England & Wales
Log Entry Friday 1st June 2007
The waiting appears to be almost over, the weather begins to break with the series of lows being interrupted by a large favourable high heading for the Biscay area. The Biscay sea state continues to be reported as rough or worse, vessels heading in different directs to us us now, have a more "friendly window" to move in.
We wish our farewells to a couple (Mike & Thelma) moored along side us for the last week in their sailboat "Kyma of Ithaka". One evening over a glass or two of wine we discover that Mike and myself had past links with the same Machine Tool Company some twenty years ago in the Midlands - such a small world we live in!. Mike & Thelma plan to spend the summer cruising the Scottish coastline, they are en route from Poole (Dorset), their next destination north to Padstow. With a final weather check the evening before there plans to leave are confirmed and they depart 0600hrs as planned. We wish them good luck, especially with the frustrations we share over the weather.
We planned to leave the same day, following a confirmation from the early morning forecast, we decide against it as seas are still reported as rough, but evidence of the changing influence of the developing high is confirmed. We decide to wait a further 24 hour before we head south over the Channel into Brittany - more time on our hands to watch the world go by but at least the end is nigh!.
Log Entry Tuesday 29th May 2007
Our next leg, is to make for France (Brittany) south of Brest. This entails crossing the English Channel, managing some of the busiest shipping lanes in the world and moving into the north of the notorious Biscay sea area. A journey of approximately 24 hours duration further complicated with the tidal complications of the English Channel/north west coast of France. As we arrived in Penzance, strong winds began to develop holding us at bay, these strong winds unexpectedly increased in intensity against forecast. Within a twenty four hour period. The forecast changed from light manageable winds sending us on our way to Gales, (up to Force 10 in both Plymouth & Biscay sea regions) liable to last a few days. The forecast fills the small dock with vessels seeking security for the next few days. The weather begins to frustrate us, we had originally planned to move into France and through the Bay of Biscay into Spain in early May as dictated by our insurers. If we are eventually able to leave for France by the middle of this week we will have lost a total of four weeks due to bad weather. We continue see instability in the weather (forecasting and actual) as apposed to the stabilisation one would expect moving towards the summer months.
To quote one of our children (Lee remaining anonymous due to the sensitivity of the statement) "Why not sell the boat, buy a small cottage in the country and die quietly like normal parents?" - we found it extremely amusing.
With the weather determining our movements, we begin to explore the area. Ann's ancestors (Pengelly's) were acclaimed pirates, originally from Cornwall - we begin to research. With time on our hands Ann becomes obsessed with the quest!
Ann decorated Sailaway in an appropriate fashion, met up with a distance cousin in a local store and an uncle (three times removed) dropped in to borrow a cup of sugar! Her search for Johnny Depp continues.
We also spend some time exploring Penzance Bay, an enjoyable walk was taken west, along the sea front to the small nearby port of Newlyn.
Newlyn is a busy fishing port, with recent developments within the harbour to increase the size and manageability of its fishing fleet. Pleasure craft are clearly not welcome in this port, entry is only with prior permission of the Harbour Master. I must confess, the town reflects the fishing industry as apposed to a holiday resort.
To the east of the bay is St Michael's Mount, a small island supporting a castle, church and a small community of approximately 30 people living and working on the island.
St Michael's Mount is accessible by foot along a causeway only at low water, other wise a short boat trip is required. The buildings are steeped in history and date from the twelfth century.
Log Entry Wednesday 23rd May 2007
With a break in the weather we are off south, destination Penzance, the first haven around Lands end. The winds were light as forcast, and, with the sea left with a frustrating swell the trip was as expected. A noticeable difference in this section of our journey was that other vessels were sighted may way to and from the Scilly Isles and Ireland. We had become accustomed to spending so many hours at sea without a single sighting of another vessel.
