Sailing Scotland 2008
Sailing Scotland 2008

 

Welcome to my Passage Diary.  On these pages you will find highlights, with photos, of each leg of my cruise since I left Lymington in April 2008.

Scroll down to see entries of my passages: or use the links to the right (Index) for faster loading a page at a time and to reach all earlier passages.  I am still in the process of restoring photos to a few of my earlier entries.

Photos on this BLOG may be viewed larger by clicking on the photo.  Use the back button on your browser when you want to come back to the post.

I have now returned to Lymington and had a fantastastic welcome on arrival by friends, family and the press.  Click here to see video of my arrival back in Lymington.

I hope my story is of interest to other sailors and might help those considering passages around the UK coast in the future. I hope it might also act as a motivation for those who have a dream, whatever their age, to go for it …. it can be achieved.  🙂

Ray

The number of views made each month on my web site has been increasing throughout the year and exceeded 1000 during the months of July and August 2009.  Total views are now  nearly 19,000 since this new BLOG was started in December 2008.       🙂


Current Location:   Back at my home port of Lymington.

Miles Completed: 2999 Days on board:  Lots 🙂
Night Hours: 24 Days on passage: 130
Ports & harbours visited 100 Nights at anchor/mooring buoy: 37
Charity Totals:  * £4182 Original Goal achieved:   Thank you all  Let’s exceed it!  🙂 £3000

*  Gift Aid (Tax reclaim) of £740 will be received by the charities on top of this figure.

Please support me and visit my charity donation sites by clicking on the link of your choice below. Or donations can be made at any Halifax or Bank of Scotland Branch by the usual methods.

A link ‘About Donations’, with further information, is on the right of this page. Thank you Ray
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I have now added a 2009 Sponsorship Poster that may be downloaded and printed.  Please help promote my challenge and the charities supported by displaying it at your work, club, village or on other public notice boards.

2009 Poster: 2009 poster

2009 Poster that may be personalised to forward to others:2009 poster with personal introduction.

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Posted by: Ray | May 1, 2010

Ready for a new season’s sailing.

I have been inactive on the BLOG since returning from my adventure round the UK in September last year and thought I should give a short update at the start of the 2010 sailing season. 

Christine Marie was taken ashore onto hard standing at Lymington Yacht Haven for the winter in October last year to dry out and to complete some work on the rigging and hull.  The mast was de-stepped to make improvements to the visibility of my masthead tri-colour LED navigation lights, insert a sleeve to avoid the problems with cables possibly fouling the main sail track, all running rigging was replaced and a new headsail furling system fitted. 

I fitted an AIS receiver to the navigation equipment, that allows me visibility of large ships on my GPS display, along with an alarm if any are on collision course.  I added an extra loud alarm that will wake the whole ship!   🙂  I did add a switch that turns it off, so it can be optional, but it will come in useful when crossing shipping channels, in poor visibility, or when the anchor drag alarm is set. I have had great fun testing it out. I can see ships navigating the shipping lanes in the English Channel 25M away and the alarm regularly goes off as the ferries navigate down river and their course brings them onto collision with me on the hard-standing ashore  !!  🙂

The bad weather in January held up working on the hull and I turned to exploring around my home village with long walks in the country and along the canal, hard work at times in the snow.  I escaped the weather during February and early March with a holiday to Dubai and South Africa. I had a great time in lovely weather.  The trip into the Dubai desert ‘dune bashing’ in a 4×4 was really an experience and had the adrenaline flowing like being out in a force 7 at sea!!  I also managed a tourist trip out on a sailing catamaran off the South Coast of South Africa and took the helm for a while.   🙂   I hope to experiment with videos on this BLOG later this year and have some good clips to add, sailing last year in Christine Marie and from the holiday to Dubai/S Africa.

On return from holiday I was behind with work on the yacht and have been working hard down on the South Coast to complete cleaning and anti-fouling on the hull. Christine Marie is now back in the water and ready to sail.  This year I plan to sail mainly in the Solent, with some trips across channel to France and the Channel Islands. I am looking for crew to join me for short trips out and for longer cruises, so anyone interested please contact me by email.  I am also starting to think of another long adventure, this time down to cruise the Med for a couple of years ….possibly starting next year.  🙂

Posted by: Ray | September 20, 2009

Return Home, Poole to Lymington. (Video of arrival)

Passage: 26M, 1 harbour visited, Max wind F5.

Sailing Trophy presented by friends on arrival back home.

Sailing Trophy presented by friends on arrival back home.

 

The alarm went off at 0500 on Friday morning. Brian, Liz and myself hauled ourselves out of our bunks on board Christine Marie and quietly set about getting ready for sea. A quick cup of coffee and we slipped our lines and departed Poole Quay Haven Marina in the dark at 0600 as scheduled. Our departure had been determined by the need to pass Hurst Castle before the strong tidal flow there turned against us at 1015.

Outside of the marina we raised the main sail and navigated out of Poole Harbour, using the engine against a strong flood tide. In the dark, the buoys marking the channel at Poole can sometimes be hard to pick out against the bright shore lights surrounding the harbour. We carefully navigated along the channel, picking out the red flashing port buoys, rounding ‘Aunt Betty’ ECM before heading towards the harbour entrance.  We saw the lights of a large ferry entering the harbour ahead and passed port to port with Brownsea Island Castle on our starboard side.

The chain ferry was stationary just off South Haven Point as we crossed the channel to round Sandbanks to navigate the narrow, shallow, East Looe Channel. I had checked the depth of water to be expected in the channel between 0600 and 0700, 2.5m would give me 1m under my keel. With a swell running this margin was required. The depth was as expected and we passed safely through the channel, setting sail due east towards the green North Head buoy marking the Shingles Bank between the Needles and Hurst Castle.

It was an overcast day with winds F5 from the NE as forecast. Dawn was breaking as we sailed ‘best to wind’, dodging the occasional lobster pot on our track across Poole Bay towards Hengistbury Head. 🙂

By 0800 we were off Hengistbury Head and keeping a close eye out to avoid the many lobster pots laid off the coast here. Our course was taking us too far south, heading towards the Shingles Bank, so we tacked back towards the shore at Highcliffe. I telephoned my family, staying with my Mum whose flat at Highcliffe overlooks the sea, and told them we were heading for them! They could see us out at sea, closing the shore, before we tacked to head towards the North Head buoy.

Passing The Needles in the haze.

Passing The Needles in the haze.

 

 

For a while I thought we were getting tight on time to make the tidal gate at Hurst, the Needles could be seen through the haze as we passed close to the North Head buoy and sailed past Hurst Castle with a strong fair tide still pushing us along.

 

Sailing past Hurst Castle.

Sailing past Hurst Castle.

 

With Brian on the helm and me handling the winches and sails we approached the IOW coast before tacking towards Lymington. As usual in the narrow entrance to the Solent, we passed through some turbulance and Brian managed drentch me with spray as we hit a wave. 🙂

 

  

We were off Lymington Starting Platform by 1000, too early as I had told family, friends and the press we would arrive at 1130! 

We came onto port tack and headed back across towards the IOW coast. We made several passages between the IOW and Lymington. On one approach to Lymington it was interesting to see one of the new large ferry waiting across the entrance to the harbour, we made one last tack across to the IOW to keep out of its way. 🙂

Arriving Lymington Yacht Haven.

Arriving Lymington Yacht Haven.

 

At 1115 we furled the head sail and headed down the channel into Lymington Yacht Haven. Dropping the main at the entrance, a few friends and family were on the pontoon near to the entrance waving and taking photographs of our arrival.

As we made our approach to the mooring we passed reporters from the Daily Echo taking photos and a video and then had a great welcome as we came alongside by the family and friends gathered there.

Christine Marie moored back home in Lymington.

Christine Marie moored back home in Lymington.

 

A cheer went up as Liz and Brian stepped ashore with the lines and we came to a stop. As we came in I was focused on bringing Christine Marie alongside the mooring. Job done, it was an emotional time for a while as I stepped ashore and greeted those welcoming us home. I felt quite choked for a few moments.

Ray being interviwed by press on return home.

Ray being interviwed by press on return home.

 

I was then interviewed on board by the Southern Daily Echo who covered my homecoming in their paper and on their website. The link to the video is below.

 

 

 

Lymington Town Sailing Club (LTSC)

Lymington Town Sailing Club (LTSC)

 

The celebrations continued with lunch at the Haven Restaurant and friends, family and crew joined me for a Welcome Home get together at my sailing club (LTSC, Lymington Town Sailing Club) in the evening.

 

 

Ray at Welcome Home party.  :-)

Ray at Welcome Home party. 🙂

 

The club had laid on a lovely surprise buffet, bar and staff for me and my friend Brian presented me with a glass sailing boat trophy marking my cruise 2008-2009. Later in the evening I was able to talk briefly to other members of LTSC who were attending the Cruising Club Dinner in the restaurant above. During the dinner they had held a raffle that collected £150 for my charities. It was really appreciated.

 

A BIG Thank You to all my friends, family, press and LTSC for the great welcome home. On behalf of the charities and myself thanks to everyone who supported me throughout the duration of my adventure. Donations for the three charities are still coming in and with gift aid look like exceeding £5000.

Thank you all   🙂

Ray

——————————————————————————————————————————-

This video was taken by the Southern Daily Echo who covered my homecoming. Click here

This article appeared in the charity RETHINK supporter news.  Click here:

Posted by: Ray | September 19, 2009

Torquay to Poole

Passage: 102M, 2 new harbours visited, Max wind F7.

Babbacombe Bay from the cliffs.

Babbacombe Bay from the cliffs.

 

Whilst waiting in Torquay for my friend Brian to join me on the last leg of my cruise, I took the opportunity to visit the area and take some walks ashore. I visited Babbacombe and walked along the cliffs with stunning views across Lyme Bay to Teignmouth in the distance.

Cockington Village.

Cockington Village.

 

I also paid a visit along the coast again to Brixham and to the attractive and historic thatched cottages of the ‘Domesday book’ village of Cockington, that has hardly changed through the centuries.

Whilst at Torquay the weather continued to be unsettled with strong winds and occasional gales sweeping down the south and west coasts. But the weather looked set to improve for my last leg back to my home port of Lymington, with high pressure settling across the UK for the week.

But by the time Brian and I set sail for Weymouth the high pressure was drawing in strong winds from the NE along the south coasts, not ideal for our passage, we would be sailing close to the wind and against the swell. I only had a day in hand to complete the passage in time for my scheduled return home to meet friends and family at Lymington. It was a tight schedule, especially as I planned visits to Weymouth and Poole.

We left Torquay on Tuesday 15 September at 0700 with a strong wind warning in place, winds of F5 to F7 forecast, sea slight to moderate, showers or rain, visibility moderate in the rain. Leaving the harbour and setting sail close-hauled to the wind and waves, there was nothing slight about the sea! Seas were at the upper end of moderate and occasionally rough throughout our passage, with regular drenching from the spray as we slammed into the waves. It was going to be a hard passage …..

