Wednesday, February 23, 2022

2022 Towards St Kilda - planning the start date.

Written in some detail to be part of my tips on planning a round GB trip. Click here to skip to day 1 of the trip.

The last couple of years my start date has been affected by Covid-19 and the weather, the chances are that weather will again foul things up but once planned I can see the options and it will be quicker to replan, especially if the new start date is a couple of weeks later at the same point in the tidal cycle.

These days, sailing single handed, I try and avoid sailing overnight as when coastal sailing around UK I am reluctant to sleep at all when underway, so if I need a day to recover after a 30 - 36 hour leg it is not necessarily going to get me to the destination any quicker than making it 2 legs. 

Going west from the Solent that means stopping off at Portland and then using the inshore route with an early start before heading off across Lyme Bay. Daylight is needed for the inshore route so in spring and autumn you need the tidal "gate" to open around dawn.

It can get busy out there (and these are only those boats with
 an AIS transceiver) so sleeping is not a good idea, from
my 2020 round GB trip after battling the spring tide towards
Portland, another good reason to take a rest in the harbour.
All of these considerations mean leaving Hamble on or around neap tides, whilst this will give less of a push down the Solent and westward, high tide in the Hamble will be within an hour of 06:00 BST so I can get off the mooring on the flood shortly before first high water (It is not practical to get off on the ebb) and get a full tide westward, in good conditions that will take me past Anvil Point and possibly St Albans, to arrive in Portland Harbour by late afternoon or early evening.

A quick look at the tide tables shows neap tides on April 11th & 25th. I am planning around the 11th, it might be chilly but if there are gales or rain for an extended period, I can delay for 2 weeks and use similar plans or replan for Easter weekend, leaving on Springs and accepting an overnighter across Lyme Bay. Mid April also gives a high probability of Easterly or Northerly winds to get me to Lands End, preferable to beating all the way even though easterlies make many passage anchorage untenable.

The 11th though is a Monday, leaving then would mean travelling down to the boat after taking the car home on a weekend, travelling cross country by train on a Sunday is not good so its Saturday the 9th or Tuesday the 12th. I am going for Saturday, it will make an early departure from Portland dependant on clear skies (Nautical Twighlight is 05:06, Civil Twilight 05:48 and sunrise at 06:22) but the inshore route is passible, especially at neaps, for several hours so on a quite but overcast day a delay to wait for better light is acceptable. Also in the event of bad weather clearing I can stay on the boat for a night or two before leaving.

So, the optimum time to slip (or get off the RAFYC pontoon) will be 03:30 BST on the 9th and the latest time 05:00. And if I get back from taking the car home earlier enough and the weather is favourable there is the option of going down to Hurst on the evening evening tide on the 8th for an early start (after 04:00) from there the next morning.

My "standard" route to Portland calculated in SeaPro allowing for
tidal streams departing Hamble on the 9th of April (times UTC).
Leaving on the 9th I should be in Newlyn ready to go round Lands End sometime between the 15th and 20th. I have no date specific plan for the passage from Portland to Newlyn, it will depend so much on the weather but the Hallsand anchorage (behind Start Point), Plymouth, Fowey and St Mawes are all possible stops and the navigation software and the plotter already have most route options available from previous trips.

If the weather is helpful I would prefer to go to St Ives then either up the Bristol Channel before crossing via Lundy or if it's not likely to be tenable at St Ives but OK to go round Lands End I would go direct to Milford Haven or possibly Cansore Point in Ireland.

To round Lands End you should be at the Runnel Stone (see the chart below) two hours before High Water Dover, leaving Newlyn 1.5 - 2 hours before that. So, leaving on the 17th that would be a 10:00 start arriving St Ives at about 17:30 at 4 knots. 

The trip from Newlyn to St Ives planed in seaPro (times are UTC).
Note that despite what the inset graph shows, starting at 13:00 against
the tide is not practical in a small boat and often not safe. The route is
fairly conservative, in good weather the course can be closer to shore
and therefore shorter.

It is not a good time to leave for Milford but not bad. Having made the calculation once it is easy to tabulate the times (in Excel) for days earlier and later.

Date

HW Dover / Local (BST)

From

To

Start BST

NM

Arrive at 4 Knts (rounded)

09-Apr

04:36

Hamble

Newlyn

03:30

 

 

 

04:11 / 07:11

Via Portland inshore route

 

 

 

 

15-Apr

11:04

Newlyn

St Ives

09:00

37

15-Apr

16:30

04:35

Make the Runnel Stone at HWD - 2 so clear Newlyn a little after HWD - 4 @ 4 knots. @ 5.5 knots duration is c 2 hours less but leave later. Tide not strong for the first 2 hours.

