Tony Barlow, owner of Hummingbird 2 a 2015 Bavaria Cruiser 33, dedicating his sail round Fastnet to his brother.
Shropshire Offshore Yachting to Fastnet 12th October to 21st October 2015
An October sail round Fastnet was a worthwhile punt on the weather and it would have been good to sail in company but others said 'October, round Fastnet? No thank you'. It was to be the last sail of the season and it was something I wanted to do for several reasons, I hoped for the best. Three good friends from our sailing group shropshireoffshoreyachting.org Mike Carter, Francis Turner and Neil Stonehouse stepped up and the trip was planned.
The hoped for weather window appeared so leaving Pwllheli at 9 am suited to catch the south going tide at Tuskar and arrive at Kilmore Quay at dawn, on to Crosshaven, round the rock to Baltimore, into Kinsale and Kilmore again and home to Pwllheli.
The north West Point of the TSS at Tuskar was our first way point, just missed as the tide carried us south, not a problem but an annoyance that we didn't get it quite right. Passed South Rock and Barrels through the night to St. Patrick's bridge with the Kilmore SWB beyond at dawn.
I always seem to be more alive when crossing a shipping lane or entering a harbour in the dark, seeing the single white light to port, waiting for the green, then the white lights one above the other. Will it observe COLREGS? Then the red, and green coming straight for us before the green fades and red shows to confirm they have seen us and changed to run behind.
Ships coming from starboard cause more concern. Have they recognised that we are a yacht or even seen us? Do they risk passing in front with distance to spare or do we alter course to ensure we pass behind. If we alter course to pass behind and they do the same? Constant watching and hoping that in the great scheme of things everyone plays their part but ready to react if they don't.
AIS and radar help but nothing compares with eye ball tracking other vessels until there is no possibility of danger.
My third time of entering Kilmore and not as tense as the first or even the second when it was too windy within to moor without being under the protection of the south wall. The leading lights to keep us clear of a starboard side rock are in line but the sector light shows red until quite close to the entrance which is well hidden and dark unless a well-lit mussel boat is moored, sometimes even two are there making the passage into the harbour entrance very narrow.
We like Kilmore Quay. A port that seems to cater for all, the sandy beach for the family, the working fishing harbour catering for both small lobster and large mussel boats, the welcoming staff at the marina for visiting yachts and of course the excellent restaurants although to my distress 'Crazy Crabs' has closed down.
By the time we left Kilmore Quay, the weather had improved so much we decided to bypass a planned stop at Crosshaven, home of the oldest yacht club in the world so the place arrivals and departures have to be just right and head straight for the Rock saving us a good twenty four hours, a decision fortuitous for us later on.
All that afternoon we were accompanied by a score or more of dolphins, obviously enjoying themselves aiming eight abreast charging the boat from all directions and frolicking at the bow while Francis entertained us playing his penny whistle and I cooked pancakes, always a boost between meals for an ever hungry crew.
Spectacular during the day but night time brought the show of a lifetime. Phosphoresce aided a sight difficult to replicate in a Disney epic. This was real and nature at its best. Not only did the boat look rocket powered because of the propeller in the phosphoresce, the nose and fins of the speeding dolphins seemed on fire and the yards of glowing tail following them was equal to any Fantasia scene. It was impossible to capture the hours of glowing sparkling scenes on our cameras that we were privileged to see but the experience will remain with us for ever.
Fastnet appeared right on que, it's light appearing on the horizon at dawn, timing perfect as if it had been planned. For me a pilgrimage, something my brother Robin who used to be a captain would have loved to have done and with the circle of the rock and photographs completed, a course was set for Baltimore where we moored to the inside harbour wall, all satisfied and my dedicated mission accomplished.
Arriving at Kinsale at night after an uneventful day we moored and slept before eating at my favourite restaurant Fishy Fishy, the fish pie being without equal, the bisque and fish soup up there with the best. Why is it that the Irish have so much to teach us about friendly harbour staff and excellent restaurants near where we park the boat, some of our own marinas have a lot to learn from such good neighbours.
