Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Taking a slight breather in Wales

Good morning from Milford Haven, Wales where we reached yesterday after an exceptional but quite tiring day. We had been up the previous night making two adjustments at 0100 and 0400 to the lines which kept us secured to the harbour wall at Padstow, as the boat slowly  rose and fell a few metres over the tidal cycle. Then up at 0500, departing the Pool on a falling tide from Padstow and escaping over Doom Bar with plenty of water under us, all by 0700! 

The passage over the Bristol Channel is one of the more significant parts of the trip as it is long, exposed, but promises wildlife.. As you saw from the photo, we were handsomely  rewarded by a visit from a pod of 7 dolphins and later another of 10 with a baby. The experience was unbelievable, and awe inspiring. These beautiful, powerful, streamlined creatures spending in total several hours around us, certainly half an hour or so a metre or so from us playing in our bow waves, and racing around us at such speed, simply enjoying themselves. They were clearly wanting to interact with us, turning their heads to see us better as we were on the deck looking down? We were treated to the whole show of rushing us head on then diving under us at the last moment and jumping out the water at the stern, the classic formation flying of three arching simultaneously, and indeed the whole Red Arrows experience. The wind built through the day, though was bang on the nose for much of yesterday with a moderate sea which was quite grumpy at times. The boat's movement, though, was quite comfortable despite everything going on..

However, as soon as we entered Milford Haven entrance we were further rewarded by a terrific sail as soon as we turned East into the Milford Haven estuary towards our marina stop. A fresh 20 knot gusting 25 propelled us at 7 knots with a full gennaker, no main, and at an angle of around only 40 degrees at times, even though the gennaker is not intended for less than 60. Who says modern well designed catamarans can't point?!

Checking in with the Milford Haven marina to reconfirm, they said they had maintenance work and we would need to move into their lock at 0030, ie bed at 1am, and leave at 6am for our passage to Ireland. Not surprisingly, we were not so keen on this revised schedule, and we carried on to Nayland where we berthed and were met at 1930  by an exceptionally friendly guy on the pontoon. Very pretty setting, and after a good meal close by, we retired to bed after a very long but very rewarding day.

We have decided that since our progress from Shotley, Harwich only a week ago has been so swift, we can afford to pause a day here in pretty Milford  Haven, rest, and avoid a long close hauled or, worse, nose on motor across the Irish Sea to Arklow. We think the wind will veer around from N to NE or East which will mean a good sail tomorrow. We also need fuel which does not open until later morning. There is no other yachting activity around us, which is very odd for such a gorgeous sailing area. So, light sailing today, boat maintenance, snuffer repair, and gentle pottering after the storming around of the last week. 

Finally, we are three on board currently. I have been blessed with great crew over the whole of the trip so far, and Mark and Alastair are no exception, both being experienced sailors, good company and with a keen eye for sail trim. How blessed am I?

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