Monday, August 29, 2022

2022 Celtic Circuit, Days 22 - 27 St Mary's Pool, Isles of Scilly


Strong easterly winds set in over the weekend and are likely to be around until Thursday, then some models are showing a strong possibility of gale force southerly winds arriving on Sunday or Monday. It looks as if I will have to make a dash to the mainland on Friday, possibly in fairly rough seas, so that if there is no berth available at Newlyn I'll have time on Saturday to get round The Lizard to find shelter in the Fal.

In the meantime I will stay on the mooring in the Pool at least through Tuesday as the wind is currently east force 5 - 6, then if the wind has moderated, I may move to an anchorage but they are somewhat limited in easterlies and most are popular so space could be a problem. Meanwhile the moorings here are getting very crowded with a mix of English and French boats, mostly quite large.

The showers on the pier were closed but I found one attached to the tourist information office at Porth Cressa close by the laundrette (not self-service) where I had a load washed and dried, they don't do ironing, I can cope with wrinkled but clean shirts.

St Mary's Pool from the north.
Update 3rd Sept, whilst weather bound on the Truro River:
Easterly winds persisted so I spent some time trying to get the dinghy's outboard fixed, it had cut out on my last delivery trip to the boat on the Hamble and would only run for a short time. The local outboard company, Island Outboards at Porthloo, were very helpful picking up and returning the engine from / to Sancerre on the mooring. They got it running well enough to use but were unable to completely fix it as they do not carry spares for small Mariner / Mercury engines. Once I had it back, I moved to the nearby anchorage off Porthloo to wait for a weather window to get back to the mainland.
Porthloo anchorage from Porthloo.
The Scilloian III arriving from the mainland passing very close to
the anchorage.
Sunset from the Porthloo anchorage, a men's gig crew out practicing.
Lady's crews doing it for real, racing from just off Tresco to
the Harbour as St Mary's. It made me feel exhausted just to
watch. More pics in the slide show.
The weather looked reasonable to get back to the mainland on Friday, a good job as very strong southerly winds were forecast for much of the following week, strong enough that I would have had to battle merely strong winds to get back rather than risk southerly gales or severe gales in exposed anchorages or moorings in Scilly - a fate I avoided in July last year by abandoning a trip at St Mawes and rushing back to the Hamble saving me from storm Evert's very destructive winds in the islands that caused many boats both anchored and on moorings to be driven ashore whilst 2 life boats and a rescue helicopter worked most of the night rescuing people. 

2022 Summer St Marys

Bailing out to the Truro River

Sunday, August 28, 2022

How to secure to a visitors Buoy

Another post stimulated by what I have seen whilst sitting on the boat weather bound - the weather is too miserable to venture ashore and a large cruise liner is potentially decamping 900 passengers onto the islands for a few hours so Hugh Town will be heaving until late afternoon. 


This boat is swinging far more than others, the video of it is a bit long but hang in 
there or step through if in a hurry.

This 11.5 metre boat is unstable on her mooring, the video shows her in less than 10 knots of wind, when the wind was stronger she was swinging even more radically and a lot quicker. Note that Sancerre is reasonably stable. Sometimes this happens and there is nothing much you can do about it, perhaps because of a varying wind direction - my time in Plockton earlier in the year was a case in point, or when the boat can't decide to lie to the wind or the tide, but sometimes there is.

Before looking at one reason for this instability and it's cure, a couple of additional points. The rope is sensibly wrapped around a chain link once to reduce the chance of chafe, a running line could easily be worn through in one night or less, the turn significantly reduces this risk but does not totally remove it. Secondly there is, again sensibly, what looks to be a back up line clipped to the chain.

On a permanent mooring the buoy end of the mooring line would normally be attached with a shackle with a thimble spliced into the rope protecting the line from chafe, the problem with a temporary mooring is that it is not really practical to wire the shackle pin and they can come undone. It happened to me in Fowey a few years ago, I had tightened a seriously big galvanised shackle pin as tight as I could without tools and a couple of days later the pin was gone. Fortunately I always have a back up so the boat did not disappear out to sea. A carabiner or proprietary clip of some sort will work but can be expensive and more than one may be required to cope with different sizes of attachment points.