16-Apr

11:40

Newlyn

St Ives

09:30

37

16-Apr

17:00

05:12

 

17-Apr

12:15

Newlyn

St Ives

10:00

37

17-Apr

17:30

05:49

 

18-Apr

12:51

Newlyn

St Ives

11:00

37

18-Apr

18:30

19-Apr

13:28

Newlyn

St Ives

12:00

37

19-Apr

19:15

20-Apr

14:10

Newlyn

St Ives

12:30

37

20-Apr

19:45

21-Apr

14:57

Newlyn

St Ives

13:00

37

21-Apr

20:30

22-Apr

15:54

Newlyn

St Ives

14:00

37

22-Apr

21:45

23-Apr

04:30

Newlyn

St Ives

03:30

37

23-Apr

11:30

23-Apr

04:30

Newlyn

Padstow Bay

03:30

64

23-Apr

16:30

 

 

At 4.5 knots. HW Padstow 11:00 & 24:00

From this I can see the degree of flexibility in the plan, departure from Newlyn for St Ives would be fine after the 13th but becomes iffy after the 20th until an early morning start becomes a good option around the 23rd. Starting dates for heading to Milford or Ireland are rather more restricting, leaving at lunch time is quite feasible but commits to an overnight trip. 

I'll be reviewing this on the way westward and depending on progress and the weather forecast might well take some shorter or longer legs and lay overs to take best advantage.

We shall see what happens.

Click here for The launching and thread Intro.

Updates: 

Six weeks out several of the long range forecasts are suggesting northerly or easterly winds for the period (fairly common in April) possibly very light as the Azores high extends northwards, if that pans out going northwards could be a problem so a visit to the Isles of Scilly to wait for a favourable wind could be an attractive option.

Three and a half weeks out and all but one of the forecasts show light or very light winds, the outlier shows F7 for a few days but I am ignoring that for the moment and have booked a berth at the RAFYC to make loading up easier (especially the dinghy and outboard) and to avoid using the water taxi / club launch to get on and off when I take the car home.

18th March and all change! easterly winds are forecast from now to the end of March and into early April so I am taking advantage and am now planning to leave late on Friday the 18th or v early on the 19th. I might need the newly installed heater after all, but it should be dry and sunny.

Having chatted to a forecaster at Weatherweb there is then a reasonable chance of winds from the W or SW in early or mid April which would take me up the Irish sea on the Irish side but if the easterlies persist or I make a quick passage to Newlyn I can use the easterlies to go up the Welsh coat before crossing over to take my preferred route across the North Channel leaving from Norther Ireland.

Click here for The launching and thread Intro.

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Preparing for launch and the 2022 cruise towards St Kilda.

Spoiler: Unfortunately the weather defeated me, I made it to South Uist in the outer Hebrides before running for shelter behind the Isle of Skye as the first of several gales approached, three weeks later there was no sign of a window opening either on the models or after talking to a forecaster so I headed for home to leave time for a late summer cruise. 

Click here to jump to day 1 of the trip.

As ever there was a number of minor jobs to do on the boat in addition to a good clean, routine maintenance and the more major jobs already on the Blog that were finished a while ago and I also ticked off a good number of things that have been on my list for a while. Now the boat is ready to go in the water and the plan is to launch on the 9th March and to go onto the RAFYC pontoon for a couple of days to fit the running rigging and load heavy and awkward sized items before moving to the mooring.

Then it will be down to the weather and tides, if the former cooperates I plan to be away on the neap tides the weekend before Easter hopefully taking advantage of easterly winds that frequently blow during April and which caused me a lot of grief last year when going the other way. That start date would enable me to break the trip west at Portland leaving there via the inshore route at dawn, it also gives plenty of time to get to Newlyn for a rounding of Lands End with favourable tides. 

The main objective for this cruise is to visit St Kilda and the Outer Hebrides that the weather and time pressures stymied last year.

St Kilda is about 50 miles west of South Harris, with no where
to go in bad weather (except north of the Butt of Lewis, itself not
a nice place in a blow) it will need close to a week of good weather
after getting to Barra or Harris so I could be waiting a long time.
After that  I am not sure, perhaps an extended cruise around the Scottish Islands, a cruise down the west of Ireland, along the Welsh coast and the Bristol Channel, or I might head off to the Shetland Islands, going to the extreme west of UK (if you ignore the small rock of Rockall) and Muckle Flugga the extreme north has a certain attraction and if I came down the east coast for a third round Britain I would have been to the extreme south (The Lizard), west, north and east on one cruise. We shall see.

This year I have had very little planning to do as a combination of the plans for 2021, 2022 and a plan to go round Ireland after the 2021 Jester Baltimore (that didn't happen) covers most of any likely trip. Updating all of my paper charts (14 "small craft" folios plus over 30 individual charts) was a different matter and took several days. 

The one piece of planning that is worth doing is working out the best date to leave, weather permitting, so as to be able to be able to use the Portland inshore route and to get round Land's End. That will be in the next post.

Click here for considerations planning the start date.