but not enough wind to sail against the ebbing tide. Going against the tide again, how do I do it! No bother though as its only 5 miles up the entrance past the docks and oil terminals. Spot a ship coming out and decide to head back towards Dale Bay smartly as the deep channel runs very close by and I am not half way across it yet. Probably could have made it but wasnt sure how quick he was approaching and he was still picking up speed. Better safe than sorry in unfamiliar waters. Gave me a good idea of how wide they take the turn for the marks as well. He slipped passed with plenty of water between us and I turned back out again for the far shore and proceeded up the harbour. Some nice little bays the other side. An Irish ferry came out next, quite busy with shipping here, you definately need to stay outside the main deep channels as suggested in the pilot books. Theres plenty of depth for small craft well outside the deep channel so no problem really. Glorious sunshine still and getting very hot. I trundle up the harbour and past the oil terminals where a couple of tankers are being maneuvred by tugs. Four tugs for each tanker, quite an operation. VHF on so that port control can call me if I am unwittingly getting in the way! Just watching and following what the local leisure boats are doing, no problem at all just keep a good watch.
1600hrs after a very slow motor up the harbour taking in the sights and spotting a good anchorage for easterly winds I arrive at the pontoon at Hobb’s Point. Its nearly low water but there is plenty of depth to come alongside. I leave her right on the end to leave room for others but I am the only boat there. I assumed it was the Pembrokeshire Yacht Club pontoon as they are based here. When I ask permission to stay for an hour at the yacht club I am told it is a council pontoon and stay as long as you like but over nighting is not allowed. There are kids jumping off the 20ft quay nearby and having a great time. I put all the instruments away and walk up the road with four 5 litre cans for petrol. Its about a half a mile walk and you pass a Lidl supermarket and then come to a round about with an Asda store and petrol station immediately off it. I put the nozzle in the first can and before I squeeze the trigger realise I have left my wallet on the boat! Damn it…..I trudge back and return twenty minutes later by now hot and sweaty in the heat of the afternoon. The lads were still quay jumping and curious about my boat. I get my petrol and trudge back to the boat again and take ten minutes to relax and cool down.
It was too good an opportunity to miss so I ring the marina and tell them I am running late and will be with them before 1900hrs. I grab my ruck sack and head for the supermarket. An hour later I am back on board with two bags and a bulging ruck sack full of food and veg that will not deteriorate quickly. Coping okay without a fridge but just have to be careful what I buy, any fresh foods have to be eaten within a couple of days or so. The bilge lockers dont keep it as cool as fridge!
When I got back to the boat I noticed the kids quay jumping had gone, some of them were up the road and when I passed them they were explaining to the police why a car that went past them suddenly had a broken side window? I noticed that my cockpit and seats were soaking wet and at first thought it must have been wake from a passing speed boat. No it wasn’t it was water that had run out of kids wetsuits and a big wet bum print on my cockpit cushion confirmed it. No damage was done thankfully but they had also put the engine in gear for me. Good job I locked up and wasnt gone for the day. Little herberts!
Motored across to Neyland Marina through a group of club racing yachts trying to sail against the tide in no wind and taking it very seriously. Tied up at my allocated berth and went ashore to get the gate code and wifi key. Connected the shore power and had dinner down below as the sun goes down behind the hill early here and the marina is in shadow in the evenings. Nice place and lots of boats here, it goes way up the creek as far as you can see and beyond that is an inner marina with a cill. Glad of the shade to cool off and feeling nice and relaxed now the petrol and shopping is out the way. Will think about my options when I see the weather tomorrow.
June 03, 2010
Thursday 3rd June 2010
It might get shade here quickly in the evening but the early morning sun makes up for it. Wall to wall sunshine all day today and a fresh SE 5-6 built through the day outside apparently. Gone off to nothing again this evening. Spent the day loafing around the boat and updating the blog.
Friday 4th June 2010
Went up into the town of Neyland after breakfast for fresh provisions. The town is a good ten minute walk up set of steps from the marina and is basically one long main street running up the hill. It has obviously seen better days and only a few shops remain. A small Co-op store half way up the street on the left and another small supermarket at the top, again on the left. Just past this it levels off and there is a fish and chip shop. After a quiet afternoon aboard in baking hot sun it was time to move on to Dale bay with the ebb. Hardly any wind so a motor all the way. Slowly out past the oil terminals and tankers. One tanker was in mid stream stationary with tugs standing by. He then turned himself around under his own power across the ebbing tide and slid into a berth. Good skills and seamanship. The terminals dominate the area but after a while you get used to them and concentrate on the prettier reaches and bays of Milford Haven near the entrance around and opposite the Dale Bay area.