While sailing passed Cork the next day the radio alarm sounded with a mayday relay. The Cork coast guard voiced that they had received a mayday from a yacht with engine trouble and sinking fast off Roche's Points. It was from a VHF and an engine could be heard in the background, enough detail was given to treat the message seriously so a search by a helicopter and three lifeboats was instigated.
As we should, we kept radio silence and hoped that they would not think that we were sailing passed the incident without caring but very soon we were seen by the coast guard because of our AIS and were asked to keep a lookout. We changed direction towards Power Head on a course that looked like it wasn't being searched before continuing to Kilmore.
After several hours of searching by helicopter, three lifeboats, ourselves and many local boats both commercial and pleasure, the coast guard, having found that some facts did not add up and nothing found even after extending the area down the coast, reluctantly with caution, called off the search.
We later heard that the mayday was a hoax. How much time, effort, nervous energy and fuel did those idiots cause? I am sure that when they were caught their punishment did not reflect the true costs involved.
Our course resumed to Kilmore Quay and because of the search we were several hours behind. The wind direction meant a long tack towards Youghal so that an opposite tack could get us round Hook Head. Did I mention we had AIS? Nina my wife could not make this particular trip and she, along with a couple of other wives followed us on the home computers and near the end of the tack across the bay this 'Angel in the sky' phoned to say, a little concerned because it was dark, "You need to tack - you're getting very near to the land".
Our last leg back home to Pwllheli started with the most beautiful morning we could wish for, blue sky and a force two as we crossed over the St. Patrick's Bridge, dodging pot buoys with their long lengths of floating line, aiming for a direct route inside Barrels and Tuskar Rock, pancakes for everyone before lunch making for double satisfaction, full tums and a job well done - nearly.
A full 24 hours ahead of schedule, as we approached south of Bardsey aiming to miss the shallows of Devils Tail, the weather confirmed the forecast and resorted to the usual SW. With the wind increasing and the waves on the quarter skewing the boat uncomfortably it confirmed that our decision to gain time earlier by missing out Crosshaven was a good one.
Pwllheli entrance with it's training wall sometimes completely under water and out of site is wide enough but at low tide the width is drastically reduced and with a strong SW not the place I wanted to be after midnight, especially with three green cans unlit. Unlike a previous time when we had to be still clipped on well inside the harbour we readied for mooring, not my best with the wind blowing us off the pontoon.
It has been tradition to end the season with a 'Boat to Boat' social where participants are allocated two boats to visit, chat and meet new friends. Mixing both sail and power. We had a good turn out, started at 4p.m and finished 6:30p.m.
Beginning of October a social by train has been a favourite, not having to consider weather or tides.
This year Aberdyfi was the aim, however a day before we went the bridge between Barmouth and Aberdyfi unfortunately caught fire whilst doing maintenance. Change of plans and Alan, 'Tina Maria', came to the rescue and suggested Barmouth and informed us of a pub 'The Last Inn' where he had eaten at before. Thank goodness we booked as the restaurant was heaving but we were well pleased with our meal and of course great company. Carol, 'Blue Jay'celebrating her birthday and very surprised with the Birthday cake.
As it turned out that weekend turned out to be fine weather and a group of boats went to Aberystwyth and had a great time socialising and dining at 'The Fountain'.
Ireland Saturday August 13th - Alba, Sea Otter to Greystones. Light airs on the nose as usual but a beautiful cruise.
On Monday 'To Me To You' joined. A good sing song in the evening where Shelley was bringing out her singing talents. We had races with Ted, Di and Bohdan on the scooters......mmmm....Teddy was the expert. Great for us adults to be 8 years old again eh!
Dalkey was a must again but on this occasion walked to see Dalkey Sound - it was Richards Birthday 'The Hungry Monk'at Greystones was the place to celebrate. Malahide next. Gibneys was the water hole and then Malahide Yacht Club where they were being perfect hosts with food and entertainment. All joining in.
'To Me to You' wanted a weather window to get back home therefore went to Dun Leoghaire another Birthday on board, Shelley this time.
The gang met the next day in Dublin via The Dart. The well known Guiness Factory, the whole experience had a 'Wow' factor. The music and dancing on different floors were so amazing therefore the whole day went very quickly. The icing on the cake was being taken back in a horse drawn carriage to Tara St. Station.
