Sunday, 30 October 2016

Google Map of anchorages and current position.
We will no longer be using Iridium Go and therefore tracking services will cease. I will however update our position on the map and produce an icon showing our latest anchorage position. The link to Marine Traffic below will also be pretty accurate. 

Monday, 19 September 2016

THE SOLENT, SAILING CAPITAL OF THE UK.

 
The Clipper Fleet resting after their circumnavigation this year.

Portsmouth, Cowes, Southport. all names synonymous with sailing and boating. The Isle of Wight just offshore is a major attraction for the boating populace. Around every bend and behind every breakwater there is another enormous marina bursting to the seams with boats of every description. Just like most places around the world though most of them don't appear to leave the dock. Many just provide an easy income for the Marina within which they reside. Boating seems like a grand idea to many but the hard work and dedication required to actually make it happen is mostly lacking. The result is marinas and moorings choked with forgotten dreams.
Yarmouth, a quaint little village on Isle of Wight.

We have sort of stalled ourselves since Poole, with David and I both getting flue separately. We had also postponed some repairs which we needed to catch up on. Not to mention Weather! 
After a week spent in Poole replacing domestic pumps and fixing sail slugs between heavy rain and squalls, eventually the weather cleared and we left for Portsmouth, stopping in Yarmouth on the Isl of Wight for a night. Its a cute little village and has some nice walking trails. We didn't get to see much of the island however as we need to keep moving. 

The remains of the Mary Rose and some clever graphics

In Portsmouth we went off to the Mary Rose Museum located in the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. The Mary Rose was built on the orders of King Henry VIII and launched in 1511. It was refitted in 1536 after service in wars against  France, Scotland and Brittany. While leading the attack against a French invasion fleet, she sank in the Solent, the straits north of the Isle of Wight. The reason for her sinking remains a mystery as there is insufficient documentation available today to determine the true cause. Conjecture has it that during the battle, with sails hoisted in almost no breeze, suddenly there sprung up a wind and with all her lower gun ports open she healed and filled with water rapidly taking with her a crew of sailors, archers, gunners and an assortment of other specialists, surgeon, trumpeter and officers from the gentry.

Part of the Galley. Rebuilt using all original pieces from aboard.

The Mary Rose remains were re-discovered in 1971 and  recovered from the Solents mud in 1982. About two thirds of one side of the hull was recovered. Other finds include weapons, sailing equipment, naval supplies and a wide array of objects used by the crew  The bones of a total of 179 people were found during the excavations of the Mary Rose, including 92 fairly complete skeletons. Analysis of these has shown that crew members were all male, most of them young adults. Some were no more than 11–13 years old, and the majority (81%) under 30. Loads of cannon, a dog and several rats. Even a flea! How thorough and painstaking was the recovery!!.?? It took years to stabilize the timbers. And 2 years ago she finally went on display. It's a truly amazing effort. Lots of clever projection work showing life aboard. Forensic science has pieced together the lives and faces of the bodies found and we even got to hold a piece of anchor rode which still smelled of tar! It was all buried in an anaerobic mud so was extremely well preserved. The excavation and salvage of the Mary Rose was a milestone in the field of maritime archaeology.
More from Wikipedia on the Mary Rose.
 
The HMS Victory some of the 104 guns aboard.


The HMS Victory also resides in Portsmouth's Historic Dockyard. She is best know as Lord Nelsons battle ship and the one on which he died in the battle of Trafalgar in 1805. She has  been the flagship  of the First Sea Lord since October 2012 and is the oldest naval ship in the world, still in commission. They think it might sink if they put it in the water though! The Dockyard is very big comprehensive and impossible to get round it in the day. At 38 quid each it is expensive so 2 days was out of the question.



Steering repair.
Steering problems surfaced as we attempted to leave Haslar Marina and head to Cowes with friends. The 8mm Stainless Steel steering cable had started shredding itself and threatened to foul the whole shebang! Luckily we had some warning when the steering didn't quite feel right so we picked up a mooring and checked!  Well we then had to set up the emergency tiller. Disable the cables and remove them so as not to foul and limp back to a dock. Jeananne and Ray, English friends we met in Perth (I went to Uni. with Jeananne). We ended up going driving with them to Bosham and lunched in Chitchester, then they drove back to London and we went back to Portsmouth on the train.