A more flexible and cheaper option is a rope - chain - rope bridle. Lengths of nylon line, either cable laid or platted, is spliced to each end of a length of chain and the bridle adjusted so that the chain runs through the loop on the buoy or as in this case (in St Helen's Pool, Isles of Scilly) through a link in a length of heavy chain. They can be purchased from a rigger or from at least one on line chandler (Jimmy Green) but are easy to make yourself, a 3 strand rope to chain splice is as easy as splices come, and far cheaper.  

Sancerre lying to a rope-chain-rope bridle. Note a safety line
going a different route (bow roller and a different link of
the chain) to minimise the chance of chafe. The pick up buoy
is hung over the pulpit to stop it banging against the hull -
very annoying when you are tying to sleep. The bridle is of 8mm
chain and 12mm rope, a little light weight for a serious blow or
for a permanent mooring but light and easy to set up, I also
have one with 16mm rope and 10mm chain which has a break
load of over 5 Tonnes.
The above picture also shows how to minimise instability, the bridle has one end through the port fairlead, the other through the starboard, the boat in the video has rope going out and back on the same side.

P.S. I’m on a mooring in Tobermory in a very moderate wind, the buoys (now) have very heavy rope strops attached. Those of us with that taken through the bow roller are stable. Several boats with anchors stowed on the roller have the bridle taken to a fairlead in some cases well back from the bow, they are swinging up to 90 degrees. This could be resolved by putting aline from the strop to the fairlead on the other side forming a “Y”.

Saturday, August 27, 2022

2022 Celtic Circuit, Days 20 & 21 Milford Haven to Hugh Town, St Marys

A good quick trip, although there were some tense moments with changing winds and shipping. I left at 05:40 for slack-ish water out of the Haven and helping tide once clear of the coast.
The effect of the west then east going stream
can be seen in the first half of the track, later
tides were largely closer to the course, either
helping or adverse until past the TSS.
I saw more dolphins on this leg than ever before, with several large pods seen at intervals from about 25 miles south of Milford right through to the Seven Stones but mainly in the Celtic Sea, also many of the larger animals had a young one, perhaps 2 or 3 ft long swimming beside them. 

Video from early afternoon, a bit slow to start but picks up after 15 seconds, no young unfortunately they were early on when it was too rough to film, best viewed full screen.


As night closed in, I saw the biggest, brightest and longest meteorite track I have seen covering at least a 30 degree arc.

Initially the wind was quite light from the north but gradually increased to 15 - 20+ knots from the NW before moderating to 9 - 12 knots until I was a few hours short of the West of Lands End TSS.

TSS's can be a pain, you must go with the flow, although yachts typically don't follow them as there is likely to be a lot of ships crammed into a relatively narrow lane, or you have to cross heading (not tracking) at right angles. My plan was to sail west of the TSS and the dangerous Seven Stones rocks NE of the Isles of Scilly. 

My waypoint can be seen on the picture above at the NW corner of the TSS, c 20 miles NW of Cape Cornwall, the TSS does not show zoomed out this far, a problem with vector charts on a smallish screen, having been processed by a human being the Admiralty and Imray charts and their raster equivalent always show them, even on the single UK and Ireland chart.

As I sailed south the wind was varying back and forth between NW and NNW, which kept me busy adjusting the wind vane steering to keep on course, I did not want to get too far north as that would put me down tide of the TSS. At about 19:00 the wind backed to the west which made getting to my waypoint a problem without tacking, the wind speed also increased to around 13 knots and I was hard on the wind, at 22:40 the wind backed further to WSW and I noted in the log that even with a bit of help from the tide I probably would not weather my mark, that was sealed a short while later when the wind came round to SW.

Meanwhile I was kept busy, a cruise ship, a ferry, several large container ships and several smaller ones, came out of the north bound TSS and headed my way. I ended up changing course 3 times to keep clear - I was officially the "Stand on vessel" but it does not make sense to get too close to ships that are 2 - 300 yards long, even with AIS advertising your presence and showing both parties the closest point of approach, their course and speed will usually be steady and predictable whilst mine will be varying with the wind speed and direction.

