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.
The Cruise variations
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
Radio Comms amongst rocks?
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.
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Cruise in Company No 4
Sailing in Covid19 lockdown, to Porth Dinllaen
1st-2nd August 2020.
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
Cruise in company 4a - Sunday 2nd August 2020
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:
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Sat. 25th July, 2020.
Daysail trip to Cemlyn.
SW 3/4, becoming light and variable.
Three boats, Soulmate, Panther and Lionheart.
For someone more used to sailing the sandy shallow waters of the Thames estuary, looking at Anglesey you'd think our deep water coast would be a doddle to navigate.
But then, when you think about it, the bulk of Irish Sea waters are forced to flood and ebb around Carmel head.
....so, at this juncture it was quite a surprise when I saw a small obstruction on the plotter which should not have been where it was. This in conjunction with 'Soulmate', ahead of me living up to her name, leading a major course change.
Looking up from the cockpit I saw a large stationary mouse a few cables away on the port beam, on its back sporting a phallus. Checked the point of sail, my ground speed 9.7kt, looked again a minute later at said object, it was in the same place at the same angle to the boat still on the beam, now the size of a small battleship!
Thinking.....why was it still on the beam, at right angles in the same place? I was actually encroaching upon it at breakneck speed! Jagged rocks awisp with breaking water. No wonder 'Soulmate' had sensibly changed course heavily southward for the comfort of the shore. The tide was pushing Lionheart directly for it! There was no real drama, we left West Mouse to port by half a mile at least, but I chose to divert from the original passage passage plan as the wind had dropped. On Lionheart it was all very interesting, with several of my electronics down, including the autopilot. More jobs to do this week!
With the engine already warm I gave a determined burst to follow Soulmate towards safer water. Debriefing later I noted the tide floods northeast, rather than an assumed due East around the headland.
'Panther' meantime was well ahead of us both having hugged the coast, keeping well inside the main race no doubt observing the goings on abaft with measured concern.
On to arrive at Harry Furlong a short while later, the buoy that marks the jagged rocks on the approach to Cemlyn Bay. Soulmate kindly gave me water, perhaps unaware I had already run the engine up again under sail, so thank you again.
One thing about single-handed sailing is that one is the navigator, helmsman, sail trimmer, radio operator, engineer, deckhand, cook and more. So big thanks to my wife Sheila and now regular crew Steve for doing most of these jobs on earlier occasions whilst I probably read Boat Owners Monthly.
Soulmate and Lionheart anchored in Cemlyn
Soulmate and Panther Anchored in Cemlyn Bay.
Having anchored in Cemlyn reading BOM, I heard the distinctive rattle of a dragging anchor. I had already dropped it a little too near to Soulmate, so despite a kind offer of socially distanced coffee, I had to decline so as to let out most of the chain and keep anchor watch over the trusty CQR.
Having enjoyed the exhilaration of a full neap flood, we decided to take the short period of slack for a leisurely sail, come motor-sail back, meeting up with Flair1V at the head of the breakwater. How's the back Mark? (Mark Rosenthal had planned this trip for us, but had cancelled out having put his back out gardening.....not so badly so as to prevent him enjoying a short daggle around the bay).
Thanks again Mark, and both my companion boats and crews we have yet to meet up with socially.l thanks to C-19.
Where's my hat? Came the hail, "Shamefully in the cabin", I pointed.
Tim Hopper, ( Lionheart)[Editor’s note: Many thanks to Tim for his article and to Ken and Tim for the photos. Who is volunteering for next trip?]
The draft plan for next weekend is Porth Dinllean
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With the long wait for the 5 mile rule to be abandoned and, following the advice from the RYA Cymru Wales on the Welsh Government’s Regulations with regard to boating, I suggested to a few boaty people via the Club Facebook page that we should go for a cruise to Porth Wen (also known as ‘The Brickworks’). I had suggested a start time of 12:00 which was to avoid the Ferry movements. These can always be checked on the Stena and Irish Ferries websites. So I was a little surprised to see a bunch of yachts going out nearer 11:00 and then getting held up by the incoming Irish Ferry arrival time of 11:30.
One of the protocols, which perhaps our members should be reminded of, is that you should call Holyhead Port Control on VHF ch 14 to check for clearance across the TSS, I usually ask if there is any commercial traffic, which covers most of the larger vessels.