On Monday morning David found a rigger and he had cable and the swageing tool so he was back with all the new gear within a couple of hours and several hours it was all rebuilt. We left Portsmouth at 5 pm and anchored of the south coast in very still conditions with a benign forecast, just a little rainy drizzle.



 The season is drawing to a close with Autumn approaching and we would like to be across the Chanel by the end of the month. The destination is loosely Amsterdam.
Well that's about it from the Solent!

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

POOLE. PUDDLE. POND. WET WET WET.

The forecast was only due to hold for two days so we made fast work of the trip to Poole and didn't do any exploring on the way from Dartmouth. Only an overnight anchorage in the big man made harbor at Portland.  
Rounding Portland Bill

Rounding Portland Bill Lighthouse is a trap for unwary sailors and we were warned about the strong current and whirlpools by another yacht which had the misfortune to loose a nice big RIB when it broke loose as it was being towed. The current runs up to 4 knots so getting the wind over current there can be pretty nasty. We had wind with current but both against us which slowed us down but was not unduly rough. We had also chosen a route well south of the worst of the tidal race. Weymouth looks like a nice stop but next time!
 
 Old Harry Rocks (Chalk.)
Once past Old Harry Rocks its a short sail up the dredged channel and into Poole.
The weather, as promised, turned horrid so we were forced to remain in the Pool Quay Boat Haven. Its won lots of awards but the reasons escape me.
Poole itself was something of a disappointment. The towns main pedestrian street is poorly represented and most of the shops appeared to be second hand places. Many were boarded up. We did find a fantastic Indian restaurant. The city itself was heavily bombed during the wars and most of its historic buildings have been demolished and replaced with 50's rubbish. An area out near the bay has reputedly some of the most expensive real estate outside London. There must be something here? Poole Pottery has a long history of designing and creating ceramics and clay is still exported from Poole's busy port.  There is a small museum in town with a good display and history of the Ceramics production.
Brownsea Castle.

Brownsea Island is in the care of the National Trust and has the largest population of rare red squirrels in England. And that's about it!
Repairs were delayed by weather. The clevis pins were waiting for us.
Hurst Castle. Heavily fortified installation at the entrance to the Solent
 After a 5 day delay, in beautiful sunshine, we managed to make a break for the Isle of Wight.




Tuesday, 6 September 2016

DARTMOUTH DEVON AND BROKEN STUFF.

 
Taipan in the Dart River.
Falmouth, seaward and onward, we headed out into the relatively smooth waters, east towards Dartmouth. Beautiful farmland laying like a patchwork atop the coastlines dramatic cliffs. Sailing in close in the rare sunshine we were able to appreciate this beautiful Cornwall coast. Pirate lairs and dark history now basking in benign beauty.
Coastline east of Falmouth.
A mere 36nm, and we managed to make it last all day. A detour into Fowey rewarded with the water view of this small, pretty  port town. Nestled on a narrow and crowded waterway bristling with the inevitable castles. 
Fowey
In the late afternoon we anchored in Cawsan Bay outside the entrance to Plymouth Harbor, departure point of the Mayflower,  the ship that transported the first English separatist, known today as the Pilgrims, from Plymouth to the New World in 1620, and of Captain Cooks 1768 exploration fleet which subsequently found eastern Australia and then went on to circumnavigate. Plenty of history here to come back and explore.

Weather turned a bit rough overnight and when we pulled out at zero dark hundred the sea level cloud had shrouded the coast  in grey mush. We ploughed on east to Dartmouth, a further 33 miles.
Fowey

Arrival well before dark enabled us to get anchored and dingy ashore to have a quick look around before the arrival of Pam and Jon Choate ex "Tweed", sailing friends from years together in Queensland and Asia. The harbor master charges twelve pound per day to anchor here because the river bed is owned by Prince Charles!!!.
Start Point lighthouse looms in the mist.