My passage plan took us due east across Lyme Bay keeping 4 miles offshore of Portland Bill to avoid the ‘Portland Race’, rounding the ECM (East Cardinal Marker) marking the Shambles Bank to our destination at Weymouth. Our departure from Torquay had been timed to give us a fair tide from 1430 as we approached Portland Bill and the strong tides off the headland. I have sailed these waters on many occasions since I started sailing in 2004, taking both the narrow inshore passage or keeping 3 to 4M off to avoid the race. The dangerous race can bee seen clearly as you pass it; it looks like boiling water from a yacht!! With the strong winds I decided the offshore passage was safer in the conditions, although it adds 1 to 2 hours to the passage time.

The weather held fine as we crossed Lyme Bay and made our course ‘best to wind’ eastwards. Fully reefed and with winds blowing a constant F6 or 7 (we recorded 40KN apparent) it was an exhilarating sail, although at times we would be drenched by the spray as we hit into a large wave.

Web Photo of HMS Illustrious Aircraft Carrier

Web Photo of HMS Illustrious Aircraft Carrier

As well as the sailing, we had a little excitement at one point when we heard a ‘security’ message on the VHF radio advising that HMS Illustrious would be carrying out live firing exercises within a radius of 10M.

We could see the aircraft carrier clearly out to sea from us making its maneuvers. I called the coast guard on VHF for clarification and was given contact details for the admiralty firing control. I contacted the control and advised our position and course, they advised that we could continue our passage as the firing targets were to the south of us! 🙂 We continued to see Illustrious at various times throughout our passage, with helicopters lifting off and returning to the carrier. We would have liked to have taken photos, but we were heeled over and taking a lot of spray …. not the time for cameras. 🙂

We were 20M off the coast as we crossed Lyme Bay, not the scenic route! 🙂 By the time we were approaching Portland Bill continual rain was adding to the spray and we were starting to feel the cold and wet. We were 5M off Portland Bill and had to put in a long tack to ensure we passed to eastwards of the Shambles Bank and make our way towards Portland. Dusk was falling and our masthead lights were turned on as we sailed briskly past Portland Harbour, the venue for the 2012 Olympics, to arrive off Weymouth in the dark.

Picking up the leading lights we entered the harbour and by 2130 we were rafted alongside a 48 ft German Yacht that had made the passage from Dartmouth to Weymouth during the day. We had sailed hard for 66M, taking us 13 hours from when we left Torquay. A warm drink and light snack on-board, all we wanted then was our bunks!!

Sunrise at Weymouth

Sunrise at Weymouth

The next morning we awoke to a sunny, breezy day. After breakfast we relaxed in the sun whilst we dried out our sailing gear and prepared for our passage to Poole later in the day. The forecast was still for strong winds from the NE, similar to the day before, but at least no rain was forecast.

The harbour master at Weymouth advised Brian that it was fairly rough outside the harbour in Weymouth Bay and that we could return to raft for the evening if we found it too uncomfortable outside of the harbour. We watched a yacht similar in size to Christine Marie leave the harbour with her family crew and shortly later come back in to shelter. It was not going to be a comfortable dry sail, but at least the sun was shining!! 🙂

Brian at the helm crossing Weymouth Bay, Jurassic Coast in background.

Brian at the helm crossing Weymouth Bay, Jurassic Coast in background.

 

After lunch we slipped our lines and headed out of Weymouth harbour into choppy seas. Fully reefed we set sail along the Jurassic Coast to pass to seaward of the yellow buoys marking the outer limits of the Lulworth firing ranges.

No firing was reported on the day we sailed, but our passage avoided the worst of the turbulence off St Alban’s Head.

 

Brian soaked by spray and wiping salt water from his eyes!  :-)

Brian soaked by spray and wiping salt water from his eyes! 🙂

 

We had to sail past St Alban’s Head and well out to sea before we could tack to clear Anvil Point and on to Old Harry. The seas became rougher off the headlands and we were drenched by spray on several occasions. Our starboard tack took us towards Peveril Point and its ledge near Swanage, so we put in another tack taking us slowly away from the coast.

 

 

I must admit I was loving the sailing. In F6/7 winds Christine Marie was sailing briskly, heeled right over, but under full control and light on the helm. I was relaxed and loving it; I could have stayed out all night!! 🙂 The sun was getting low in the sky and Brian brought me back down to earth! ‘You must be B***** mad’, he said, dripping from the spray. 🙂

Sunset over Brownsea Island, Poole Harbour.

Sunset over Brownsea Island, Poole Harbour.

As skipper I considered the bigger picture. The sun was setting and it was getting colder. We did not want to arrive late into harbour again. The head sail was furled and we motor sailed close on the wind the last few miles to round Old Harry and to enter Poole Harbour. As we navigated the Swash Channel we were rewarded with a spectacular sunset over Brownsea Island.  

 

We arrived at Poole Quay Haven by 2030, now dark, and moored on a vacant pontoon. Yacht secured, we quickly changed from our wet sailing gear and made a hasty walk along Poole Quay to relax over an enjoyable and very welcome meal at Da Vinci’s Italian Restaurant.

We had endured two days of very hard sailing in strong winds and choppy seas, but we awoke to a sunny Thursday, with a spare day to relax in Poole before a very early departure to Lymington scheduled the following day. Our friend and RYA instructor, Noel, joined us for lunch on Christine Marie and Liz joined Brian and I on board later in the afternoon.

Brian enjoying his lobster at Corkers.

Brian enjoying his lobster at Corkers.

 

In the evening Brian treated Liz and I to a meal at Corkers, a favourite seafood restaurant in Poole. We celebrated with champagne, followed by delicious lobster and a good bottle of wine recommended by the restaurant owner. Lobster pots can be a real problem for sailors! ….. but then, many of us really enjoy the lobsters they catch. Perhaps the answer lies in better marking. of the pots and underwater lines 🙂

A great evening, we all retired early for our 5 am alarm call the following morning!

Posted by: Ray | August 26, 2009

Dartmouth to Salcombe to Torquay.

Passage: 63M, 3 new harbours visited, Max wind F5. 

 

Yes, I know, I’m going backwards!! 🙂

The River Dart towards Dittisham

The River Dart towards Dittisham

 

Marion and I left Kingswear on the River Dart on Monday and made a trip up river to moor off Dittisham. We caught the water taxi to visit the Ferry Boat Inn for a very enjoyable pub lunch. To call the water taxi after lunch I ‘donged’ the church type bell alongside the quay. 🙂

 

Leaving Dartmouth

Leaving Dartmouth

 

 

Back on board we made passage back down the River Dart, where the Regatta rowing races were in full swing, to exit the river and set sail for Salcombe. We had a brisk F4 from the SW, so headed out to sea close-hauled on starboard tack to clear the Skerries bank, Start Point and Prawle Pt.

 

Marion at the helm, Start Bay.

Marion at the helm, Start Bay.

 

 

It was a lively sail and Marion enjoyed getting the feel of Christine Marie’s helm again.

We passed a tall ship making its way towards the Dartmouth Regatta, a lovely sight sailing with full sails set before the following wind. 

Passing Tall Ship, Start Bay

Passing Tall Ship, Start Bay

  

 

 

Several miles out to sea we put in a tack and set course for Salcombe. We had to dodge several lobster pots on passage that only appeared close to as they were part submerged and hidden by the tide and swell. I think getting caught on one is enough for this cruise!! … although these had lines that appeared to go straight down!! :-). 

The Bag, Salcombe

The Bag, Salcombe

  

 

It was a great sail and by 1900 we were navigating the entrance to the harbour and passing South Sands where my friends Brian and Barbara were staying on holiday. By 1930 we had rafted up alongside another yacht on the visitors pontoon in ‘The Bag’.  

Salcombe from the town.

Salcombe from the town.

  

 

 

Tuesday morning we met up with Brian and Barbara for a stroll round Salcombe, the ladies dragging Brian and I into clothes shops on route to the pubs! 🙂

  

 

Brian, Barbara and Marion at Small's Cove, Salcombe.

Brian, Barbara and Marion at Small's Cove, Salcombe.

 

 

We had lunch at the Ferry Inn overlooking the harbour before catching the ferry across to Small’s Cove for a walk along the beach towards Southpool Creek in the sun. 

 

 

After dinner coffee, South Beach, Salcombe.

After dinner coffee, South Beach, Salcombe.

  

 

In the evening Marion and I visited Brian and Barbara at their hotel at South Sounds for a lovely dinner. The hotel overlooks South Sands beach and the entrance to Salcombe harbour, a lovely setting to end the day.

We caught the last water taxi back to the yacht at 2300. Winds were starting to increase as a depression approached. As I write this Wednesday morning 26 August, we are sitting out a F8 gale on the yacht.

Thurs 29 August: Wednesday was not pleasant with squally F7/8 winds and rain. We spent the day on board Christine Marie with two other yachts also sheltering from the storm rafted alongside us. I had planned to visit the River Yealme but the forecast was for strong F7/8 winds later in the day and for Friday. I decided early in the morning that the River Yealme was not on for this trip and that I would make for Brixham before the bad weather came in again.

Departed the pontoon, Marion and I left Salcombe at 0800 two hours before high water with plenty of water across the bar and with a fair tide round Start Pt and Berry head until 1400. Wind was from the SW and F2/3 when we left. With full sails we were ‘goose-winged’ and sailing slowly at 3kn as we passed Prawle Point, Start Point and to seaward of The Skerries. Crossing Start Bay I decided to try my hand at fishing again and set a trawl astern of Christine Marie. It was not long before I caught a mackerel, the second in 2-years and both in Start Bay! 🙂

The third crew member.  :-)

The third crew member. 🙂

 

 

It was a lovely sail in the sun as we headed for Berry Head in the distance. I did seem to have gained an extra crew member who kept appearing around the yacht keeping an eye on things!  🙂

 

 

Rounding Berry Head

Rounding Berry Head

 

As we closed Berry Head on the last of the fair tide the wind started to increase and to veer to the west. We reefed the main and headsail in good time as we were soon sailing briskly in F5 increasing winds as we rounded Berry Head and made our final approach to Brixham Harbour.

 

Night falls on Brixham Harbour

Night falls on Brixham Harbour

  

 

By 1430 we were moored in Brixham Marina and enjoying the mackerel I caught with salad for lunch with a glass of wine.

By evening the bad weather had arrived with the forecast strong winds, poor visibility and rain. Marion and I visited Brixham and enjoyed a meal at the ‘Poop Deck’ fish restaurant on the quay. 

 

The strong winds are forecast to continue through Friday into early Saturday, so we will make the short passage across to Torquay Saturday afternoon.

Saturday 29 August:

Brixham Marina

Brixham Marina

 

A lovely day with good wind from the SW. Marion and I left in the morning to sail the short passage across to Torquay.

We decided to make passage for Babacombe, where we would anchor for lunch. 

 

 

Marion with the Ore Stone and Thatcher's Rock in the background.

Marion with the Ore Stone and Thatcher's Rock in the background.

 

 

We had a great sail, passing to seaward of Thatcher’s Rock, The Ore Stone and Tucker’s Rock. These brought back memories as I used to fish off them regularly in the Fairline Vixan motor cruiser I kept moored at Torquay Marina for several years. 

 

Babacombe Bay

Babacombe Bay

 

 

Passing Anstey’s Cove, we sailed into Babacombe Bay and dropped anchor in sight of the cliff railway in 5m of water. It was a glorious day and we relaxed with a meal until late afternoon. 