June 05, 2010
It was a warm muggy night and the springs snatching with the continual slight movement made for a restless sleep. Will pick up a buoy or anchor next time!
0715hrs Departed Dale for Lundy Island motor sailing, expecting to take 8 hours to cover the 38 miles. The forecast is for light W or NW winds until 12 noon and then NW or WNW 7-11 knots. So probably a motor sail for the morning. Because of tidal races around Lundy it is recommended to approach at slack water which today will be around 1725hrs when the East going stream starts. A bright morning with patchy low cloud and fog patches, visibility 1-2 miles. My route will take me along the Eastern side very close to the main marks and buoys for ships approaching Milford Haven so I shouldn’t be in their way but close enough to tick them off as they appear to confirm my position in poor visibility.
A grey bright start but the sun is trying to break through. A couple of porpoises hunting in my wake as ‘St Gowan’s’ mark approaches. A large black seal also appeared a few minutes later, but other than that it is a motor sail in a slight sea and moderate swell.
1100hrs Lundy in sight on the bow 15.6 miles away and its a flat calm sea now with a very light southerly breeze, but not enough to sail. As Lundy draws closer there is a large dark cloud sitting over the island, but its blue sky t-shirt and shorts weather out here. Wind moves around to WSW for a while and becomes light and variable again. Looks like the whole passage will be done under engine. 1443hrs Lundy harbour in sight at the end of spectacular cliffs. Cloudy and cooler here, back on with the trousers and fleece. The race off the NE of the island known as the ‘White Horses’ is quiet and just a big ground swell for a couple of miles as I pass between it and a smaller race inshore. A gentle breeze from the WNW off the land for the last couple of miles as you pass the stunning tall cliffs.
I turn up into wind 1\4 mile short of the harbour to drop and stow the main in the lee of the huge cliffs. The paddle steamer ‘Waverley’ is entering the harbour close to my port side as it lines up on the local transit marks. Lundy Islands own ship the ‘Goldenburg’ which works between Lundy and Bideford is also alongside the quay. Tourists embarking and disembarking, I think I have hit rush hour. The paddle steamer is not a regular visitor and does a few trips and then on to other areas of the UK. I motor into the anchorage and there is a small ‘dragon fly’ like trimaran anchored off the shingle beach and a small 24ft yacht closer in (almost as small as mine). There is also a 48ft yacht on a buoy with a vacant buoy next to it. Two older man are aboard the small yacht and confirm to me the holding is good when I ask. They are also heading for Padstow tomorrow and have come from Milford Haven! I decide to pick up the vacant buoy and wait to see if anyone appears. They are not marked as visitors buoys so I will be staying aboard in case a boat appears to claim his mooring back. The view along the high cliffs and the back drop of the sheer hard rock faces around the quay are imposing and impressive. There are very few local boats here, just two small outboard powered day boats. You can imagine it gets pretty rough around this harbour when the wind goes due north or anything with east in it. You can anchor around the other side of the island in easterlies apparently but not many do. This high but small island definitely attracts its own weather system as a cloud seems to permanently over the island. It was certainly calm for my visit and the island was only just providing shelter from the now light NNW wind, but a slight motion is still evident at high water. A real rugged anchorage that needs to be experienced.
Unfortunately I cant spend much time here as I have a tight weather window to get to Padstow and need to set off from here at 0200hrs tomorrow, an hour after slack water when the SW stream starts at Hartland Point (-0440 HW Dover). Glad I took the opportunity to split the passage to Padstow with a stop at Lundy, it conveniently splits the trip into two manageable legs of 38 and 40 miles instead of a direct passage of 70 miles from Dale to Padstow.
Fate played its hand once again and I did manage to get ashore for two hours. A dive boat appeared to claim his mooring but then kindly allowed me to tie off the back of him. They were a dive club from Appledore and come to Lundy most weekends and had been diving all day. They were going ashore for a drink and some food but would be back in 2 hours as they needed to depart for home by 2000hrs. They invited me to join them and I accepted. They were very friendly and not at all bothered I was on their mooring. I was most welcome to go back onto it when they leave. I couldn’t be bothered to get my own dinghy out earlier when I arrived as I wasn’t here for long, so jumped at the chance to see the island. It would still get me back in time for 5 or 6 hours sleep before I departed. By the time we had all been ferried ashore in an inflatable and then climbed up the steep and windy path to the ‘Marisco Tavern’ there was only just time for a drink and and a bowl of chips. The views were amazing from the top of the Island and I am really glad I went. What a spot of luck, they were a nice bunch of guys of all ages and envied me living on Scilly. They bring the boat down to Scilly some years to spend a week diving and hope to do it again in August.
A great end to a great day, now must get some sleep!