The Cornish coastline is extremely dramatic, no photograph portraying its true beauty, or indeed's it's potential hostility. As we rounded the Longship lighthouse, protecting shipping from Lands Ends and it's outcrops of rocks and small islands we felt quite nostalgic. We then turned east into the English Channel, the tides in this leg of our journey favour north bound travelers, were heading south. For almost three hours, as planned our speed over the ground was reduced by almost forty percent, turning in our favour once we entered into the English Channel hurrying us to Penzance. Thirteen hours after our departure from Padstow we were safe and secure temporarily moored along side a trawler in Penzance Dock..
Penzance has a history dating back centuries, its modern harbour was begun in 1740, it is claimed that Sir Walter Raleigh first smoke tobacco on the pier head. The Royal Navy and H.M Customs had centuries of conflict with the Cornish smugglers. Today a small busy port with extensive trade of goods and passengers to the Scilly Isles as well as it's fishing fleet. The small size of it's non-tidal harbour and the considerable size of occupying vessels gives a true meaning to "close quarter manoeuvres". It's external tidal harbour also a busy area.
Today the area obviously depends also on tourism, we plan to spend a couple of days to explore the area before we move on. As usual Ann continues to make friends where ever we travel, although I must admit some are more talkative then others!
Log Entry Wednesday 16th May 2007
Our stay at Padstow is further extended beyond belief due to the weather and a technical problem with our engine. The crankshaft front oil seal has failed, and began to deposit oil onto our alternator drive belt, threatening not only our battery charging system but also the engine cooling drive system. An excessive loss of oil during the engine running could cause a complete seizure of the engine itself - ouch!. To repair, specialised tooling is required to disassemble, locally we are let down by a number of people, they are always turning up "dreckley" but never do!
We call on our good friend Peter, from Merseyside he understands the problem well and has the required tooling, Peter heads south to Cornwall to our assistance. Peter is also a keen fisherman and pledges to educate Ann further on her intended self sufficiency, "catching our dinner". Peter arrives and completes the task in similar time to the time as it took to drive down. Ann prepares dinner, we have Salmon (from Tesco's) and then we hit a local pub for a night cap. The following day the engine is run again to ensure all is ok, all looks well, a job well done.
Peter takes Ann through the requirements for both rod fishing and line trailing and is also kind enough to leave Ann a section of bits to get here started. Fortunately we have a sizable fridge to keep the catch fresh, we have also been approached by Tesco's to see if we can work together to avoid a redundancy situation in there fishmongery division.
The weather remains unsettled, Saturday/Sunday of this week looks to be the earliest we would choose to jump around Lands End, as I type the lifeboat is towing a commercial fishing boat with engine failure into Padstow.
Log Entry Sunday 14th May 2007
The weather remains extremely unsettled and we still remain in Padstow, apart from the sea state it has hardly stopped raining for almost 5 days. The down pours are at time torrential, locals tell us "once the rain starts here it does not know when to stop". Still, its not the rain holding us at bay, a series of "lows" passing over the south of the UK, these are bring strong winds and the corresponding sea states. We have a long side at the moment a sail boat "Mischief", bound in from Neyland (The Haven) as we did, they had a difficult trip and have spent the last three days trying to dry out and complete repairs - they are bound for Brittany (France) similar to us. From an original crew of four, two are returning home by train as they are running out of holiday, two await a window to carry on. A further yacht was brought in by the local lifeboat, we have been able to assist them by the provision of tools to effect repairs.
We had a further visit from a "local friend" from Exeter, Muriel and her friend Celia. Robin, Muriel's husband was unable to make the trip due to work commitments. We had a good day locally, the girls did the normal girly thing, we had lunch and then they went shopping. As we had temporary transport they took Ann to Tesco's as provisioning locally is very limited. I remained in charge of the safety of Sailaway, watching her through the window of the "Custom House", the pub on the corner of the quay. All remained safe and secure until the girls returned.
Log Entry Monday 7th May 2007
Monday, the true "Bank Holiday" to all but Padstow was relatively quite compared to the previous celebrations. Lee, Trish, Georgia and Reece joined us at Padstow for the weekend. The short trip from Corfe Mullen (Dorset) took just over two hours. We spent our time keeping Georgia and Reece occupied as well as enjoying the local country side. The kids loved crab fishing, we also took the ferry over to nearby Rock.