 

 

Babacombe from anchor in the bay.

Babacombe from anchor in the bay.

 

 

We made the sail back round to Torquay in the evening. Passing between The Ore Stone and Thatcher’s Rock we were close hauled and having a lively sail in the F4 wind. 

 

 

Approaching under sail to pass between The Ore Stone and Thatcher's Rock.

Approaching under sail to pass between The Ore Stone and Thatcher's Rock.

 

 

We made several long tacks to round the coast, arriving at the marina by 1900. A great day to finish this leg of my cruise. My thanks to Marion for helping me on this section of my cruise. 

 

 

Approaching Torquay Harbour entrance.

Approaching Torquay Harbour entrance.

 

 

 

I have now booked my sailing club (Lymington Town Sailing Club) for my welcome home get together in the evening Friday 18 September. Friends, family, charities, press and all those who have sailed with me on my 2-year adventure are welcome to meet me on arrival and to join us in the evening at the sailing club. I will send out more details by email later.  

Lending a helping hand.  :-)

Lending a helping hand. 🙂

  

By the time I arrive back in Lymington I will have sailed over 3000M, visited over 100 ports and harbours around the UK and Ireland on my 2-year figure of eight, circumnavigation.

A great adventure, fulfilling the dream I set out to achieve when I started sailing in early 2004.

 

 1 September 2009:  With time on my hands here in Torquay I have started to relax and to catch up on jobs around the yacht, adding photos to my recent BLOG entries and making contact with the many amateur radio stations that have supported me throughout my cruise.

I have started to walk daily to get in shape for my dancing that starts the week after I return to Lymington, 2 hours of ballroom dancing is like a good workout at the gym ….. but more fun.  🙂

Ground floor flat I owned in Torquay.

Ground floor flat I owned in Torquay.

 

Yesterday I walked around Torquay, visiting the location of a holiday flat I owned here between 1987 and 1995.  I lived and worked in Bristol at the time, but had my small fast motor yacht moored here at Torquay Marina.  Mark and Darren were born in the early years and enjoyed the seaside visits and firework displays in the bay during our frequent stays at the flat.

 

New Bridge at Torquay Harbour.

New Bridge at Torquay Harbour.

 

 

I walked along the seafront, passing the new bridge that now spans the harbour since I last visited, walking through the attractively planted gardens along the seafront. 

 

 

Torquay seafront gardens.

Torquay seafront gardens.

 

I was looking forward to a walk through the cliff gardens that are usually lit with colourful lights at night, but extensive work is being carried out to make the cliffs safe from rock falls and they are enclosed with protective fences at the moment. 

A pity as the lit walkway is a significant attraction for Torquay, but when work is complete and the gardens replanted, the walk through there should be lovely.

Posted by: Ray | August 14, 2009

Falmouth to Dartmouth

Passage: 96M, 5 new harbours visited, Max wind F5.

I expect to set sail from Falmouth early next week. My sons, Mark and Darren and Richard, from Crewseekers, join me here over the weekend for a one week cruise homeward along the Cornish and Devon coastline.

I am meeting friends and family at various locations as I get closer to the end of my 2-year cruise. I expect to be back in Lymington by the end of September, where I plan a get together at my sailing club in Lymington. More details later.

Falmouth

Falmouth

 It’s regatta week at Falmouth and the harbour is bustling with yachts. I an rafted amongst and alongside lots of racing yachts who leave each day with crews of 6-10 to race, then return in the evening to party ashore to the early hours! 🙂

The whole town is full of party-goers in carnival dress, with pop music and parties everywhere. On two evenings firework displays lit up the harbour.

 

Sunday 16 Aug: Mark and Darren arrived by train Saturday evening and we had a meal ashore and enjoyed the party and carnival atmosphere around the town and harbour.

Whilst visiting the Isles of Scilly, I had made radio contact with Keith, G3MCD. Keith and I were at school together and shared a common interest (amongst other things! ) 🙂 in radio. At the age of 16 we were constructing and operating transmitting stations and both passed our PO Amateur Radio Examinations and 12 wpm Morse code tests to become licensed amateurs at the age of 17. It is a hobby that has taken both of us into very successful past careers within the electronics sector. Keith and his wife Vickie who now live in Cornwall came down to meet us for lunch in Falmouth. It was great seeing Keith again after so many years and both catching up with each others lives.

Richard arrived by car Sunday afternoon, cycling the last few miles to the harbour. Sunday was a quieter day with many of the yachts leaving to race to Fowey where the next regatta and races were to be held. We will catch up with them there! 🙂

Monday 17 Aug: Mark, Darren and Richard had not sailed for a while and I spent the morning briefing on the yacht safety and gear. Knots were practiced and we spent an hour before lunch practicing coming alongside pontoons and picking up mooring buoys. We had a short lunch alongside the fuel pontoon whilst waiting for them to open, re-fueled Christine Marie and set off on passage to Mevagissey, a small Cornish fishing harbour, 20M up the coast.

Richard, Mark and Darren taking turns on the helm.

Richard, Mark and Darren taking turns on the helm.

 As we piloted our way out of Falmouth to round St Anthony Head I put Richard, Mark and Darren on the helm to let them get the feel of Christine Marie under engine power.

We passed to the east of Black Rock, right in the middle of Falmouth Harbour, marked by its east cardinal marker (ECM) before rounding St Anthony Head and setting course for Mevagissey.

We had a gentle F3 from the south, as we raised the main and set sails. Richard, Mark and Darren each took turns to sail Christine Marie on a ‘Broad Reach’, although I did set a ”preventer” as a precaution in case of accidental gybe! 🙂    (For non-sailors this stops the boom suddenly crashing across the yacht).

Approaching Mevagissey Harbour.

Approaching Mevagissey Harbour.

 We made good time to our destination, sailing at 5Kn we arrived off Mevagissey harbour at 1800 on the last of the fair tide. The harbour was full and the HM suggested we picked up one of the two swinging moorings outside the harbour, close to the east wall.

We picked up the mooring line from the buoy that was covered in fishing hooks, feathers and line; I guess from years of fishing off the harbour wall 50m away. The HM later told us the buoys had only been there for a year! 

Moored outside Mevagissey

Moored outside Mevagissey

 

Whilst preparing our evening meal on-board I dropped my line with feathers over the stern and tried to catch a later meal. I was in good company, the harbour wall was full of people fishing. But nothing was caught except more fishing feathers and hooks 🙂 …. the seabed must be full of broken lines and gear. 

 

Mevagissey Harbour at low tide.

Mevagissey Harbour at low tide.

 

In the morning we inflated the tender and visited Mevagissey. Richard and Darren sampled the local Cornish Pasty for lunch, whilst Mark and I enjoyed a locally caught crab sandwich.

Mevagissey is a typical Cornish fishing village, full of character and very popular with tourists. I last visited here with my eldest son Keith and my daughter Anne over 25 years ago, it brought back some good memories. 

In the afternoon we set sail up the coast to Fowey, a short, but enjoyable sail of just 7M. Richard, Mark and Darren were now working together well and I could relax now as they competently helped with sailing Christine Marie. I was proud of Mark and Darren.

Fowey was packed full of yachts and as we entered the harbour a cruise ship was preparing to leave. The HM asked us to moor on a large visitor’s buoy just inside the harbour until the ship had departed.

Cruise ship leaving Fowey.

Cruise ship leaving Fowey.

 

We sat in the sun with a drink and watched the cruise liner depart with her passengers waving to us from her decks. Later in the evening we made our way to Albert Quay to take on water and for a brief visit to the town. Like Falmouth, there was a carnival atmosphere with music and folk dancing on a barge moored just off the quay.
Rafted during Fowey Regatta.

Rafted during Fowey Regatta.

 

 

 

The HM visited us there and suggested we find a mooring amongst the many visiting yachts, all flying colourful regatta flags and banners. We made our way across the river to the visitors moorings just off Pont Pill and rafted alongside a racing yacht whose crew were ashore for the night. Lines were made good to the fore and aft buoys and we retired for the night.

 

Wed 19 August: The forecast for the next couple of days did not look good, with a depression coming in from the SW later in the day bringing strong F7 winds and rough seas to the area. We just had a window to reach Plymouth, our next port of call, before the worst of the weather came in.

Yachts rafting at Fowey.

Yachts rafting at Pont Pill Fowey.

 

In the morning we took the tender across to Fowey Gallants Sailing Club where we enjoyed a free coffee, whilst waiting to use the showers and facilities there. Back on the yacht we had been joined by others rafting alongside, as we prepared for sea and our passage of 24M to Plymouth. 

 

 

We slipped our lines and headed out of the harbour, setting reefed sails before we left. Once clear of the harbour we set course to 1M off Rames Head and our approach into Plymouth. With a good F4 from the south, we made excellent progress maintaining 5 to 6Kn. At sea it was a bright pleasant day, although low clouds hung along some of the coastline and bad weather was closing in to our stern.

Passing Polperro and Looe Island in the mist.

Passing Polperro and Looe Island in the mist.

 

We passed Polperro, its village nestling in the valley between cliffs and further along the coast Looe Island and E Looe were clearly visible from sea. I would have liked to have visited Polperro, a difficult harbour to enter and not in southerly winds …. but time, wind direction and forecast weather did not permit on this occasion.

 

Rounding Rame Head

Rounding Rame Head

 

By 1600 we were approaching Rame Head and our change of course to enter Plymouth Harbour. With the wind on our quarter I decided to hand the main sail and continue on headsail alone to navigate the harbour to Plymouth Haven Marina.

 

 

Leaving the red Draystone buoy to port, I made contact with Longroom Port Control on VHF ch 14 to advise our intentions and to check on any large ship movement. They advised a warship was making ready to leave the harbour, but that we were clear for the time-being.

Plymouth breakwater, approaching W light.

Plymouth breakwater, approaching W light.

 

We passed close to the lighthouse on the west breakwater that stretches for a mile across the harbour entrance with its large fort at its centre, making our way up towards Drake’s Island. It was a leisurely sail at 3Kn as we took in the sights of Plymouth on our approach to the marina.

  

 

Sailing into Plymouth

Sailing into Plymouth

 

We sailed into Plymouth, passing to the east of Drake’s Island where we passed a HM Customs ship leaving harbour.  We thought at first that it was the large survey vessel, HMS Scott, that we had been told was leaving.  We later saw HMS Scott leaving the harbour and later out at sea whilst sailing to Salcombe. 

 

 

We rounded close to Mount Batten Pier on approach to the marina. By 1800 we were moored up on the pontoon.   In the evening we had a drink at the Yacht Haven Bridge bar, then walked into the village of Turnchapel for a very nice and reasonable priced meal at the Boringdon Arms pub there.

Memorials at Plymouth.
Memorials at Plymouth.

 

As I write this entry, early Thursday morning, winds of F7 gusting 8 are blowing within the harbour. We might be held up here for  a further day, so we plan to visit the Barbican, using the yellow water taxi from the Mount batten landing stage.

 

 

Plymouth.

Plymouth.

 

 

Thursday afternoon we took the water taxi across to the Barbican and walked around the harbour and into the city shopping centre to buy some supplies. In the evening we had a nice meal at the Village Restaurant, specializing in Greek food, before catching a late ferry back to Mount Batten and the short walk to the marina. 