Pam and Jon arrived on Saturday morning so we sat round on Taipan and reminisced over victuals. Sunday was raining cats and dogs but we braved the weather, moved the car across the river and had a brief explore. In the afternoon we had a good look round this neat little village of Dart. Took a drive out to the Agatha Christy mansion "Greenhills" although we didn't go in, and generally enjoyed a little touring including Brixham and the replica ship Golden Hind which Sir Francis Drake used to circumnavigate the globe between 1577-80.
 
Replica of Drakes Golden Hind. Brixham.
Our good friends departed on Monday after a hearty breakfast at Al Fresco, and we readied the good ship Taipan for departure. 

Next stop Poole to get on with some of the repairs which have been waiting in the wings.
The 8 month old vane pump on the Spectra Watermaker has failed. This will have to be returned to the US before they will replace it with a new one under warranty. Spectra has always been one of our top 10 companies for service but since it was sold it has plummeted to the bottom of the list. 
Jon, Pam, David and Kris. in front of a Medieval house believed to have been built around 1380.
Our Tides Marine Sail Track system has been failing since we left the Bahamas. The clevis pins holding the slugs in the track have been popping off like the buttons on a fat mans trousers!. Tides marine have admitted they had a faulty set of pins  and they have agreed to provide replacement pins. They have also agreed to pay a marina fee to effect the repairs. We have been pretty hampered by the possible failure of these pins and have not had a full main up for several months except in very light conditions. Our original contact with the company was very positive but we will see how it pans out since we have been referred to the UK branch.
We will leave Dartmouth and stop over in Weymouth before making Poole on Wednesday. 

Thursday, 1 September 2016

WE SAILED TO ENGLAND!. September 1st. 2016

 
A talking point at Mylor Yacht Marina. Much expert analysis on the side lines.
Lands End was glowing in the late afternoon sun on Wednesday as we rounded the south westerly tip of UK. We made the anchorage just off the Newlyn Harbor wall as the sun set after a 21 hour sail from Milford Haven. 
 
Lands End. The sun shone as we rounded the western most tip of the UK.

Not much wind and a bit of adverse current. Thursday morning we dropped into Penzance harbor to fuel up and top off the water as the water maker failed to start yesterday so another job as soon as we get time.
Penzance Cornwall

St Michael's Mount, a fabulous fairy tale castle rises up off a rocky island to the east of Penzance and we were able to take Taipan to the very edge to get a good look from seaward. It's a very impressive view. Still privately owned and has owners in residence, I guess when they are not in their home in Maiorca or Paris or New York or somewhere !!  However the National Trust does open it to the great unwashed so we could get a look inside one day. 
 
St Michaels Mount.

We spent and hour or so drifting around this spectacular castle admiring it from all angles.
 The weather was holding so we moved on to Falmouth arriving just before dark on Thursday 25th of August. Dropped the anchor in a spot between moorings for the night. 
Falmouth.
In the morning we headed over to St Maws, just across the Fal River. Gorgeous spot  another castle and pretty little beaches packed with summer revelers. The Bank Holiday long Weekend is upon us and Sal n John Potter old sailing buddies from way back coming to visit so with weather threatening, we headed back to Falmouth to meet them on Saturday. 
St Maws.
Very little exploring but we spent a fantastic couple of days eating drinking and catching up on years of gossip. Sal and John traded the faithful JARAMAN in Sydney and purchased a new Beneteau 50 to be delivered to Spain. They are now enjoying the Med and will eventually head across the Atlantic towards Australia in "CAPALL MARA"..
Sally-anne and John Potter.

They left early from St Maws on Monday for the long drive back to London and we headed round to Mylor Yacht Marina to anchor off and await the tide so we could inspect the drying wall.
Next morning before dawn we motored slowly between moored boats and edged our way towards the wall. As the bow got to the wall and we secured a line we suddenly touched bottom. We can't make the wall! Urgent change of plan as we had to lay Taipan down on her Port side away from the wall. We couldn't back off because we had grounded on the concrete ramp. Just not enough tide.
Another way to clean the bottom.
Having dried out on our side twice before we were not too alarmed. At least we had the chance to inspect the ground below yesterday. The first time we dried out was in Crocodile creek in the Kimberley in a 9 meter tide. Now that was alarming....with no idea what the bottom was like and having no idea of Taipan's idiosyncrasies. By the time the 8 crew had grabbed life jackets and personal items and jumped into the dingy it was too shallow to motor so they had to tow it on foot to deeper water. Pretty funny to watch the chaos! We stayed aboard to wait. It got very uncomfortable at 45 degrees in the dark with crocodile eyes gleaming in the spot lights but we righted without incident on the rising tide and continued on our way into the anchorage.
Underwater service.

