newbie sailing wales

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Mike H
YF Newbie
Posts: 9
Joined: Fri Aug 22, 2014 9:31 pm

newbie sailing wales

Post by Mike H »

Good morning chaps,

Ive recently converted to sailing after a lifetime playing with powered craft, I'm learning a lot fast having had only a couple of small trips out and a play in a friends dinghy.

The boat came to me pretty rotten, full of water with some bits missing. I've rebuilt the lot on a tight budget and its looking quite nice. The boat was owned by a charity that I support and they made the decision they couldn't find the time or funds for the project.

I'm hooked on sailing and I'm sure I'll be doing some travelling if I ever get to retirement but for now I'd like to plan my own little adventure. My thinking is to attempt to solo navigate the whole Welsh coast in one go. There's some obvious challenges here, the 2 biggest being my lack of experience and the size of the boat... a 15ft sunspot 15. I'd like to do this next summer in aid of the charity that owned the boat and am quite confident that I can raise a meaningful sum.

Can anyone offer me any advice? Feasibility, time scale, other problems? I'm thinking I'll be avoiding marinas to save on cost, I'll just be popping ashore a few times in my 20 something year old avon inflatable.

I don't suppose there are any experienced sailors in the north wales/Liverpool area that would be willing to help me plan the route?

Thanks,

Mike.

Jeff
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Post by Jeff »

Hi Mike. Welcome to the forums!

Sounds like an excellent adventure!

Given the right conditions (easterlies) it could be a quite quick and pleasant trip, but could be quite serious in the wrong weather.

We have an old Avon. They're bomb proof and excellent. Row surprisingly well. Good choice!

Our own experience of that stretch of Coast was when we sailed non stop from Strangford Loch to Milford Haven and then after a 2 hour break, on to Padstow. Weather was friendly and fine, I think we were lucky. I do recall a lot of useful looking anchorages in the entrance to Milford haven which you'd probably be able to use.

Hopefully someone with more useful experience will come along and give you some more pointers.
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Mike H
YF Newbie
Posts: 9
Joined: Fri Aug 22, 2014 9:31 pm

Post by Mike H »

Thanks Very Much Jeff,

I think I'd be very lucky to get easterlies, much more likely to be from the west. I used to take RIB's out in seas nearly twice their size just for fun... whole different game in a small blowboat.

The Avon is a cracker, old and battered but still serving a purpose. Came very cheap much like the rest of the project.

I know the waters well from Bardsey to Cricceth (although I was thinking of cutting straight down to Aberystwyth) and reasonably well from the sw end of the Menai to Bardsey (which offers few points of shelter after Morfa Nefyn). People have mentioned that the waters around Anglesey are a bit dicey but it all depends on weather I suppose? I was hoping to go round Anglesey. What's the coast like around Milford Haven? does it look reasonably forgiving and straight forward to navigate? I'm guessing the waters will get busy in the Bristol Channel?

With regards to time, It looks like a week to 9 days for a little boat if I don't get the winds I want. I am thinking I could get in at least 12hours per day.

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Post by Jeff »

Hi mike.

Unless you get the rare but perfect easterlies you're going to really struggle to find many anchorages at the end of each of your 12 hour shifts. That's not to say you can't anchor, but i don't suspect it'll be very calm and conducive to sleep every night. You might have to do some days much less than 12 hours and some much more in order to coincide the trip with good places to stop off.

I'm sure you intend to but of course you shouldn't even contemplate this trip without having some knowledge or even RYA qualifications of basic navigation and chart use. Perhaps if you've not done the RYA day skipper course a local college might do it as a night school course? I'd definitely think that day skipper qualification level would be an absolute minimum level of knowledge. It covers many things including navigation in tidal waters, buoyage, rules of the road, chart use.... Etc etc.

I don't have charts for wales so can't calculate timings. What's the cruising speed of the boat?

If you're not planning to fit some sort of autohelm you're going to be pretty exhausted after a 12 hour sail, helping all the way, followed by a sleepless night in rolly seas. Definitely think about buying or borrowing a tiller pilot. But then you'll also need a battery and possibly a solar panel.

Seas around Milford haven. Lots of rocks and currents to be aware of but in good visibility and pleasant seas and a favourable breeze, no problem if you have the charts and know how to use them. But potentially treacherous otherwise, as is the entire coast. As in any coast really.

But you're going to really have to work the tide once you get into the Bristol Channel proper. Suspect you'll need to anchor mid passage on occasion to avoid going backwards while waiting for the tide to turn on occasion.

All in all a difficult and worthwhile exciting adventure!
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Mike H
YF Newbie
Posts: 9
Joined: Fri Aug 22, 2014 9:31 pm

Post by Mike H »

I'm thinking 12 hours will be an average, I'll be making stops to wait for tides and weather. 24hour days are not uncommon for me at work and I'm expecting some endurance will be needed along the way.