Going to Howth around Irelands Eye 'Alba' was topping 7.6 knots, with Di on the helm. Coming into the marina an accordian player was creating a very welcoming somewhat French mood. When we got there the club was buzzing as the racing fleet had just returned and the restaurant full with diners.
It was great to see the Cooks 'To Me To You' joining us exploring Howth before their return to Dun Leoghaire and home on Tuesday.
The other two yachts made passage home from Greystones after having a wonderful Cruise.
Another account which has been sent to us is from Laurie 'A Cruise with a Difference':- "Golf and Sail".
Four days of bliss this time not on 'De Linde' but on a pals yacht from Port Dinorwic sailing to Greystones. His friend had relations in Greystones therefore transport was no problem and played golf at Druids Heath & Macreddins, up in the hills behind Arklow / Wicklow. Their return night sail home was one to remember due to the glorious sunrise. Is this going to take off 'Sail and Golf Cruises?' Ireland have virtually a golf course near every marina/ port. This is very popular in France let's see if it catches on here?
Porthmadog trip where four boat owners all went together on "Chill Out", blessed with glorious sunshine, a warm welcome and fine dining at the Harbour Thai restaurant. A weekend to remember and as Sarah is keen on trains, where better to be.
Whilst at Greystones we had our own personal 'Air Show' whilst sitting in the cockpit having a tranquil chat whilst our 'Intrepid Explores' - Prada and Star Gazer had even a better view at Bray Sailing Club.
As Chris "Star Gazer" said:- 'The Intrepid Explorers docked at Dun Leoghaire and went to Bray on their bikes, it was quite an adventurous journey on the newly bought bikes. Now "A NEW DESTINATION" bound for Malahide for a couple of days having a BBQ on a beautiful sandy beach by the sand dunes off Malahide Golf Course.
That evening before the Pwllheli boats dispersed on our own journeys we had a good social at Malahide Sailing Club where the Irish, Welsh, English, Scottish and IOM visitors all socialised and shared navigational interests.
As we heard an Irish guy say one day:
"How do you know it's summer in Ireland?"
" The rain just gets warmer"..... Ha.....Ha......Ha...!!!!
Well! Nothing stopped the activities with the 'Intrepid Explorers' 'rain or sunshine. They must go on' was the moto :- cycling, picnicking and socialising!!!! (See pics) evidence of 'pure fun and enjoyment'.
Whilst 'Prada' and 'Star Gazer' went on from Malahide, to Howth and onto Ardglass, a total new adventure facing them. They found Ardglass idyllic and friendly.
The Intrepid Explorers were eager to explore more and MORE! They journeyed across the Irish Sea to Peel I.O.M - where yet again had a GREAT time. Martin came as a foot passenger to join the group, they hired a mini bus and explored the whole, or near enough, the whole of IOM. Then returning via Holyhead to Pwllheli. Covering this distance within their 2 week break avoiding bad weather was a great achievement.
A lumpy sea and a mixture of weathers, add snow to the equation and you would have had the four seasons of weathers all in one day.
Greystones welcoming us as always, with sunshine and in addition, youngsters sailing their boats across the entrance was a display of their youthful skills. Yes! We are in Ireland,where you expect a buzzing of youth on the water.
We were soon discovering that this was going to be a VERY busy weekend indeed as the "Bray Air Show" was attracting boats from all over to the area. Help! No worries, Greystones looked after us as usual.
Tina Maria arrived from Porthdinllaen on Saturday with the enormous Welsh Flag flying to welcome them. Hey! You could not have missed where we were moored with this flag flying. Thanks Nan, ( you put a lot of time to this).
May/ June Cruising activities.
We have been blessed for a few weeks with good weather and great to see everyone making the most of it.
As Aberystwyth has been dredged Pwllheli Cruising have certainly supported the Marina and enjoying the welcome
from the staff and the reduced fee cost was also very much appreciated.
Over a space of a fortnight over 16 boats have visited.
Enjoying the sunshine, wine and dining in town and generally socialising.
Great to see students and families at night barbecuing on the beach something quite Mediterranean about it all.