This time it was perfectly calm and sheltered, we knew what the bottom was and Taipan just gradually lay down as the tide went out. Instead of sitting aboard in discomfort we went ashore in the dingy for breakfast and waited until the tide went out so David could get round the hull to do the cleaning. The high pressure hose just didn't quite reach the whole way round but she was pretty clean by the time tide turned and we resumed the position! Upright. 
It's a tight spot so the yard supplied a tow boat to turn us round so we could head out and they made a dock available to enable us to wash decks of the over-spray from water blaster. They were extremely helpful.
Unless there is a spring tide that facility is really not suitable for 2.2m draft. We failed to take into account the fact that the drying wall was not at chart datum so even 4m tide was not high enough. 
Farewell to lovely Saint Maws.

So back to anchor before a run upriver and back to St Maws.
On Thursday we left and headed east into Fowey for a quick look then on to anchor at Cawsand Bay just outside Plymouth. Heading to meet some more old sailing buddies from Australia. This time in Dartmouth.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

WALES, ANGLESEA AND MORE CASTLES. August 23rd 2016


More ruins ashore at Holyhead
Holyhead Harbor was our first port of call in Wales. Arriving late in the afternoon we dropped anchor and enjoyed a relaxed Saturday evening aboard. Holyhead is is very sheltered, being surrounded by huge walls. It's a major ferry terminal. 
Add caption
Sunday looked like a better weather forecast so we decided to go to Menai Bridge and traverse the notorious Menai Strait between Anglesea and Wales. The sail across the north coast of Anglesea was great and we sailed in close so we could see. A bloke on a small yacht stopped by and his son passed over an old cruising guide of the area and said we could keep it. Amazing. So armed with all the good local info regarding tides currents and appropriate travel times we carried on to Menai Bridge to pick up a mooring and await the tide. 
 
Bangor Pier. Menai Straits. Anglesea.

One of the most dangerous areas of the strait is known as the Swellies between the two bridges. Here rocks near the surface cause over-falls and local whirlpools. Entering the strait at the Caernarfon end is also hazardous because of the frequently shifting sand banks that make up Caernarfon bar. 
On the mainland side at this point is Fort Belan, an 18th-century defensive fort built in the times of the American War of Independence. You need to traverse the Swellies at slack water. That's one and a half hours before high tide. So at 8.00am in our case.
Chateau Rhianfa. One of the gorgeous places along the straits.

Andrew David's brother, and Christine, Andrews wife, came from Liverpool to meet us and we had a jolly reuniting dinner at the Liverpool Arms on shore at Menai Bridge. It was great to see them again and to see the new van which they have been converting to a camper for the past few months. A lot of work and it's starting to all come together and looking fabulous. They plan to travel Europe indefinitely!

The Swellies, Menai Bridge and Britannia Bridge were beautiful in the early morning light and the Straits provided an up close look at some lovely old architecture. It was easy and well marked with all our charts agreeing. Vice Admiral Horario Nelsons statue sits as a guide to Mariners on a plinth between the bridges.

Arriving at Caernafon one can't help being overwhelmed by the beautiful castle right on the waterfront. To make matters even better the weather was clear and sunny skies prevailed all day. Our anchor dug in and Taipan sat in the 3 knot current happily while we went ashore to meet Andrew and Christine who had found a super spot to camp right on the grass verge overlooking Taipan and the Castle.

Our next job was turrets, great halls and museums. Caernafon Castle is substantially restored and in great condition so there is hours of climbing reading and viewing to be done. An early timber castle on the site dated 1066 has been replaced Several times since by stone fortifications. Around 1283 Edward 1 started building the existing Edwardian a Castle in the Romanesque style with Octagonal towers instead of round. According to tradition Edward11 was born at the castle in 1284 so at least some of it must have been built. Building continued on into 1330and is one of the most expensive castles built. It's predominantly Edwardian architecture is what survives from this period. It was never finished as planned.

