Wednesday, July 3, 2024

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


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.

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