Wednesday, 26 August 2009

A long sail to Cardiff

Our wet, windy day ended up being spent doing some boat work. We managed to detect the leak in the water system (a pipe had come off it’s connection) and fixed the bilge pump. While Rob, Paul, Jo and I where in and out of Scarlet’s bilges, the rest of the crew were off to the shops to provision for a couple days at sea. Unfortunately we weren’t done in time for the lifeboat visit, so ended up going ten pin bowling instead. The boys were on much better form than the girls, with Ben cleaning up in the first round, and Paul taking the lead on the second with an impressive double strike.
With a break in the weather we departed Pwllhele just before high tide on Monday morning. We set sail past Abersoch, were there was a bit of keel boat racing going on. Unfortunately for us, the wind was coming from exactly where we wanted to go, so it was a rather horrible decision to put the motor on and motor sail down to St David’s Head. We didn’t quite get as much tide with us as I thought we might, so ended up punching the tide to the corner. It was hilarious, we ended up doing no more than about 2.5kts past Strumble Head Light House (our boat speed was more than double that), but at least it was a good evening with a pretty sunset and great views of the coastline.
Finally, in the early hours of the morning, the tide turned in our favour and we started screaming down the Bristol Channel. It was fantastic when the engine finally got turned off, and we were sailing at about 8kts, with speeds of 10kts over the ground. We had all settled into our watch system by then, and my early morning watch was particularly beautiful. With good wind, favourable tide and clear skies, it was pretty much perfect sailing (with the odd passing squall). Sadly, as it always will, the tide turned again later in the day bringing our great progress to a halt (thankfully I was catching up on some sleep at this time), but we finally made our way up the muddy Bristol Channel and into Cardiff bay by 6pm. The locks are really impressive, even more so as we arrived shortly after low tide, so the water was really low – about a 10m rise in the locks. Certainly the largest locks I have ever been through. We did have to make our way quite carefully up the channel as although theoretically we had water, as we discovered in Liverpool, things do have a tendency to silt up with shifting mud. But, on a rising tide and slowly creeping in, we had loads of room.
Paul and Vicky did a great job of creating a poem, which is brilliant. Ben was also the sleeping champion of the leg.
Once we were in, everyone got stuck into cleaning Scarlet up and getting her sorted after 33hrs at sea.
We’re now in Penarth Marina and are due into Cardiff Bay Yacht Club this afternoon, where Skandia will be waiting to welcome us in again. Looking forward to a great afternoon, and hopefully this ominous looking cloud gives us a little break.
Off to have some breakfast now, cheerio. Cath

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