July Cruise 2016 - Weston, Ilfracombe, Oxwich, Swansea - home via Kenfig, Tusker Nash Passage.
Our options for returning were several. Sunday up to Cardiff or Barry - then Mon sail around for a day sail to end up on the evening tide at Weston ( about 11.30 ) Or - come out LW tuesday, direct for a midday HW Weston.
As it was - things at home prevailed a bit and we decided to go direct to Weston Bay Sunday - taking the inshore passage of Port Talbot, Kenfig, Porthcawl, Tusker Rk - Nash PAssage.
That way - one can get all the way to Nash before LW - little tide against you in there. So we gain 17 m E of Swansea before the flood tide up channel. Weston HW was 2250 - and I could get to my berth around 1950 - so just daylight.
Not the greatest fo decisions in hindsight. Chose the worst day of the week.
Leave 10.20 or so in heavy rain - warm but very wet ! It does not clear. What wind is on the nose - so motor. Rains all the way to the start of Nash passage. It then clears a little - backs to the SW to W - so we sail through Nash. Slight sea - good sail there. All seems good for a pleasing trip home - Hmm !
Wind goes W and increases ( inshore forecast on radio local thundery low, W 5 -6 ) Seas build.
We are still sailing full main and jib - and the seas are getting larger and larger behind us. It is all going our way though ! By Culver sands its getting steeper and we are making nearly 10 kts.
After after a few worrying 'screwballs' - we drop the main. Luckily my simple downhaul line - although far from pretty will drag the main down without heading to wind ! We couldn't have headed to windward. It stuck a bit - fairly low down - but it got it down and bunched tight from the cockpit line.
Motored then with the jib - easier to keep the boat stern on to the seas.
Really pretty scary just SW of Steep Holm - and just before the ' line' between the end of Brean Down and Steep holm. Always bad there at the best of times. The influence of Bridgewater Bay flowing out toward Steep Holm messes things up. Once past the end of Brean Down - although very confused, the seas state tends to flatten a bit ( maybe from the shelter of Steep Holm ) then once into the outer reaches of Weston Bay it goes back to rolling swells - more predictable.
Once into the Bay - ie past the end of Brean Down/Birnbeck old pierhead - you will have at least 3.5m at half tide - so some solace even if rough. You also have the access to the river Axe available from 'about' 2 1/2 hrs before HW. ( low pressure just do-able at halftide - around 3m depth around the three red cans at the inner end of Brean Down )
We crash into the middle of Weston Bay at more or less half tide - 1950. Bay is rough but not too bad, We now have at least half an hour to kill before we can get into the river. Go right in to 2.5m - still heaving around - so motor out into the seas across to Birnbeck Pier for a while - run back with them on the stern. Get fed up - so have a look at the entrance buoys. Maybe the low pressure has given us an extra 0.5m water - 2210 at the red cans - depth 3.4 ( good ) around at 2.5m - at Black rock port/starboard cans we have 1.5 ( ok - all flat water here now ) we are in the river.
Now - just when all shuld be fine and rosey ... !
We have about 1 1/2 hrs to kill now untill I can get up the my berth at Uphll pontoons. Was going to my river mooring further up ( should have ) - but decide to raft alongside a friends boat in the river nr the boat club. Underestimating how fast the river is going at that state of the tide - going alongside I reverse to try to halt the boat and the stern kicks over and I hook my rudder around his mooring lines !
After a long hard day this was not a great way to round it off ! We eventually managed to extracate ourselves by 2150 ( luckily he had a pair of bow mooring warps - so we could release one at a time. I had to extend the last one with one of my lines to make it fast. I left him a note to explain.
All a bit trying - when we are tired. You don't think straight. Anyway - we got off.
Exactly right time for swanning into the Uphill Pill. Nearly dark - nav lights on. This stretch of water has never seemed so freindly - nice state of the tide too. 10.6m or so. The channel is then very clearly defined - the small cans are showing ( higher they flood under ! ) - just get the last bend right.
Always best before HW - especially in the dark.
Straight in on my berth - we are in ! - Epic day.
We have our own ways. Ian went up for a shower - I just tried to make some sence of the mess of the boat ! What with three hours crashing around at sea - then grabbing lines and tools etc trying to free the rudder - it was a awesome mess down below.
Just half hour straightening everthing wound me down a bit.
Sorted out - I cooked bacon and eggs and tomatoes - with steamed treacle puddings for afters with clotted cream. We still manage to eat well.
Stay aboard the night - breakfast and drive back to Bristol.
Sleep for a couple of days !
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