What Next?

Phil is busy building experience in two-handed offshore racing, and looking after a young family.  Jeremy is actively developing Hafren for further adventure.

Talks are Done!

We've now completed approximately twenty talks about our 2014 Round Britain and no more are currently planned.  If you'd like a Hafren Slide show, where our charities might benefit, do get in touch.

£10,059 raised in 2014 - THANK YOU!

THANK YOU ALL - The charities total for 2014 was £10,059, as Phil and Jeremy continue Hafren talks around UK.  That's 50/50 for the RNLI and PAPPA Fund.  Look out for them AND the boat at The Dinghy Show, Alexandra Palace, London, Sat/Sun 28 Feb/1 Mar.

Day 33:Back to Weymouth in 32 days 2 hours

The wind was still blowing from the East as Hafren left Lulworth Cove for the short hop to Weymouth this morning. The arrival time was due to be 14:00, but Hafren was there a bit early, so to stick to the schedule, they did a couple of turns outside the harbour entrance before the final spinnaker run up to the jetty of Castle Cove sailing club. They were escorted in by members of the Castle Cove sailing club, journalists, RNLI folk and other supporters...... and then it was over! The final leg was celebrated with a few bottles of champagne and a leap into the water. 

The final time was 32 days and 2 hours, with 15 nights at sea, and a top speed of 11.7 knots (yesterday), and a lot of it sailed with the spinnaker flying.  This is a record that we think will stand for some time. Hafren had extraordinary good luck with the wind for most of the way round. When they needed it to blow from the South, it did, When they got to Cape Wrath and needed a Northerly to blow them down the East coast, that is what they got, and when they got to Broadstairs and needed an otherwise rare Easterly to blow them along the English Channel, the weather obliged.

As we stood on the deck of Castle Cove sailing club, chatting with the crew, Hafren safely home, and an Easterly no longer needed, we felt the wind swing round into the West.

 

Day 32: Lulworth Cove

Today, there is no need to sail conservatively, conserve strength and rest up for the next long haul - there isn't one. It is a short hop to Lulworth Cove and the Hafren crew can sail as hard as they like. And that's exactly what they did. Drysuits on, and leaving Lymington at 14:00, spinnaker hoisted, they averaged aroud 7 knots, hitting 11.7 knots over the ground at one point (Hafren is a Wayfarer, remember!), arriving at Lulworth Cove at 19:00. Big seas and lots of fun through the race off St Alban's head. The plan is to spend the night there, then cover the last 9 miles to Castle Cove Sailing Club in Weymouth tomorrow, arriving between 14:00 and 16:00. And that will be it! No more night passages for Hafren, and for supporters, no more checking the tracker at 5am to see how they are getting on.

Day 31: Nearly There!

Last night was another of non-stop sailing in chilly conditions, but once the sun came out this morning and after a few sandwiches and a can of Greene King IPA, morale improved enormously. By midday Hafren had passed Brighton, and the aim was to head for Lymington. By 18:00 they were passing Bembridge on the Isle of Wight - but that still left a way to go to get to Lymington. In the end they arrived around midnight.

The current plan is to head for Lulworth Cove tomorrow, then arrive back at Castle Cove sailing club in Weymouth for Wednesday afternoon. That will make it just over 32 days, breaking the current record by around 43 days. When Hafren set off, 60 days seemed like a reasonable target!

Day 30: The Thames Estuary - thinking of home


After a good nights sleep, they left Felixstowe Ferry at 0400 for the big trip across the estuary, the last corner of Britain before the home leg. It was a force 2 NW as they set off making around 4kts, and the wind looked good for the day, with possibly some light airs an a bit of a Westerly near Dover in the afternoon (the forecast then showed the wind turning to the East, just as Hafren turns west, to blow them all the way home!!). So it conditions were looking good. There was good progress straight away and in the event, they were at Broadstairs on the Kent coast by 1230.

At Dover they were met by old sailing mates Chris Winnington-Ingram, Colin Smith and Chris Hart, along with Tom Gruitt - photographer for Yachts and Yachting. Check out his pictures on the Facebook site.

Many thanks to the very friendly and helpful port officer on the VHF at Dover who guided Hafren in to the port despite having to deal with a constant stream of big ferries entering, manoeuvring and leaving, and non-commercial traffic trying to get round or between them.

He took this picture. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=690896517625794&set=a.677663152282464.1073741828.615861915129255&type=1&theater

The current ETA at Castle Cove Sailing Club in Weymouth is Wednesday at 1600.

Day 29: Lowestoft to Felixtowe Ferry

Hafren off from Lowestoft at 07:30 heading south along the Suffolk coast heading for Felixstowe Ferry Sailing Club, which is just inside the mouth of the River Deben, finally arriving at 16:00. The last few hours were slow going fighting a tide with less wind. The plan is and then to reprovision before attempting the big trip down the Essex Coast and across the busy shipping lanes of the Thames Estuary, which can then be done during daylight hours tomorrow.

They turned into the Deben to find the tide flowing out at 7kts, so they accepted a tow on from the harbourmaster.
They were well looked after at Felixstowe Ferry SC. Rob Ford formerly of TSC had followed them down the Coast, and was waiting to take them shopping, and the members of FFSC found a Wayfarer trailer to help them relaunch.

Day 28: Groyne Strain

Bridling to Lowestoft: 114 miles on 36 hours.

Getting out of Bridlington harbour wasn't so easy. Not quite enough water meant Hafren got stuck in the mud on the way out and Jeremy had to strip down to his underpants to get out and push. After that it was a fairly easy 36 hours down the Norfolk coast with Phil and Jeremy getting about 6 hours sleep each, and passing mile after mile of Groynes alonf the sandy coastline, There was a brief stop at at around 15:30 when there were some fairly scary conditions out at sea - the sky turned black with thunder and lightning. They decided to stop at a likely looking place that turned ot to be the little village Norfolk village of Sea Palling, which happened to have a nice chip shop that was open. After that it was off along the coast again at about 5 knots arriving at Lowestoft for 21:30.

Thanks very much to the Royal Norfolk and Suffolk Yacht club for a very warm reception and hospitality - and the burgee.

Hafren set off again at 07:00 to catch the tide, with a Westerly 2/3 and low visibility, possible next stop is Ramsgate. Current forecasts are for favourable winds at the start of next week, with bad weather towards the week end, so the aim now is to get back to Weymouth as soon as possible.

The crew are starting to get properly acclimatised to the conditions now, getting used to the aches and pains and able to sleep whenever needed.

Day 27: Past The Wash

Whilst we were sleeping in our warm beds away from the rain of the past day, Hafren was out in the North Sea making very good speed down past the Wash. They have completed about 90 nm over the last 24 hours, since setting off at 10:00 yesterday - excellent progress.  The wind veered during the night into the SE, hence the change of course. They were making 6 Knots off Cromer at 08:30, and will have the tide with them until about 12.00, but they are approaching an area of unsettled wind, not so much in strength but in direction.  At the moment (11:30), they are beating with the tide.  When the tide turns, depending upon wind speed and direction, they may sail on or may anchor up because the foul tide, it being Springs, can reach up to 3 kts!!

They are not sure about stopping at Lowestoft, which is still about 35 nm away and likely to take them of the order of 10 hours.  At that point, they might have at least 2 kt of tide under them and won't want to stop just at that point. Much will depend on how they get on today and what the forecast looks like this evening.

Day 26: Thinking about Weymouth

A rest day in Bridlington, and some great hospitality from the Royal Yorkshire Yacht Club, see https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BrCWFxvCQAAysoF.jpg:large . The plan is now to leave at about 10am this morning (Thursday 26th) and sail as hard as possible for the next few days to make the most of the Northerlies that are with them at the moment. The current forecast shows the wind turning westerly around the middle of next week, which will really slow progress along the English Channel, so every mile made now is a mile fewer that has to be made with wind on the nose.

Preparations are being made for completion on  4th July, which would be 34 days. Not just a new record, which currently stands at 76 days, but a complete change of thinking in terms of what can be done.

Day 25: Watch out for that Oil Rig!

Rob Hudson spoke to Phil at 0800. They had a great night with 12kts of wind, and flew down the Coast till 0500 when the wind died. It's now come back with a bit of a swell, but the tide is against for the next 4/5hrs. They are definitely aiming for Bridlington. Next check in is at  1200. The tide will be turning then, and we'll know how much wind there is, and how close they are to Flamborough Head. Rob had said to Phil the wind would come in from the East later - and it has! So the kite back up and moving well.
They had a close but safe encounter with a massive ocean tug towing an oil rig last night, https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Bq-I03rIgAAOGE4.jpg:large. Looking good for Bridlington at present, another night ashore, then another big leg.

Day 24: Heading for Lowestoft?

