Sunday, July 7, 2024

2024 Spring / summer (what summer?) cruise stats and issues.

DRAFT

A very poor trip that also left me much poorer, due to the weather, failure of equipment less than 7 years old and early abandonment due to a family emergency, again.

  • 93 days to abandonment at Milford Haven.
  • 429 hours at sea.
  • 1,975 nautical (2,273 statute) miles over the ground for a running total on Sancerre of 15,735 NM (18,111 statute).
  • 49 days sailing / motoring (ignoring moving a short distance to/from a berth / anchorage).
  • 51 place visits (duplicate visits counted each time).
  • 17 anchorages / marinas visited for the first time.
  • 34 days weather bound.
  • 50 nights at anchor, 39 in a marina or paid for buoy (excluding time at Milford Marina where I left the boat there to go home).

High Lights

Weather:

I spent 34 days (37% of the total) weather bound and through force of circumstances the majority were in expensive marinas such as Portland, rather than at anchor. The ratio was only made semi respectable because from Stromness to Milford I only had three nights in Ardglass marina (2 weather bound) and one at Tobermory, all the other nights being on the hook or at sea.

I also used more than twice as much diesel as expected due to motoring through lack of wind on the way north and 29 hours under engine in the rush to get to Milford and home.

With all the delays and no sign of improvement I gave up on Shetland before making a quick return from Orkney down the west coast, that was a good decision, if I had gone down the east coast I would have been stuck in marinas for quite a few more days and used more for overnight stays as the anchorages would have been unusable due to the wind direction.

Equipment:

Both the anchor windlass and the plotter failed in the first few days, both were installed new in 2017, the windlass turned out not to be repairable (1 year out of warranty) so that was £600 plus £100 for the new motor that I could not fit due to corrosion of the gearbox casing, hopefully I will get some of that back selling the motor and new parts not required on eBay. 

The plotter failed whilst I was in Portland and was over £1k to replace, but I did get a 9" rather than 7" (the hole was too big for the new 7" to fit into) that now fits on the back of the cabin, the previous version was bigger and would not. I may be able to repair the old one with parts from the US but it is unlikely to be worth the effort as the obsolete 7" would probably not fetch much more than the cost of the repair, if I can fool it to start up without the card reader and can find the bail to mount it, it may be possible to use it as an instrument display but I'm not sure where it would go, perhaps replacing the monochrome GNX 20 display? 

The REALLY annoying thing was that a week after purchase Garmin launched a big discount sale and I could have saved over £300.

The new Garmin 923, without a powered jig saw several hours work
was needed to enlarge the hole and mount it. The SD cards are now on
the back  of the unit, the screen now going almost to the edges, and
are not easily accessible so I may fit the the optional remote reader.
On the plus side, the new one is much easier to read and the App that maintains the software and charts recognised my charts as being 2 years out of date and gave me a free update to the 2024 version, I suspect that is because when you purchase charts on a card with the plotter (rather than downloaded separately) you get one free upgrade to the current version and the software probably thought the charts came with the plotter. Now that I have a compatible plotter I could upgrade to the charts incorporating Navionics features but I doubt that I will as the version does everything I need, the upgrades are not cheap and although I will not use much of the area my current chart covers the Western Mediterranean, the Atlantic seaboard from Belgium to Africa at 26 degrees N, the Canaries, Azores, etc. The new UK chart covers just UK & Ireland and several others might be required.

The 722 as an instrument display, there are lots of options
with everything on the NMEA network displayable one way
or another. Screen shot in Portland, just before it failed,
during the second named storm to delay me, it peaked
with gusts at 56 knots.
I also had several other problems, mainly resolved before I left Hamble for the second time, fortunately from then on I had no gear failures.