 

Fri 21 Aug: We planned passage to Salcombe, 25M up the coast, a 5 hour sail. Salcombe has a bar of 0.7m, so we planned our arrival at local HW -2 to arrive at the last of the flood tide. We left Plymouth at 1230 by the west channel as onshore winds were forecast from the S/SW F4/5, occasionally F6. Once clear of the harbour breakwater we set course to pass 1M to seaward of the Great Mew Stone to our WP at the entrance to Salcombe.

With strong winds forecast on our quarter, with a swell pushing Christine Marie towards a gybe, I had reefed the sails and set a ‘preventer’ on the main. As we passed the Great Mew Stone winds were light and we were only making 3kn. We shook out the reef and increased headsail, now making good progress at 5Kn in a gentle F3.

Half way to our destination the wind started to increase rapidly and we needed to slow the yacht and reef the main. Christine Marie was rounding to windward and getting hard to control. I took the helm. In squally winds Richard, Mark and Darren responded well to reduce headsail and put the reef back in the main. I thought how well they had all progressed throughout the week.

Approaching Salcombe.

Approaching Salcombe.

 

By 1730 we were off Salcombe and picked up the transit markers into the harbour, changing course to starboard to follow the channel up to the harbour and moorings. The HM came alongside in his launch as we approached and suggested we rafted on the visitors pontoon in ‘The Bag’.

 

 

Rafted at 'The Bag' Salcombe.

Rafted at 'The Bag' Salcombe.

 

The pontoons were full of motor and sailing yachts, rafted 3 deep. On the shore side of the pontoon there was one yacht on its own between many others rafted 2 to 3 abreast. A tight maneuver, but we came alongside and Mark and Richard took the lines to secure aboard the other yacht.

By 1830 we were secured and having a drink in the sun.

We plan to leave early Saturday morning for Dartmouth on the first of the ebb tide, plenty of tide to clear the bar and giving us a fair tide round Start Point to Dartmouth, a 3 hour passage. 

Leaving Salcombe.
Leaving Salcombe.

 

Sat 22 Aug:

 

After a quick breakfast we slipped our lines from the yacht we rafted alongside and headed out of Salcombe Harbour.

Winds were very light and the sea slight. I decided to round Start Point close-in as there was little swell or turbulence.

 

Rounding Start Point.

Rounding Start Point.

 As we rounded the headland and changed course to Dartmouth the wind was on our quarter.  We passed across the south of the Skerries Bank and the seas became confused and choppy, certainly to be avoided in any stronger winds!

Once into deeper water the seas settled and we were making slow progress under full sails in a F2 wind from the south. I booked ahead with the Darthaven Marina at Kingswear to ensure a berth for the next two nights.

Caught it!   :-)

Caught it! 🙂

 

I decided to try my hand at fishing again and trawled with a weight to take the spinner and feathers down closer to the bottom. I reeled in a couple of times with nothing!! Then I hit lucky, I caught a mackerel!! I had sailed round the UK without success and it was in Start Bay that I caught my first fish!

Before we arrived at Dartmouth I had gutted and cleaned the fish, it will be my evening meal when the boys and Richard have left! 🙂

Sailing into Dartmouth.

Sailing into Dartmouth on headsail.

 

We sailed on headsail into Dartmouth, timing our entry for the first of the flood tide as we had been given an ‘up-stream, berth. We were moored at the marina by 1445.

 

 

 

Entering Dartmouth.

Entering Dartmouth.

 

My thanks to Mark, Darren and Richard for joining me on this leg of my cruise. They left the yacht early evening, catching the ferry across to Dartmouth to return home by bus and train. 

Marion, a friend who has sailed with me before joins me tomorrow (Sunday). We plan to cruise the Devon coast, possibly visiting the River Yealme, before making progress to Brixham and Torquay.

Passage: 214M, 3 new harbours visited, Max wind F6

Crosshaven Marina, Cork, Ireland

Crosshaven Marina, Cork, Ireland

 

Noel, Ian, Audrey and myself left Crosshaven Marina, Cork, Ireland at 7 am on Sunday 9 August. I was pleased to have a balanced experienced crew with me for this long passage across the Celtic Sea to the Isles of Scilly. My friend Noel is a Yacht Master Instructor and runs Moonfleet Sailing School in Poole. It was great to have Noel join me for one leg of my cruise.

 

Crosshaven

Crosshaven

 

I completed all my RYA sail training with Noel and without his patience and help I would not have gained the confidence and experience to embark on my 2-year adventure in support of the charities. Ian and Audrey both had gained their RYA Day Skipper qualifications and had some experience of sailing.

 

 

Our 140M, 30 hour passage would closely follow that of the Fastnet Race. In fact the race was taking place at the same time we were making our passage, I was in the lead!! 🙂  Of course I did have the benefit of leaving from Ireland rather than Cowes on the Isle of Wight! 😉

It was interesting planning this passage as it raised a few issues not normally needing consideration on shorter passages across the English Channel. Mid-channel we would be 70M from shore and out of contact with the CG VHF. Unlike many other yachts I did have my Amateur Radio SSB and could make contact with some of the thousands of amateurs in the UK and world-wide who regularly use and monitor the frequencies at all times. In the past I have run RSGB (Radio Society of Great Britain) radio license training courses that are required to operate an amateur radio station. A few of my students were sailors who planned to sail across the Atlantic or on Ocean sailing and who wanted the longer range communication using SSB.

Weather would be a major consideration as we would would be 12 hours from a safe harbour should the weather change for the worst mid-channel. These can be dangerous waters with large seas in gale force winds as the Fastnet disaster during the 1970’s demonstrated with the loss of so many sailor’s lives. I had kept track of the Irish and Met Office forecasts throughout the week as our passage approached. The forecast looked good for our crossing with light winds from the W or SW and with moderate seas (waves up to 2.5m). The possibility of light or no winds, or the wind heading us from the SE, raised another issue. The fuel capacity of Christine-Marie would be near limit at 140M should we need to use the engine to make the passage.

The rest of the passage planning was routine. Once clear of the Irish coast there are few dangers across the Celtic Sea until we approached the Scillies, other than the Gas Wells 15M off the Irish coast and other shipping. We would need to keep a watchful eye around us throughout our passage day and night, I planned a 4-hourly 2-on / 2-off watch, with Noel and myself as watch leaders. Tides are weak and only of importance leaving Cork and on approach to the Isles of Scilly. I planned to use the NE going tide on the Irish coast on leaving Cork to push us northwards to clear the Gas Wells. I had tidal charts marked up for the duration of our passage and a pilot plan for entry to New Grimsby Sound, Tresco, to the NW of the Isles of Scilly.

During my 2-year cruise I have experienced sailing in some very strong winds up to 45Kn, rough seas, including the large swell in parts of the Irish Sea during July. Christine Marie had handled these well and I had been tested earlier on my passage with jammed and cut wind /VHF radio cables in my mast and loss of engine whilst sailing up the E coast last year. This would be the longest offshore passage I had made and I don’t mind admitting that in the weeks leading up to this passage it seemed somewhat daunting. But I had prepared thoroughly and as we left the Irish coast behind us I was relaxed and quietly confident.

Ian, Noel and Audrey relaxing leaving the Irish coast.

Ian, Noel and Audrey relaxing leaving the Irish coast.

 As we left, the latest forecasts from Irish and Met Office conflicted somewhat. Stronger F4/5 winds were forecast from the W/SW, with the possibility of them backing S or SE (heading us, not what we wanted).

But there was no wind and mist surrounded the coast as we headed out to sea on our course heading 145 degrees true under engine power with full main sail raised.

 

Would I be able to sail later in light winds using my cruising chute, and what strategy should I use to conserve fuel if necessary?

I was on watch with Audrey when at 1000 we started to feel the wind increasing, a gentle F2 from the SW. I deployed full headsail, shut off the engine and trimmed the sails. We were sailing, making 4 to 5Kn …. that would do us. 🙂 As planned, the tide pushed us north of our Rhumb line and by 1100 we sighted the gas wells to the south ahead of us. At 1400 when I handed watch over to Noel and Ian the wind was F3 and we were making good progress.

We soon lost sight of the Irish Coast and the oil wells to our stern. Visibility improved although it was an overcast day with showers and rain forecast later. All we could see was the ocean all around us and throughout the passage we did not see a single ship. Noel and Ian did have a little excitement when a Hercules aircraft approached us and circled the yacht checking us out. I guess they were on routine flights associated with the Fastnet race.

Audrey and I took the watch at 1600. By 1700 the wind was increasing F4 and had backed to the S. We reduced headsail. By 1800 Christine Marie was rounding to windward so we reefed the main, further reduced headsail and trimmed the sails close hauled to maintain our course. We were now making excellent progress under sail.

Navigation Table on Christine Marie.  Amateur Radio SSB receiver LHS, Marine VHF top.  GPS and Navtext to left of VHF.

Navigation Table on Christine Marie. ICOM Amateur Radio SSB receiver LHS, Marine DSC VHF top. Garmin GPS and Clipper Navtext to left of VHF.

Before leaving Ireland I had made contact with the Irish CG and informed them of our passage plan and estimated arrival time at Tresco. We were to report to Falmouth CG on arrival the following day. We had lost contact with both CG on VHF.

Off watch and half way to our destination I took the opportunity to make contact on amateur radio. I had loud, clear contacts with five UK amateur radio stations from position N50 deg, 57.11 min W07 deg 14.83 min.

G3VOT (George), G4LYM (John), G3ZOE (Richard), G3KTC (Ron) and G3KGM (Don) …. all gave me strong signal reports. I was transmitting 100W SSB signal on 3.757Mhz using a sloping 35 ft wire from the stern of the yacht to the top of the mast.

Audrey and I came on for our first 4-hour night watch at midnight, it would be 4 am before we could get some sleep. Not long into our watch it started to rain, the wind increased F5 at times gusting F6. We recorded speed of 7Kn through the water and at times Christine Marie would round to windward, we would soon need to reef again. When we came off watch at 4 am Audrey and I were wet, tired and ready for bed. I handed over to Noel, briefed him on the situation and retired for 4 hours. Winds increased to F5/6 and Noel put the 3rd reef in the main during his and Ian’s watch. With the strong winds we had made excellent progress and were approaching the Isles of Scilly ahead of schedule at 0900 on Monday.

The swell was increasing as we approached offshore of New Grimsby Sound, so we handed the sails and made our approach on the leading lines on engine. The swell increased on our port beam and it was difficult on the helm, I was concentrating hard to keep Christine Marie on transit through the channel, surrounded by rocks. A characteristic of the Isles of Scilly needing careful pilotage and navigation. Ahead of us, a fishing vessel was right on our approach. On the helm I made a slight course change to round his stern, the fisherman gave us a friendly wave as we passed close to him and we waved back. Concentrating on the transit approach in the fast running swell, the crew warned me of lobster pot ahead. I made a course change to successfully clear the buoy, but then we saw the line under the water. It was a long line, just under the surface, there was no way of vessels seeing it, or for us to avoid it! I slammed the engine into neutral ….. as we caught the line. We were caught on the lobster pots in a fast running swell, just outside New Grimsby Sound surrounded by rocks!