Hafren left Amble at midday today and ideally they would like to get to Lowestoft. The forecast was for light northerlies, but they were soon making good progress - between 4 and 5 knots past Blythe and South Shields, with spinnaker up and lots of puffins, beaks stuffed with so many fish they could hardly take off. The wind is expected to go light tonight, so possible next stop may be Bridlington - another 50nm, leaving them to heading for Lowestoft on Thursday. The speed kept well up all day. As night fell they were heading past Middlesborough, and by daybreak they were off Scarborough and still doing 5 knots.

As to the record, Hafren is now over 2/3 of the way round, and they have taken 24 days of the 76. They have been very lucky with the conditions so far, but if this keeps up they will be setting a new standard that maybe hard to better for some time.

Day 23: Holy Island to Amble

A relatively good night's sleep in the tents, although Jeremy now finds it physically impossible to sleep for more than 4hrs. There was also the moaning of 100+ seals on the spit near them! Phil slept very well though. The forecast was for light westerlies today and the plan was to make the fairly short hop to Amble and provision properly before another long leg in the stronger winds forecast for Tuesday. They met some sailors from Coquet SC in Amble last night, so that is likely to be their destination.

They set off at 10:00 and the day soon turned another long old slog in light winds, with much of the last 2 hours after the tide turned paddling as the wind died. to 2500! They finally made it at 21:00 after covering a total of 20 miles in 10 hours.  They had a well needed meal and a few beers at the Well Wood hotel. More wind expected tomorrow so hopefully they cover a few more miles. They are finding it is getting warmer as they sail South, and it's now dark at night.

 

Day 22: 222 miles to Holy Island

After the drama of the previous night, the night of 21/22 June was slow, and a good opportunity for sleep and contemplation. The crew have started to develop the marine equivalent of the American sport of cow toppling - gannet toppling! They sneak up on sleeping gannets and can get within 2 boat lengths before the birds wake up and depart in a flurry of squawks and flapping wings. They had a reasonable wind and tide, were planning to get to Eyemouth, and beyond, perhaps as far as Amble before coming ashore. There were a couple of other possible stopovers depending on the wind.

In the end the Hafren crew stopped on Holy Island. The wind died again and the tide had turned so Seahouses and Amble became a bit too far to sail before dark, and they needed a beer! The wind is again variable tomorrow, so progress will be slow, or they may decide to have a day off.

Still, 222nm from Scrabster in one leg is the second longest they've managed, and around 58 hours at sea.

Day 21: 24 hours at sea - heading South this time

Hafren has made great progress from Hafren overnight. They are on track for their best 24hr run, and have taken full advantage of the strong following wind overnight to finish the crossing of the Moray Firth, pass Fraserburgh and Peterhead, and they are now approaching Aberdeen. The wind eases gradually over the next 24hrs, so it looks as though they have got the kite back up, as they have been showing over 6kts over the ground again. Making hay while the sun shines!


Rob Hudson spoke to the Hafren crew at 0915. They had a rough ride round Rattray Head in the early hours. They had to de-power the boat by dropping the main entirely and lashing the boom in the boat to ensure they kept control, but it was not pleasant! Under jib alone it was bumpy but Still, they are feeling good - if damp! - and intend to continue over the next night and into Sunday.

As the day went on the wind dropped and the afternoon sailing was very slow and frustrating. The wind was forecast to ease to 7 to 12mph at Arbroath by 1900, but round Hafren there was a glassy sea with slatting sails. While talking to the shore crew, Jeremy dropped his phone when a dolphin surfaced right by him! The most exciting thing to happen for a while. The crew relaxed and caught up on sleep and food. The wind is unlikely to do much till Monday.

Day 20: Pentland Firth

Hafren had a Great article in the John O'Groat's Gazette today as hafren sets off round the top of Scotland and due to head south across the Pentland Firth.Everything was in their favour, and by taking advice from the Pentland Firth YC, and they made amazing progress, haviong no trouble getting to and rounding Duncansby Head and starting the southward journey. We spoke to them off Wick, and they have de powered the boat to about 5.5kts, and are revelling in a force 5, sunshine and flat sea. They were aiming for Portsoy, hugging the coast, but expecting to change course soon after for Fraserburgh, and then decide how far on to go. By 2000, and was well and they were making good progress towards Fraserburgh, but the wind has eased a bit, and  they had decided keep on for another 24 hours at least. 

They kept up the speed overnight, and made great progress again. They are on track for their best 24hr run, and have taken full advantage of the strong following wind overnight to finish the crossing of the Moray Firth, pass Fraserburgh and Peterhead, and they are now approaching Aberdeen. The wind eases gradually over the next 24hrs, so it looks as though they have got the kite back up, as they have been showing over 6kts over the ground again. Making hay while the sun shines!

Day 19: Half Way Round

The last few days were a long haul, with the last leg being a really fast trip from Cape Wrath to Scrabster "a 40 mile surf" according to Jeremy. Great stuff, but very tiring, so today is a rest day at Scrabster. Have a look at this footage of rounding Cape Wrath http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=johzLlDoDb0&feature=youtu.be This was taken by Chris Winnington-Ingram after a trip up from London on Easyjet, followed by hire car and fishing boat charter!

They are now about half way round. The record is 76 days, and Hafren has got to Scrabster in 19 days, so well ahead of the plan, but the conditions so far have been very favourable. Phil and Jeremy have worked incredibly hard to make the most of a following wind, and have allowed themselves very little time to relax. There will be unfavourable weather to come, and then ... Who knows? What a great start though.

Tomorrow it's the Pentland Firth

 

Day 18: Dive Bombing

Another sail through the night. We checked the tracker earlier this morning and progress was painfully slow at times, but by mid-morning conditions had improved and Hafren was managing speeds of 6.5 knots on the way to Cape Wrath.

Cape Wrath rounded in style! There is a military firing range here, and there were supposed to be dive bombing exercises between 1200 and 1230, which was due to be all clear at 1300. However, bombing was paused and Hafren was allowed to go the inshore passage, which they did at speed. The tracker points show them careering across rocks, whereas they did a smooth and controlled rounding. 
The wind was fair for Scrabster and Hafren arrived just after 2200, after what they described as a 40 mile surf from Cape Wrath. They were elated, but tired, so tomorrow will probably be a rest day to recover. The RNLI organised a welcome for them tonight. Thanks to Karen for making all the arrangements in Scrabster!

Day 17: On to Scrabster

Hafren left Gairloch at 10:00 this morning en route for Scrabster, which involves goung round Cape Wrath. It's a nasty headland, and there is a military firing range. After a slow start, progress improved, apart from one rather erratic course track, whch was caused then met some friends of Jeremy's from Nanosight, and stopped for tea! The challenge now is to get past the firing range before the next time it goes live again, at 1000 tomorrow. The range knows about Hafren and her call sign and tracker, and Hafren has the phone numbers for the range.

Current conditions are ideal for getting around the north of Scotland so the team want to press on. With winds of up to only 8 kts, waves are modest and, so, Hafren is easily managed single-handed whilst the other sleeps.

At 23:00 Hafren was out in the sound between Stornaway and Ullapool - looks like another long night.Check out the Twitter feed at https://twitter.com/hafrensailing for some great pictures

Day 16: Looking forward to Gairloch

Progress is slow but steady this morning, but the night was very cold under the tarp over the boat. The crew is now in need of some comfort, and washing the mildew off their clothes is a priority! A hotel room has been booked in Gairloch, so all they have to do is get there.  They sounded amazingly cheerful on the phone today considering their voyage so far, but the comforts of the Crinan Hotel are clearly still fresh in their minds, so the Myrtle in Gairloch is very enticing! The last mile to the harbour at Gairloch had to be paddled. No wind! The thought of a beer kept them going. The final tally was 16 miles in 20 hours , much of it paddling.
 

Day 15: On To Applecross

Tobermory was passed at about 02:00 and they picked up some wind from the West and decided to push on without a break.At daybreak they had rounded the headland and leaving Eigg to port, headed towards Mallaig. Progress was excellent - averaging just under 5 knots. After a very brief stop on the East coast of Skye, they pushed on up to Lock Ailsh, arriving at Kyle Akin, in sight of the Skye Bridge at 16:00. But by 17:00 they were off again, under the bridge and up past Ramsay and by 11:00 they were moored up in Applecross Bay for a well earned rest, the first proper break for 36 hours!
 

Day 14: The Sound of Mull

Hafren left Crinan at 11:00 heading for Tobermory. They made steady progress through the day apart from having to negotiate the whirlpools at Dorus Mor. Message received from Jeremy at 1512 read: "As we beat into Dorus Mor in bright sunshine in a F3, the tide grabbed us and shook all wind from the sails and a whirlpool 10ft across and maybe 2.5ft deep grabbed us and whirled us round twice on the spot then spat us into a back eddy going back the way we had come. So we were back at the start for another go, and we sailed round the whirlpool and exited DM at 9kts over the ground. Later through the Sound of Luing lots more over falls. This is a new experience, to have a 720 penalty turn imposed upon us; so that is one in the bank!"
They finally made it through and headed out towards the Sound of Mull. As night fell were tacking their way up through the sound, and by midnight were halfway through.
 