  • On the last delivery trip to the boat, I tried to wind the rather nice 15 day vintage marine clock I had restored, signed by Mercer a premium chronometer maker but actually Coventry made by Williamson, and the mainspring broke or became detached from the arbor or barrel. Fortunately I had a centre seconds 8 day clock by Kelvin Hughes on my study wall so I lugged that down with me on the train so as to have the space on the bulk head filled and because I use the clock a lot as it is easily visible from the cockpit and from the bunk.
The replacement clock, nice but I had to replace the dial when
I restored it, the original was printed and someone had wrecked
it trying to clean it. The barometer on the right is by Broadhurst
Clarkson is from the inter war years, also restored.
  • When I switched on the instruments to leave Hamble, the wind instruments were not working, they had been a week before. I was not totally surprised as the seriously expensive plug and socket at the mast had given trouble a year before not liking the thin cable and very thin wires. After the first failure I had hard wired it but the water had got through. It could not be hardwired again as the short piece of cable from a connecter block under the head lining to the old socket was too short, but I had come prepared with a different make of plug and socket and a length of the correct cable to replace the gash bit that had been left on the boat when the previous owner had installed a radio linked sensor (another long story, but I had replaced that in 2021 as it was useless). I was late away from the mooring and left on a falling tide but with an empty mooring down stream it was not the issue it normally would be.
  • Fixing the wind instruments disturbed other wiring and I had to go back and replace a broken jumper that provided the earth for many of the cabin lights.
  • One non-slip "Treadmaster" pad disappeared from the deck in a storm the day before I left, yet to be replaced.
  • The electric toilet pump packed in shortly before I left, replaced with a much better and far cheaper locking manual pump, now the bowl doesn't slowly fill to half full then slop all over the place in rough weather unless cling film is put over it. It also uses less water so does not fill the new holding tank as quickly.

Friday, July 5, 2024

2024 June 29th Days 92 and 93, A mad dash to Milford Haven. Part 2.

DRAFT

There are few pics due to the weather and night time. This post needs to be read after the last part of the post before last "It's like déjà vu all over again".

Approaching the West Codling buoy the wind rapidly increased from the SSW as I was headed SSE sails were not much use to me, the F4 wind against tide and light rain made it uncomfortable but reasonably quick and at one point there were over falls not noted on the (raster) charts. 

A large lorry ferry coming through the banks.
Some quite large ships pass through the banks, the one above was coming a bit too close so a 30 degree course change was required to avoid, then I was dodging a lot of pot buoys in the channel, each with a very long pick up waiting to catch the prop. 

Approximate track in the absence of
the real one, straight lines instead
of curves
A 40ft + catamaran with 4 or 5 men busy working pots also had to get out of the way of the above, but not out of my way, she drifted as they worked one string then moved at 8 knots to the next one making it difficult to  gauge where we might meet and I ended up passing within 50 yards of her whilst she drifted.

The tide turned as I got to seaward of the main banks and even making 5 knots under engine and a day off a neap tide, I was moving more to the east than to the south (more so than in the indicative route shown here), at least that helped me clear an off lying shallow area known for over falls. 

Fortunately I was still in cell phone range at 11:30 when I got the news that my wife had broken her hip and would be operated on later that day or on Sunday.

As expected not a great deal of southern progress was made for 3 hours and not much more for the final 3 of the tide and I was more than 5 miles east of the rhumb line when the tide turned again to the south but that helped me get to my waypoint off "Bishop" without any significant change of course.

Meanwhile the wind was not cooperating and had been blowing F5 since late morning vs F3-4 in the forecast, by 16:15 the change to the northerly had not happened; then it veered 180 degrees in 10 or 15 minutes without dropping, a rare event. All through the trip Met Éireann and the UK Met office were playing catch up and largely understating wind strength, at one point they were forecasting an increase to F5 coming when I was in F5-6 and had been in F5 for half a day.

I set the headsail with one reef to reduce rolling vs the full sail, recalculated the route and timing and had a think. Under sail with a still dirty hull I would make about four knots through the water without pushing too hard, motor sailing I could make 5 - 5.5 knots, still well short of I would make with a clean hull but better than before the cleaning I did at Ardglass

At 5.5 - 6 knots there was a chance of getting past the "Bishop and Clerks" off of St David's Head just after slack water, coming north on a following spring tide I had made 10 knots over the ground along there, I did not want to be heading into 3 - 4 knots of tide but if I could get well across St Brides Bay before the stronger tide started I would then have to battle the tide into Milford Haven but that was more "doable" than getting past Bishop against a full tide and would get me to Dale for some sleep before getting to a marina.