What a difference good weather makes.
The train to the top of the hill is always an attraction. What views !!
SCYC Abersoch have also been visited regularly. Taking advantage of those beautiful views whilst having lunch.
Cruising members have now a group of keen Jet skiers who have been visiting Porthmadog Sailing Club on more than one
Several BBQ's on various beaches have taken place making the most of the weather, BBQ by sea.
WONDERFUL TO SEE SUCH A DIVERSE OF ACTIVITY IN ACTION.
A group of boats went over to Ireland visiting Greystones, Dun Leoghaire, Howth, Arklow and going further afield to
Kilmore Quay and 'Last Orders' managed to visit Waterford before their return to Pwllheli,
whilst 'Imladris' carries on to Cork.
Another group of Cruising Boats a week later crossed over the Irish Sea to enjoy Irish hospitality. Taking advantage of all
the various eateries at Greystones.
'The Club'at Dalkey was one of the favourites. The decor is phenomenal.
However, the four musketeers were warned for loitering at the station!!!!!
Malahide was a must for one boat but there was difficulty in locating the Fairway Buoy only to find it later flashing
away in the Marina-needed maintenance.
Malahide Sailing Club was as welcoming as ever. The Marina also gave a reduction of 50% as promised.
Just wished the stay was a longer one but a low front was coming through and the plan of returning to Pwllheli was needed.
The return journey to Greystones was more stressful in 'pea soup' mist, relying on radar and nav equipment as visibility
was so poor.
Boats got back safely although having to negotiate cargo ships in the fog. Makes a journey more challenging eh!
Another trip must be on the cards.
A great achievement and congratulations to Michael Humphreys on 'Cerwen' sailing boat accomplishing his first single
handed trip to Ireland.
The guys went to the TT at The Isle of Man, this is their report.
Five boats, Chloe K, White Pearl, Spirit, Namsag and Stardust left Pwllheli on Friday 3rd June at 1645 and had a good
crossing to Peel IOM arriving at 2045.
Going through the Calf of Man then waiting in the bay for about an hour for the Harbour Master to find room for us salty lot.
Three of the big boys where rafted up to each other an the other two were on the other side rafted up to a fishing boat.
We had the best weather we have had in the 6 years. The guys have been going racing, lots of good food and beer.
A great time had by all.
Paul Sandpiper's Cruise report
We now await a wealth of cruising activities in the next few months.
Keep us posted and if you would like your cruising activities shared, please send us information and pictures.
A Trip around Anglesey.
We have always wanted to do this trip in stages, in preparation for a nonstop attempt at the round Anglesey race. With careful planning its possible to have a favorable tide most of the way from Pwllheli, round the island and back!
Leaving Pwllheli on a damp Monday morning we routed inside the Gwylan Islands at Aberdaron to take advantage of the back eddy through to and between Carreg Ddu and the mainland, This enabled us to get a 2kt tide in our favour, (whilst the tide runs the other way in the sound!) and an earlier transit through to the north side of Pen Llyn.
We passed through and stayed as close to the cliffs as we could around the corner to avoid the worst of still south going tide. Once the tide turned we went out into open water and got the tide with us all the way to Holyhead, with 3 kts of tide pushing us past the stacks at 10kts! The rough water here can be avoided by either waiting for the slack time (DVR HW/LW) -00:30 or passing well to the west.
We then spend two nights in Holyhead, sampling various local hostelries including superb curry at Raj’s, departing Wednesday lunchtime to take advantage of slack water at the Skerries, and a tidal push down the Eastern side. We always planned to go inside the Skerries and Mouse islands, but on the day it was necessary to go offshore due the wind angle and stronger winds, enabling us to sail round without tacking! Stunning views and enjoyable navigation saw us entering the straits through the fairly narrow NW entrance by the iconic Puffin Island, 3 hours or so into the flood with a tidal push of 2 kts all the way down to Menai bridge, routing via the excellent CHT marks . We took a mooring for the night, and sat in the cockpit admiring the view until very late. Next morning we dropped the chain and set off for the infamous Swellies….timing it for slack water (Local HW -1:30) we followed the three transits and emerged through Britannia bridge unscathed! It was then a short (2 mile) motor to Port Dinorwic where we picked up one of their new moorings for two nights. With a full water taxi service and marina facilities ashore we enjoyed our stay, with an excellent meal in the Garddfon pub.