Around midnight it was clear that I was not going to clear the TSS so there were two options, I could stick to my original plan by putting in a tack probably heading WNW before heading south or to go down the TSS, perhaps under engine if I could not hold the course. I decided on the latter course because the former:

  • Would require an initial long tack, probably a couple of hours which, with the tide heading strongly north would also take me a further 3 or 4 miles north, with the tide that would take an hour or twos sailing to recover.
  • A second tack might later be required to clear the Seven Stones - that is not a place you want to be close to windward of in a strongish wind and a high sea.
  • The wind might always change, admittedly either way.
The TSS, vessels going north use the easterly lane those going
south the westerly. The purple shaded areas are buffer zones which
can only be entered by vessels crossing, joining, leaving, fishing or
in an emergency. On this occasion a large French yacht risked the
wrath of the coastguards by motoring slowly down the central
buffer zone advertising its presence with AIS.
I would have preferred to pass down the western edge of the lane but with the wind and tide, that turned out not to be possible so it was down the eastern side. In fact it proved difficult to reach the lane at all but I entered at 02:00 after giving a heads up to Falmouth Coastguard who are the controlling authority. It was a struggle to stay in the lane for the first 3 hours, all against the tide. During that time four ships including a large Ferry went past, the two smaller ones ploughing down the middle, the two larger ones sensibly going down the west side for maximum separation.

Then the wind started to veer, initially to the west which would have meant a beat to the Scillies, fortunately it later went further, back to the NW of the previous day. With no ships coming down the lane I moved across to the western side of the lane and then headed for St Mary's keeping to leeward of the Seven Stones. 

There were some very big steep fronted waves from the Seven Stones until in the shelter of the Islands, but they were well spaced and I was somewhat off the now stronger wind sailing with two reefs in the headsail and one in the main, and Sancerre gave me a reasonably comfortable ride.

Approaching St Marys the sea now calm.
Approaching St Marys Pool and Hugh Town.
Porth Cressa is a good anchorage in a north westerly but there were already a dozen boats anchored there and space for fin keeled boats is limited, tired I took the easy option and went to St Mary's Pool to pick up a mooring, it is not the best pace to be in a fresh NW wind but I didn't think I would have a problem sleeping and the wind was due to turn to the NE on Saturday and easterly on Sunday. 

There were lots of buoys available which surprised me - it was crammed when I was there a year previously to the day. I thought that it might be the wind direction that had put people off. At the time of writing (Late Saturday, the day after my arrival) there are still few boats in, perhaps that will change with easterly winds helping people get her from the south coast and from France (where the majority of the visitors normally come from, at least pre BREXIT and Covid).

125 miles in 28 hours 30 minutes for an average of 4.4 knots with the engine used for less than two hours getting out of Milford and into St Marys.

2022 Summer Milford Haven to St Marys, Isles of Scilly

Click here for my stay in the Isles of Scilly.

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

2022 Celtic Circuit, Days 17 - 19 Youghal to Dunmore East and Milford Haven

The trip from Youghal was tedious, damp and unpleasant, the (short) night at Dunmore was worse.

The plan was to head for Waterford or one of the anchorages on the 10 mile long estuary leading there. I set off in overcast damp weather with little wind, after a couple of hours sailing the wind failed completely and I ended up motoring the rest of the way in a choppy sea.,

Drizzle was followed by bright sun but with a shallow fog giving variable visibility, generally half to one mile but it closed to a few boat lengths as I approached Dumore East and the entrance to the estuary, dodging a lot of pot buoys. Travelling up it in thick fog was not attractive so I headed for a small anchorage next to the Dunmore East harbour.

Youghal to Dunmore East.
Visibility had improved somewhat but was still less than 300 yards, measured by radar and GPS as I passed the harbour wall. A couple of hours after I arrived the fog cleared but it would now be a long struggle against a foul tide to continue up river and the weather forecast suggested that the next day would be a good time to head to Milford Haven, take a rest day there and then hopefully pick up a favourable wind to The Isles of Scilly on Thursday.

Dunmore E harbour from the anchorage after the fog dissipated
and a calm sea - almost.
The pilot does warn that the anchorage is susceptible to swell but as can be seen from the photo above, there was very little. This was deceptive, late in the evening the boat swung broadside to the swell which was of just the wrong wave length for Sancerre, a shallow gentle roll was amplified by each successive wave until she was rolling wildly, the cycle would break then start again.  It was violent enough that I had to wedge myself into the bunk but by one in the morning it was apparent I would get no meaningful sleep so I decided to leave.