We assessed our situation, if the rope was round our prop and we cut ourselves free we might seize the engine and drift towards the rocks in the flowing tide. We had our anchor to deploy if necessary, but for now we were going nowhere, firmly attached to the pots. I called the fishing vessel, who appeared to be going away from us, on Ch 16 VHF. No reply. As a precaution, I advised Falmouth CG of our situation. They were very professional and helpful, they informed Tresco HM of our situation and stood by monitoring our position as we checked out whether the rope was caught round the prop or rudder. Whilst in communication with the CG I was informed that the fishing vessel had returned and was waiting close by to assist us if necessary. He told us to cut his line and he would give us a tow into the harbour if our prop was fouled.

I wanted to check out the situation a little before we cut free. The rudder was free, we needed to check the engine. I turned the engine off and using the stop lever to decompress the engine, turned it over in gear with the starter motor whilst Noel and Ian used the boathook to pull the rope … there was no movement, the engine was turning.

Whilst we were doing this we heard the fishing vessel in contact with the CG advising them of our situation. We heard him tell the CG that he had suggested we cut ourselves free and he would tow us in. From what he could see we were an ‘elderly crew’ who he thought were hesitant to go over the stern of the yacht to cut ourselves free!! That was the last straw at the time for all of us, especially Audrey who must be in her early 30’s. 🙂 Badly marked pots with long lines close underwater, no warning, laid very close to transit lines into a harbour …. his ears must have been burning’ ! 🙂 We later saw the funny side of it, many sailors in the harbour later mentioned that they had heard the contact with the CG. 🙂

I started the engine,clipped on my safety harness and went over the stern to cut the buoy free; we were still caught. We cut the long line returning to the pots free and brought in on board. We were free and I proceeded into New Grimsby Sound with the Fishing vessel closely following. We appreciated him coming back to stand by and assist us if necessary.

New Grimsby Sound, Tresco, Isles of Scilly.

New Grimsby Sound, Tresco, Isles of Scilly.

Safely secured to a visitor’s buoy off Tresco, we contacted the CG to advise them of our safe arrival and to thank them for monitoring our situation. We slept for the rest of the morning.

Later we inflated the tender and tried to shift the rope jammed on our rudder without success … it was jammed solid. We took the tender ashore where we visited the New Inn pub where we had a much needed shower and drink in the bar! 🙂 

Moorings New Grimsby Sound, Tresco.

Moorings New Grimsby Sound, Tresco.

 

We met the friendly harbour master, Henry Birch, who had kept in touch with our position and was ready to assist us if necessary. He gave us a discount on our moorings as we were sailing for charity, that I have donated to the charities. Back on the yacht we had a meal and retired early.

 

 

The next morning was a bright sunny day once the early morning mist had cleared. Henry, the HM, came by to say hello and we were visited by the fisherman who told us we might consider drying out alongside the harbour wall to remove the rope jammed on the rudder. Henry gave us permission to go alongside to dry out on sand that sloped towards the end of the quay.

With a fin keel I have only dried out alongside once when visiting Wells during the passage up the E coast in 2008, although I have read articles in YM and PBO about precautions to take. The main halyard should be taken ashore and secured to ensure the yacht leans inwards towards the quay, lots of fenders and watch for the yacht pitching forward or aft if the bottom slopes! Tides were right now to go alongside with a falling tide and just enough water. We could dry out, remove the rope and enjoy a walk around the island of Tresco and early evening meal ashore whilst waiting for the tide to float us off.

We had 0.5m under the keel as we came alongside the quay and made fast. We secured the halyard from the top of the mast to railings on the quay and winched it tight. As we waited for the tide to fall and ensure Christine Marie had settled on her keel, large groups of tourists started arriving on the opposite side of the quay and we were generating a lot of interest. I saw the opportunity to put out my charity banner and collection boxes. We collected a lot during our stay there as boat after boat came in with 50+ tourists coming/going from the quay! Something good often comes from adversity! 🙂

Christine Marie was soon aground and leaning nicely into the wall on her fenders. We started to relax and to chat to the many tourists and sailors who were asking us about the charities and what we were doing.

Dried out alongside Tresco Harbour Quay.

Dried out alongside Tresco Harbour Quay.

Christine Marie then started to tilt towards her stern …. we were settling down on her rudder. At an angle of 45 deg Ian took the anchor forward on the beach and jammed it behind a large rock, Noel and myself winched the chain tight to reduce pressure on the rudder. The tide went out!

It was quite spectacular. I sent photos to a few family and friends, one asked if my brakes had failed!! 🙂 A worrying time for a while.  

Lobster Pot rope jambed around Christine Marie's Rudder.

Lobster Pot rope jambed around Christine Marie's Rudder.

 

A reporter from BBC Radio 2, visiting Tresco, had seen the yacht at an angle and interviewed me on the quay. Our story might be covered on the Terry Wogan show, or on Saturday morning 15 August. We successfully removed the rope where a knot had jammed tight at the top of my rudder.

View from Island Hotel, Tresco

View from Island Hotel, Tresco

 

 

Noel and I spent the afternoon walking round the island with a cream tea at the luxurious Island Hotel with it’s stunning views across Old Grimsby Sound.

In the evening Christine Marie was afloat and we visited the New Inn for a shower and enjoyable meal. Everyone was very friendly and other sailors came up and asked if they could donate to the charities. 

Crew enjoying a meal in the New Inn, Tresco

Crew enjoying a meal in the New Inn, Tresco

 

We met Sue who was visiting from Ireland and insisted on buying the crew large drinks. Noel and I kept to soft drinks knowing we still had to get the yacht back in the dusk, fast getting dark!

Even more important, the tide was falling fast and we needed to get off if we did not want to repeat the day’s procedure at night!! Sue was lovely and gave me a big hug, we said our goodbyes and took the yacht back to the mooring for the night.

 

Crew in their bunks, I had a late night completing the passage plan to St Mary’s across the Tresco Flats at high water the following morning.

Bryher, Isles of Scilly from New Grimsby Sound.

Bryher, Isles of Scilly from New Grimsby Sound.

 

We had spent two days at Tresco, a lovely Island, with tropical shrubs and trees and stunning views, before making the short 3M passage early Wednesday on the last of the rising tide across Tresco Flats, a drying shortcut to St Mary’s with many rocks to avoid.

 

 

Tresco

Tresco

I had planned the passage carefully the night before noting all transits and shore marks, as well as plotting the passage on GPS and detailed admiralty charts. Position of dangerous rocks were noted and ringed on the charts.

In the morning we awoke to find mist surrounded the coastline, making most of the transits impossible to see. We would be dependent on our GPS, compass and depth to navigate.

Old Grimsby Sound from Tresco.

Old Grimsby Sound from Tresco.

 

 

I considered changing plan and taking the longer passage W of the Scillies, but I had prepared carefully and felt confident in navigating the short stretch of drying water. If we went hard aground there was only one way we were going, on our side!! 

 

Gardens at Island Hotel, Tresco

Gardens at Island Hotel, Tresco

 

We were not able to pick out many of the transits and used depth and GPS cross-track error to navigate across the Tresco Flats to deeper water. The depth stayed above 2m below my keel (3.6m of water), although Ian was a little concerned at times, clearly seeing the bottom in the crystal clear water around us! 🙂

St Mary's, Isles of Scilly at low water.

St Mary's, Isles of Scilly at low water.

 

 

 

By 0900 we had entered St Mary’s Port and were moored on a visitor’s buoy. We spent the day ashore visiting Hugh Town and stocking the yacht with essentials for our 64M passage to Falmouth the following morning, including 4 very large freshly made Cornish Pasties for our lunch on route! 🙂  

Beach at Porth Cressa, Hugh Town, St Marys.

Beach at Porth Cressa, Hugh Town, St Marys.

  

 

In the morning we left St Mary’s Sound early in mist, with coffee and breakfast on passage after we had navigated safely away from the rocky coast of the Isles of Scilly and set course due East towards Lizard Point and Falmouth. We would cross outside, but close to the end of a TSS (shipping channel), so a close eye was kept out for large shipping and ferries. 

Passing Lands End on passage to Falmouth.

Passing Lands End on passage to Falmouth.

 

We saw many large ships heading North ahead of us, but were soon clear of the TSS and making passage in sunshine. Around us many yachts were making the passage whilst the weather held. I could tell I was getting closer to home!! 🙂 Winds were very light on our stern and we deployed the cruising Chute for a time to get in some sailing. 

 

Arriving at Falmouth.

Arriving at Falmouth.

 

We rounded Lizard Point at 1500 and by 1815 were moored in Port Pendennis Marina, rafted alongside a racing yacht. It is Falmouth Regatta this week.

In the evening we explored Falmouth a little and searched out the station and bus stop for the crew who were departing early the following morning. My thanks to Noel, Ian and Audrey for joining me on this eventful leg of my cruise! 🙂

Posted by: Ray | July 31, 2009

Howth, Dublin to Cork.

Passage: 200M, 4 new harbours visited, Max wind F5.

Howth Marina at sunset

Howth Marina at sunset

 

Ian and Tim join me here at Howth, Dublin, tomorrow and weather permitting we set sail for Arklow on Sunday 2 Aug. As I write this (Fri evening 31 July) a gale has been blowing for most of the day. The forecast looks better for Sunday, but further strong winds are forecast early next week that may delay our progress onwards to Cork. 

 

Howth Marina, Dublin with Martello tower in background.

Howth Marina, Dublin with Martello tower in background.

 

 

I have been four weeks here at Howth awaiting crew to join me to resume my passage down the Irish coast. Jobs have been completed on Christine Marie, passage plans completed from Howth to Falmouth and crew organized for them. 

 

 

Howth Marina and Ireland's Eye from cliffs.

Howth Marina and Ireland's Eye from cliffs.

 

 

 

I have explored the town of Howth and enjoyed walking along the cliffs overlooking the marina. 

 

 

Martello Tower, Howth.  Home of 'Ye Old ' Radio Museum.

Martello Tower, Howth. Home of 'Ye Old ' Radio Museum.

 

I paid a visit to the Martello tower that overlooks the harbour and that is now the home of a radio museum. I was made welcome by Pat (Curator)and Tony (EI5EM), who operates the amateur radio station EI0MAR from there at weekends. The history of the tower and the vast collection of antique radios is very interesting and has been collected by Pat personally over the years. A link to the museum is on the right of this page …. worth a visit, don’t miss reading about the historic Niemba Ambush and its link to Irish amateur radio.

 

River Liffey, Dublin.

River Liffey, Dublin.

 

 

Earlier this week I took the Dart train to visit Dublin where I walked along the River Liffey and visited the Guinness Factory and enjoyed my ‘free’ pint. 

 

 

Old Guinness advert seen at Guinness Factory, Dublin

Old Guinness advert seen at Guinness Factory, Dublin

 

 

Long way to walk for a Guinness! 🙂 … but the history and story behind the brew was very interesting.

  

 

 

Howth Marina from the cliffs

Howth Marina from the cliffs

 

 

 

Despite the bad weather and generally high cost of everything (due mainly to the £= Euro exchange rate and 22% VAT … Washing/dryer E8 = £8, haircut E14 = £14, 75cl bottle of Gin E23 = £23, cheapest wine E7, etc 😦 ) I have enjoyed my time here at Howth. 