We ran into an Esperance farmer John Gray and his wife Louise at the castle and exchanged stories. He's Scottish but has been farming in WA for 45 years.
Late in the afternoon we retired to Taipan for dinner. Andrew and Christine headed back on Tuesday morning and we caught the out-going slack tide to negotiate the shallows at the entrance to Caernafon Chanel and set a course for Milford Haven, with an overnight anchorage at Cardigan as the weather was very still.

Wednesday's arrival in Dale, a small bay to the west of Milford Haven was uneventful and welcome. The coastline on the run down is pretty and we sailed between it and several small offshore islands. Ramsey Island and Skomer Island both of which look extremely interesting. St David's Head is a very popular walking area. There is a walk way on the whole coast and it seems to have plenty of walkers along it.

Dale was a good anchorage but Patrick our faithful deck swabbie had decided it was time to depart the good ship Taipan for further adventures in Edinborough, at the Fringe Festival, and then on to Amsterdam prior to departure for Sydney and home on the 28th of August so we headed into Milford Haven to the pontoon to offload him so he could catch the train to Cardiff and onward.
Milford Haven Wales

Moorings across the river at Penbroke dock looked like an option and we used one for a while to get ashore to top up grocery but overnighting on an unknown mooring is not a relaxing option so we moved upriver.

Lawrenny Yacht Station is a small boatyard upriver from Milford Haven. We had an appalling forecast so decided to head there. After a bit of effort we managed, with some local assistance, to pick  up a mooring in a tight spot in ripping current so we could sit out the coming weather. And come it did. For 24 hours we had 35+kn with rain and stronger gusts, spring tides of 7m and a rough ride aboard.
Relaxing with Andrew and Christine at Carew Castle Ruin near Lawrenny Yacht Station Wales

Sunday afternoon Andrew and Christine arrived in their van and joined us for dinner. They nearly had to stay the night aboard when the dingy motor wouldn't start. Of course it was freezing cold, raining and still blowing but the problem was finally diagnosed to be a split in the hand pump in the fuel line so a bit of jiggery pokery and it was running again. They had a great spot to park and prefer the van for security. Monday we did a bit of driving about the countryside. Picked up our Furuno Radome which had been repaired and returned to Nyland YC. The Magnetron had gone again, in less than 12 months, so it was a warranty job. Still very annoying to have to repair it at all. And very inconvenient. Bit of shopping and lunch in Milford Haven topped off the day with dinner aboard Taipan again. 
Summer on the strand at Temby.

Tuesday we went off driving to Haverfordwest to get a new SIM for the Internet and of course saw a castle but it was raining so just photographed it from a distance. Drove on down to Temby through the beautiful Welsh countryside as the weather cleared we arrived in a town packed with summer holiday makers. Not a van park in cooee! Temby is very prettily situated on a real beach with sand and with a couple of very attractive islands off shore, it's easy to see why it would be packed. Need to return in winter to take a walk round. Instead we happened upon Carew Castle and found a super spot to have afternoon tea overlooking the lake and castle.
Andrew and Christine. Van. WIP!
Late on Tuesday we made our farewells again and headed off upriver to anchor at Dale for a few hours preparatory to a midnight departure for Lands End. The bad weather abated so we grabbed the opportunity to cover some miles. The coast south of Milford Haven doesn't offer much in the way of anchorages with any protection and it's very tidal making it difficult as well.

Departing Milford Haven.
The management at Lawrenny YS couldn't have been more friendly and helpful. They took our rubbish and old oil, gave us pass-code to facilities, didn't mind Andrew parking the van and directed us to all the services we needed including a great Gas supplier. Our Australian bottles can't be filled here so we had to buy new bottles and a regulator. Mooring was £12 per night though so I guess there should be some facilities. That's cheap by UK standards.
Next time I post we will be in England. We will round Lands End the south western tip and start slowly traveling along the south coast starting in Penzance Cornwall.

Saturday, 13 August 2016

IRELAND. TRAINS PUBS AND AUTOMOBILES. 13th August 2016

Dun Laoghairy ( pronounced Dun Leery! As I was politely informed by port control) is a very cosmopolitan town with great facilities and entertainment opportunities close at hand. There are three big yacht clubs and the huge City Marina where we berthed. It was very cold and the south westerly wind didn't let up day or night. Being plugged in to the power made it much more pleasant as we could run the little heater. It was a very long walk from Taipan to the marina office but facilities were good and clean. 
 The Maritime Museum, housed in an old church, provided several hours of entertainment as did the Royal Marine Hotel with its collection of interesting historical photos of the area. There's a big supermarket an easy walk from the Marina and plenty of dining opportunities.
 
Dublin Castle
Dublin City and history galore. Dublin Castle was one of the first stops. Dublin Castle was founded as a major defensive work in 1204, some time after the Norman Invasion of Ireland in 1169, a castle was built with "strong walls and good ditches for the defense of the city." Some of the early structure has been excavated by archeologists and now forms part of the Castle tour. Some goulish tales and unsolved mysteries were uncovered. Very little of the original Castle exists. Only a tower and the old foundations. Some of the facility is still used for State functions.
Wikipedia on Dublin Castle. 

Temple Bar district. Cobbled streets plenty of color and history with pubs on every corner and several in between.

Temple Bar is the old center and has quaint narrow cobbled streets filled with tourists We walked through several times and of course had the obligatory Guinness here and there. One evening Patrick took us to the  Gate Theater to see W. Somerset Maugham's "Constant Wife". Super entertaining in a lovely little theater. We spent three days seeing the sites of Dublin then hired a car and drove to Galway and Limerick return with lots of diversions along the way.
 
Colonel Hall-Walker and Patrick
First stop was the Irish National Stud in Tully, Co. Kildare. The Stud was founded in 1900 by the wealthy eccentric Col. William-Hall Walker, a man with a passion for astrology, gardening and horses. He did the astrological chart of each foal as it was born and decided it's future on the prediction. Somehow he managed to be very successful. In 1915, Colonel Hall-Walker departed to England, presenting his entire Tully property to "The Nation." His Stud Farm became the British National Stud. In 1945 (Tully properties having returned to the Irish Government in 1943) the Irish National Stud Company was formed. 
Maternity wing.

Many famous race horses were bred here. Vintage Crop a Melbourne Cup Winner among them. We saw Hurricane Fly in one of the fields. It was late when we arrived but we did get a tour and the facilities are superb.
The stud is 958 acres of land and there are 288 boxes on the farm for mares, foals and stallions. Not many horses about as the stud season is over, foals are weaned and brood mares are out. The grounds and gardens are beautiful. There is a horse museum and we spent quite a while chatting with the Farrier and the harness maker both have been working on the property for over 35 years.

Cloncarlin House
We stayed at a great B&B called Cloncarlin House a 250 year old house situated on a 280 acre beef farm nearby.
 
Roscrea. The remaining tower and entrance.
Next stop after a huge farm breakfast was Roscrea Castle Complex where we were given a great tour by a very informative young man with an emphasis on the furniture of the period. The complex was very nearly obliterated in the 70s for a car park but thankfully local objection and much rallying caused the council to cancel the demolition order.
The weather deteriorated as we drove westward. Galway was gridlocked when we arrived and it took quite a while to get out of there. We headed through some pretty if wet countryside towards Limerick and over nighted at a little B&B just outside Gort. 
Streets of Limerick
Another big breakfast and we were fortified for the run to Limerick where we walked the streets and enjoyed some local fare before tackling another huge castle called King Johns Castle. 
Across the River Shannon to King Johns Castle
Building work began in around 1212 and took decades to complete. It was the site of a terrible siege when in 1642, 800 people were trapped within the walls. They suffered truly dreadful conditions. Dead were buried in a pit near the gatehouse a stones throw away from those still desperately clinging to life. Link to Wikipedias King Johns Castle
View up the River Shanon from atop one of King Johns Castle distinctive drum towers.
 Now it was time to head back to Dublin, return the car and hop aboard for the trip across the Irish Sea to Wales. We had a good weather window and departed early morning for the passage of just 55nm arriving in Holyhead before dark. Calm seas and very little wind saw us motoring most of the way. We kept company with a big pod of dolphin for several hours. Always a great delight.
Now its time to check out Wales.