Given the time pressure I opted for motor sailing and accepted the noise and vibration that results, so there would be no chance to take 20 minute naps and relying on regular visual checks plus AIS and radar alarms to avoid collision.

One of two serious alarms on AIS on the long leg, this one went
less than half a mile past my stern after I had made a significant
course change in poor visibility. 
I was now rushing south at 7 knots over the ground or better and it was looking good until about 20:00 when the wind dropped from F5-6 to F3 - 4, my speed dropped and I didn't make it. Typically the wind came back as I reached Bishop and I was very glad it was dark so I couldn't see how bad the sea was,  a F5 wind against a strong tide created what looked in the moonlight to be a scaled down version of the seas in a southern ocean storm, I had to slow the boat down and reduce rolling or there was a serious risk of a broach and a potential knock down. 

Under engine alone I was still surfing down waves at 6 - 7+ knots but making only 2 occasionally 3 over the ground. The autopilot did a great job driving me straight down the waves with only the occasional roll when an awkward wave hit on the quarter. I would have been very hard pressed to do that for four hours and would probably have streamed warps and waited for the tide to change.

Approximate and simplified track from Bishop to Milford in the
absence of the real one.
It was too dangerous to alter course and I was reconciled to continuing south well out of my way and getting close to Grassholm before the tide turned calming the sea, but fortunately the wind backed a little and the wave changed direction a little and I was able to almost follow my planned track reaching Skokholm as the tide turned. 

I then had an easy motor into Milford Haven except that I hit a big pot buoy off of St Anne's Head, the marker was being towed under by the tide and was completely invisible with sun behind it and barely visible down sun, when a cloud briefly put a shadow over the water waves I could see more pots ahead so I jinked a few hundred yards into the channel and made my way to the west of Stack Rock (S of Sandy Haven Bay) where I let the boat drift as I made phone calls to find a berth.

My luck was in and I got a berth at Milford Marina just half an hour away and the best place to be as it is sheltered and 10 minutes walk from the station. I went onto the outside waiting pontoon and opted to stay there until free flow through the lock, that was easier than locking through and saved the marina operating it. I spent the time checking out the marina and starting to tidy the boat.  Free flow started a few minutes late at 11:50 and I was on a berth shortly after.

I had got an update when I came within cell phone range, my wife was #1 on the list for Sunday having been bumped on Saturday, but whilst she was expected on the ward she had not arrived and I could not get through to the evaluation unit, so I had a brief snooze and when I woke up tried again, and she had just arrived on the ward at 15:30 after a successful four hour operation.

137 miles in 29 hours from the Skerries to the Haven Marina waiting pontoon, 183 miles in 49 hours from Ardglass with 3.5 hours sleep.

The aftermath.


On Monday it was 6 hours on the train, then taxi home and car to the hospital after fixing dinner to take in. 

To add insult to injury, when on the following Thursday I took her home I got a puncture in a tyre only replaced last September after the previous one was trashed going to the same hospital after rushing back from Hope Cove.

I have asked for the boat to stay in the water at Milford for a month (the same price as c 18 days on the daily rate) then be lifted out for 2 - 3 weeks by which time I should be able to go down for a few days at a time to do the anti-foul and touch up paintwork damaged by weed and a mooring buoy - hopefully I'll not need to do a complete repaint this year. 

Having looked at the rate card for Milford Marina, a year in the sheltered marina is £40 cheaper than my exposed trot mooring on the Hamble plus my yacht club membership required for dinghy storage and other facilities. Also time ashore and services such as lift outs are a lot cheaper - for example 4 weeks ashore during the winter would be half the price of doing it on the Hamble, a significant saving and the saving increases with more time. Even a simple lift, power wash and relaunch would save £260 vs the same at Deacon's and be only £90 more than drying out on the YC piles to DIY which in practical terms takes 3 days as I usually go into the dock before dawn and stay the night after.

It is a 4 hour drive vs 1.5 hours, I’d have to pay for accommodation when the boat was ashore and when the time comes it could probably be harder to sell the boat there (although there are a lot of Achilles owners in the area where they were built and many A24 owners move on to the A9m or A840). But I’m seriously thinking about moving the boat there in October and am waiting for details, T's & C's etc.. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2024

2024 June 29th Days 92 and 93, A mad dash to Milford Haven. Part 1 to Dublin and the options.

DRAFT

A lot more text than usual in this post, even with the trip split into 2 parts. Few pics due to the weather and night. Needs to be read after the previous post.