Day 13: island hopping

Today has been one of light winds and slow progress up through the Scottish West coast islands, with short hops and looking for favourable tides. 

Final destination today was Crinan, which they reached before the tide turned after the best part of 6 hours of paddling. The wind, of course, then picked up! They may be staying in the hotel tonight, a change from Hafren's bilges or their tiny bivouac. They then plan to leave around lunchtime tomorrow on the leg to Tobermory. Let's hope for some wind.

Day 12: Heading for the Mull of Kintyre

After a night of fighting the tide in light wind, Hafren started making better progress in the early hours, and by 05:00 had picked up Southerly breeze and was creeping up the coast against the tide aiming for Gigha (about 40 nm to the middle of Gigha, so another long slog). By 08:00 they had to anchored up as there was wind, but 4kts of tide. A trawler looked at them in the night from 100yds and radioed the Coastguard to report a small dinghy sailing under a masthead white light. They broke into the conversation and thanked the trawler for its concern, said they were fine, had a passage plan etc. It was the first time any boat has shown any interest at all in them. They had seen a yacht before it got dark, but it didn't alter course to see what they were doing. So they're not getting lots of free food and drink as they go round! By 15:00 there was 10kts of wind, and Hafren was making 5kts with the spinnaker flying, and by 17:00 were well on the way to the Mull of Kintyre. Overall, great progress by Hafren today. The decision to stay out last night and get up to Red Bay has been vindicated with a fast sail over to the Mull of Kintyre with the tide, and tides will have less impact now. Next waypoint is Gigha, and then on to Crinan and Tobermory - depending how good they are feeling.

Day 11: On into the night

We had a message from Hafren at 1650, and they have decided not to stop in Northern Ireland, but bash on into the tide as it changes, and take the next flood up to the Mull of Kintyre. But why? Well they have made good progress today, and are not tired so they are in good shape to carry on, and in a few days the wind will will become a northerly as a high takes hold ove the UK. Excellent for barbecues, but not good if you are heading up the West coast of Scotland in a dinghy. So, it will be a long night, but every mile made now with a South Westerly will pay dividends later on. And there is a record to be set! As the tide turns, and with light winds, Progress will be erratic, and they might even start to go backwards. But when they are sitting in light airs from the North in a few days time, the extra 20 or 30 miles made tonight will seem like a very good decision. Keep your eye on the tracker!

Day 11: Bound for Ireland

Hafren left Peel at around 0800 this morning heading for the Glenarm Bay on th Irish Coast, as a possible stopover or to sit out the tide for a few hours. The wind and tide will play a big part in this leg up through the North Channel. They want to make use of the following winds which should last till Friday.

Day 10: Midday flit to Peel

Thanks for a great welcome in the Isle of Man!

Hafren left Port St Mary at midday for a short leg round to Peel on the West coast. From here there is a chance they can leave early tomorrow and do a long leg with favourable wind. It looks as though it goes into the north on Friday night. However, it is windy today. If the conditions too bad, they could be back in PStM!

Day 9: Holyhead to the Isle Of Man

Hafren left Holyhead at 0645 09 June heading for the Isle of Man. Many thanks to hosts David and Christine who made them very welcome. Progress so far today has been slow going. The wind has died and they didn't clear the Skerries. They did try for a while to paddle to the Skerries to anchor, but the tide pushed them away, so they were drifting West for a while, and it was looking like a very long day, and possibly night, before arriving at the IoM. By 10:45 Progress was better, but still quite slow, and it was looking unlikely they would arrive at Port St Mary before 2200. Then the tide turned against them, (although not as strongly as at Holyhead in the morning), and it was slow going most of the day. On the approach Hafren headed towards Castletown to avoid being swept past Port St Mary with the tide, and they finally arrived just after midnight. Sleep and re-stocking today, with a  possible short hop round to Peel ready for a long leg on Wednesday. This could be as far as Glenarm Bay, which is another 100 or so miles. Some very breezy conditions tomorrow.

Day 8: At Holyhead

Successfully day yesterday (6th June) leaving Fishguard at 05:00 (7th June) with a tow to the harbour entrance from our host. the initially light winds developed into a steady force 3 then 4. We hoisted the spinnaker at 07:00 and took it down at 23:00 when a rain squall hit us. We managed to round the Lynn peninsula at 19:00 just before the tide turned and kept going to holyhead. Lots of surfing on waves and enjoyable down wind sailing. We sailed through most of the night with 2 reefs in the main and a force 4 to 5 arriving at Holyhead at 04:00. Fortunately we have worked out how to change the tracking update rate to 15 minutes so will be taking fewer short cuts over Islands headlands and harbour entrances. Luckily the boat is getting lighter as we eat the food and have been carrying less water. Tomorrow looks good to reach the Isle of Man and from there Northern Ireland and Scotland.

Day 7: Away from Fishguard

10:00 Saturday 7th. Hafren set off from Fishguard just before 05:00 in a light southerly breeze which is forecast to freshen to a fairly steady 15 knots all from the south.  Thus, spinnaker all day.  They were soon averaging about 4 knots, but at about 07:00 the tide turned against them and will continue to do so for the next 6 hours, ie until about 13:00, the intention being to carry a favourable tide past the Lleyn Peninsula.  The tide runs surprisingly strongly in the Irish Sea and, even at Neaps as now, can be expected to run at up to 1½ knots.

 

 

Day 6: Dale to Fishguard

Distance: 46 miles
Time: 21 hours?
After leaving Dale in light winds and wall to wall sunshine we passed through the tricky tidal Jack and Ramsey sounds. These sounds contain dangerous rocks and overfalls and tides run at 5-6 knots. Good navigation ensures a successful passage. After passing through jack sound we were congratulated by a local fisherman who said 'you don't normally see people do that one under sail.  Well done guys!  After passing through the larger but no less easier Ramsey sound we were into Cardigan Bay. The light winds meant we made only 15 miles in 8 hours and the spinnaker would only set  if we sailed angles to the wind. The 10:50 inshore water forecast predicted force 5-6 winds.  At night that is scarry and beyond what we had experience in the wayfarer.  We elected to turn back to Fishguard instead of carrying on. Only a 15 mile beat.  As we closed with the shore the wind swung to the east and we felt that Newport would offer greater shelter.  We learnt the hard way that Newport is not a port and at low water there is no depth the get even a wayfarer up the river.  We retreated to Fishguard and headed to the Fishguard Bay Sailing Club harbour and tided up.  Through our routers we were taken in by members of the sailing club Roger and  Gail Strawbridge  ready for the next leg. 

 all systems go for an early start at 0400 tomorrow (Saturday 6th June )aiming for Porth Nefyn, and if ok on to Treaddur Bay near Holyhead. If not that leg will be Sunday.

Watch the tracker!

Day 5: Rest Day At Dale

This was a rest day after a long and very successful first leg. After good wiund and tides Hafren is at Dale well ahead of schedule.

Days 1 - 4. 3.5 Knots is the answer - to Life the Universe and Everything

 Leg One Weymouth - Dale 250 miles 67 hours
 
In their work-up trials to an attempt on the Round Britain dinghy record, currently 76 day (Ludo Bennett-Jones in 2012), Bristol sailors Phil Kirk and Jeremy Warren kept coming back to 3.5Knts as the average speed achieved along the rhum line.  After a big first leg, from Weymouth to Dale on the South Western tip of Wales, taking 67 hours and including three nights – the answer comes out at the same 3.5knts!
 
Departing from Castle Cove SC in Portland harbour this first leg took in tidal gates at Portland Bill, Start Point, The Lizard and Land's End, and included the 100-mile open sea passage to Pembrokeshire.
 
PK: “The boat was sluggish in the light winds as we left Castle Cove, not least due to 25 litres of water and much food.  Along the south coast we were able to make frequent contact with our routers and took advantage of the predicted wind shifts. Rounding Start Point was thrilling; very dark, lots of stars, good boat speed, favourable tide.  As we closed with the Lizard the tide turned against us and we struggled a little.  Finally we were into Mounts Bay and experience the first Atlantic swells with a confused cross sea.  The wind was blowing F4 but as it got dark it felt a lot more challenging to sail. Reefing down made things easier but the poor visibility, rain and shipping made it hard to find the Runnel Stone and Longships lights. Round the Runnel Stone we eased sheets and hoped that would be the end to the 36 hours of beating.  Once round Longships we had no reference to steer to and the numbers on the compass were to small to read clearly, in the dark.  We found a ship on the right heading and aimed at his lights, checking our course on the GPS periodically.  At this point we realised how tired we were; both falling asleep on the helm.  We put the second reef in and furled some more genoa. This really made the boat managable making it possible for one person to sleep.  After 10 minutes we swapped over and extended the shifts to 30 minutes and then an hour.”
 