I motored out of Dunmore for a couple of miles, another mile would have been useful to clear Hook Head and associated over-falls but with pots about and the night being very dark I changed to sail in light winds. These picked up through the night and I had a good sail reaching right across St Georges Channel.

A pleasing bit of navigation despite the computer doing the initial
number crunching, one trivial (a few degrees) under way change after
leaving the Coningbeg rock S Cardinal buoy just off the Irish coast and I
ended up right on the planned way point at the NE corner of the Smalls
TSS. Course changes to avoid shipping cancelling each other out.
Daybreak heading out across St Georges Channel with the Cruising
Chute, that came down at 9:45 as the wind increased and I went on
with "all plain sail" making 5 - 6 knots.
Grassholm c 12 mile ENE of Milford, it has the only Gannet
colony in Wales and the 3rd largest in UK. The smell down
wind was not pleasant, fortunately I was making 5 knots through
the water and 7 over the ground so it didn't last long.
Just past Grassholm the wind died, with the tide changing I would not get to the entrance to Milford before the next favourable tide and, with rain starting, on went the engine. The water off St Ann's Head west of the entrance to the Haven was incredibly rough given slight to moderate seas previously and only c 4 knots of wind. Two knots of west going tide was probably the reason but I have not seen it on previous passages.

After an early night I thought the wind and wave gods had it in for me, the wind backed to the SE and increased. The Dale Shelf anchorage has no shelter from this and the boat stated bucking about, not as uncomfortable as the roll in Dunmore East but not good and there was always the chance of a dragging anchor or getting bad enough to require a change of anchorage. Around 02:00 the wind veered and moderated, so all was well.

The boat swinging to the NW with the SE wind before heading
back east. (the track to the SE was a glitch when I was reloading
the plot.
80 miles in 16 hours.
2022 Summer Youghal to Dunmore E and Milford Haven

2022 Celtic Circuit, Day 16 Kinsale to Youghal

I had intended to move on to Ballycotton Bay but the wind which had been forecast to veer to the SW stubbornly stayed in the east to north east which makes the anchorage untenable so I had to go further to anchor at Youghal (pronounced Yawl). The wind had moderated significantly on Sunday morning so at 06:40 with the last of the ebb tide, and the boat pointing up river, it was easy to get off the pontoon and out to sea on a grey, often damp day.

The wind which had been easterly soon backed north easterly so it was a long beat to Youghal.
Heading in towards Ballycotton Island with the full headsail and
iirc one slab in the main..
Ballycotton Island
Youghal has a fairly narrow entrance, after a right hand turn close
to the lighthouse. More pics of the passage to the anchorage
can be found in the slide show.
Once through the narrow passage you end up in an extensive estuary with large drying sandbanks.

My theoretically up-to-date charts still have not been updated from the 2015 survey mentioned in the 2020 edition of the pilot and relies on lead line surveys from 1903/4; but in any case, with shifting sands care is always going to be required. 

The pilot recommends a spot "out of the tide" referencing the 2015 survey but even an hour before low water on a neap tide there was still 1.4 knots of tide there and there abouts. I found a likely spot well east of the anchor symbol on the chart above and had a peaceful night. 

The slide show illustrates the way in and displays chronologically, but I have no pictures from the anchorage because just as I had the boat settled for the night the rain returned, there is a reason Ireland is called "The Emerald Isle".
Summer 2022 Kinsale to Youghal
44 miles over the ground in 11 hours.

On to Dunmore East and Milford Haven.

Thursday, August 18, 2022

2022 Celtic Circuit, Days 12 - 15 Baltimore to Kinsale.

I had planned to be in Waterford on Saturday to avoid strong winds on Sunday then head for Milford Haven on Monday to pick up favourable winds to make for the Isles of Scilly on Tuesday but the forecast has changed again. The wind remains unpredictable, forecast strong winds not being as strong as predicted, light winds somewhat stronger and timings changing with every download. 

But there looked to be a window on Wednesday to move along the coast before more strong winds on Thursday, Glandore looked to be an attractive anchorage but I could get there in just a few hours so I decided to move to Kinsale.