 

 

Fish harbour and quay, Howth.

Fish harbour and quay, Howth.

 

Howth has a very active fishing harbour and there are some excellent fresh fish shops (reasonably priced) and restaurants along the fish quay. On Sundays there is a local market there. A popular seaside resort, with a very active sailing club at the marina. Transport to Dublin by bus and Dart is frequent and low priced.

 

 

 

Sun 2 August: Ian and Tim joined me on Christine Marie on Saturday. We set sail for Arklow early Sunday morning just stemming the last of the weak foul tide as we crossed Dublin Bay. Winds were forecast SW F4/5, but backing S/SE and increasing F5/6 by evening, we would be heading into the winds then. Gales had been blowing all day Saturday and more were expected within 24 hours … we took the opportunity to make the 41M passage whilst conditions were moderate.

Tim on the helm leaving Howth.

Tim on the helm leaving Howth.

 

 

Our passage took us inshore of the sandbanks that run North / South down this coast. We had an enjoyable sail down the Irish coast with a wind from the SW just allowing us to sail close-hauled on our course due South, before rounding Wicklow Head.

 

Coast leaving Dublin Bay, Wicklow Mountains.

Coast leaving Dublin Bay, Wicklow Mountains.

 

 

The coastline South of Dublin was very attractive, backed by hills and the Wicklow mountains. To our stern the Howth peninsular appeared as a large island, the adjoining low lying land around Dublin Bay not visible.

 

 

 

 

By 1100 the wind died for a short period and then backed SSW F4 heading us, we beat towards our destination tacking within the wide channel between the coast and sand banks. We passed to the North and seaward of India Bank and tacked back to clear it to it’s South and to round Wicklow Head. Winds were now increasing F5/6 and seas building as we made the final 15M passage from Wiclow to Arklow.

The Irish CG started to broadcast strong wind and gale warnings on VHF. We reefed down and had a bumpy passage to our destination, not easy making the cheese and tomato sandwiches we had for lunch! :-). The tacking was extending our passage time and we had a foul tide for the last couple of hours.

Arklow

Arklow

 

By 1915 we were safely moored at Arklow, where we are sitting out the gales forecast for Monday into Tuesday. Our passage here had taken us nearly 12 hours, and we sailed 52M.

We moored on the long pontoon just passed the small entrance to the marina.  The almanac and pilot book warn that the marina can be difficult due to restricted space to manoevre, but having walked round it I would be happy to enter and moor there.

Arklow is a pretty town with nice views along the river, well worth the visit.

River at Arklow.
River at Arklow.

 

 Tim, Ian and myself left Arklow on 4 August and made the passage down the Irish coast, passing inside of the Tuskar Rock to round Carnsore Point. We met some large seas as we rounded the head and made our way towards St Patrick’s Bridge, passing inshore of the Saltee Islands.

 

 

 

Ian, relaxing whilst sailiing to Kilmore Quay.

Ian, relaxing whilst sailiing to Kilmore Quay.

 

 

St Patrick’s Bridge is not a bridge, but a 1.9m depth, narrow channel through the shallows to the approach to Kilmore Quay. The conditions through the channel were good as we picked up the leading transits to guide us past the rocks into the harbour.

 

 

Kilmore Quay

Kilmore Quay

 

Kilmore Quay is not an easy harbour to enter for the first time. Approached past rocks close to the leading line (well marked by transit markers) and through a narrow dredged channel of 1.9m depth, there is little room for error. We had little problem on entering close to high water, but on leaving the following morning I had 0.5m under my keel for a while as we left the entrance. 

Kilmore Quay is a small fishing harbour, popular with local sailors.  In the evening we spent some time having a drink on board the yacht of a friendly Irish couple who were visiting from Arklow and later visited the village for a drink in the local pub. 

The following morning we made the short passage to Dunmore East, just 15M down the coast.  As we made exit from the harbour back out to sea the conditions were very different to the day before. The sea was very rough with fast moving, steep seas making it very difficult on the helm until we cleared the shallows into deeper water. As we gained the deeper water the reason became apparent, a large swell, with waves of 3 to 4m was running, but much easier to handle than the seas we had met earlier leaving Kilmore Quay as these waves met the shallows. Watching these big waves approach above us was quite an experience, but Christine Marie just rose and fell gently as each peak and trough swept by.  A  fun sail in the swell to our destination.

Dunmore East

Dunmore East

 

At Dunmore East we picked up a mooring just off the harbour, a delightful scenic setting surrounded by cliffs full of seabirds. We spent the night on the mooring, making an early start the following morning to our destination at Cork.

Dunmore East is an easier and safer harbour to enter than the popular Kilmore Quay.  For me it was well worth the visit.  A lovely town, stunning coastline and an active sailing club.  We all enjoyed our brief stay, relaxing on board moored off the rocky cliffs.

Moorings Dunmore East.

Moorings Dunmore East.

 

On Thursday 6 Aug we made the 63M passage down the coast to Crosshaven, Cork, our current location. We logged 76M on the 12 hour passage. Tim left the yacht early Friday to return home as he was competing in a marathon on the Saturday in the UK.

Audrey joined Ian and myself yesterday (Fri 7 Aug) and Noel (My Moonfleet Sailing RYA instructor) arrives to join us this evening. We set sail on the 140M, 30 hour passage across the Celtc Sea to the Isles of Scilly early tomorrow morning. The Fastnet race is on at the same time ….. it could be that I will be in the lead for a while!! 🙂 Weather looks good, so it should be a reasonable sail.

Crosshaven, Cork, Dublin.

Crosshaven, Cork, Dublin.

 

 

Noel joined Ian, Audrey and myself on Christine Marie Saturday evening. Following a crew safety briefing and an outline of our passage across the Celtic Sea to the Isles of Scilly we enjoyed a meal on board before retiring early for our 7 am departure the following morning.

Passage: 402M, 12 new harbours visited, Max wind F6, gusting 7

Henry arrives Sunday 21 June and we set sail on a 2-week passage to Dublin. We plan to spend a few days cruising Firth of Clyde, before visiting Sanda Island on passage to Rathlin Island (N Ireland). Our passage then takes us down the E coast of Island, visiting Irish harbours and loughs, plus Peel on the Isle of Man, before arriving at Dublin. I will update progress briefly whilst sailing, adding more detail and photos when time permits.

Lunch at Millport, Great Cumbrae

Lunch at Millport, Great Cumbrae

 

Henry and I left Largs on Monday 22 June and spent a few days cruising the Firth of Clyde and surrounding areas. We visited Millport (Great Cumbrae) and had some great sailing up the E Kyle of Bute to anchor at Caladh Harbour for the night.

 

Morning at anchor Calahd Harbour

Morning at anchor Caladh Harbour

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A

At anchor Torrisdale Bay

 

We then visited Tarbert Tuesday evening, continuing passage to Loch Ranza (Arran) for lunch on Wednesday, anchoring overnight in Torrisdale Bay 5M north of Campbeltown.

 

 

 

Firth of Clyde

Firth of Clyde

 

Weather has been great and some good sailing on most days. I had cruised this area on my passage down from Oban, but I was happy to visit again and to enjoy the sailing

On mooring off Sanda Island, Mull of Kintyre

Low tide on mooring off Sanda Island, Mull of Kintyre

 

25 June. We had a good sail from Torrisdale Bay to Sanda Island, south of Mull of Kintyre. We timed our passage carefully to arrive just before the tide turned west to minimize any turbulent seas. It was a very interesting and enjoyable visit. At the island’s pub we were made welcome by Dick (the owner of the Island), Ellie his daughter and Pete who runs the ferry to and from the island.

Ray with the crew on board 'Morning Star'

Ray with the crew on board 'Jura Star'

 

We met the crew of ‘Jura Star’, also visiting Sanda and were invited aboard their yacht for a night-cap with Ian (skipper), Gilly, Andy and Gavin. A very interesting, friendly and fun group of fellow sailors, we had a good laugh together. 

 

Lighthouse on Sanda Island

Lighthouse on Sanda Island

 

 

Sanda is a pretty island and well worth visiting. Yachts are made welcome. The island might be up for sale if you have a few million to spare! 🙂

 

 

Leaving Scotlaand, Mull of Kintyre.

Leaving Scotland, Mull of Kintyre.

 

26 June: We left Sanda after a brunch at the pub, catching the first of the west going tide in Sanda Sound. Wind was favourable on our stern from the east as we sailed past Mull of Kintyre.

I had been in Scotland for 9 months and found the Scottish people very friendly, generous and helpful. We took down our Scottish flag and said our farewells.

Spring tides of up to 5Kn were expected as we approached the Irish coast, so a course to steer was calculated for the passage towards Fair Head on the Irish coast that avoided the traffic separation scheme in the N Channel. As we approached Fair Head, the tide was pushing Christine Marie along at over 10Kn.

Church Bay, Rathlin Island

Church Bay, Rathlin Island

 

Our entry to Rathlin Sound had been timed carefully (HW Belfast +0330) to avoid the dangerous eddy ‘ slough-na-more ‘ and to avoid the worst of the overfalls. As it was we still met strong counter tide eddies on our approach to Church Bay. We sailed across Rathlin Sound and Church Bay to enter the harbour, arriving at 1830.

 

As we approached the very end of the pontoon, where there was just enough space for us to berth without rafting, I slowed and stopped just 20m off the pontoon whilst Henry and myself readied fenders and lines. Other yachtsmen waited to take our lines. The depth had shoaled along the length of the pontoon, but I had 0.8 m under my keel as we waited off with Christine Marie just drifting very slowly. Suddenly my depth alarm sounded and as I grabbed the tiller we struck hard bottom with a crunch. Slowly astern we came off and the depth increased again to 0.8m under (2.4m of water) as we came alongside. The charts and pilot book both show the W side of the pontoons to have minimum depth of 1.8m, but I guess there is a nasty little boulder towards the far end waiting to surprise visiting yachtsmen! 🙂   Still, no serious damage was done.

My thanks to the other yachtsmen and islanders who were very helpful and friendly. Unknown to me at the time, they collected for my charities at Mccuaigs Bar, the local pub, during the evening. Thank you.

In the evening I operated on 80m, working 10 stations before I had to close the station at midnight as my operating was disturbing Henry (my crew) who had retired for the night 2 hours earlier. There were a lot of stations calling me, my apologies for not being able to continue.

RSPB bird santuary at Rathlin Island

RSPB bird santuary at Rathlin Island

 

27 June: In the morning we took the Puffin Bus to the RSPB bird sanctuary at the north of the island. The cliffs and rocks close to the light house were full of sea birds nesting or feeding their chicks.

 

 

Puffins and other sea birds on the cliffs, Rathlin Island

Puffins and other sea birds on the cliffs, Rathlin Island

 

Telescopes were set up to view close in on nesting birds and their young chicks and on a group of puffins on the cliffs below. The RSPB members explained what we were seeing and it was very interesting.

 

 

Rathlin Harbour from the hills

Rathlin Harbour from the hills

 

 

Definitely worth the visit. Henry and I walked the 4M back down to the harbour through the Rathlin countryside, enjoying lunch and a drink in the sun at the Manor House before we returned to the yacht and made ready for sea. 