Timings are generally from memory, time stamps on emails etc., at the time of writing my navigation log is on the boat along with the Dongle security device for the navigation software and I didn't mess around downloading the log from the chart plotter before I left the boat.

I got about 3.5 hours sleep and was away before 04:00 on Saturday punching the tide under engine before the tide turned south as I rounded the outer island (St Patrick's, I wonder how many of them there are in Irish waters?), there was no wind and visibility was very poor, not what I was hoping for with loads of pot buoys to avoid. Fortunately it improved as I reached the biggest concentration. To be replaced with light rain and drizzle that would remain for most of the day. 😞 The end of June and I was in full winter gear from Dublin on, fleece lined trousers, wind proof fleece, duck down gilets, insulated boots and full waterproofs. Fortunately my French made fisherman's salopettes do keep me dry, unlike the high tech, expensive ones I have had previously.

Passing inside Lambay Island. The small rubber boat surprised
me, four big men aboard fishing at 05:36, before I reached for the
camera two of them were fishing standing up!
I was off Dublin Bay at 08:00 and there was no news from the hospital, when a friend finally got through at 09:00 there was still no definitive news, possibly another broken hip but the senior staff would be reviewing later in the morning, the junior doctors strike was slowing everything down.

Approximate track in the absence of the
actual one.
Now I was in a bit of a quandary, I was past the south end of Dublin Bay with a few hours of tide left, I could go into Sorrento Bay and wait for news and perhaps get some sleep and leave on the evening tide if necessary but that would be a bit of a cop out achieving little and wasting the last of this tide, also possibly a tide at the other end, more of which later.

I could go into the marina at Dun Laoghaire (Dublin Bay) or, if they had no space go back to Howth, both the marinas are a long way from the airport and in the EU, at best I would get home overnight on Saturday or early Sunday leaving the boat in a difficult and expensive location (Eire is expensive these days and these are premium sites). I decided that would not achieve much, if she was let out of hospital my sister would cover until I got home, if they kept her in they would be looking after her, although she would not like the food - The Horton in Banbury has excellent people and facilities but poor food and rubbish parking, they also happen to be the go to place for hip surgery. 

So I decided to press on, but which way? Going along the Irish coast would not achieve a great deal and if the then current forecast was right (it wasn't) I could get stuck further down with few options for a safe haven or even somewhere to anchor. 

Newlyn was tempting but its was an awful long way, they have few spaces in the marina and it would take longer.

So it had to be Wales, Fishguard was ruled out despite a good rail link because there is no marina and it is exposed to the northerly winds forecast, Holyhead might be quicker but the marina got trashed a few years ago, is in a sad state and I have never been there or through some tricky waters off Anglesey. Pwllheli seemed no better. So Milford Haven was the place to go, there are two marinas although they can get full, several places where a buoy can be rented also I have a few contacts in the area who might find me somewhere if all else failed, hopefully short of leaving the boat at anchor which would cause all sorts of problems, not least where to leave the dinghy.

I already had a route planned for Sorrento Bay to Milford for the following day so it was a quick redo for a different start point and time whilst I continued south, still under engine, heading for the passage through the offshore banks between Codling Bank and India Bank, a route I have taken several times before; following a trodden path is always a good idea if you are tired or under stress.

The  weather chart down loads at 08:30 were in general agreement and different from the previous evening but it was a difficult situation for forecasters and computers with a shallow low over Ireland moving east and dissipating, timing was always going to be an issue but I was a little surprised as to the error in wind strength that was to follow. 

Essentially the wind should fill in from the SW, back to the S then quickly veer to the N or NW. Looking at the domestic forecasts from the UK Met office for various places along the Irish coast plus the ECMWF and UK Metoffice hi-res models the change to NW or N should happen about 14:30 and be F3-4. Very good news as, pushing just a bit, with that I could fly the spinnaker and make good time under sail and be comfortable. Alas that was not to be, although I was to make even better time, although not quite enough to make a big difference.