Saturday saw us departing close to HW at Caernarfon carefully navigating via the marks zig zagging around sandbanks (glad we did…only 2m under the keel at times!) to give us the tide through the Caernarfon Bar, closely following the bar marks, cross checking using the latest positions from the CHT website. This was fairly intensive and we were pleased to pass the fairway buoy. An epic sail down to and through Bardsey again with 2 kts tide down the coast, a shake and rattle over the tripods and 4kts tide through Bardsey, with two kts tide across Hells mouth we made excellent time back to Pwllheli arriving at 16:30
It’s a challenging trip, but well worth the effort, with stunning scenery, and great anchorages and moorings. It’s all about the tides!
Mark and Jo
Porthmadog By Train March 30th 2016
The adventure started with a cuppa at Costa before the 'Happy Dozen' joined the train. Alan worked his magic to get us a group
As we were all chatting away we seamed to have arrived at Porthmadog in no time at all.
A welcoming meal at Jenny's, one or two even purchased home made pies and sweets for their evening meal back on their boats.
The socialising carried on at Madog Yacht Club. The club was very warm and friendly as usual.
A jolly walk back to the train and back to Pwllheli. A great time had by all.
Three cruising boats wanted to set their mark in the sand on Porth Bach beach for the first BBQ of the year before the end of March.
Enjoying themselves in glorious sunshine, idyllic weather for this time of year. As one cruising member expressed "Everything is an
"ADVENTURE", sea sickness, exhilaration or fear". On this occasion two thirds came true.
After a fab BBQ the three boats returned to the marina only for one member to ask "Has anyone got my shoes?" ( These shoes had
only been bought a few weeks earlier in Nice, France).
Initially, it was thought that there was a 'prank' in action, only to found........not true. After much deliberation a) go back by jet ski,
b)go back by boat, or c) by land....mmmm decisions....decisions.
The three men that were now believing that they were being assessed for the 'Bear Grylls Survival team' went by land. ( Well he is
only on an Island a stone throw away after all, we can all dream)!!!
Free climbing down the rock face, with guuuuee grime to hold to. This 'previously known as an idyllic beach' now a lethal rock face
down to rescue THE shoes. The tide now was coming in. This beach is mainly accessible on half tide by sea. These enthusiastic
troopers worked their way down, not without fear, to rescue the shoes. The shoes that will soon be floating on the water, maybe
cruising to Ireland and beyond!!!!
Once safely down on the beach a gasp of disappointment filled the air. The shoes had gone...yes....gone. Not by sea but by other
visitors. Footprints gave the game away.
The Bear Grylls team, after their adventure, replaced their disappointment with exhilaration of seeing wooden steps climbing the
rock face back to their vehicle at the top. Thank goodness for that.
A day to remember or was this PORTH BACH ADVENTURE BBQ.
Boat to Boat Easter 2016
We were delighted to see 40 members at the beginning of season 'Easter Boat to Boat'
where we met new cruising friends and catch up with our well established friends.
Ten 'Host' boats welcomed their visitors, three of which were hosting for the first time.
This social would not be possible without the host boats and of course our participants.
This social is now well established where we organise for each person to go to an allocated
boat for the first hour, then a hooter indicates a change of boat where everyone moves to
the next allocated boat.
Another enjoyable hour in company when the horn sounds for the official finish.
Some carry on partying after the 'Boat to Boat' on friends boats etc.
The pictures bellow represent a jolly good time had by all.
We now will look forward to our 'End of Season Boat to Boat' in October.
Thanks for your involvement and support in 2015.
We are intending on holding our 'Annual Cruising Meeting' on Good Friday, as usual,
Two cups have been awarded in the past for Cruising achievements:-
- 'Cowper Passage Cup.'
- 'Gimlet Rock Trophy.'
- Of course we cannot forget the third trophy 'Pillocks Pot.' Most probably you will have the gist of this trophy by its title.