Day 1: An early start for Hellhound, Katanya II, Soulmate and Summer Wine leaving one hour before LW Holyhead. Cornflower had overnighted in the Skerries and joined the group en route. Very light winds meant boats needed to motor or motor sail for most of the outbound leg. Arriving at Douglas just over 9½ hours later. The Harbour Authority requested that we raft up on the outer harbour wall whilst paperwork was completed which was all done efficiently and without issues. Plenty of the day remaining to explore Douglas on a warm, sunny evening.
Day 2: A RNLI training session gave a close-up display of a perfect MOB rescue alongside our raft of boats.
Katanya II, Soulmate and Summer Wine took the lunchtime ebbing tide to Port St Mary on the south of the island. A 1½ hour trip, again mainly motoring. Picked up visitor hippo buoys in the outer harbour. Spoke to members outside the Port St Mary Yacht club, also in the pub, the locals made us feel welcome. They directed us to the Chinese take away so we enjoyed a take out in the rain.
Day 3: Summer Wine returned to Holyhead on the morning tide. A straight forward 9-hour motor back for them. Good consolidation of navigation theories. Those remaining on the IOM took a bus trip to Port Erin and Castletown. Tourists for the day.
With HW at Holyhead 0832 we set off as soon as possible. Black Velvet was first to leave with Hellhound and Soulmate close behind. We were out of the harbour before the ferry arrived, one less problem.
Wind from the NW around 8 to 10 kts. This got us to North Stack, where a bit of wind over tide gave the usual disturbed water. However, the wind died away leaving us to drift past South Stack on the current.
Once round safely, due to the lack of wind, the decision was agreed to shorten the cruise and go into Trearddur Bay rather than Rhoscolyn.
As expected, there was a fair swell in the bay where we anchored in 5m depth just in front of the beach. A couple of club members let us know (via our Whatsapp group) that they had spotted us. Thanks to Terry and John for the photos.
LW at Trearddur was 14:10 so we set off to return to Holyhead. The wind had picked up again allowing us to sail to South Stack but died away again. Engine on to round North Stack where a pod of large Dolphins appeared. They followed Soulmate playing with our Bow Wave all the way to the Meath buoy outside the harbour.
Hellhound and Black Velvet had made good speed past the stacks and were well towards the harbour before we encountered the Dolphins.
Thanks to Liz and the other participants for the report and the photos. You can see all the photos of sailing from September in this google photo album: September Sailing at HSC
A beautiful morning but still a bit breezy from the NE with the expectation of a choppy ride on the Club Launch out to the moorings. Shortages of crew meant that we were reduced to 3 yachts not the expected 4 with Chris Higham electing to support Liz and Alan on Soulmate. With Colin’s skillful helming I was onboard without too much splash from the oncoming waves.
Our intention was to cruise to The Brickworks however my crew was significantly delayed and the weather remained a little challenging for this. Once onboard Flair doing the odd job or two I advised Soulmate and Summer Wine of our delay. When the crew arrived we had a bit of a game getting my crew of somewhat advanced years over the toe rail onto Flair. With everyone safely onboard we came off the mooring and hoisted the main to the first reef and headed out of the harbour. By now both Ferries had docked and our path was clear to head straight up to Carmel Head. On a bit of a fetch in these NE 18 gusting 25kt winds we made rapid progress as indeed we needed due to our delayed start. By now AIS was showing me that Soulmate was already past West Mouse as we started to see the tide turn before we even got to Carmel Head.
The struggle to sail against the tide was a perfect example of how you need to get the timings of your sailing right. As can be seen from the track from Flair (forgot to start it at the beginning of the trip) the tack angles are not good!
Once we were almost in line of sight with Soulmate we heard them on the radio advising that they had shortened the intended cruise to shelter in Cemaes bay after the rigours of the morning. That sounded like a very good idea to us but even so it took us ages to battle the tide to get to a point where we could actually make passage into the bay. Just as we were arriving Soulmate called to say they were about to leave! Summer Wine was still at anchor and advised of her locations current overall depth; on this advice we rounded up and anchored alongside the 8kt Speed limit buoy only to be pestered by REALLY annoying jetskis using us a a rounding mark. They clearly ignore any reasonable behaviour and certainly don’t take notice of 8kt speed limits!