The weather, now turning for the worse may see us here until the end of the week. We had planned to move on to Falmouth to take delivery of our new sail wardrobe - in anticipation we have changed the point of delivery to Padstow. That will keep me busy for a while?
Log Entry Wednesday 2nd May 2007
We left "The Haven", South Wales, Saturday 28th April at 4am, our destination being Padstow, Cornwall. A coarse due south across the Bristol Channel, a trip estimated and achieved twice prior at twelve hours. It took us fifteen hours due to wind and sea state, winds and sea swell were much greater than forecast providing a greater challenge - we loved it! We had our first "dolphin sightings", a pair swam with us for approximately 20 minutes, this being unusual as they have in the past, appeared, checked us out, become bored, and left. Arriving late we missed the entrance into the harbour and had to pick up a buoy (Ann loved that!) in the River Camel and await the next tide at 5am or take the easy option, sleep late and move into the shelter of the harbour on the afternoon tide. The later ended up as the chosen option, we called the river taxi servicing Rock and Padstow. The water taxi picked us up from Sailaway, dropping Ann & I in Padstow, we returned to Sailaway about 11.30pm.
The morning brought fine weather and much local activity both on the river and local beaches around us.
With the afternoon high water approaching the river and VHF radio burst into life with pleasure vessels requesting berths in the harbour, we hung back to let the chaos sort itself out entered and rafted along side another two sail boats. The harbour filled quickly with the May Day celebrations looming.
The May Day celebrations are centred around the "Obby Oss". There are many conflicting theories about's it's origins. Some say it's roots are in pagan times, others that it's a rain maker, a fertility symbol, or even a possible deterrent to the French landing some centuries ago. The Obby Oss proceeds through the streets of Padstow, swirling and dancing and accompanied by a "Teazer". The "Teazer" leads the dance with theatrical movements and the use of the Teazers club. As the procession moves through town dancers perform a traditional gyrating dance to the sounds of the accompanying musicians and drummers. Last but not least are the "followers", young and old who follow the procession, joining in the singing of the traditional "May Song".
Awaking on May Day, the streets were decorated throughout the town, the children beginning their own version of the ceremony about 08.30 - the pubs were already open! (Not of much interest to Ann & I obviously!). The adults began the official ceremony at 10.00 hours, by now the town and harbour full of people, the local radio (Pirate Fm) heavily promoting the event. We chose to watch the event from Sailaway, we appeared to have a much clearer view due to the density of the crowd.
With a fun park also erected around the harbour, the celebrations went on through the night - a good day, and night had by all!
Log Entry 23rd April 2007
We arrived in Milford Haven (Pembrokeshire) Monday 19th April, the log entry delayed due to the lack of internet access. The Irish Sea crossing completed in good time with a brisk northerly providing a quick but chilly and some what lumpy passage towards it's close. We had previously berthed Sailaway at Milford for three summers therefore intended to complete required repairs and re-visit preferred haunts within the Haven before making our way further south to Padstow. The frightening fact was that, even after three years, we were remembered by the marina staff - it must have been Ann's drunken brawls! We were surprised at the amount of development around the marina, but found the same friendly welcome from the marina staff.
Although more known for it's links with the petrochemical industry by "non-visitors" the Haven boasts over twenty miles of picturesque, protected waterways, historically Nelson used the Haven to base his fleet. Just as attractive to us are the Pembrokeshire people, friendly and trusting - good qualities hard to find to day. Ann's mum was staying with friends Chris & Bob in the Brecon Beacons - Chris and Ann came to meet us, spending the day with us at Milford.
The marina itself, although recently expanded, has not lost it's "personal touch", remaining a working port gives many benefits to the pleasure craft, as high standards are maintained through out. The development of the surrounding area, providing additional bars, bistro's and restaurants look to support the local community, while providing even more options to the pleasure craft owners. (Tracy - let us know if that sell was good enough, if so I am sure it will be reflected in further discount on mooring fees?)
