Sunday, June 27, 2021

Round GB 2021, Days 73 & 74 St Mawes - Fowey.

Achilles 9 metres "Sancerre" off The Dodman
Dodman Point
The forecast for Saturday was for light winds increasing in the afternoon with possibly strong winds on Sunday, and worse they could be from the east which makes many of the anchorages I had in mind untenable. Complicating the decision was the likelihood of Fowey being full up, its happened to me before and this year Covid is stopping people going to France or taking non-boating holidays although the reverse is also true with no French boats coming to UK.

I came up with yet another cunning plan which for once worked, by leaving quite early I would get a few hours fair tide up to Dodman point and arrive at Fowey around mid day by which time boats going east would be long gone and boats going west should be on their way on the west going tide, so there was a reasonable expectation of getting a mooring. And if the forecast improved I could make a last minute adjustment to the plan and anchor off of Polkerris near Par Sands.

The forecast did not get better on Saturday morning suggesting F4 - 6 cyclonic (that is changing in direction) and occasionally F7 in the west (probably west of Lands end but possibly further east) so I went with plan A.

I was a little late in leaving at 06:45 but there was little or no wind so it did not make much odds and I sailed in very light winds, with the cruising chute for much of the time, until the tide turned off Dodman  a little after 10 and I started going backwards, so I put the engine on to get past and onto Fowey from which at least a dozen boats were leaving, a good indication I would get a mooring. Typically a light (later moderate) sailing breeze came up as I reached Cannis Rock buoy, just where I would normally be thinking of taking down a spinnaker to enter harbour.

Achilles 9m Sancerre off Gribben Head
The Day Mark on Gribben Head approaching Fowey.
There were plenty of moorings available and I was on one of them by 12:15 ready for lunch on a nice warm, even hot, afternoon. All the moorings were taken by 18:00 but only a couple of boats had to raft up and they did not come near me, probably because the were bigger than me (on a buoy, the harbour authority say rafted boats should be about the same size) but possibly because I was next to some big boats in one of the more crowded areas.
Achilles 9m Sancerre in Fowey
Fowey before the moorings were taken interrupting the view.

On Sunday the weather returned to mist, rain and a fairly strong wind but it should largely clear for tomorrow, I'll be heading east tomorrow (Monday) probably for Plymouth, a short leg but the tide is not good to get to Salcombe or around the Start and the wind is likely to be light and variable. 

21 miles in 5.5 hours.

Slide show all of my pictures from St Mawes to Fowey. Page through by clicking the arrows or click in the centre of the pic to view from Flickr in a new window or full screen:

2021 Newlyn - Fowey

Round GB 2021, Day72. Newlyn to St Mawes.

I spent Thursday further recovering from the overnight trip, when I can’t get at least some sleep overnight these are getting harder every year, and visiting a sailing friend who let me use the shower as those in Newlyn were closed due to Covid. Friday, as forecast started grey, damp and miserable but by 10:00 it had cleared enough to see across the bay past St Michaels Mount so I set off with a couple of other yachts including the Folkboat.

The wind quickly increased from not very much to a solid force 4 and occasionally 5 and I made good time to the Lizard, the tide was still adverse when I arrived so progress slowed dramatically but at least with the offshore wind the sea was not rough and I was able to sail quite close to the over-falls off the headland which kept me to windward making it possible to sail up to The Manacles buoy. 

This was quite tricky sailing with a very gusty and variable wind up to F5, it was however pleasing to at least keep up with larger boats and sometimes pull away, there were 8 or 9 in view as I rounded, more than I have seen at sea all trip, in fact probably more than I have seen in an entire day previously.

Achilles 9m Sancerre of St Anthony Head
St Antony Head
Under the full Genoa and the main with one slab I was again making good progress with the tide changing. Heading up for the Fal the sailing became easier but slower being hard on the wind - close hauled the boat will look after herself in the gusts and as the wind changes with no need to adjust the sails. Unfortunately the wind backed a little and I could not clear St Anthony Head, rather than tacking I motored the last couple of miles and I dropped anchor off St Mawes at 17:45.

Achilles 9m Sancerre at St Mawes
St Mawes

35 miles in a little under 8 hours.

Slide show all of my pictures from Newlyn to St Mawes. Page through by clicking the arrows or click in the centre of the pic to view from Flickr in a new window or full screen:

2021 Newlyn - St Mawes

Click here for St Mawes to Fowey.

Friday, June 25, 2021

Round GB 2021, Days 69 - 70. Sandy Haven Bay to Newlyn.

The forecast was pretty much correct and I left Sandy Haven Bay at 05:15 on Tuesday on a clear day and headed out into the Bristol Channel, the plan at my default usually optimistic, speed of 4.5 knots would get me to Newlyn shortly after 07:00 on Wednesday and give me a fair tide and hopefully smooth water rounding Lands End.