 

 

We left Rathlin harbour at HW Belfast at the start of the W going tide. We sailed across Rathlin Sound heading towards Ballycastle, with the increasing tide pushing us west along the scenic coast towards our destination at Portrush.

Rope Bridge at

Rope Bridge at Carrickarede

It was a fine sunny afternoon and we decided to anchor off Carrickarede, famous for its rope bridge crossing between two high cliffs. We anchored in 7m in full view of the bridge where long queues of people were waiting to walk across. It was a postcard setting and we were watched at anchor by those waiting to cross the bridge, including Rhiannon & Richard, a friendly couple we had met at lunch at Rathlin who called down to us from the bridge.

Passing the Skerries, N Ireland on passage to Portrush

Passing the Skerries, N Ireland on passage to Portrush

 

We continued our sail along the coast enjoying the sailing and the scenery. Passing to seaward of Sheep Island and then the Skerries, a line of large rocks stretching over 1M long, before changing course to enter Portrush for the night.

  

 

Approaching Portrush Harbour, N Ireland

Approaching Portrush Harbour, N Ireland

 

A local fisherman gave us six mackerel that I gutted, cleaned and put in my freezer for a later meal. I was told that the fish had only just started to arrive, so I might have a chance of catching some myself later! 🙂

Henry on top of the world, Giant's Causeway.

Henry on top of the world, Giant's Causeway.

 

28 June: Henry and I wanted to visit the Giant’s Causeway, a half hour bus journey from Portrush. Unfortunately the buses only ran every 2 hours and the earliest bus back for us was at 1400 … cutting it fine for the last of the fair tide to our planned destination at Ballycastle. But the visit to this world heritage site was worth it, narrow pillars of natural basalt rock surround the bay. We climbed over the rocks and took our photographs along with other tourists. 🙂

Entrance to Ballycastle Harbour

Entrance to Ballycastle Harbour

 

It was not a good sail to Ballycastle later in the day. The wind was heading us and tacking out past the Skerries it was obvious, with our late start, that we would not make Rathlin sound with a fair tide. We headed into wind and made passage under power, with foul tide for the last hour before entering Ballycastle harbour early evening.

Northern Island coastline.

Northern Ireland coastline.

 Tomorrow we commence our passage south down the east coast to Glenarm. With Henry sailing with me for two weeks I am pleased we were able to spend time diverting to cruise along the N coast of Ireland and to visit Rathlin.

It’s a beautiful coastline and the weather has been glorious, with some great sailing. We have had a very friendly and warm welcome by the local people and visiting sailors during this passage.

Mon 29 June: We left Ballycastle late morning to catch the start of the fair tide south off Fair Head. We had a good wind and Christine Marie was making 6Kn in the Lee of Fair Head. We ‘hove to’ to put another reef in before rounding the head and meeting the full force of the wind. As we rounded Fair Head the wind increased to F6 and we met some choppy seas, we recorded speed over the ground of 10Kn as the tide pushed us along …. but occasionally we would slow rapidly as we met a counter eddy.

Catch of the day!  :-)

Catch of the day! 🙂

 

 The wind was favourable and with the exception of having to tack to avoid entering the TSS (shipping channel) in the N Channel we made good progress towards our destination in the strong wind. By mid-afternoon the wind eased and we shook out all reefs to continue sailing. We were barely making 2Kn, time for me to try my hand at fishing again!

I set out a long trawl to the stern of the yacht and waited …. and waited! 🙂    Then my rod bent tight …. I had the big one and my rod bent and tugged as I reeled in the line.  But it was not to be!!  🙂 

Glenarm Harbour

Glenarm Harbour

 

We were not in a hurry and enjoyed the leisurely sail to Glenarm, arriving 1700. We had a warm welcome from Billy the harbour master who was waiting to greet us on the pontoon and brief us about the harbour facilities and town. Glenarm is a nice marina and a convenient stop on passage down to Bangor.

Dinner is served, Glenarm

Dinner is served, Glenarm

 

In the evening we grilled and eat two of the mackerel we had been given by the fisherman at Portrush, I filleted the four remaining cooked ones to make pate later.

Tues 30 June: We left Glenarm at 1100 for the 25M passage to Bangor. Winds were light F2/3 from the SE, but we made steady progress towards our destination. We passed Larne with it’s tall chimneys a clear landmark, tacking to clear The Maidens and Hunter Rock. Occasionally the wind died and we were becalmed, but it soon returned and we were able to sail most of the passage.

 

Trawling in the Irish sea.

Trawling in the Irish sea.

 

We started to see many ferries and ships on passage through the Irish Sea, or making for Larne and Belfast. We needed to keep a watchful eye on several during the passage, taking action a couple of times to keep out of their way.  Including this one that we tacked away to avoid its nets!  🙂 

 

Ship carrying it's cargo of wind turbines, Belfast Lough

Ship carrying it's cargo of wind turbines, Belfast Lough

 

 

As we crossed Belfast Lough towards Bangor, the wind increased and we had a lively sail, passing ahead of a large ship moving slowly with its cargo of wind turbines.  We arrived at the harbour entrance by 1900, passing the colourful houses and church spire  along the coast on our approach.

Bangor, Belfast Lough

Bangor, Belfast Lough

 

On board during the evening Henry and I set about making our own version of Mackerel Pate with cream cheese and various other herbs, etc on board. We enjoyed both with toast as our starter for our evening meal and froze the rest for later in my portable fridge/freezer. It was seriousely good!  🙂 

During the evening we planned the passage from Bangor to Lough Strangford. The 33M passage clears Copeland and Lighthouse Island to the NE of Orlock Point and has several dangers extending several miles out from shore. Careful timing is needed to enter or leave Strangford Lough where the tide in the narrows is very strong and careful pilotage is required.

Wed 1 July: Our planning paid off and we had a good passage to the entrance of Lough Strangford. We had prepared pilotage plans and WP on the GPS to guide us through the E Channel. As newcomers to the lough, we had difficulty picking out the transits at times, but with the aid of conventional navigation and GPS we had little difficulty navigating through the channel. We surged along pushed by the strong flood tide.

Audley Roads moorings, Lough Strangford

Audley Roads moorings and castle, Lough Strangford

Lough Strangford is a nature reserve, unspoilt, with attractive scenery that reminds me a little of Chichester and areas of Poole Harbour around Brownsea Island ….. but without the crowds in summer! At Glenarm we had met a couple who kept their yacht at Lough Strangeford and we picked up a buoy at Audley Roads, near their berth overlooked by Audley’s Castle. 

Thurs 2 July: We left our mooring at Audley Roads at the start of the ebb tide and navigated through the Strangford narrows with a neap tide of 3Kn already running. Visibility was poor at less than 1/2M as we made our way out to sea and set course for Peel on the Isle of Man. Winds were light, F2 from the SE …. but we had plenty of time as entry to Peel is limited to HW +/- 2 hours, 1830-2230 on the day. Occasionally we could hear the engines of ships and strained to watch for them through the mist on the horizon, but visibility started to clear by mid-morning and later we were enjoying the sail in sunshine.

Approaching Peel Harbour entrance, Isle of Man

Approaching Peel Harbour entrance, Isle of Man

 

We arrived at Peel at 1900 and were held for 15 minutes in the outer harbour with a number of other yachts as others (including viking long boats, participating in a festival over the weekend) were exiting the narrow entrance from the marina/inner harbour, where there is a swing bridge and tidal flap (that keeps the water depth in the harbour).

Peel Harbour and castle.  New marina pontoons to left, quay to right.

Peel Harbour and castle. New marina pontoons to left, quay to right.

 

By 1930 we were moored up alongside the harbour wall, visiting one of the local harbour pubs during the evening.

After our meal, Henry stayed in the pub, whilst I returned to the yacht to operate on amateur radio. Conditions were not good with a lot of noise from harbour lighting and generators making it impossible to hear weaker stations that were calling me. Even very strong signals were hard to copy, but I did manage to successfully make contact with 7 stations before Henry returned to the yacht at midnight.

Cliffs near Peel, Isle of Man

Coastline near Peel, Isle of Man

 

It’s my first visit to the Isle of Man, a hilly, green and attractive Island on our approach …so we have decided to spend Friday here to explore around Peel. We set sail on Saturday for Carlingford Lough to be in Dublin by Sunday.

 

 

Castle at entrance to Peel Harbour

Castle at entrance to Peel Harbour

 

Fri 3 July: We spent the day in sunshine exploring Peel town and the harbour, Henry did some hill walking along the coast whilst I completed getting supplies in from the local supermarket.

Henry and I met later in the afternoon to relax over a drink in the sun at a harbour pub close to our mooring on the quay wall. Our passage to Carlingford Lough the following day was over 60M, a full day’s sailing, and the earliest we could exit the harbour through the bridge was 0800 the following morning. We decided to leave during the evening HW opening and spend the evening on a buoy outside the harbour. This allowed us an early start on our passage to Carlingford.

Sat 4 July: Winds were fresh from the S/SE, but we spent a comfortable night on board and following an early breakfast, set sail at 0700 towards Carlingford. Winds were F3/5 from the SSE and we made good progress towards our destination. Skies were overcast and we experienced a couple of very heavy showers. For some time the Calf of Man was visible to our stern until we lost sight of land. At 1300 the Irish coast became faintly visible on the horizon ahead of us.

 By early evening we were approaching Carlingford Lough. Wind and swell were increasing on our port beam as we set course on the leading line to enter the clearly buoyed channel. The swell was pushing us close to gybing at times, so we dropped the main and continued under headsail on our approach.

Carlingford Lough seen from the marina

Carlingford Lough seen from the marina

 

By 1815 we were moored at Carlingford Marina, having sailed 63M to our first port in Eire.  Surrounded by green hills the marina is in an attractive location, well worth visiting …. although the harbour and marina itself could do with some attention.

 

 

 

Sun 5 July: We left Carlingford at 0945 with a fair but weak tide south. We were headed into a strong F5/6 SSE wind and we made long tacks towards our destination. Seas were moderate to rough and when the winds hit F6 true (F7 apparent recorded) we needed to reef. The 3rd reef was put in and with the headsail furled to the shrouds Christine Marie was sailing well. The rain poured down and along with the spray, as Christine Marie battled the 3m waves, we were truly soaked, but dry inside our wet gear!!  For two weeks we had experienced light winds and sunshine, someone was keeping the best till last!!  🙂

Approaching Rockabill lighthouse.

Approaching Rockabill lighthouse.

 By 1715 we were in sight of Rockabill, a large rock,  passing the Skerries as we set final course for Howth Marina, passing to seaward of Lambay and Ireland’s Eye islands.

It took us 12 hours to make the 63M passage to Howth, arriving on the pontoon by 2130. Wet and cold, a warm evening meal on board made us feel better. It had been a long, tiring day. 

Howth Marina and sailing club.

Howth Marina and sailing club.

 

Henry left the yacht very early on Monday morning to catch his flight back to Aberdeen. My thanks to Henry for his support on this 400M passage homewards.

 

  

 

Sunset Howth, across to Ireland's Eye and Lambart islands.