I have a basic knowledge of navigation and charts but was thinking about doing the online day skipper course soon. I'll be using a gps too and probably adding another solar pannel so I can run the fridge and a radio for some tunes. Its only got a small pannel at the moment calculated to supply far a weekend and recover during the week.

I'm not sure a pilot is going to be worthwhile, there's no where else to go on the boat so I may as well be at the helm. Certainly a very expensive bit of kit. Ill just make sure I have food and water close to hand before I set sail each day.

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Post by Jeff »

Sounds like you have it all well in hand then.

It's very hard to navigate with one hand on the tiller and one eye on the bow though. And a tiller pilot can be very useful in an emergency.

They're not actually that expensive either. And they can be resold after the trip too.

Eg.

http://r.ebay.com/cGx0vy
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Mike H
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Joined: Fri Aug 22, 2014 9:31 pm

Post by Mike H »

Thanks Jeff. Been thinking more on the tiller pilot... it would allow me more time for fishing and navigatio/planning would be easier if I could leave the helm for a few minutes. How much power do they use? I know ocean goers steer clear as they use too much.

Rowlands marine electronics in Pwllheli have the simrad for a touch over 300... might go for one and forget the new headsail for next year.

Might try some other forums for a bit of local knowledge too, any you'd suggest?

Thanks.

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Exhausted

Post by Jeff »

I think many use them on ocean passages by also carrying solar and wind power systems. They're quite low consumption, only drawing power when making the required adjustment. But if you only used it for 30 mins now and then, definitely no problem. As you say it would free you up to fish, read, navigate, talk on the phone, and generally enjoy the trip rather than constantly having to be alert. Also would mean you could make longer (poss overnight) passages too without becoming exhausted.

Ideally you'd want some kind of wind vane self steering. But that would cost a bomb probably.

If you post on the ybw forums you will be inundated with advice. Lots. An argument about who is right and wrong will also possibly ensue. Good luck on there! They can be a bunch of wolves! ;)

If you have the time it would be super if you could post updates on your progress in here.
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Mike H
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Posts: 9
Joined: Fri Aug 22, 2014 9:31 pm

Post by Mike H »

Thanks again... some forums can be fun can't they?

Should be okay if I get at least 20watts solar on the go then, though not sure it'd be wise to do night passages without a little more experience and perhaps a more suitable boat.

I'll approach the charity in the coming weeks and see if they're happy with the idea. Of course I'd be happy to keep you updated.

Mike H
YF Newbie
Posts: 9
Joined: Fri Aug 22, 2014 9:31 pm

Post by Mike H »

You really weren't kidding!

12pages in one day and the discussion has included arguments about geography, welsh place names, value of training, sea states, boat sizes and bowel movements at sea! People either think I'll have a great time or die horribly.

I have learnt that I could be optimistic thinking it could be done in 9 days and take more petrol. Sheltered anchorages may be a struggle but given the boat draft and size I should be able to tuck in. Some big tides to get to grips with too. Basically little trouble in fair weather.

http://www.ybw.com/forums/showthread.ph ... a-15footer

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Post by Jeff »

Hehe fantastic response. Must be well worth doing then :)

Has it spurred you on or put you off? What's the plan?
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Mike H
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Post by Mike H »

I need to gain more experience before committing. I'm still very keen but I think I'll do the 20nm to Bardsey and see how I get on.

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Post by Jeff »

Sounds sensible. So does your plan to work through the RYA. Day skipper theory course. There's a heck of a lot of useful information in there.

Best of luck!
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Mike H
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Post by Mike H »

Yeah, mixed views re the RYA course. My thinking is that I like learning and it could be a lifesaver, I'll aim to do the course over the interweb this winter.

A weekend of fair weather and I'll spend the night at Bardsey.

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Post by Jeff »

The nay-sayers on the whole I think were referring to the practical course which as they correctly said, is mostly about 5 blokes mucking about in a 40 footer. I do it a bit of a disservice I think, but there is some truth to that.

The theory course on the other hand as jam packed with essential information. The only navigational methods not included are complex, non essential or useful only to navigating oceans using the stars. It really is quite intensive. I suspect those that have not studied it can get by just fine with a bit of common sense and a modern GPS with electronic charts but they'll likely be missing a lot of very practical information which can make them safer, and allow them to make faster, safer passages by better knowing how to make good use of the currents and conditions.

A good amount of the course for instance teaches you how to plot a course taking into account tidal streams. It's quite literally 'vectors' as studied by most at school in maths. I seriously doubt many people would be able intuit how to do it after simply scanning through a book. The dayskipper course talks you through it step by step. And this particular aspect of navigation will have a more marked effect on a slower boat - so it's really very applicable.

I really enjoyed the course too.
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