Once onboard Flair IV and waiting for my crew to arrive I got most of the preparation for the cruise done so that once onboard we were pretty much ready to cast off. With a nice 10kt - 12kt WNW wind we made good progress towards the harbour entrance and had a clear exit on our course to Carmel Head. There were two yachts sailing in much the same direction and perhaps we should have sailed closer to check on them but as the other group were not visible I was keen to get to Porth Wen before the tide changed so we ploughed on.
My crew for the day consisted of Luke and his friends Michael and Rebecca, it was Michael’s birthday and although they have sailed before on the great lakes, back in their home locale, the entertainment of wind over tide as we approached the area of Carmel Head came as quite a shock!
It was a beautiful sunny day and once we were through the disturbed areas and moving swiftly towards West Mouse. Following his father’s love of birds he was fascinated by the variety of birds we were able to see, Guillemots, Terns, Shearwaters, Cormorants and best of all for him was to see the Gannets as they circled and dived for their food. Middle Mouse, with its covering of guano, is great for viewing sea birds although with the flood tide carrying us past still at around 9kt SOG we didn’t get much time to concentrate on bird life.
As we approached Porth Wen we spotted Incantation on AIS some way East of the area and we could only see one mast in the cove until we had come right round the end of the headland. From our approach we could then see 3 more at anchor, Panther, Soulmate and Summer WIne. We rounded up near to Summer Wine and prepared to drop anchor in approximately 8m depth when were informed that Hellhound had got stuck on what was thought to be a lobster pot buoy hence the one boat on the eastern side of the cove. We turned and motored over to see what we could do to help.
We rounded up near to Summer Wine and prepared to drop anchor in approximately 8m depth; that was when we were informed that Hellhound had got stuck on what was thought to be a lobster pot buoy hence the one boat on the eastern side of the cove. We turned and motored over to see what we could do to help.
Coming alongside we passed a tow rope and tried to pull Hellhound off from the stern, however she did not move and with the WNW wind blowing us over toward the lee shore we stopped the tow, reversed up and re-attached the line to Hellhound’s bow. As we attempted to pull again I noticed some issues with the Morse lever (the gear/throttle control) and Flair was not engageing reverse so we were unable to provide further assistance; leaving Jim with no option but to call the coastguard.
With the engine operating via the gearbox stuck in forward we went back over to moor behind Soulmate and alongside Summer WIne so that we could wait to ensure Jim got sorted out and we could finally have a quiet lunch at anchor. My crew then got a lift with Alan on his tender to go ashore to continue Michael’s birthday treat. Meanwhile I tried to see what had happened to the gear mechanism but unfortunately I wasn’t able to make anything work.
Soon Incantation was seen coming into the cove and came alongside us but then was called to the next drama, to help pick up a handheld radio which had been dropped off Summer Wine.
Soon Incantation was seen coming into the cove and came alongside us but then was called to the next drama, to help pick up a handheld radio which had been dropped off Summer Wine.
While this was happening the next entertainment was the arrival of the Moelfre Lifeboat to assist Hellhound off what we had realised was not a pot marker but a mooring buoy. We had the company of the Coastguard Pickup with flashing blue lights above the Brickworks, all very dramatic!
Of course with the lockdown many of the buoys are covered in seaweed and not easy to spot so note to all keep a watch out for buoys close to shore!
Once my crew were back on board we prepared to set off only to find that now the engine was refusing to start! What a litany of disasters!
Not to be left behind we raised the main and edged forward to raise my CQR anchor and then sailed off on port tack out from the cove. We were the last boat to leave and the others were now well out to sea leaving Middle Mouse to port, we, on the other hand, tacked to gain the push from the ebb tide passing between the island and the mainland.
The RNLI Moelfre lifeboat towed Hellhound into Cemaes, although it sounded like Jim was having an issue or two with maintaining radio contact with the Lifeboat Crew.
Continuing to tack upwind westwards we pulled ahead of the other yachts and once passed Carmel head and the rough water the winds died down a little but there was enough to ensure that we got back into the harbour and so were able to sail onto Flair IV’s mooring unaided. However it was now getting a little late and we packed up quickly so as not to delay the launch service too far past its finish time. Thanks to Colin we all got successfully taken ashore at the end of a wonderful, exciting day. Thanks to Liz and Roy for sharing their photos and everyone for the overall entertainment!
By the way Hellhound made it back to her mooring in Holyhead, so congratulations to Jim for his tenacity…
Here's looking forward to the next opportunity once my Morse gear level and control cables have been replaced by Stuart Marine. This link will take you to the album of photos of the event: Cruise in company No 1 2020
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