Sunday, 12 August 2012

Gone Abroad – Sorry no photos

I’m sitting in the Creek Inn, overlooking the harbour in Peel, IOM. That’s it. We're really committed now – no driving up the Mn * with the trailer to fetch Vagabond home – we would have serious water to cross as we found yesterday.
 I had left you, dear reader (there is at least one of you, that I know)with Vagabond in the marina at Holyhead, on the Isle of Anglesey (it doesn’t count as an Island really having been connected to Wales by a bridge built by that great, early Victorian road and bridge builder Thomas Telford**).
I digress. We had a day off in Holyhead, shorts and T shirt weather as it was, preparing ourselves for the crossing to the Isle of Man. (My apologies to Manx people – I spelt their island incorrectly in the last post). It was of the order of 60 miles from Hoyhead to the nearest port on Man. Port Erin is a little town, with a small harbour for locals and a couple of “rough iron”  buoys for visitors that were protected from winds in all directions except the West.  A bit further on (up the Wesy Coast of Man) is Peel, with a gated harbour, giving good shelter from all directions.  But the gate means there is only a small window when the harbour can be entered. It would be the ideal destination.
The forecast was for E to SE winds F4 or 5 occasionally six later. Not ideal but, I thought, if the 6’s were only occasional, probably acceptable. At least we’d get there quickly. Then there are the tides to cope with – on the ebb, Liverpool bay empties to the SE across the gap between the Isles of Man and Anglesey. On the flood, it fills from the SW. The journey should take about 12 hours, so be roughly tide neutral. Simple – course due north. But we had to arrive at High Water – this meant leaving at 05:30 (again).
We left at about 6 o’clock, despite having made the sandwiches the night before. Two other yachts were going the same way.
The sail across the harbour and out into the bay was delightful, good wind and smooth water. The we were becalmed. On came Freddie but he soon went off again as we moved out of the wind shadow of a local hill.
We had thirty minutes of reasonable wind (F4) just behind the starboard beam and flew along. Then the wind strengthened and I took in a reef. We flew along again. Thirty minutes later it strengthened again so I took in the second reef. Over the next hour, the wind continued to strengthen. Moreover, this wind had been blowing across the width of Liverpool bay (50 or so miles) and had built up an eight foot swell from the same direction. The boat needed even less sail, so then only thing to do was roll up the job. And here’s where the trouble hit. I couldn’t fully roll up the jib and it fluttered uncontrollably, shaking the mast and the boat. I can to let it down into the sea and then recover it. Lifelines on, I clwed my way onto the foredeck and pulled in the jib, lashing it down with the dinghy lashings. All of this took place in a shipping separation lane but at least Vagabond was now under control and I only saw one ship when I was on the foredeck. She was taking spray over the foredeck and occasionally into the cockpit. One wave went down the campanionway hatch so I belatedly raised the spray hood.  
Whilst all this was taking place I lost track of the other two yachts and I never saw them again. I wonder if they had turned back. I considered doing so but thought it would be as bad going back as it would have been going on, so went on.
I also noticed that I had lost something else in the kerfuffle. The windex had been shaken off the mast by the pounding from the jib. I'll need to buy some wool and tie it to the shrouds.
And so we continued, making a steady 4 to 5 knots over the ground, sterring north and tracking first to the west and then to the east as the tide turned. Towards tea time *** the wind eased a bit and I raised the jib again.
At 17:30, we sighted the Calf of Man, the small island at the southern end of Man. It was 5 miles away. I had intended to take a short cut through the sound between the small island and the mainland but realised that the wind would be being funnelled  straight down it, so chose not to do so. I was glad we hadn’t gone that route, four when we crossed the other end of the sound, the wind was stronger than ever. By now it was too late to get to Peel, so I turned into the shelter of Port Erin and eventually (and thankfully) made fast to one of their visitors buoys. 55 miles at 4.7 knots.
I cleaned up the cabin, ate my sandwiches and fell into my bunk. It was about eight pm and I didn’t wake until just before daylight. I caught a snippet of a forecast - SW winds, some where nearby. This harbour wouldn't be safe in those conditions and I realised that, if we left immediately we could probably get to Peel whilst the harbour gate was open. We managed to leave at just after 05:30 and were in Peel (thanks to Freddie) just before 8, so caught the gate before it shut. I fell into my bunk again and surfaced at midday.

No sign of the other two yachts: I wonder if they turned back when I was not looking
Now, where shall we go in Northern Ireland?

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