The headland on the southern side of the entrance to Baltimore.
The Northern side with a day mark named "Lott's wife".
I left at 07:00 with light winds and once having made my offing I spent the day reaching in winds varying a little in direction from N to NNW and occasionally NW and significantly in strength from a few knots to 20 when I was making > 6 knots on a beam reach with 2 reefs in the main and genoa. 

Passing inside of "The Stags" north of Baltimore.
Galley Head
I made good time until short of The Old Head of Kinsale when the wind died, after struggling to get round the headland against the tide in light winds I put the engine on half a mile short as I wanted to get into the river at low water before the flood would potentially make getting onto a berth tricky.

The Old Head of Kinsale shortly before the engine went on.
Charles's Fort has the leading lights for the first part of the
route up to Kinsale, not many pics as I had to drive and there
were a couple of boats nearby.
Part way through the big loop around to Kinsale.
The marina in the town of Kinsale was essentially full with boats gathering for a race to the Fastnet Rock and could only offer an outside berth rafted up, perhaps 3 or more deep. That is problematical single handed, firstly getting on to another boat if there is some wind or tide and no one on board the other boat to take your lines or to get away early in the morning if there is a boat outside you. 

The Castlepark Marina across the river did have a space, also on the outside but not rafted, the down side was that it is exposed to the SW and as I write (Thursday) the boat is being bounced about a bit in a F5-6 wind, hopefully the new paint job will survive it! Also there is no shop and the pub does not do food even bar snacks, so I am down to ships stores with a few remaining fresh items. It would not surprise me if I am here for a while, the Irish Met service forecast is not encouraging.



Still here on Saturday, A little bumpy in 20 knots of wind, earlier 
on it was blowing over 30 knots and things got rather wild with
fenders being forced up and out, fortunately I have a lot of fenders.

Yesterday the manager of the marina gave me a lift into Kinsale for lunch and a little shopping so I have some fresh food. A 10 Euro taxi ride back with retired fisherman with some tales to tell.

2022 Baltimore to Kinsale 

44 miles in nine and three-quarter hours.

Click here for Kinsale to Youghal.

2022 Celtic Circuit, Days 8 - 11 Newlyn to Baltimore (IRE)

A trip of two, or perhaps 3, halves.

Newlyn to North of the Isles of Scilly.

The first decision to be made was whether to head for Baltimore via the Scillies or Carnsore Point / Waterford, probably via Milford Haven. That was quickly made, there was little in it from the point of view of tides, Milford just meant leaving an hour or two later, but the current and forecast wind favoured Baltimore.

Approaching Mousehole at 07:00 outbound from Newlyn.

I had thought to visit the Isles of Scilly on-route to Ireland but the forecast models I down loaded after leaving ("PredictWind" makes half a dozen models available twice a day at c 08:30 & 20:30) showed strong north-westerly winds arriving in 2 - 3 days, Scilly is not a good place to be in strong winds, particularly from the NW as there are few anchorages sheltered from that direction and in peak season they would be busy, so I decided to go direct, something that had been on the cards for a couple of days.

It was a good sail to Scilly albeit tiring as with a variable largely following wind, I was forever trimming or changing sails, I remember bagging the spinnaker or cruising chute 7 or 8 times and gybing at least twice before passing Scilly.

A problem heading across this piece of water to or from Ireland is that you can't head in that direction once past Gwennap Head because of the "Off Lands End Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS)" this separates shipping heading north and south but the rule is that you can only cross TSS lanes heading, NOT tracking at right angles, this rule is enforced and people have been fined for non-compliance. So, heading from Gwennap Head you shortly have to steer 270 degrees instead of c300 and, if the passage is planned so that the tide will help you before and after the TSS, when crossing it the tide will take you south and you set off from the Scillies steering around 310 degrees.

Whilst I was heading west in compliance with the rules I ended
up well south of where I would ideally be (north of the 7 stones)
At least the tide helped me get north past the Isles of Scilly.
13:39 NE of the Isles of Scilly. St Martins on the right St Marys
on the left.

Round Island light (right)
14:23 Round Island Light (center)

North of Scilly to Baltimore.