Trying our best to ignore these disturbances we had our lunch in the shelter of the bay while Summer Wine set off for our home port. After a leisurely but rather late lunch break we cleaned up got the crew prepared for the next phase of the journey with my expectations being a quick passage with mostly flat water sailing now the tide had had a chance to quieten the seas.
With the anchor lifted we raised our main and unfurled the genoa in slightly lighter winds and headed on a broad reach out of the bay and altering course to sail near to the Harry Furlong buoy.
The sea proved to be perfect for this return trip and we were able to run goose winged without too much rolling around.
Once through between Carmel Head and the Skerries we gybed to lay the harbour entrance running at between 8 and 10kt in apparent winds of around 8kt. My crew had had an epic 2 stage sail, one bumpy section in good strong winds with plenty of heal angle and then flat seas and downwind level sailing. What could have been better! They certainly enjoyed the day with Luke’s dad admitting that he was, at 83, probably the “oldest crew member to have sailed on FlairIV”.
As we approached the harbour we could see Stena Estrid coming in past the Stacks and after communicating with her radio officer we carried on into the harbour. Back on our mooring in good time we packed up and got our crew safely onto the launch in nice placid conditions.
What a great sail again today. As a final item Luke did a mast climb to the spreaders to recover the starboard flag halyard which has stopped us from flying our club burgee. Now ready for our next Wednesday Race.
Hope to see a good turn out on the 2nd to last Wednesday evening race of 2020.
Wind Northerly 3-4.
We had joined a small flotilla of Holyhead Sailing Club boats for the day. It was an ideal trip for a short sail, up to the Skerries and back with an intention of popping into the off-lying islets, The Skerries' and their tiny haven, the 'lagoon', but only if all the boxes were ticked.
After dropping the mooring line we found we were the first to leave, so we motor-sailed eastward to exit the 'new' harbour. After scanning the top of the breakwater for ships all appeared clear, but checked in as we customarily do by radio with Port Control. For the first time in my life I was asked by them to contact an incoming ferry, 'Ulysses' on VHF14 for advice on whether to proceed, or not. Apparently Port Control is forbidden to offer such advice when ferry traffic is nearby....it makes sense in a way, strange that it is. In contrast, down in Dover, we'd have been escorted to avoid ferry traffic by the port's very own patrol vessel.....how things vary with local custom. I tried to imagine myself calling up a French ferry for advice as we were about to leave Calais! "Bonjour monsieur......
Leaving this little drama behind, a speedy 6.9kt sail ensued with the tide in settling waters to windward. A semi-rolled genoa to slow us and reduce heel a bit, we weren't racing and we were still a little early to catch slack water at the Skerries.
Soulmate from Lionheart on the way to The Skerries
Soulmate from Flair IV looking back to Holyhead
When we reached the rugged islands Mark, on Flair IV, had also spotted that the tiny haven's entrance which was already occupied by a visiting craft, the RNLI inshore lifeboat was also spotted between the rocks presumably on exercise. All too busy for comfort and the tide's fast flooding waters crossing our track. By this time the club-boats had set sights on Cameas Bay for lunch which lies a few miles along the coast. Unfortunately I'd promised my wife that we'd be back home shortly after 4pm...so we parted company and headed south.
It had been a brilliant day, so much to learn and experience. Alas, entry into Skerry Lagoon awaits another day.
As Tim has stated above, with the lagoon busy, the first to arrive close to the island Flair called up the fleet to agree on an alternative destination. As they the tide was still running quite strongly NE and being on the North of the island three of the yachts returned the calls and it was agreed to carry on to Cemaes where we would get shelter on the eastern side of the bay. VHF contact with Hellhound was problematic; attempts to contact him by Flair4 and Lionheart failed. and spent an hour waiting for us in the lagoon. I had noticed the significant difference between the onboard VHF with its masthead aerial and my handheld so it was assumed that Hellhound had gone into the lagoon and her VHF signal was shielded by the rocks, Lionheart when approaching Church Bay tried to contact both to act as relay but neither replied. Lionheart did hear Holyhead trying to call Flair IV later but again with no reply.
Flair IV's track
It is evident that there are issues with VHF signal between yachts when working in areas between rock formations like cliffs and remote islands. With his involvement in the NCI Tim suggests that we have a discussion to help us to ‘stay in touch’ on these cruises.