The light wind gradually increased as I motor sailed down the east channel out of the Haven and I was sailing in a nice Force 4 with the mainsail and poled out genoa well before reaching the Turbot Bank buoy, the wind dropped a little and I replaced the genoa with the cruising chute flying from the spinnaker pole. The wind was NNE and I was on a dead run with 2 knots of tide pushing me westwards. I hung on for a good while hoping for the wind to back a little as per the forecast before giving in and gybing.

A little before 10:00 I passed what appeared to be a dead bird in the water, a few minutes later it crash landed on my head, it came from behind so it was a bit of a shock! 

I moved the young bird (its tail feathers not yet fully grown)
into the sun to dry off.
A9m Achilles Sancerre crossing the Bristol Channel.
After a couple of hours it has perked up, why it chose to perch
on the autopilot ram which keeps moving I don't know.
After about 3 hours it felt well enough to fly around the boat,
a bit unsteadily to my eyes, to perch on the guard rail forward
during one of the periods I was back under the genoa as the
wind went up and down. Shortly after it flew off, I suspect it
should have stayed on board a lot longer as by then I was a long
way from land and I suspect it was not strong enough to make it.
Coming into the coast that evening having averaged over 5 knots through the water it was clear I was going to be very early at Cape Cornwall and Lands End and the tide would be against me. The sky was still clear, the sea fairly calm, the wind about 5 knots. There would be good light from the moon so I decided that I would go in close to try and find the counter current reported to be found there. 

That was another failed plan because the wind suddenly filled in again at 15 knots, against  2.5 - 3.0 knots of tide that quickly built up a very nasty sea and I was surfing down steep seas at 7 knots, that was getting dangerous, a reef in the main helped reduce rolling for a while but in the end I took the main down and motored slowly on as the wind dropped, not long after the sea reduced to an extent that it was a non issue but I was still heading into a strong tide until I reached the "Long Ships" off of Lands End at about 04:00. 

Once I had passed this reef I headed up to pass just out side of "The Runnel Stone" as the wind came back up and I sped on under sail to pass Mousehole at 05:00, the harbour at Newlyn looked very full so close to my planned arrival time I dropped anchor in Gwavas Lake outside the harbour for a very brief nap. The harbour master and staff where at work when I woke up and told me some boats had left and there were a couple of berths spare so I moved in mid morning.

A9m 041 "Lanthe of Angle" behind me in Newlyn Harbour, and
on the right the Folkboat that was berthed next to me in Port Ellen, Islay.

120 NM over the ground in 26 hours.

Slide show all of my pictures from Milford Haven to Newlyn. Page through by clicking the arrows or click in the centre of the pic to view from Flickr in a new window or full screen:

2021 Milford - Newlyn

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Round GB 2021, Days 67 - 68. Dale & Sandy Haven Bay, Milford Haven.

I woke late and found a report on Facebook that a couple of Jesters might be in Angle Bay to the east but there was a familiar looking boat with a blue ensign  two or three hundred yards away on the pontoon moored near the moorings so I pulled up the anchor and went over to take a look before moving east. There I found Chuck with his Sadler 29 J'Hana, a fellow member of the RAFYC who had done the 2021 Jester and the 2019 Jester Baltimore. In front of him was a veteran Jester Challenger David and his Achilles 840 "Headway III".

Achilles 9 metres "Sancerre" in Milford Haven
Sancerre, J'Hana and Headway III.
The three of us had a good natter and a look at each others boats before deciding that the strengthening wind and increasingly choppy water was not going to make this a sustainable berth, especially with a poor forecast, so Chuck and I moved to Sandy Haven Bay a short distance east on the north coast of the Haven likely to give much better shelter. David, who was well rested decided to head for Padstow, N. Devon before the forecast strong northerly winds arrived.
J'Hana in Sandy Haven Bay
After a peaceful night Chuck moved on to find a rare marina berth to pick up his wife who was coming up for a short holiday. 

The 96ft Topsail Schooner "Johanna Lucretia" , built in 1945
she is now used for sail training and briefly replaced J'Hana
in the anchorage, probably stopping for Sunday Lunch. The
fenders floating of the stern were probably a safety measure
for the briefly noisy swimming party.
If the forecast is accurate 2 days out, and you never know it might be, I will probably use the last of the strongish wind on Tuesday morning to make a dash for Newlyn - the winds do not look good for a hoped for excursion to Lundy.

Curry night tonight and I just realised I didn't bring any ginger 😒

Slide show all of my pictures from Sorrento Bay to Milford Haven. Page through by clicking the arrows or click in the centre of the pic to view from Flickr in a new window or full screen:

2021 Sorrento Bay - Milford Haven

Round GB 2021, Days 65 - 66. Sorrento Bay to Dale, Milford Haven.

The time had come to bite the bullet and do a long leg across the Irish Sea, ideally I would have carried on down the coast inside the off lying banks, had a night at anchor (due to Covid marinas, harbours etc. were off limits) before making a "short" crossing to Wales or a longer one to Cornwall. 

Two factors ruled this out, the wind was forecast to be northerly veering east and I did not want to cross to Wales against an easterly and second there are no sheltered anchorages along this stretch of coast or on the north Devon and Cornish coasts, although Padstow harbour gives good shelter if the tide allows you to get in over Doom Bar.

I therefore would have to go direct. Milford Haven seemed a good option especially as I was likely to find there competitors from the recently finished Jester Challenge, that if I had not been delayed I would have been doing. 

That decided, a decision was needed on which channel to take through the dangerous off lying banks. There are significant over-falls off of the Arklow banks and with a brisk Northerly wind I decided to follow the coast for about 40 miles and exit south of the Arklow and Glassgorman banks.

A9m Achilles Sancerre Wiklow Head
Wiklow Head
The trip down was almost a dead run which with a  quartering sea was quite uncomfortable, but less so than some of the previous legs, the wind on the way over was F4-5 mainly the latter with gusts well into F6 and I made very good time. The entire trip was done under the headsail alone, much of the time reefed.

Unfortunately I was not quite quick enough to get the last of the favourable tide between Skomer Island and "The Smalls" (an area of Islets, rocks and reefs annotated on the charts as an "Area to be avoided") and into Milford. If I had been an hour earlier at St Davids Head I would have been at anchor 2 or 3 hours earlier than I managed.

The entrance into Milford requires care at night, of course it can all be done using GPS but I like to identify the lights etc. and  there are a lot of them. I headed to Dale Shelf anchorage in the NW corner of the Haven which is large and reasonably sheltered from the northerly wind. 

Annoyingly the half moon set when I was a about a mile short so it was very dark as I felt my way in not in this case helped by any shore lights or lights on the delimitating buoys one of which I almost hit. I anchored well clear of permanent moorings at 02:30.

This Topsail Schooner initially caused me some confusion when I
arrived with a huge anchor light on something obviously big,
more on her in my next post.

110 miles over the ground in 21 hours averaging over 5 knots with the last few miles under engine well below that because of the adverse tide.

Click here for time in Milford Haven and a change of anchorage.

Round GB 2021, Day 64. Dundalk Bay to Sorrento Bay.

I was away at 06:30 to get the tide for what was at times a busy trip with the wind changing frequently. It started off northerly so I was under sail straight after getting the anchor up and I was reaching in light to moderate winds making good progress. After a while the wind lightened somewhat and started to veer so up went the cruising chute.

Under the cruising chute just before 09:00 with the Rockabill
light, east of the Skerries, on the horizon.
A9m Achilles Sancerre under the cruising chute.
The cruising chute flying from the spinnaker pole, after the wind
shifted again, the big symmetrical spinnaker would have been
better but I was making good progress so didn't bother. To be
most effective the pole should be horizontal but with the small
asymmetrical it makes little difference.
The last couple of miles up to and then past the Skerries was a slow process against the tide which was also pushing me onto them so it was necessary to gybe several times to get out to sea, I cheated here and just gybed the mainsail, it surprises many people how long you can sail like that with the spinnaker still working, a couple of these legs lasted up to half an hour.
A9m Achilles Sancerre passing the Skerries (IRE)
A poorly marked lobster pot buoy an all to common problem, run
over one and you can be in big trouble with a fouled propeller and
no engine or simply anchored by the keel or skeg / rudder. I know
of several people who have had to be rescued by the RNLI after
catching one that has been poorly marked. In the back ground, 
Patric's Island, outermost of the Skerries Island if you ignore the
Rockabill light on its Islet.

Dundalk Bay to The Skerries.

A9m Achilles Sancerre off Lamby Iskand (IRE)
Just as I got the spinnaker up and the cruising chute packed the
wind changed again and I had to gybe.

A9m Achilles Sancerre off Lamby Iskand (IRE)
Lambay Island
North of Lambay Island the wind failed so on went the engine, it came back later but on the nose and by then I was in Dublin Bay needing to keep clear of quite a lot of shipping so I motored on the Sorrento bay, a decent anchorage just south of Dublin bay and sheltered from the Northerly winds expected to be quite strong overnight.
A9m Achilles Sancerre entering Dublin Bay
Baily light marking the northern NE corner and entrance to
Dublin Bay.
A9m Achilles Sancerre off Dalkey Island, Dublin Bay
Passing Dalkey Island, one the SE corner of Dublin Bay and south
of Sorrento Bay. A Martello on the left and to its right an old castle.

Skerries to Sorrento Bay. the kink in the track entering Dublin
Bat was me avoiding a ferry and crossing the shipping channel
at right angles.

40.6 nautical miles over the ground in eleven and a half hours.

Slide show all of my pictures from Ardglass to Sorrento Bay. Page through by clicking the arrows or click in the centre of the pic to view from Flickr in a new window or full screen:

2021 Dundalk Bay - Sorrento Bay

Round GB 2021, Day 63. Ardglass to Dundalk Bay.

An 07:00 start before the wind got up was helpful in allowing me to get off the pontoon and do a 3 point turn in the restricted space but the choppy sea from the previous strong wind meant I could not make any meaningful progress without the “Iron topsail” until the sea moderated and the wind increased at about 09:30 after which I was sailing all the way to Dundalk Bay with a couple of  short tacks out to sea necessary to keep clear of the coast. The wind became very variable past Carlingford with a strong blast coming in from the south west.

Unlike last year finding an anchorage was straightforward, the tide was almost high and I could check out the area before choosing a safe spot to anchor, the sea bed was very flat, varying by only a foot or so over a large are so that was no problem.

The evening was a little uncomfortable with the tide holding the boat beam on to the wind and sea causing it to roll, fortunately I have my sea legs and when the wind changed to the north and things calmed down for a peaceful night.

38.2 miles over the ground in 10 hours.

Click here for Dundalk Bay to Sorrento Bay.

Monday, June 14, 2021

Round GB 2021, Day 61. Bangor to Ardglass.

I had  rather a disturbed night, after getting into the bunk early the anchor alarm went off at 01:00, the wind had gone from south west to north east and the anchor was not quite where I said it was and, with a tight set up and at low water, the boat went a few feet over the boundary. The wind then went a little north of west and the boat got a little rocky.

The boats track overnight shown after I had corrected the anchor
location, its never easy to get it spot on and I usually set the alarm
allowing for a larger merger of error.
I had difficulty getting back to sleep but even without the alarm I woke up at 06:30 just about right to make the optimum departure time for the tide, getting the full benefit going south and going through Donaghadee Sound inside Copeland Island, where the tide runs at 3 knots or more, on the flood.
A9m Achilles Sancerre off Copeland Island
Copland Island, the channel looks wide but the channel is only
about 200 yards across with over-falls possible at the southern end.
Unfortunately the sun was clouded over not long after the pic.

Once clear of Copeland Island the light wind picked up to a gusty F3-5 and it was a quick but cool trip down with the following tide, reaching under the reefed headsail until I had to come to the wind for the last 12 miles or so when I was beating with the reefed headsail and one slab reef in the main.

A9m Achilles Sancerre at Ardglass, NI.
Ardglass marina is a little cramped around the edges.
 The commercial harbour is the other side of the drying rocks, a
few fishing boats can be seen in the background.
A9m Achilles Sancerre at Ardglass, NI.
Ardglass NI
Victorian bathing hut, fish dock back right, entrance back centre
Marina off to the left, the mole just visible.
With F6 (+?) winds forecast for tomorrow evening I will be here for at least a couple of nights. I’m not sure when I can move out, Irish marinas etc. are closed due to Covid-19, so if going south I need a long window because on shore or northerly winds restricts anchoring options and going east also has issues with some wind directions.

35.6 miles over the ground in a little over 7 hours averaging 5 knots mostly under sail and taking it easy.

Slide show all of my pictures Bangor to Ardglass. Page through by clicking the arrows or click in the centre of the pic to view from Flickr in a new window or full screen:

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Round GB 2021, Day 60. Browns Bay to Bangor.

I wanted to go the Ardglass to refuel and revictual as I have run out of fresh stuff but its 45 miles and with headwinds that would not be possible without sailing into the night so I did a short hop to Ballyholme Bay, Bangor.

I was off at 06:30 as the tide started to turn in my favour in a southerly F3 wind. That was up and down, largely down until I was about four miles from Bangor when a a south westerly came in suddenly at F4 then F5.

A9m Achilles Sancerre in Belfast Loch
In Belfast Loch, in a few minutes I went from ghosting along at 2 knots
with little wind to making over 5 knots and 5 minutes after that
I had a reef in the headsail and genoa with the wind blowing F4-5.
A9m Achilles Sancerre off Bangor NI
At Anchor, Ballyholme Bay, Bangor.
A9m Achilles Sancerre off Bangor NI
When I arrived in the late morning there appeared to be no activity
at the sailing club but it looks like the good sized fleet only
has one race on a Sunday.


15.2 miles in 4.5 hours.