JW: “Land's End in the dark and a nasty cross sea was pretty scary.  We were both tired after 36hrs at sea, but, wobble as she may, the Wayfarer looked after us.  No matter how much prep we had done, nav is hard through layers of  waterproof plastic. This was daunting, a point of no return; we both felt that”
 
Hafren  made a long reach from Land's End to Dale on Monday started with light winds which slowly filled to a good force 3-4.  The duo took it in terms to catch some sleep.  By late afternoon they were level with Ilfracombe and 30 miles offshore and finally had a wind angle with which held the (old style 505) spinnaker, greatly boosting progress.
 
PK “At dusk we dropped the kite and clipped on our harnesses. With some light from the moon and our own mast head light we could just see some of the waves allowing us to confidently helm through them, surfing regularly. Much more fun.  The wind increased and we reefed down again.  We were visited by a dolphin who stayed with us for ten minutes,  jumping our bow wave and kicking up phosphorescence like a torpedo”
 
Phil and Jeremy found the lights for Milford Haven hiding behind a huge anchored ship and as they approached the marked channel the wind died.  
 
JW “Becalmed, we paddled energetically (Hawaii 5-OH) and just grabbed a channel buoy in the Milford approaches before getting swept past  – clearly not allowed, but in the conditions, I thought it was sensible.   Ten minutes later the Angle lifeboat out of Dale came at us at about 25knts, all three storeys of her, and I thought we were in for at least a dressing-down.  None of it; the lads circled us, hailed and waved and whizzed off to a casualty that had hit the rocks off Milford, having made the same passage as us.  Phew!” [aside – the French single-handed skipper of the wrecked vessel was duly rescued].
 
PK “In summary, life on-board a wayfarer at sea is cramped.  The space becomes our kitchen, then the chart table and the heads.  When ever one person moves the other has to compensate. But the boat looks after us.  
 
Dale is lovely, and we must thank the members of Dale YC and other locals for making us so welcome.
 
So, leg one done, all well, but still 1250 miles left and a clear realisation we were VERY LUCKY with the weather”.  Expect to see that 3.5 knts, again and again”.
 
 
Statistics Noon - Noon
Day 1 - 96 miles
Day 2 – 80 miles
Day 3 19 hrs – 74 miles
 
Leg one total 250 miles, average speed 3.5 knts

 

Tidal Gate Stopovers List

So here is an insight into navigational preparation; our list of Tidal Gate Stopovers, refuges to wait out a change in adverse tide.

         

Tidal Gate

Type of  Location

Name

Offset

Lat

Long

Description, Comment

Source

 

 

 

NM

 

 

 

 

Portand Bill

PORT

Castle Cove SC

 

 

 

Proper port

 

Start Point

PORT

Brixham

10

 

 

Proper port

 

Start Point

PORT

Dartmouth

7

 

 

Proper port

 

Lizard

Lay-By

Porthoustock

9

50.03.20

W 05.03.53

East facing shingle/hard sand beach, slipway. Pub nearby, toilets camping.

GLG

Lizard

PORT

Flushing

 

 

 

Proper port

 

Land's End

Lay-By

Lamorna Cove

5 from Runnel stone, 8 from Longships

 

 

Open to SE but there is a wall. Wall is complete shelter but probably only accessible at high tide.  Cafe, shops.

GLG

Land's End

Lay-By

Nanjizal Beach, MillBay

Its 2.5 miles beyond Runnel stone, so it on the way round

50.03.20

W 05.41.70

Beach open to SW, access only by coast path

Google

St Anne’s Head/Ramsey Sound

Lay-By

Porth Clais

2

51.52.12

W 05.17.02

Tiny drying harbour open to South, only in Good Launch Guide.  Pub 2 miles.

 

St Anne’s Head/Ramsey Sound

PORT

Solva

8

 

 

Estuary and drying harbour open to South.  Pubs.

 

St Davis's Head/Jack Sound

PORT

Dale

4

 

 

Beach, pontoon, slipway open to South

 

Lleyn Peninsula/

Bardsey Sound

Lay-By

Aberdaron

3

52.49.48

W 04.42.43

South facing beach.  Pubs.Concrete ramp to south facing beach with submerged rock just west of middle.  Bardsey Island Trust operate a 4WD recovery vehicle on the beach

GLG

Lleyn Peninsula/

Bardsey Sound

PORT

Abersoch

13

 

 

Proper port

 

Skerries

PORT

Rush

3

 

 

Proper port

 

Menia Straight

Lay-By

Dinas Dinlle/Llandwrog

3

53.05.10

W 04.20.13

Sandy beach, ramp.

GLG

Menia Straight

PORT

Caernarfon

-3; its up the straights.

 

 

Proper port

Cruise Almn

Mull of Kintyre (MoK)

PORT

Cambeltown (big detour east)

16

 

 

Completely sheltered; Approach to MoK is tactical.  Its Cambeltown or nothing.  MoK is desolate. Sanda Island, 7M East of MoK is surrounded by overfalls

Cruise Almn

Sound of Jura

PORT

Port Ellen (on Islay)

5

 

 

Open to south, Post office, shops, hotel

Cruise Almn

Sound of Jura

PORT

Gigha (on Gigha Island) (pronounced "Gee-a")

0

 

 

exposed from ne to se, Post office, shops, hotel

Cruise Almn

Sound of Jura

Lay-By

Tayinloan Ferry ramp

0

55.657

-5.669

faces west.  Barren.

GLG

Sound of Jura

Lay-By

Machrihanish

2

55.25.40

W 05.44.60

Sandy surf beach, faces north, village, but beach looks difficult

Not even in GLG, just on Chart C64.  See Google images

Sound of Luing (west of Lunig)

PORT

Crinan

4

 

 

Completely sheltered

 

Sound of Luing (west of Lunig)

PORT

Craobh Haven (pronounced ""Creuve")

4

56.12.80

W 05.33.40

Completely sheltered; Its the wrong way.  Marina.

Cruising almanac,

Cht 2800.2

Sound of Luing (west of Lunig)

Lay-By

Kinuachdrachd Harbour

0

56.07.40

W 05.41.60

Faces East, moorings in google image

Indicated on

Cht 2800.2 as anchorage.

Sound of Luing (west of Lunig)

Lay-By

Reisa an t-Sruith

0

56.08.00

W 05.38.80

Faces west, Rocky inlet, 10m wide entrance, stay south.looks unihabited

Not even in GLG, just on Cht 2800.2. poor Google images

Firth of Lorne

Lay-By

Puilladobhrain (Pronounced "Pulldochran")

3

56.19.50

W 05.35.10

Completely sheltered anchorage, but poor holding. Popular in summer.  No facilities

Cruising almanac,

Cht 2800.3

Firth of Lorne

Lay-By

Croggan, Loch Spleve

0

56.22.80

W 05.42.00

open to SE, not investigated

 

Sound of Mull

Lay-By

Loch Aline

-7  (its on the Sound)

56.32.00

W 05.47.00

One third up the sound.  Pontoon.  Shop nearby

 

Sound of Mull

Lay-By

Salen

-9  (its on the Sound)

56.31.30

W 05.56.30

For if we don't make it all the way in one tide?

Google

Sound of Sleat

PORT

Eigg

0

 

 

Pretty exposed.  Moorings, cafe, Hotel

Cht. 2800.1

Sound of Sleat

PORT

Arisaig

5

 

 

Lovely anchorage, chandlery shops.

No chart (its on C65, we don't have) so Almanac

Sound of Sleat

PORT

Mallaig

0

 

 

Busy fishing harbour open to north

C66

Kyle Rhea/Kyle Akin

PORT

Kyleaikin (at Kyle Akin)

-5 (its at end of Sound)

 

 

Stopping off place; pontoons

Cruising almanac, Cht C66

Sound of Raasay

Lay-By

Crowin Islands?

 

 

 

Not much tide so no waiting?

C66

Cape Wrath

PORT

Kinlochbervie

5

 

 

Proper port

 

Duncansby head/ Pentland Firth

PORT

Scrabster

 

 

 

Completely sheltered

 

Duncansby head/ Pentland Firth

Lay-By

After Scrabster - nothing

3

 

 

 

GLG does not list anything after Scrabster/Thurso until John O'Groats

Kinnaird Head/Rattray Head

PORT

Fraserburgh

1

 

 

Proper port

 

Flamborough Head

PORT

Scarborough

1

 

 

Pontoon

 

Flamborough Head

Lay-By

Filey

0

 

 

Beach, slipway.

GLG

Norfolk (Blakney to Felixstowe)

Lay-By

Blakeney

7

 

 

Open to N, poor for yachts

 

Norfolk (Blakney to Felixstowe)

PORT

Gt Yarmouth

1

 

 

Proper port

 

North Foreland (Ramsgate)

PORT

Nothing. 

n/a

 

 

 

 

Dungeness

PORT

Nothing (Folkestone, Hythe, Dymchurch?)

n/a

 

 

 

 

Beachy Head

PORT

Eastbourne (Sovereign Harbour)

2

 

 

Proper port

 

Selsey Bill

PORT

Littlehampton

1

 

 

Proper port

 

Selsey Bill

Lay-By

East Selsley Beach

1

50.734

-0.772

Beach with slip.  Pub nearby. Lifeboat1

GLG

St Catherine’s Pt

Lay-By

Ventnor

1

50.35.60

W 01.12.13

Exposed to SW, Town  "space for 6 x 9m craft"

Cruise Almn

Anvil Point/St Alban’s Head

PORT

Swanage

3

 

 

Proper port

 

Tidal Gates Listing

Here is our list of the key Tidal Gates and their timings. Do tell us if we've made any errors here; we know the south coast ones but Scotland and East Coast are a mystery.  Thanks, Jeremy, My mobile 07773766607

Location

Distance of influence

Tidal current

Favourable Tidal Window (HW Dover + or -)

Recommended Tidal Window

Notes

Portland Bill

 

 

-1 to +5

-1 to +2

Careful timing required. Inshore passage is dangerous in onshore winds >F4/5,  Attempt rounding at start of window. Race forms on east of Bill at HWD

Start Point

To

Bolt Tail

12 nm

2.1 kn sp

1.0 kn nps

 

-2 slack to +4  slack

-2 to +1

Can be rounded at all states of tide but possible negative progress against tide.

Lizard

 

 

-2 to +4

-2 to +4

As above

Lands End

 

 

-2 to +4

-2 to +4

Can be approached before tidal window. If rounded at start of Window 9 hours of favourable tide can be achieved on passage North.

St Anne’s Head/ St. David’s Head

 

 

+6 to -1

+4 inshore, +6 to-1 offshore

Tide turns favourable through Ramsey Sound at +4 should be taken at slack.

Lleyn Peninsula

 

 

+6 to HW

+6 to -5 or +5 to HW

Allows passage near slack water which is advised for wind against tide conditions.

Skerries

 

 

-5 to HW

-5 to -4

Passage should start close to slack to take favourable tide North. Beware wind against tide.

Menia Straight

 

 

-5 to HW

HW Dover -3 at SW end (Read Almanac)

Aim to arrive Swellies HW Dover -2

Isle of Man

 

 

+1 to +6

+1 to +6

Pass isle of Man to the west. If Port St Mary is reached at end of N going flood from the south the ebb on West coast of IOM continues North.

North Irish Sea (Port Patrick/Bangor

 

 

HW to +5 on Irish coast and +6 on English coast

HW to +5 on Irish coast and +6 on English coast

Back eddy at -1 near Port Patrick. Tide lighter on east side of channel so can be sailed at all states of tide.

Mull of Kintyre

 

 

-1 to +4.5

 -1 to HWD

Race off Mull, Inshore passage possible in favourable conditions. Otherwise stay 2-3 NM off. Sanda Island is good stopping off point to await favourable tide. Beware wind against tide.

Sound of Jura

 

 

HW to +5

HW to +1

Can be sailed at all states of tide from Mull O.K. to Giga.  Tide turns north earlier on east side of Giga.

Sound of Luing

 

 

-1 to +5

-1 to +1

Passage past Gulf of Coryvecan should be attempted at start of favourable tide.

Firth of Lorne

 

 

+2 to -5

+2 to -5

Need more tidal info than Almanac

Sound of Mull

 

 

+2 to +6

+2 to +6

Need more tidal info. Than almanac

Sound of Sleat

 

 

+3 to -5

+3 to -5

 

Kyle Rhea

 

 

+1:40 to +6

+1:40 to +2

Spring rate 6-7Kn advised passing near slack.

Kyle Adkin

 

 

+1 to +4

+1 to +4

Follow passage of Kyle Reha. Read almanac for more details as times are affected by springs and neaps.

Sound of Raasay

 

 

+6 to -1

+6 to -1

More tidal detail required. Generally weak tides so all states of tide possible.

Cape Wrath

 

 

+6 to HW

+6 to HW

Back eddies inshore give favourable tides at most states of tide. Rocks and turbulence where opposing  tidal streams meet can give dangerous seas in bad weather.

Duncansby head/ Pentland Firth

 

 

-5 to HW

+6

Dangerous! Leave scrabster to be at dunnet head at HWD +6 (before start of flood) so pass headland as close to slack as possible. Max wind F4 westerly with tide.

Kinnaird Head/Rattray Head

 

 

-1 to +4

-1 to +4

Strong tides at headland weak elsewhere in Moray Firth.

Flamborough Head

 

 

+2 to -5

+2 to -5

Tides are mostly slight to north with slack area around North Shields.  Stronger tides across Wash but passage possible at all states of tide.

Norfolk (Blakney to Felixstowe)

 

 

+6 to -1

+6 to -1

After Felixstowe tides in Thames estuary run approx. east/west across a north south passage. It pays to head it to estuary when tide is against than stay off shore where tides flow more north south. 

North Foreland (Ramsgate)

 

 

+4 to -3

+4 to -3

 

Dungeness

 

 

+3 to -4

+3 to -4

 

Beachy Head

 

 

+1 to +6

+1 to +6

 

Selsey Bill

 

 

-1 to +5

-1 to +5

West going eddy forms close to Bill at -1 while main stream is still heading East.

St Catherine’s Pt

 

 

HW to +5

HW to +5

Overalls form and can be dangerous with wind against tide.

Anvil Point/St Alban’s Head

 

 

HW to +5

HW to +5

Overalls form and seas can be dangerous with wind against tide. Safe passage is 3 miles off or wind with tide or slight wind against.

Risk Assessment extract - for RNLI.

This is nerdy stuff – probably only of interest to sailors, and then only really nerdy ones!

Whilst Wayfarer dinghies have successfully been sailed from UK to Scandinavia and Iceland, those pioneers had a tough time and probably a lot of luck.  This Wayfarer model was chosen on advice of the builders.  Specifically it is built in foam sandwich, so is inherently buoyant and does not have buoyancy as a double bottom, which makes swamped boats much more difficult to recover.  The boat has been rebuilt from scratch.                                                                        

We have harnesses with long lines which we’ll wear when conditions dictate and always at night or when we have a reef in.  We have buoyancy aids which we’ll wear all the time.  There was much thought on the benefits of buoyancy aids vs. lifejackets.  We have chosen buoyancy aids because if (when) we do capsize or one of us falls out we’ll be obliged to self-rescue, a process a lifejacket would hamper.  We both have accessible knives and head torches carried on the buoyancy aids.  We have the best waterproofs we can buy and a good new drysuit each, with lots of thermal undergarments, gloves and hats.  We have just obtained a PLB, which we’ll register shortly.

We have red and white hand flares, two torches including on very powerful long life one, two waterproof head torches, proven storage for batteries and when conditions dictate, we’ll hoist both a radar reflector and masthead buoyancy.  We have a handheld waterproof chart plotting GPS with safe-passage waypoints programmed and a spare GPS and spare batteries; we have bench tested the life of all batteries on all devices and will shortly also obtain a powerpack to recharge these.  We have paper charts in plastic covers, laminated passage, tidal gate and tidal data and will work diligently on nav before each leg.  We have a new handheld VHF radio; despite being waterproof, it and the GPS stay in specialist waterproof bags; they work fine like this.   We have tried all the gear we are taking, in the dark, and read the manuals thoroughly.   Additionally the boat will have a YellowBrick GPS tracker which will show our position on the website www.xtremedinghycruising.com  This is not yet set up.  It will update every 10 minutes.  Also we have two smartphone mobiles plus  a mobile phone with buttons (smartphones are hopeless with wet hands) which is the best rated one we can find for range. 

First aid kit, to RORC offshore spec, overseen by Warren’s veterinary surgeon partner.

Sails: the mainsail is new and has three reefs and a 35cm blaze orange blob at the peak to aid visibility.   We have a blaze-orange storm trysail.  The genoa rolls up and if this malfunctions, we can get if off and have an emergency  jib sail.  We have sail repair patches, palm and needle and a comprehensive tool kit with spares and spare Kevlar rope.  Hopefully we could fix a broken rudder or at least self-rescue with jury steering.  We have sufficient tools to make a jury rig, should we lose the mast (depending how broken it is).  The mast has been reinforced over the bottom 2 m (to get up past the gooseneck fitting) with an additional aluminium tube of similar diameter internally.  We have new shroud wires and forestay.

To facilitate the off-watch crew member sleeping the central thwart is replaced by a carbon tube 50mm much higher up and there is 16mm of Karrimmat over the floor plus spray covers over the fwd half of the cockpit.  That said, one can only sleep in light conditions.  We’ll sleep fully clothed with buoyancy aids and harnesses still on.

What did we forget?

Cold turkey and cold feet

So why is it called “Cape Wrath”?  A little forbidding.  With less than 20 days to go, frankly I’m getting nervous.

The north western corner of Scotland juts into the Atlantic, pointing towards the granite massive of the Hebrides.  This corner is exposed, safe harbours few; those there only offer shelter to a handful of wind directions.  Then there are the rocks on the corner of the Pembrokeshire peninsula which include The Bitches, another name which is hardly welcoming.   And as we round Land’s End, we’ll be trying to avoid the Shark’s Fin.

I’m programming waypoints into the GPS, and this task is prompting some serious reflection.  Just what have we taken on here, and just how hard will it be?  We’ll know soon enough. 

We are committed to do this, not least because we’ve told so many people.  The preparation has been thorough, on the boat and navigation side, but how does one prepare mentally for such a long time in such a small boat?  A few audio books won’t cut it, that’s for sure.  Hilary Mantel, Tom Clancy.

So, little more to do now than stop worrying.  I left work today, which was poignant and sad.  The team we have built at NanoSight over ten years, the success we have had (in developing and commercialising analytical instrumentation for nanotechnology scientists), the thousands of miles we’ve travelled worldwide, and all the academics and researchers we have met, and helped, amount together to a sort of drug ,and one on which I have thrived.  I miss them already.  Cold turkey, for the two weeks before the off, is bringing Project Hafren into crystal sharp contrast.

What a morose outlook for a guy who is about to get a really deep suntan and a store of salty seadog tales enough to bore even the nerdiest sailor, forever!  Better get back to the GPS; I have got as far as Peterhead.

Food and Drink

Food is bound to be a focus for us, so let’s give it some thought now. Hafren has a one-burner gimballed gas cooker that heats a single army mess tin.  It works with waves breaking over the boat and boils two cups of tea in three minutes.  Reassuringly, the gas supplier claims it works well above 3000m altitude.

Everything tastes good at sea and reheating precooked frozen food works well.  Roger’s chicken and chorizo jambalaya.  Pasta carbonara.  Dahl and chickpea curry.  Then to wine:  there are a wide range of little plastic bottles, but a few pitfalls, according to Decanter magazine.  Imagine this white wine disaster scenario, far out at sea:

La Gioiosa, Pinot Grigio 2009, Italy
Screwcap, 12%, 18.7cl, IGT Veneto. There's a whiff of wet nappy here (almost certainly a sulphur fault) and a very non-descript palate. Oh dear. 71/100. Sainsbury's Fern Bay, East Coast Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand

But looking on the bright side:

Marks & Spencer, Beaujolais 2009, France
Screwcap, 12.5%, 25cl. In a PET plastic bottle, this Beaujolais from Paul Sapin comes from a terrific vintage and pours a vivid if palish purple colour. The nose is tight and delicate, with floral and rose-hip nuances, tight cherry fruit and a touch of watercolour paintbox. Juicy and sappy on the palate, this is dry, delicious and lip-smacking stuff. 86/100, Marks & Spencer

Bring it on!

Fran and Brookie – Circumnavigators both.

It has been fascinating to interview these disparate but equally successful circumnavigators, and perhaps much to learn?  Both went clockwise, and up the Irish Sea, leaving from the south east.

Frances Gifford bought a Wayfarer like ours, and set off just 11 days later.  Amazing; we've been preparing for more than a year.  Fran had a series of crews are round the UK and completed the trip, via the Caledonian canal, in 72 days.  An experienced sailor and self-effacing in regard to her achievement, Fran describes several occasions where the conditions were genuinely scary.   For example, leaving Wells-next-the-sea in Norfolk to mast-high waves and some terrible breaking seas over shallow sand bars.   Fran left in mid-May and benefited from the hoped-for easterly (meaning following) winds for the south coast leg,   

Mishaps included some scroat stealing the outboard, despite it being padlocked on and the boat being on a mooring.  Also the top of the centreboard (keel) broke off, which is hard to explain, and was only discovered, almost sheared, on its removal for routine inspection.  Throughout the trip Fran reports never really being near to capsizing, which fits well with advice from Ralph Roberts, the most authoritative Wayfarer cruiser we have talked to; “Don’t Capsize".  Can’t argue with that. 

Brookie went round in a tiny yacht, Theo’s Future.  This was a fund-raiser for a medical scanner for his godson, victim of a rare genetic condition that rendered him blind at 6 months old; see www.theosfuture.org, and I recommend his book.   Mike Brook OBE is an ex Royal Marine and Royal Engineers Colonel and a world-class sailor.  The boat was new but a traditional design and at nineteen feet, was only three feet bigger than Wayfarer Hafren.  Like Fran, he got the boat and set off with little sea time.   Mike then had to refit it as he went round to keep the water out, but he’s clearly a tough chap, undaunted by a bit of cold and wet.  Brookie went via the Caledonian Canal, as did Fran, cutting off a big slice of northern Scotland, but with the specific objective of staying close to people, and pubs.  Mike highlighted the kindness of strangers, by which he was clearly moved. And here we come to the fund-raising objective of this trip; Mike was in a pub and working the audience almost every night.  New crew joining him commented on his chronic tiredness, from spending long days at sea then long nights in hostelries.  Certainly the element of Brookie’s achievement I admire most is his success in getting his wife to sanction a four-month pub crawl.  Respect. 

Both did it, both raised impressive five-figure sums for charity; indeed they have our admiration.

Hafren - Goddess of the River Severn

The name Hafren is a latinisation of the Celtic for Sabrina, she being goddess of the river Severn.   Clearly this mythical mermaid is a fitting choice of name to reflect our own River Severn provenance; Hafren is the Welsh word for Severn.  [Perhaps less appropriate is Hafren’s death by drowning at the hand of her stepmother, but let’s not dig too deep].

The logo reflects the colours of Thornbury Sailing Club’s own burgee, with Hafren prominent.

On not getting rescued

~~On not getting rescued. 
10 April 2014
Ron Pattenden, our Round-Britain-in–a-laser-on-my-tod hero, was consistently “rescued” on his trip round.  And it’s happened to me already; here is how.   I sailed dear old Buttercup, our trial Wayfarer, down under the Severn bridges from Oldbury single-handed, hoping to get around Steepholm and Flatholm then back all in one tide.  By the time I got to Portishead the wind had veered from lovely SE to horrible SW and was up to force five, and pouring with rain, so I bugged out at Portishead.  Running the boat up on the mud on a falling tide, I left it under a lighthouse and trudged to Portishead Sailing Club for a cup of tea.  Always hospitable, Portishead SC.  When I got back two hours later there were no less than six volunteer coastguards surveying the boat from the coastal path, complete with a 4WD vehicle, hissing radios and flashing lights and all.  Before I could stop them, I’m reported to the HM Coast Guard as a “Casualty”.  How embarrassing.  Worse than that, the taxi driver who regularly takes me to Heathrow and has had to endure my salty seadog tales time and again as we whizz up the M4, is part of that volunteer team.  Embarrassing, yes indeed.
So, of course what happens is this; a thousand houses and flats in Portishead overlook this shore; hundreds see a dinghy on the mud, and (on this occasion) six of them ring 999.
So lesson learned – tell the coastguard if we leave the boat, give them the details of our registration on their (excellent and free) registration database, and give them a call-back number. 

FAQs, not very helpful

As we publicise Hafren Round Britain, the list of frequently-asked questions is becoming clear, however the answers are not.  Here is a taste:  Q: How long will it take?  A: Don't know, maybe 60 dys? Q: Where will you stop? A: Don't know. Q: Will you be able to sleep?  A: Don't know.  Q: Are you likely to capsize?  A: We've been advised not to (Ralph Roberts: "Don't Capsize!").  So, not much, we hope.  Q: Will it be dangerous? (only non-sailors ask this).  A: Suffice to say, I have transfered all my assets into joint names. 

Hafren Presentation at Thornbury Sailing Club, Thur April 4th

We'll be at Thornbury Sailing Club at 1930 this Thursday to explain Hafren and hopefully recruit the Shore Team.  Should be intersting.  If you are not a member but would like to come along (I'm thinking our new RNLI friends)  just let us know via the website contact form.

Yes, We Love Ludo!

Delighted to report that Ludo Bennett-Jones called back from the Caribbean so I'll get to talk to him this week. Ludo has been inspirational in the Hafren project.  In 2012 Ludo made the round britain trip in a Wayfarer, see  http://www.loveludo.com/  We followed the trip around in real time and watched Ludo get just about the worst summer weather we have seen, but he persevered, reported with humour, and he made it, at the tender age of 21.  Watch this space. 

Round Britain IN A LASER DINGHY!

On Friday, 14th March, 2014 Jeremy, Phil and Rob went to Clevedon Sailing Club to listen to Ron Pattenden talk about his circumnavigation in a Laser. Yes, that's right - in a LASER! He did the trip in 2004, unsupported, in 149 days, averaging 35 miles per day. Only 94 days were actually spent on the water, as Ron sensibly sat out spells of bad weather on shore, but it is still an incredible feat of endurance and tenacity.

Ron is clearly a bit of an eccentric. Having had to give up playing squash reasonably competitively due to a torn Achilles' tendon, he took up running, starting with half marathons, and ending up doing a 145 ultra marathon. He enjoys his own company, and likes to take on challenges, and this one was to raise money for the prostate cancer charity following his father's death from the disease. He had sailed Lasers for some time, and thought their simplicity and comparative speed, lightness and simplicity suited his plans. He laminated sections from an AA four mile to the inch road map for use as his charts, and set off from Pevensey Bay on 1st May, carrying a compass, tent, sleeping bag, food and cooker in watertight bags strapped to the foredeck. He finished the voyage, having included the fearsome Pentland Firth and Cape Wrath on the 26th September.

It was an excellent and entertaining talk, and gave Jeremy and Phil a lot of food for thought. Their trip is planned very differently due to the two month time slot they have available in their work schedules, and this requires longer passages between breaks to recover. Although they will reply on GPS and charts for navigation, the idea of a roadmap to see how close landing sites are to roads and villages is a good one if the support crews are going to be able to get to them to provide help.

Ron's book is called 'Land on my right', and is highly recommended.

 

What happens if the boat turns over at sea, fully loaded with our gear??

Capsize Practice was on Dec 22 , at Oldbury, in daylight with Force 3 wind and air temp maybe 8 degrees, sea about 5 degrees.  There was no sea and the wind came up to force 5 during the practice.  Mainsail had one reef in.  We had 10kg of water carried high on each side under gunnels at widest point, and 10kg water in stern locker.

We put the boat onto a reach, then moved to leeward and tumbled in to the gap between boom and hull.  The boat turned turtle in maybe 20 seconds.  Completely upside down, Phil had little difficulty getting to the centre board, which we had tied internally so it would not go completely back into the centre board case.  The righting lines helped Phil and he got the boat righting towards him, with mast pointing up wind.  Jeremy went round the back but lost contact with the boat and pulled back in on his hardness line.  When the mast became level with the water Jeremy got to the gunnel  on the windward side;

Jeremy:  I could have got scooped in but I wanted to be sure I stopped a roll over after righting, so I hung onto the windward side.  With the boat up right I climbed over the gunnel  at the widest point.  Not easy.  Water level was near top of board case but not over it.  We got going and in 11 minutes the water was clear, with Phil's bucketing contributing strongly to the job the bailers did.  Inside the boat was a mess of halyards, sheets, painter: these all need simple elastic stowage. The reefed mainsail came up with maybe 30kg of water in its fold, making getting under the boom in the first tack hard for the helmsman.  Tying in the reefing tidy lines would have prevented this.  Even full up the boat tacked fine because she carries her way. The harnesses are a pain but necessary.  We’ll need personal torches each that we can get at in a capsize to help safety line management in the dark. Letting go the kicker, genny and mainsheet is instinctive - not sure it’s necessary but it can only help, so let's keep it in the drill. Our harness lines are 3m, which is plenty – a crimp held in tape might keep some excess out of the way, or we stuff spare into our pockets. Both bow and stern tanks were dry afterwards, but then the water level maybe does not get up to the bow tank hatch cover level?

Phil: With water in the boat it sloshed from side to side if the boat heeled reducing the stability of the boat. (this is known as the free surface affect). In larger waves this could lead to a second capsize. Getting rid of the water quickly would be essential. Also in reality we may be carrying twice the weight in the boat however as this is below the centre of gravity and is close to the capsized centre of buoyancy it is unlikely to have a significant effect on the characteristics of the boat.

Start time fixed

The start date has been fixed for Saturday 31 May, 1215 from Weymouth. The and we aim to get around clockwise as swiftly as good seamanship permits

Wayfaring in Darkness

Phil Kirk and I continue to gain Wayfarer voyaging experience, this time with a two-night sail, which turned out to be 40 hours.  We chose Lyme Bay as relatively benign, thinking that if things went badly we’d be on Chesil beach, with a long walk home, and we left from Weymouth , to add a serious tidal gate, in this case Portland Bill.

Arriving early on a Friday morning at Weymouth Sailing Club, we threaded along the narrow waterfront to the club compound and were ready to go two hours later at 1040; so much kit to cram in!

Portland Bill is worthy of note; you may know it.  The headland extends six miles south of Weymouth, channelling  the water in Lyme bay to the west and Poole bay to the east to go around it on each tidal cycle.  From the almanac:

“South of the Bill lies Portland Race in which severe and very dangerous sea states occur. Even in settled weather it should be carefully avoided by small craft.......The Race occurs at the confluence of two strong tidal streams which at springs run S down each side of the Isle of Portland for almost 10 out of 12 hours. These streams meet the main E-W stream of the Channel, producing large eddies on either side of Portland Bill and a highly confused sea state with heavy overfalls in the Race. The irregular contours of the sea-bed, which shoals rapidly from depths of about 100m some 2M south of the Bill to as little as 10m on Portland Ledge 1M further N, greatly contribute to the violence of the Race. Portland Ledge strongly deflects the flow of water upwards.....The Race normally extends about 2M S of the Bill, but further S in bad weather. The Race can be avoided by passing to seaward of it, i.e. 3-5M S of the Bill; or by using the inshore passage if conditions suit.
This passage offers relatively smooth water between 1ca and 3ca off the Bill (depending on wind). Do not use it in onshore winds >F4/5, nor at night under power due to pot floats.....From W or E, start close inshore at least 2M N of the Bill to utilise the S-going stream; hug the Bill to avoid being set into the Race.”

We were considering sailing within the race,  to gain that experience.  In an email exchange, the Weymouth Lifeboat Coxswain, Andy Sargent, had these sage words to veto that notion:  “ You are no doubt aware of the difference with the seas in the 'Race' as opposed to other open water.  In the Race the water moves, not just the energy. The seas associated with this area can achieve well in excess of 15' and coming from different directions. You are correct in stating the depth of water is such that your mast may not bottom when a capsize occurs, & that the tide will eventually take you clear, however the time in these conditions would not be  pleasurable to say the least!

Maybe it was the “when a capsize”, rather than “if” that swung it.  So, avoid the race and take the inshore passage.   Hug the Bill it says, so that’s what we did, and beat into a light south westerly, a few hundred metres from the shore, then closer as we reached the Bill.  With wind on the nose at just 8 knots and three knots of foul tide, the beat around the end meant several short tacks to within a few metres of the rocks with not much progress. .  We did that thing where you arrive back with the same guy fishing from the shore, several tacks in a row.  Soon enough we were into Lyme bay, fog arrived and the visibility dropped to a few hundred metres.

During the day it was sunny and warm and at one point the was no wind.  A Sadler 32, motor sailing across Lyme Bay came to investigate us.  “What are you doing out here in a Wayfarer” – a cue for lots of flippant responses.  We should have got them to take a photo of us.

We drifted in circles without steerage and a light breeze came up as darkness fell.

For me, sailing at night is intense spiritual joy.  I paraphrase a recent feature in Yachting Monthly: Between the sun dipping in the west, and its opulent rise in the east, everything is transformed.   The soft wind sings on your skin.  Senses heighten .  Away from land’s gauzy dazzle, you’re an outsider, a nomad, with a quest beneath a billion starts that gossip in galaxies as shooting starts slide and shriek across the majestic roof of night.   Ships become a complex choreography of lights , light houses sweep and wink across this private cosmos. The sense of being away from it all , living an adventure, is utterly exquisite.  In a dinghy the experience is greater still.

We had a quiet night, saw a few fishing vessels and not much else, and slowly went west.

Lights.  Nope, we don’t have lights.  As a vessel under 7m we don’t require them, but that’s not the reason.  In practice, in benign conditions, we can see and hear for miles,.  At any close encounter we can light up the sails with one of the torches, and we have white flares to hand.  Does a Wayfarer have any sort of a radar signature?  Should we have a radar reflector, maybe combined with a masthead float?  AIS ?  Any views?

