Thursday, August 18, 2022

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.

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