2024 June 28th Day 91 Ardglass to The Skerries and "It's like déjà vu all over again".

DRAFT

The forecasts were a little equivocal but generally showed the wind decreasing from F5 and from the NW. I had planned to leave lunchtime and go to Dundalk Bay and then on to Dublin on Saturday but with the wind already down from F7 to F5 considerably earlier than forecast and the sea not looking rough, I decided to leave at 08:00 with the wind in the marina light from the NE. Outside the harbour the wind was F3-4 from the NW, that gradually increased to F5 and I was making fine progress until not long after leaving the wind started to back and I was close hauled but making good a course that would take me to the Skerries, quite a way but certainly doable by evening.

The wind started to back again in the afternoon and by a little after 15:00 it was approximately SSW and almost on the nose, I had three options; tack and head for Dundalk Bay, but that was now almost as far as the Skerries, second beat on to the Skerries and arrive well after dark and struggle getting to Dublin as an early or very late start would be needed for the tide. Or third to put on the engine.

Wanting to press on and not miss favourable winds the next day and to get south as quick as was sensible because of easterly winds promised (which did not turn up) I put on the engine, as it turned out a very good choice. I arrived at The Skerries at 20:00 with a Beef Bourguignon ready to eat once I was anchored.

"It's like déjà vu all over again." [Yogi Berra]

I hardly had time to finish it and a sun downer before a phone call; a repeat of last years second cruise, my wife was calling to say she had fallen and was in hospital (no she does not 🍷) tests were still being done (and were still not completed at mid night when her friend left) and it was not known if she would be kept in or sent home. If the latter she would probably need more help than her friends in the village could reasonably give. 

I spent until 23:30 telling relations etc., organising and planning as best I could. My sister volunteered to come up to Oxfordshire from Somerset on Sunday if my wife was sent home and I said I would be in Milford Haven on Monday or Tuesday at the latest if she was kept in or home probably earlier if I flew back from Dublin - always try and over deliver in these situations!

There was no point in staying where I was, so it would be an 04:00 start next day to get the first of the south going tide and hopefully find out what was happening before getting to Dublin so I could make a sensible decision as to the best option.

46 miles in 12 hours

What happened next.

Thursday, June 27, 2024

2024 June 24th Days 88 - 90 Ballyhome Bay to Ardglass

DRAFT pictures and more commentary may follow.

An 05:20 start to reach Donaghadee Sound as the tide turned south, I was sailing as soon as I was out of the sound until approaching Ardglass.  The timing was good as I carried a little tide the short distance down Belfast Lough and entered the sound at slack water, or as slack as it gets, at the southern end it just switches almost instantaneously.

Exiting Donaghadee Sound. 
The route from Bangor through the sound.

With the northerly wind is was a dead run for much of the way and a little too strong for the cruising chute as a "storm" spinnaker although to wards the end I could have carried it but decided not to as the wind was quite variable.

Facebook post: I really, really dislike this mode, more specifically the agro setting it up with a 150% headsail, but the wind is gusting above what, these days, I consider a safe max for the cruising chute from the pole. But here I am on a dead run in F4-5 having just gone through Donaghadee Sound, but it is better than beating against a F5. Hopefully I’ll be at Ardglass fairly early this afternoon.
Lighter winds on the last leg no longer running.

I was on a berth at Ardglass just short of 13:26 with plenty of time to re-store, to leave the next day (Wednesday) but it was clear that this would not be a good idea with the wind forecast to initially very light then turning to the south and fairly brisk. As I had a lot of laundry needing doing I decided to stay put and sort that as the next chance will hopefully be Newlyn. I refuelled immediately before a much needed shower - no point in getting smelly from handling diesel and getting up a sweat after the shower!

34 miles in 8 hours.

The marina at low tide. Works better slowed down a bit.

Thursday was a non-starter with winds forecast to be up to F7 later in the day, the forecast at the time of writing (Thursday lunch time) is not that positive for Friday:

Lough Foyle to Carlingford Lough - Strong wind warning

24 hour forecast: Southwesterly 4 to 6 veering westerly 5 to 7, occasionally gale 8 in north, decreasing 4 or 5 later. Slight or moderate, becoming rough in north, and occasionally very rough in far north. Rain or showers. Good, occasionally poor at first and moderate later.

Outlook for the following 24 hours: West 4 or 5, occasionally 6 at first, becoming variable 2 to 4. Mainly slight or moderate, but rough at first in far north and occasionally smooth later in south. Showers then fair. Good.

But the forecast models show that winds will probably be OK from late morning so the current plan is to leave then and sail to Dundalk Bay which should be OK for a short overnight stop as the brief northerly wind should only be a few knots, Dundalk would give a good start to get to The Skerries in the forecast light winds on Saturday. If that does not work a very late arrival at The Skerries (a 10 hour run at 4 knots) or an overnighter to the Dublin area. 

After that the wind should be generally favourable but rather brisk at times through Tuesday, the main problem might be finding somewhere to park overnight on Sunday when the forecast is for wind to briefly go the the NE at 15 knots, at this point there is no point in over thinking that as things are likely to change, but as a fall back there is always Howth or Dun Laoghaire (Dublin).

I took the enforced stop in warm weather (what a relief from the cold, thankfully it was warm and not very hot) to do some cleaning and do a couple of jobs.

Scrubbing the hull.

Despite some work in Stromness my best speed was still low and getting worse and, as well as I could calculate with infrequent engine use until Tobermory, the fuel consumption has steadily increased. The port side was regressing quickly and I spent over an hour on it before warping the boat to the finger on the other side of the bay .With easier access to the starboard to the skeg and rudder than at Stromness, this is what I found:

Facebook post: 3 coats of Seajet top of the range “Emperor “ in July 2023 “good for “up to” two years”, power wash in March and another coat, part scrubbed in the water in Stromness and this is what it looks like now. No wonder speed is down [and fuel consumption up] 🤬🤬🤬. Not impressed.

I spent a couple of hours cleaning the starboard side but still could not get all of it off, the problem being weed etc. was strongly attached and the "Scubis" cleaner is intended to remove slime and dead stuff. It was hard work.

I managed to achieve this on the skeg, the keel is untouched, the
rest I did what I reasonably could.
Hopefully it was worth the effort.

Fore hatch leak

I have been chasing minor leaks for a long time, the only remaining one was very minor from rain - just a drip now and then, and not much worse when taking waves over the bow but it seemed worth the effort and turned out to be about 7 hours work that helped pass the time.

The wood frame removed and a seemingly minor
issue bottom left.
But on closer inspection the section over one of
the hinges was loose, I suspect not properly secured
when the hatch was modified and new hinges fitted.
I carry an epoxy / fibreglass repair kit, epoxy glue, etc., so securing this was straightforward. It took longer to reprofile this and the frame to be a snug fit. 

It was also clear that there was quite a lot of "give" between the fibreglass hatch and the wood frame it only being secured in the 4 corners and with a pair of machine screws a third of the way along the sides. A couple of the blind holes for nuts used to secure the plastic "window" to hide in were not deep enough forcing a gap between the frame and hatch, those I deepened and I added a second pair of machine screws right through on the side, plus one in the centre of the front and a couple of screws on the back.

One problem is that I had less wide rubber strip than I thought so there is only a narrow strip along the back so its not fully sealed at the aft corners, hopefully any rain will drain forward through the drainage gutters and tubes. A wave over the front is likely to let some water in until I can get hold of more, the small chandlery here does not stock it. 

As an aside, the double sided tape used to attach this type of strip is normally a waste of time, silicone sealant (not glue) does a better job. 

The frame varnished and refitted to the hatch and the hatch to the boat.

Click for the Skerries.

Saturday, June 22, 2024

2024 June 22nd Days 85 - 87 Bagh na Doirline to Druimyeon Bay then Bangor

DRAFT pics to follow.

Saturday morning:

The wind went round to the NW overnight making the anchorage a little uncomfortable, I was anchored well out as there were four other boats in the anchorage, I could have gone further in but single handed I prefer not to have boats behind me, it can be difficult to then get out as I have to be at the bow to raise the anchor and the boat will drift down wind (and or tide) potentially into another boat. So as the wind was light and the tide good I made a quick hop around the north of the Island to a better protected anchorage in Druimyeon Bay.


4 miles in 1 hour

The weather forecast for the next few days is not hopeful with headwinds, mainly light or moderate except perhaps on Tuesday  / Wednesday. And more hopefully tonight; I try and avoid overnight sailing, not because of the dark - except for the avoidance of pot buoys and often the cold, that is pleasant and even easier - but because of the length of time that it takes me to recover and to recharge my sleep bank, it is definitely harder than it was a few years ago.

However the window for westerly, or even a north westerly wind, has expanded since yesterdays forecast, now it looks to be turning westerly at c20:00 and to be favourable for most if not all of trip to Browns Bay, NI although on the down side the 07:00 forecast the sea North Channel is to be "smooth or slight, occasionally moderate", but that is not a major problem although rough would be around The Mull of Kintyre.

If I leave this evening there is a reasonable chance to make Browns Bay (Larne) in 12 - 13 hours, with Red Bay (further north) as an alternate if the doing is slow, and Bangor a possibility if I feel fit enough and the forecast southerly wind is no stronger than forecast and does not arrive early. I would then have Monday to recover and perhaps re-store. Then the tide south from Bangor through Donaghadee Sound is favourable from c 08:00 on Tuesday and 50 minutes later on Wednesday, allowing a reasonable start time an hour before.

Scenarios for a night crossing, calculated by the navigation
software and tabulated for reference, one of the times at
the corner of the TSS should match the actual and gives me
the course to steer without having to start up the PC in
the middle of the night. It also shows the best times to leave.

I have diesel for well over 250 miles but prefer to sail so if the forecasts do not change it looks like an evening start.

Saturday evening.

I left at 19:00 with  a southerly wind F4-5, with the domestic forecast predicting the wind should veer to the NW by c 20:30, then when I refreshed it 30 minutes later, it said 21:30 ☹️ so I was motoring for longer than anticipated and making a lot less than the 5 knots I had planned for the trip down the east coast of Gigha due to the head wind, the choppy sea and the crud on the hull. About halfway to the Mull of Kintyre the wind backed to the SE! This actually helped as the sea got calmer due to the shelter from the Mull.

On the revised time schedule, almost to the minute, the wind quickly veered to the NW at F4, being late to get round the Mull at or before slack water I kept the engine running but motor-sailed with the main and the genoa with one reef. Shortly after I picked up the strong S going tide and was making 8 knots, the engine and sails together generating enough power to over come the drag from the weed on the hull so I could make 6 knots through the water.

With this boost I got to the end of the TSS a little ahead of schedule, switched off the engine and rounded the Mull in good order. The Chute went up for a couple of hours but had to come down as the wind dropped and the engine went on, 20 minutes later the wind was back and up when the chute, but I should have waited because the wind kept increasing and within 10 minutes I was taking in down in 18 knots, quite a bit over the limit for the sail. I continued under sail for a while but had to put the engine on again as with lack of wind I was likely to be pushed north into the TSS. Half way over I was sailing again but after the previous problems I was reluctant to put the chute up and waited for almost an hour before doing so.


Off Red Bay the tide was running north faster than I could sail and I was heading almost W when heading S, so on went the engine again. I started sailing again until past “The Maidens” (pics to follow), then the wind disappeared completely and I motored on to the anchorage off Bangor arriving at 10:00.

Dinner got a little complicated, I had started prep for 2 portions of Chicken curry, then found that the chicken was off, smelling really bad; it was well within the sell by date but there was a small hole in the packaging, so I ended up with spag bol.

Monday was a rest day but I spent much of it working on the boat(a post may follow on that work).

With the strong southerly wind a lot of boats came
north on Monday, most arriving late afternoon on
the last of the tide through Donaghadee Sound. 
Most went to the marina but 3 came to the
anchorage within an hour, now there are four
of us, 2 Brits, 1 Irish and 1 Norwegian.  I think
all are single handed.

Ardglass on Tuesday and I hope that, with all the boats heading north, there will be a berth available, if not it is going to be a long sail to a safe anchorage and tinned food 🙁

Click here for Ardglass.