Our core voyaging question is “So how long can one stay aboard a Wayfarer, and what are the limiting factors? “  The answer seems  “indefinitely; limited by supplies...as long as you can sleep.”.   So it’s about sleep.  We already know one cannot sleep on the first night- we’re too excited, but on this trip we got about 5 hours each, lying on a Karrimat in our oilskins.   We are agreed to cut out the thwart sometime soon, to make sleeping easier.  So on a longer trip, what proportion of the time is going to be within the sleep-able envelope, which we now know to be force three or less, and if it’s on the nose, no short chop?  Then again, if you are tired enough maybe you can sleep in any conditions?

Fishing did not go well.  The drag of the mackerel line was enough to think how it must be slowing us.  We stopped testing the weight of the line for a couple of hours; when we pulled it in there was one small mackerel, and the weight and all the other feathers were gone.  Chucked him back.  Need to think harder about this before sushi becomes regular Wayfarer fare.

Cooking and hot drinks on board is working well; the single burner aluminium box stove we’ve swung under the thwart works in almost all conditions.  We even had a cold beer when it was sunny.

I have been successful in keeping scurvy at bay.  I got Phil to join me in eating a fresh lime, and without any Tequila.

This length of trip necessitated bodily functions that.... [section deleted, photo rejected, Ed.]...and felt much better for it.

Next day we made landfall at Start Point, about 60 miles from Weymouth.  We’d only been 25 miles offshore, but from such a low position the horizon is pretty close.   We battled the tide on to Prawle point and into the entrance to Salcombe, then it was time to return, if we were to make the tidal gate at Portland.  A much faster passage back; Phil has found us a 5O5 spinnaker and has made a nice over-length pole in carbon.  A lovely set-up.  Half way across the bay it became clear we might make an earlier tidal window at Portland – but in the dark, not daylight as planned.

Same Portland plan as before; close with the Bill at least two miles north of the end, then sail down and around, hugging the rocks.  The wind was dead astern and strong enough for the boat to surf, with a three or four foot sea building.  The latest forecast had said (what, Phil?).  We took the kite down to slow down a bit, then back up when we redid our tidal calculations and realised we need the speed.  Next puzzle:  how close to the beach are we?  It was a black night, but the lights of Weymouth town and Portland were obvious.  We have a brilliant GPS/chart plotter, and we mark positions hourly on the plastic cover over a paper chart, but it’s interesting to estimate.   At the point I thought I could hear the surf, Garmin says 3.6 miles still to go!  The clever light on Portland flashes 4 every 10 seconds, until you get nearer the Bill from the West, then it has sectors, which take the flashing down progressively from four to three to two, and at one, it’s time to turn.  Whilst the spinnaker allowed us to close fast with the land to meet the tidal gate requirements, when it came down we needed the first reef.  Phil has optimised the reef lines and cleats with a skiff sailor’s eye to efficiency , and this reefing is now easy, even n the dark, downwind, with a sea running.

I must say the rounding felt dramatic.  We could not see but certainly could hear the race boiling away to the south, and we judged distance off the end with the GPS.   This was a fast reach, so the challenge was navigating, rather than sailing. One moment the lighthouse was a dot of light, next moment it’s a robust dalek with us sneaking past beneath its eye line.

Arrived Weymouth at 0330, a Saturday night.  A few revellers were left on the seafront and some snoggging was getting done on the pier.  We coasted in as it got light.  The club was locked up but we found another slipway and were gone by 0600.  Driving back after so little sleep is probably the most hazardous part of these trips.

As a last word, we entreat you to use the Coastguard’s CG66 registration and then passage notification, if you aren’t already.  This free registration on their data base is the modern equivalent of leaving a note on the windscreen.  When notifying them of a passage, either by phone or VHF, with us they are courteous and helpful, if sometimes incredulous, when we respond to “what length is your vessel?”.

Conservative Decisions

Distance: 46 miles

Time: 21 hours

After leaving Dale in light winds and wall to wall sunshine we passed through the tricky tidal Jack and Ramsey sounds. These sounds contain dangerous rocks and overfalls and tides run at 5-6 knots. Got a cheer from a fishing boat who said “Not often we see that done under sail – have a great trip”. Good navigation ensures a successful passage. After passing through jack sound we were congratulated by a local fisherman who said 'you don't normally see people do that one under sail.  Well done guys!  After passing through the larger but no less easier Ramsey sound we were into Cardigan Bay. The light winds meant we made only 15 miles in 8 hours and the spinnaker would only set  if we sailed angles to the wind. The 10:50 inshore water forecast predicted force 5-6 winds.  At night that is scarry and beyond what we had experience in the wayfarer.  We elected to turn back to Fishguard instead of carrying on. Only a 15 mile beat.  As we closed with the shore the wind swung to the east and we felt that Newport would offer greater shelter.  We learnt the hard way that Newport is not a port and at low water there is no depth the get even a wayfarer up the river.  We retreated to Fishguard and headed to the Fishguard Bay Sailing Club harbour and tided up.  Through our routers we were taken in by members of the sailing club Roger and  Gail Strawbridge  ready for the next leg. 

Escape from Cardigan Bay

Distance: 72 miles

Time: 23 hours

We rose at dawn and our host Roger Strawbridge took us and all our kit to the boat in Fishguard Bay Yacht Club Harbour.  Once everything was packed we cast off the mooring and Roger towed us to the harbour entrance with his fishing boat. Thanks to their hospitality we were prepared for the leg to Holyhead in front of us.  There was little wind to start with so we paddled North until it filled in.  Soon we had the spinnaker up and were making progress in the right direction. This was our second attempt at crossing Cardigan Bay and we wanted to achieve it this time. The winds remained light but we were making enough progress that we might make the tidal gate at Bardsey sound. If we missed this we would be forced to wait a further 6 hours in the dark on an exposed anchorage.  Through the afternoon we got some sleep had happy hour. This is where we listen to one of Jeremy’s audio books. In the middle of a bay there isn’t anything but sea to look at.  

Finally Bardsey Island came into view.  The time between spotting land and getting to it always feels longer than it is.  With the tide with us and the wind freshening a little we picked up speed and were surfing down waves.  Our increased pace made it look like we would get through the sound in time. In fact we just made it and had to fight our way through the turning tide to get round the corner and into Canarvon Bay.  While our pace had been slowed we were still surfing waves and held on to the spinnaker until a rain squall hit us. The rain came first and then the wind.  The boat was haring along and in control but required more concentration than we had.  We quickly got the kite down and put two reefs in making the boat manageable to sail. We had no deadline to meet so there was no need to rush and make mistakes.  The seas off Holyhead were quite confused and were bouncing the boat about a lot. We made our final landfall in Holyhead marina as dawn was breaking. The Marina kindly waved the fees.  We were very well looked after by David Batty and his wife enabling us to spend some time planning the next leg or two.  The weather looks promising for Monday when we will be sailing to the Isle of Man and Wednesday- Friday when we will hopefully get another long leg in.  

Escape from Cardigan Bay

Distance: 72 miles

Time: 23 hours

We rose at dawn and our host Roger Strawbridge took us and all our kit to the boat in Fishguard Bay Yacht Club Harbour.  Once everything was packed we cast off the mooring and Roger towed us to the harbour entrance with his fishing boat. Thanks to their hospitality we were prepared for the leg to Holyhead in front of us.  There was little wind to start with so we paddled North until it filled in.  Soon we had the spinnaker up and were making progress in the right direction. This was our second attempt at crossing Cardigan Bay and we wanted to achieve it this time. The winds remained light but we were making enough progress that we might make the tidal gate at Bardsey sound. If we missed this we would be forced to wait a further 6 hours in the dark on an exposed anchorage.  Through the afternoon we got some sleep had happy hour. This is where we listen to one of Jeremy’s audio books. In the middle of a bay there isn’t anything but sea to look at.  

Finally Bardsey Island came into view.  The time between spotting land and getting to it always feels longer than it is.  With the tide with us and the wind freshening a little we picked up speed and were surfing down waves.  Our increased pace made it look like we would get through the sound in time. In fact we just made it and had to fight our way through the turning tide to get round the corner and into Canarvon Bay.  While our pace had been slowed we were still surfing waves and held on to the spinnaker until a rain squall hit us. The rain came first and then the wind.  The boat was haring along and in control but required more concentration than we had.  We quickly got the kite down and put two reefs in making the boat manageable to sail. We had no deadline to meet so there was no need to rush and make mistakes.  The seas off Holyhead were quite confused and were bouncing the boat about a lot. We made our final landfall in Holyhead marina as dawn was breaking. The Marina kindly waved the fees.  We were very well looked after by David Batty and his wife enabling us to spend some time planning the next leg or two.  We have now covered 368 miles of the 1483 planned distance.  The weather looks promising for Monday when we will be sailing to the Isle of Man and Wednesday- Friday when we will hopefully get another long leg in.