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Mon 11th July. The wind was SW, a much better direction than forecast, & soon after we started sailing out of Waterford Bay an Irish Coast Guard helicopter circled us to ask if we would let him practise some manoeuvres with us. We politely declined (we had heard an Irish boat do so earlier) as we had a long way to go & did not wish to lose time. Tea time a loud bang & a block on the kicking strap had pulled apart, luckily we were able to reassemble it and were back in business in about 20 mins. Next the wind had risen to SW 5, it was fairly rolly & was apparent that the boat was rewriting Doug’s passage plan (to arrive mid morning on Tuesday) as she charged along at about 8 knts. Around 6pm some dolphins came to jump in the bow wave. The wind picked up, gusting 6, so we put a reef in the main & furled some genny away. Another hour & we altered course to allow for an updated ETA (faster than expected), then crossed the shipping lane ahead of 2 cargo vessels, & were again joined for 5 mins by dolphins jumping at the bow. Soon the wind eased, fooled us into taking the reef out only to put it back in an hour later. Another increase had us furl the genny, put the engine on so we could round up & drop the main, & just before midnight we were back on course, engine off & sailing on genny alone.
Tues 12th July. A very rolly motion, & strong tide against giving very slow speed so the engine went on to provide a boost. About 3 am we anchored off Dale in Pembrokeshire. 94.6 nm.
Tues 12th July. A midday departure from our very pleasant anchorage for a very relaxed sail under genny to Neyland marina. 9.2 nm.
Some chores, shopping & next morning a short walk up the river & round the local nature reserve.
Wed 13th July. A midday departure back to Dale, another 8.7 nm (difference due to tide) to watch the antics of dinghy sailors & windsurfers.
Thur 14th July.
An early (6.15am) departure from Dale, main & poled out genny, on a course through the Castlemartin
firing ranges, which we had to exit before exercises began at 9 am. Soon joined by a group of dolphins, some very
small – possibly youngsters, who stayed with us for 35 mins,
leaping alongside & in the bow wave.
They left not long before we cleared the ranges with a few minutes to
spare. We told them to take care. The wind went more westerly, on the stern
& lighter so we set up the lines for the spinnaker. The sea got rolly,
the wind too light even for the kite so we aborted & put the engine
on. Late morning a distant glimpse of
dolphin as we sighted Worm’s Head on the SW tip of the Gower peninsular. The wind came back stronger,
we poled out the genny again, & passed a couple
of fishing boats as we neared the Mumbles.
Closer in to the lighthouse the Trinity House vessel Patricia (home base
Harwich) was anchored, & sporting a helicopter deck (new since we last saw
her). She was maintaining an exclusion
zone while a helicopter ferried supplies from her to workmen on the
lighthouse. The wind picked up as we
rounded the corner, but it was time to get the sails down & motor along the
entrance channel between the shallows of
Friday (15th July) Val, a long standing friend
who lives in nearby Porthcawl, came down to see us
& catch up. She led us to a coffee
shop at the top of a very tall building, so the views were 360º of sea & the hills to the north, albeit
shrouded in “welsh” mist! Then she drove
us down to the Mumbles, where we had a very nice lunch looking over the
lighthouse, & then walked the coast path to
Saturday (16th). A stroll to & around
Sun 17th July. Damp & misty. A 7am start, in company with lots of fishing vessels, for the first lock of the day out of the marina. Then through the Tawe barrage lock, only 2 fishing vessels for company, & we were in the approach channel, looking very different due to the lower tide & with acres of mud either side of the channel.
The wind was directly on the nose, we were motoring, & the vis was coming & going.
Lunchtime we arrived at Lundy island
& anchored using all our 60M of chain, to cope with the
The fog got worse & we considered aborting our intended trip ashore. Finally we seized a slight improvement in visibility, put GPS’s in our pockets & took the dinghy ashore, noting markers (other boats, mooring buoys) for our return. From the landing area a path zigzagged upwards & as we climbed lengths of it were hidden in the fog/mist that swirled around. We finally reached a plateau (about 120m) with lighthouse, church & pub & headed into the warmth of the latter. They collect the landing fees from visitors, but luckily Lundy is owned by the National Trust so our NT cards saved us the fee.
We did not stay too long as the visibility was worsening & headed back down to the dinghy, with odd breaks in the mist giving us dramatic views. The fog was worse still in the anchorage area & we were glad we had noted the ‘seamarks’ to get us back to Sugar’n’Spice.
Mon 18th July.
Fog even worse next morning so radar & nav lights on for another early departure (6.20am) to catch
the tide down channel, motoring as no wind. About an hour later we cleared Lundy some
dolphins appeared – first 2 charged back along our track with nice jump &
tail flick, then 2 bow riding – short pause while we hoisted sails – 1 jump
amidships, 3 charge in. About 8.30am
& suddenly land appeared out of the fog to the east (Hartland Point to Knap
Head) so lights & radar off. Mid
morning, can just see Lundy, wind light, Doug tried fishing, no luck. Soon after we hooked a ‘pot’ buoy, luckily we
were not motoring so the lines did not wrap round the prop & we were able
to extricate ourselves. The wind dropped
again, so the engine went on to maintain our required speed. Further offshore there was sudden mayhem,
gulls & gannets diving, dolphins & the larger pilot whales charging
around presumably in pursuit of fish. We
stopped the engine to watch, as did a nearby fishing boat! This happened several times, so there must
have been a lot of fish around, maybe a quirk of the strong tides of the
It took another hour to sort the various lines between ships & shore! Bagatelle had also been anchored at Lundy, & in conversation they said they saw us go ashore, but through the fog they couldn’t tell if we had gone up the path, or even if we had returned to Sugar’n’Spice.
Later we went for an exploratory stroll round the town.