As I cleared The Isles of Scilly the wind which had been fairly light increased and backed and I was on a fetch making very good speed, the only problem was that the wind was frequently varying in speed and in direction by 30 degrees or more. 

There was very little traffic showing on AIS and with one exception nothing within 20 miles, visibility was not good in mist and after a short rest period I came on deck in the middle of the night to see a green light ahead, the AIS alarm went off a few seconds later, it was another yacht on a reciprocal course that had not previously shown on AIS. We passed two or three hundred yards apart in the middle of the Celtic Sea, it just goes to show how collisions can and do happen.

About 06:00 on Sunday I managed to pick up a forecast on VHF - powerful coastguard stations with high antennas can reach impressive distances, well beyond line of sight - I was picking up French broadcasts most of the way to Baltimore. It was bad news from the Irish met office, force 6 north westerlies were now being forecast for that night and I would be heading directly into them. Currently the wind was NW at about 6 knots, under sail I would not reach Baltimore for a day and a half in that wind and in a F6 would face a lot of difficult conditions probably forcing me to put into Ireland well north of my objective; so, on went the engine to try and beat the bad weather. 

My variable track for a few hours before the engine went on.
I was only partially successful; I ran into a F5 about 20 miles from Baltimore and east of the Fastnet I was motoring directly into a F6 which was very uncomfortable and bad enough that I was wearing my life jacket and hooked on while in the cockpit, most unusual! I was impressed with how Sancerre coped with motoring into the wind and waves, spray was flying but we were making 5 knots, with my big engine and three bladed prop 6 knots was possible but that was just too uncomfortable and tiring, it might also have caused some damage.

The wind eased as I approached the entrance to Baltimore but it was still quite a tense entrance with dolphins playing around the boat in pitch dark; except for light from a major electrical storm to the north. With, as it turned out, a well-found fear of pots and other hazards I decided not to risk going to the main anchorage which in any case is relatively exposed to NW and particularly W winds (which were now forecast for later in the night) so at 23:45 I anchored just inside on the western shore, as I had done at the end of the 2019 Jester Challenge. Some pictures of the entrance are included in the next post.

Monday was a rest day with a quick trip ashore for a sandwich lunch at the pub, other establishments being crowded out with holiday makers, and a visit to the local store which had even less choice than when I was there in 2019. 

Tuesday I was weather bound waiting for the long predicted bad weather to pass through which in truth was not as bad as forecast.

Summer 2022 Baltimore

188 miles in just under 40 hours.

Click here for the trip to Kinsale.

2022 Celtic Circuit, Day 6 & 7 Polkerris to Newlyn

Yet more hot downwind sailing 😀😀


Running with the spinnaker, the pole should be perpendicular to
the mast for maximum effective length with the sail clews level,
but the mast slider was stuck, it was freed up later with silicone spray.

A very pleasant sail, but at St Mawes there were a lot of small boats rushing about creating wake so that the boat was rocking all the time and I didn’t see that improving over the weekend so after  meeting up with a fellow Jester sailor on his newly acquired Hamatic 30 I made a quick visit to the St Mawes COOP, had a very expensive and not particularly good ice cream from another shop and was ready to head off to Newlyn the next day.

A Falmouth working boat returning from a Falmouth week race.

20 miles in five and a half hours.

Another start at a reasonable time (07:50) initially with little wind but that picked up as I passed St Anthony Head and up went the Cruising Chute only to come down 10 minutes later as the wind hit 15 knots. This pattern continued most of the way past the Lizard until it disappeared completely a few miles west of Mullion so on went the engine. 

In the benign conditions I went close into the Lizard.

As often seems to happen the wind filled in when I was a couple of miles from the destination and it was not worth turning the engine off. I arrived at 14:20 and had time to visit the larger COOP there, get a shower, pick up a couple of cans of diesel and, of course, I went to Jelbert's; possibly a unique establishment serving only ice cream, made daily in house and to misquote Henry Ford, any flavour you like providing its vanilla. But you can have a flake and / or clotted cream with it although, in my view, it does not need the lift. There was no need to go to the excellent little cheese shop next door as I was still well stocked.

In the evening, as I invariably do in Newlyn, I treated myself to a Chinese takeaway. 

2022 Summer Polkerris to Newlyn

Click here for the trip to Baltimore.