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Friday 29th Sept - My self and Ian, Sand Point/Steep Holm. 8.4 miles.
After the huge gale on the mooring - I was promising myself to get out on some of the mid-day tides. I have never taken the dingy out from the WBYC clubhouse on the beach. Its the only place to launch on the estuary at three hours before HW. I can then get to the boat before it floats - and be ready for off as soon as poss.
Its a help to commit yourself to go out - I put it off too often when its only me to please ! Picked Ian up at 7am in Bristol.
Next problem - Uphill beach has a security gate - and we were not quite sure when it opened. Eight am saw the beach man open up. I can get a key to this, since WBYC premises are beyond the gate on the beach.
Slipping, literally, on the clubs wooden dingy slip was quite easy - its very steep, ecpecially when the water is low. Had Lena off her mooring and headed down the Axe before nine.
Morning was quite fair, considering the heavy rain forcast - with strengthening winds later in the day. Just a bit of rain going to the boat. We had virtually no wind - but headed out into a surprising swell for such a calm sea, holding the line of the channel into deeper water.
The incoming tide seems to swirl clockwise around Weston Bay - and I think backs up on itself aginst the tidal stream eastwards across two headlands. As soon as we motored further out it was like a millpond - strange.
We took out the reef - full sail, then sat there while they flapped to and fro, this way and that, very slowly virtually a dead calm.
KIlled the engine anyway - and slowly we were picking up enough breeze for about 2 - 3 kts. Since we were on the top of the tide, drifted our way up close inshore past Birnbeck Pierhead and Sand bay/ Sand Point.
Lovely morning though, very good vis - so Ian was able to show me the distant coastal landmarks associated with Cardiff/Penarth Head, Newport etc - even had the sun shining on Exmoor on the distant horizon SW of Steep Holm.
About 10.30 we brought her round and into the now increased wind - heading out toward Steep Holm. Gave the auto pilot a better test - sorted out a better way to get it up and running - and it performed well. We now had about12 kts on a close haul and it kept us spot on with just occasional, brief activity.
Weather was definately on its way though - and by the time we headed back on to the course for the Axe - were picking up the odd gust of of 18 kts. Dropped sails, engine on about 12.05, hour after HW - and entered the river about 12.15.
Wouldn't want to leave it much later than oneand a half after HW - not on a 9.9 m tide - there seems to be a shelf just as you hit the main river channel alongside Black Rock - had a min depth there of 2.4 m, yet just a little further in had 5.5 m. I don't particularly like seeing 2.4 on a falling tide !
Great day - beat the weather ( pouring rain driving home ) - sorted out the launching at the beach. Must sort out a key though - mainly now for getting out again after 6pm. Cetainly the place to access the mooring from if you're after a sail on the same tide. Gives you a good three hours out - maybe more on 11 or 12m tide so can take advantage of any decent late season weather - or even midwinter days. Depends on whether she stays on the river all winter - maybe will bring her up to the Yard pontoons for a few months - or even take her out.
Realised that I really should get up in the mornings and get out there when weather and tides are right. We had three hours plus sailing and were back in Bristol by 2 pm.