Saturday, August 21, 2010

Off to Wales

[Kyle] We’d been in Preston for almost a month now and were eager to get in one more cruise before the short British Season ended. We had to wait the better part of a week for the winds to give us a break and allow us a reasonable chance at crossing the Irish Sea without getting beaten up too badly.

It didn’t work. We left with a tailwind and following seas and still managed to suffer quite a bit of pounding, which gradually improved the further we got from the shallow coast at the entrance to the River Ribble.

Our early afternoon departure with the high tide meant that we ended up sailing well into the night to get anywhere. Our groundspeed was looking pretty good while we were being flushed out with the tide. For a while, it looked like we may even make it to Wales by midnight. Then the wind started to die off just as the flood current began and we pretty much stopped. We did actually go backwards briefly a couple of times, but mostly we spent the next few hours sailing as hard as we could so that we could manage just under a knot over the seabed.

Our sea passage involved plenty of obstacles such as this one - hopefully this time our passage won't be followed up by a visit from the anti-terrorism squad! Yes, just ask Kyle next time you see him.

At Carmel Head at the northwest tip of Anglesey, we passed through the channel at the Skerries. It was real nail-biting stuff. It was pitch black, the currents, although, dying, were swirling in all kinds of crazy directions, and all of the navigation lights were hard to discern from one another. There were several times when our track over the bottom was 70° from the direction we were pointed. I can only imagine the difficulty with which pre-electronic shipping must have had with these waters. The number of wrecks on the chart attest to this.

Anywho, we made it through okay, although the hour was starting to get to us. We pulled into Holyhead, Wales (and out of the current) just before 4am, passing what we later learned was the longest break wall in the world at the time it was built and still remains the longest in Europe.

Not sure where exactly to go, we tied up at an open spot on the exposed outside of the main pontoon, where we did an abbreviated securing of the boat. When it came time to put the drive leg up, we were unable to get it to raise. I asked Maryanne to give the release handle a pull while I hung off of the back of the transom and released the catch manually, which is sometimes necessary when it has been a little too long since giving everything a good greasing. Still no luck. Eventually, Maryanne brought me a light and I could see that the lifting ram had somehow broken off of the drive leg and was dangling free, meaning that the drive leg was effectively stuck down all of the time now. It was much too late for us to worry about it, so we headed inside for the night and fell into fitful sleep. The marina would be open in a few hours and we would probably have to get up to check in or otherwise run the risk of having somebody knock on the boat and rouse us from a deep sleep, then start peppering us with questions and instructions which are always hard to follow in a groggy half-sleep.

In the morning, I had another look at the drive leg. It turned out not to be too serious. A bracket that joined the hydraulic lifting ram to the leg with a couple of screws had broken at the weld. It was a simple £26 part. I called Sillete and asked the guy to next-day it to us at our next stop. There was a long, confused silence on the other end of the line. I then realized my mistake. All mail in the UK is delivered the next day. Nevermind.


Mommy Dearest said...

Next day on everything? HA--can't even imagine that.

I'm going to read ALL the Wales entries, even if it takes me way past my bedtime ;-)

Happy Cat said...

You'll have to let us know how you fixed the drive leg lifting. I'm always having to release the catch with a pole so Geoffrey can get it raised.