Sunset Howth, across to Ireland's Eye and Lambart islands.

 

I am now awaiting Ian and Tim to join me on the 1 August to sail to Cork, where Noel and Audrey join Ian and myself on the 14 August for the 140M, 30 hour passage across the Celtic Sea to the Scilly Isles and then, on to Falmouth.

I ‘chilled out’ the first day to recover from the two long and wet passages and am now catching up on email, BLOG writing and organising crew for the next passages. 

 

Today, Wednesday 7 July, I had repairs made to the navigation seat, where the weld holding it sheered during the rough seas met on passage to Howth.  Luckily I felt the weld go whilst sitting on the seat navigating …. and avoided falling backwards across the yacht cabin!  🙂

Posted by: Ray | June 1, 2009

Oban to Largs (Firth of Clyde)

Passage: 200M, 12 new harbours visited, Max wind F6

Rainbow at Oban

Rainbow at Oban

 

Steve joined the yacht on the May Bank Holiday Sunday, but we were confined to the yacht and visits to Oban by strong, gusty winds and rain for most of the  weekend holiday.

Tues 26 May: A better day with brisk SW wind. Steve and I decided to get a short sail in before Liz joined us later in the day for our passage south to Largs Marina on the Firth of Clyde.

Dunstaffnage Bay

Dunstaffnage Bay

 

 

We had an enjoyable sail to Dunstaffnage Bay, a short passage north from Oban, where we moored on a buoy for refreshments before returning to meet Liz off the train. A welcome sail in a fresh SW reaching F6 at times.

 

 

Wed 27 May: We left Oban after lunch to make the short passage South to anchor overnight in the delightful Puilladobhrain (Pool of the Otter). With no time pressure, we enjoyed the sail, tacking towards our destination against the SW wind. I had visited the anchorage before for a brief stay, but wanted to spend more time here.

Ashore on Seil Island lloking across Puilledobrhain anchorage

Ashore on Seil Island looking across Puilladobrhain anchorage

 

In the evening we inflated the tender and made the short trip across to Seil Island to visit Clachan Bridge ‘Bridge over the Atlantic’. We had difficulty finding the footpath across the Island to the bridge …. for others who might visit, take the tender down to the end of the pool where the signpost is visible close to the shore.

Bridge over the Atlantic

Bridge over the Atlantic

 

 

We eventually found it and made the short walk to take photos of the bridge and to have a drink in the historic ‘Tigh an Truish  Inn’  (Inn of the trousers’).

  

 

Tish An Truish Inn

Tish An Truish Inn

 

Back on board we had our evening meal and crew retired for the night. I took the opportunity to make some contacts on amateur radio, although I was unable to say my location except by spelling phonetically. 🙂  Lots of stations were calling me and it was 1 am before I closed the station and retired to bed!  🙂

  

Thurs 28 May:  In the morning we  left Puillodobhrain to make the passage down to Adfern at the top of Loch Craignish. The 25M passage via the Sound of Luing passes the gulf of Corryvreckan that lies between the islands of Scarba and Jura and where the worlds 3rd largest Whirlpool exists. The passage also passes through Dorus Mor to enter Loch Craignish, where strong tides can produce rough seas at spring tides. I had planned an alternative passage south and back up to Craignish Loch if the conditions there were dangerous. 

Rounding the North and down the west coast of Seil we were exposed to the Atlantic Swell and met rough seas until we reached the shelter of the Sound of Luing. The Sound, with Fladda,Lunga and Scarba on its west side and Luing and Dubh Sgeir to the east, has two dangerous rocks south of the Fladda Light.  On the charts and GPS the most westerly of these was marked by a red buoy, the one to the east unmarked.  I had a WP that took us safely between the two, leaving the red buoy to our starboard.

Passing Fladda Lighthouse

Passing Fladda Lighthouse

We passed the Fladda light and I kept a close eye on the GPS and plotted our position on the chart as we approached the rocks. We soon had sight of the red buoy, but it was not in the position expected and our course was taking us west of it, the wrong side! 

I asked Steve who was on the helm to make a rapid change to port to leave the buoy on our starbourd side. Further to our west we could see a cardinal marker and we can only assume the buoyage has been changed with the red buoy marking the rock to the east and the cardinal the one to the west.  My charts, GPS and pilot book were all recently purchased , so the changes must have been recent. 

Passing Corryvreckan at Spring tide on a calm day.

Passing Corryvreckan at Spring tide on a calm day.

 

By the time we passed  Corryvreckan the wind had eased, the sea was slight and the sun was shining. Photos show Corryvreckan as we saw it and from a scanned postcard when wind and tide make it a dangerous place.

  

 

Corryvreckan Whirlpool from a postcard.

Corryvreckan Whirlpool from a postcard.

Seal seen passing through Doris Mor

Seal seen passing through Dorus Mor

 

We passed through Dorus Mor at slack water with little problem other than light winds that slowed our speed. But we enjoyed the scenery up loch Crainish to moor at Adfern Marina for the night.

 

 

Loch Craignish

Loch Craignish

 

The next morning we set sail from Adfern for the short passage to Crinan where we planned to navigate the Crinan Canal to the Firth of Clyde. Winds were forecast S or SE F4/5 occasionally 6, but were very light as we set sail up Loch Craignish towards Dorus Mor.    

 

 

We enjoyed the sail as we tacked backwards and forwards across the loch towards our destination.  We noted that many yachts ahead of us were motoring and before long the reason was clear!  Squally winds were funneling from the hills surrounding the loch and we were soon hurtling along needing to reef the main sail.  The wind was changing rapidly from a gentle breeze to F6 making it very difficult to get the reefs in. First 2 reefs went in, then the 3rd before Christine Marie was under control and handling the squally gusts with ease. 

Entrance to sea lock, Crinan Canal

Entrance to sea lock, Crinan Canal

 

Once clear of Loch Craignish the wind settled and we enjoyed the short sail across to Crinan, where the squally winds returned as we made our approach to enter the sea lock into the Crinan Canal.

                                                                                                                                                                       

Crinan Canal near Bellanoch

Crinan Canal near Bellanoch

 

By evenig we had reached Dunardy where we moored for the night close to lock 13.  Crinan Canal is very different to the Caledonian Canal, it is narrower and shallower, more like other inland waterways, but passes through some lovely countryside.

 

 

Swing Bridge, Crinan Canal.

Swing Bridge, Crinan Canal.

 

We took three days in lovely weather to pass through the 9M Crinan Canal with its 15 locks and  7 bridges. All but the sea locks at Crinan and Ardrishaig are self-operated, but we soon had the ‘hang of it’ … Steve did a great job ashore with the heavy work of opening the gates and sluices.

 

Christine Marie moored off the Oyster Bar, Otter Bay, Upper Loch Fyne.

Christine Marie moored off the Oystercatcher Bar and restaurant, Otter Bay, Upper Loch Fyne.

 

Sun 31 May:  We passed through the sea lock at Ardrishaig and in sun and light winds made passage to Upper Loch Fyne, where we visited the Oystercatcher Bar and restaurant at Otter Bay for lunch.  

 

 

 

Tarbert

Tarbert

 

 

In the afternoon, we had a sail in sunshine down Loch Fyne to Tarbert. A lovely harbour.

 

 

 

Loch Ranza and Castle, Arran.

Loch Ranza and Castle, Arran.

 

Mon 1 June: Sailed to Loch Ranza, Arran, where we enjoyed an afternoon relaxing in the sun and moored for the night. Weather and scenery glorious. 🙂  In the evening after our evening meal on board I operated on 8om, working 16 stations before retiring at 1 am. Apparently the crew were not disturbed! 🙂

Campbeltown

Campbeltown

 

Tuesday 2 June: We continued our passage south enjoying some relaxed sailing in the sun. I attempted to catch dinner on several occasions, trawling  for Sea Bass, Mackerel or Sea Trout that were very elusive! 🙂  In light winds we sailed into Carradale Bay for lunch before resuming passage down Kilbrannan Sound to Campbeltown. The wind increased as we made our approach down the long channel in Campbeltown Loch to the harbour. Good sailing practice as we  enjoyed making short, fast tacks, keeping in safe water to our destination. It was fun, although I lost the £25 pilot book overboard as Christine Marie heeled whilst tacking sharply!!  🙂

Weds 3 June:  We visited Campbeltown for supplies on Wednesday morning, sailing at noon to round the south of Arran and up Arran’s east coast to our destination at Lamlash.  Winds were very light and we relaxed in the sun as Christine Marie eased along at barely 2Kn.   

Liz and Steve get to grips with the cruising chute.  :-)

Liz and Steve get to grips with the cruising chute. 🙂

 

Having enjoyed the sun, we decided we needed some activity and that we would experiment with my cruising chute.  Soon we had the large colourful ‘kite’ flying in front of us and we managed to continue sailing with little wind. 

 

 

Passing Ailsa Craig

Passing Ailsa Craig

 

Ever the optimist, I continued to trawl for fish with little joy!!  🙂  We passed in sight of Ailsa Craig, rising sharply from the sea, rounding Pladda Island with it’s lighthouse before sailing up the E coast of Arran.

 

 

Pladda Island, south of Arran.

Pladda Island, south of Arran.

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

Approaching Lamlash Harbour, Arran.

Approaching Holy Island and the entrance to Lamlash Harbour, Arran.

 

By early evening we were approaching Holy Island and the entrance into the large natural harbour at Lamlash on the east coast of Arran, where we picked up a visitors buoy for the night.  During the night the wind picked up and Christine Marie was pitching on the mooring, making it very uncomfortable on board.  We just had to get dressed and go on deck in the dark to adjust the anchor lines and secure the rudder firmly amidships. Job completed it was a more gentle rocking to sleep!  🙂

Thurs 4 June:  We left early in the morning for a leisurely sail northwards up the coast of Arran and across to anchor for lunch off the island of Inchmarnock, off the SW coast of Bute.  The weather continued to be great, although little wind and we rarely made more than 3kn.  We just relaxed and enjoyed the scenery as we sailed slowly up west Kyle towards our evening anchorage.  Towards Loch Riddon the scenery is beautiful. 

At anchor Eilean Dubh

At anchor Eilean Dubh

 

We made our final approach carefully through the narrow channel between Eilean Dubh and rocks into Caldagh Harbour, to anchor in a small 5m pool just 30m off the attractive island with its rhododendrons, mature trees and rocks. 

 

 

 

Firth of Clyde

Firth of Clyde

 

Fri 5 June:  My birthday!  🙂  We sailed in light winds down E Kyle and had a lively sail in brisk winds as we approached Kames Bay, Bute,  where we stopped for lunch moored to a buoy off the harbour.

After lunch we continued our passage to Largs Marina, where our 10 day cruise from Oban ended. 

 

 

Ray, Liz and Steve enjoy a meal at Fins Fish Restaurant.

Ray, Liz and Steve enjoy a meal at Fins Fish Restaurant.

 

In the evening, we went ashore and visited Fins Seafood Restaurant, a lovely birthday treat by Steve and Liz.

My thanks to Steve and Liz for their help on this passage.  They left the yacht on Sat 6 June) to return home. 

Henry joins me at Largs on the 21 June when we will set sail across to N Ireland and down the E coast to Dublin.

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