Following our stay in the marina, and with repairs completed we left to spend some time in the Haven itself. There are many anchorages and bays set up to cater for the pleasure craft industry, usually supported with a local pub. Due to the time of year we expected it to be very quiet with regards to traffic (boats), but we were surprised at the activity. Chris's husband, Bob was diving in the Dale area, we had planned to meet up but missed each other.
The weather begins to worsen as Ann catches dinner (or not!), the probable return to the shelter of a marina very likely until the forecast unsettled weather passes and settles for our trip to Padstow.
We crossed over to Eire from Caernarfon please use the following link to cross over with us: Eire
Log Entry 5th April 2007
We chose the route through the Menai instead of sailing around Anglesey, the route not only being shorter but also provides a brief shelter from the Northerlies. The Swellies is a tidal gate within the Menai between Menai and Britannia Bridge, effectively the resultant of two apposing tides, one traveling from the north and a second from the south. Although a short section of the route (approx. 1200 meters) it can only be navigated at "slack" water as tides can run at up to 8 knots. A night time passage is also not recommended, certainly by me. Passing through at slack water, the effects are interesting. Up until 300/400m from the Menai Bridge we had 0.75 knots of tide against us, once at the bridge and through the Swellies, the tide is neutral (slack water). Exiting the swellies, passing under the Britannia Bridge we picked up 1.5 knots of tide hurrying us towards Caernarfon.
Caernarfon is an ancient town occupied without a break since the pre- Roman times. Dominated by King Edward I, its impressive mediaeval fortress built to secure his foothold in Wales. As a town it's royal connections date back to the Celtic Chieftains.
Log Entry 2nd April 2007
The short trip from Conwy to the Menai was uneventful. Other than two sail local boats in Conwy Bay the area was a lonely place. Visibility down to less than two miles, and the 10/12 knot North Easterly wind chilling. Due to the tidal gate at the Swellies we picked up a buoy just off the Bangor Pier and await a "day light tide" to move through the Swellies to Caernarfon.
We had frequented Bangor Pool moorings many times during the summer months, visiting the near by Gazelle Hotel. It was strange not to be "searching" for a vacant buoy, except for two other moored vessels we had the area, some 20/30 mooring to our selves. Unlike the summer months when traffic is always busy we were the only vessel moving in the Straits - again reflective of the time of year. I tidy up and set the heating away, Ann starts dinner, a hot shower is a must!
Log Entry 1st April 2007
A couple of days was spent exploring the local area, making for the Menai Straits hopefully Monday.
Log Entry 31st March 2007
The weather has been quite fickle, forecasts changing through out the day. The strong winds had abated leaving us with early morning fogs lasting some times best part of the day before clearing. Listening to the Friday morning forecast (at 0730 hours - N to NE F3/4 winds combined with good visibility and slight/moderate sea) provides us with a window. We are off to Conwy!
We, in anticipation had bid our farewells the previous evening as we had done a number of times before!
Entering the lock to "Lock Out" for the last time.
A last glance at Coburg Wharf, our home for the last seven years. The Mersey water front, an area of extensive development over whelming the old, historic Albert Dock and Liver Buildings.
Making our way out to sea we were circled by a police launch, then approached. We were given a detailed check out. When questioned on our destination Ann explained - we had two volunteers for crew! Ann's ideal choice was busy, washing his hair?
We continued along the Welsh coast, the coast line not visible because of fog until we rounded Gt Ormes Head into Conwy Bay. We had under gone this journey a number of times previously, this was the loneliest, coldest trip as yet. The sea and sky remained grey all day long, not a single vessel was sighted. We arrived in Conwy Bay with a good one and a half hours to wait to give enough water to enter the harbour - Ann made us a "smoky bacon pasta", we tucked in!
We began our way down the channel about 2000hrs and tied up about 2100hrs, we then made our selves warm and comfortable for the evening.