As an aside the Coastguards both sides of the Irish Sea were very busy with calls including an Elderly fellow who fell on the beach fell in Borthwen fracturing his pelvis. The Helicopter, police, ambulance, NCI, (duty and off-duty), all involved but with the problems here on Anglesey of parking during this new rush for beautyspots there were cars parked illegally blocking access. It is also a difficult route to the chopper's landing site; eventually the Ambulance took the casualty to hospital.
Summing up the weekend, I would say it was as varied and exciting, and occasionally challenging, at least to my own standards, indeed arguably as good as it gets.
Three crews, five persons total on board…includes junior helm Steffan with his dad John on Black Velvet (Hurley24). Al and Liz aboard Soulmate, myself aboard Lionheart.
Social Distancing: Excellently managed individually. Separate families, each with their own tenders.
This really happened on the way down, the VHF squawked, not from one of us…………
“Coastguard, Coastguard, I’m Full Monty… help!” To which came the appropriate reply…”Are you all wearing life jackets”. (I think I’ve heard that one before, yet it still raises a laugh), reminds one how they must always be worn correctly.
We, as members of Holyhead’s Sailing Club in Lockdown Cruise in Company no 4, had a great sail down to Porth Dinllaen on a broad reach Westerly 3 to 4. Returning on a NW 4-5. Twenty-two miles each way.
No serious mishaps over the weekend, maybe a few niggling issues, involving dragging anchors, (x2) and one becoming entangled with their own anchor’s tripping line (Soulmate), their BBQ ashore not easily lighting, Al’s birthday cake being polished off by junior crew from another boat.
Later that evening I awoke hearing the rumble of Lionheart’s anchor dragging, maybe I was dreaming, but it kept me awake for an hour…..then it happened again, a few feet perhaps, wondering what plan B might be (ideas?) as all the scope chain by then was out. Anyway the fresh breeze and rain overnight passed over, tide went out and all was quiet until……..until 5am, time to rise and shine as dawn broke for the return.
Porpoise, gannets, auks by the hundreds. (just one of the former only twenty feet away)..this whilst reducing sail; a slab in the main and down to to 33% genoa…we were then reaching to windward….occasionally weather-helming in a lively force five.
On reaching Abraham’s Bosom, (a notorious spot as the name suggests) the Coastguard VHF squawked very loudly and clearly…”PanPan, PanPan anyone vessels in the vicinity of Porth…. ‘so and so’ …”are you able to assist?”, looking landward at this time was seen a sail-less vessel (possible problems with an engine, thought I)….so putting two and three together, I dutifully replied to the PanPan call ….”this is Lionheart…..where is said location”….” “It’s Moelfre, the other side of the Anglesey!” came the reply! So no help was needed from Holy Island….Then back to rounding the ever challenging waters off the Stacks and onwards dead running in a more westerly gentle breeze towards the harbour entrance.
I heard that on the way back Steffan discovered there’s more than one way to enjoy someone else’s birthday cake, with the additional fun of watching seagulls feed at the same time.
Lessons from the trip: Use all the chain when anchoring in PD, in the very best location.
Sleep in weather gear as the front passes in darkness at high water….not that relocating an anchor at night would have been easily entertained.
Retrieve trip lines with care.
Learn all the names of the nooks and crannies of Anglesey’s shoreline? Possibly not, but then the coastguard might announce a panpan with roughly where a shout is located.
All good fun....and with thanks to Mark Rosenthal for arranging it.
Tim Hopper 2020-08-03
While the crews returned to Holyhead Flair IV and Katanya II were planning to go for a day sail but first we sat and had a chat over coffee before dispatching Luke to do a mast climb on Katanya II for Trevor. Colin ferried Luke, Trevor and John to Trevor’s pride and joy while I carried out some much needed maintenance of small things.
Once the mast climb was successfully completed Katanya II motored over back to A4 and Luke transferred back onto Flair IV.
As I waited I watched as the two Squibs crossed the old Club FInishing Line
With the crews re-organised we left the moorings and headed out on a passage to circumnavigate the Skerries going clockwise against the remaining ebb tide so that we came back between the Skerries and Carmel head at pretty much the slackest tide.
The scenery around the outside of the Skerries is a wonderful sight especially in the brilliant sunshine before the next weather front started to build from the west. As we rounded the eastern side of the island the current took us steadily out and down past Bolivar.
The google photo album for the weekend is on this link: