Preparing for a Day Skipper practical course in Scotland
I'm studying the weather forecast for next week's sailing course in the Firth of Clyde. It will help me to plan where we might go with the wind each day, and which harbours will be sheltered overnight. We also have to do a 4 hour night sail, which is part of the sylabus. I prefer a dry night, and not Thursday, as the students will be shattered and have to drive quite a distance home the next day.
I'm using the American GFS forecast on www.xcweather.com because...
Towing a yacht's tender
We tow our rubber dinghy on cruising holidays, especially if we're using it frequently. It would be a pain to deflate and stow it away each day.
But towing the tender causes drag & will slow a sail boat down. The drag puts extra strain on the painter too, so I fitted 2 D rings on our dinghy, one on each tube, to spread the load. I found it also helped to lift the bow and reduce drag.
In certain conditions, we can also reduce the drag by towing the dinghy on a long rope. We set the length of the rope so that as the yacht goes down a wave, the dinghy is also is going down a wave. In other conditions, we find having the dinghy very close to the stern of our yacht with the bow out of the water works better.
An inflatable dinghy is prone to flipping over, especially in stronger winds. So we always remove the outboard, seat and oars before towing.
If we want to sail faster, we stow the inflated dinghy upside down on the foredeck lashing it down securely.
Holyhead to Peel, IOM (and beyond)
Day 8 - Tuesday 23rd May 2017
This was always going to be a quick departure. The crew were getting slick at arranging the mooring warps ready to slip, disconnecting shore power and dimming the lights on the navigation instruments. 0415 saw us heading away from the pontoon and through the myriad of moored yachts between us and the breakwater. Kathryn had been getting lots of experience on the VHF radio by calling the coastguard each day with our 'traffic report', or TR for short. Today she informed Holyhead CG that Wind Song was heading to Peel with 4 persons on board, ETA 1400 hours. Listening on VHF ch14 for traffic movements we headed out past the breakwaters.
We'd a course to steer for the next hour, passing close to Langdon Ridge West Cardinal Buoy and on to the waypoint at the edge of the Traffic Separation Scheme. The buoy was spotted first by its white light, flashing quickly 9 times every 15 seconds. Then as dawn broke we could actually see it. We kept a good lookout by sight as well as checking AIS and radar for traffic moving along the TSS, but it was very quiet. Arriving at the waypoint bang on time, we altered course to keep our heading at...
Porthdinllaen To Holyhead
Day 7 - Monday 22nd May 2017
It was bright daylight when I rose at 6am. Putting the kettle on reminded me to switch off the anchor light and hoist the black "anchor ball". The previous night's weather forecast foretold of strong gusts. In order to monitor anchor drag overnight, I'd set a waypoint on my phone's 'SailDroid' app before I turned in. But the wind had been quiet all night.
I used the quiet time in the early morning to plan the next two legs of our journey. Porthdinllaen to Holyhead was not as far as our previous sails and a reasonably straightforward passage. The best thing would be to wait at anchor until the tide turned in our favour in the early afternoon. We'd then catch the flood tide going north much like walking on a travelator at the airport.
Marked on the chart were overfalls off Anglesey. We'd give them a wide berth before swinging round North Stack and eastwards to the entrance of the huge harbour. We'd also monitor harbour traffic on VHF ch 14. Holyhead marina was a good place for us to refuel and fill up with water. The forecast gave south or southwesterly winds again of force 4 or 5, occasionally 6. These would be great winds for sailing on a reach, but could be challenging when...
Sailing North Again
Day 6 - Sunday 21st May 2017
Up at 0630 and made tea. Skip was up soon after. We donned our sailing gear and he used the ship's hose to fill the water tank as I re-arranged the mooring warps and fenders ready to go. The fairway was narrow and as we reversed out a gust of wind caught the high bow. The thruster quickly brought us back on track. The lock gate was still closed so we called 'Pierhead' on VHF channel 14. "Give me ten minutes" he said "and I'll prepare the lock". I'd forgotten that the protocol there was to call the lock keeper an hour before departure and then again on de-berthing.
After a short delay we were on our way out of the lock and down the channel. We called Milford Haven Port Operations, they informed us that there were no ship movements and we were clear to cross the channel towards Angle Bay.
As soon as the hook was down the kettle went on again. Kathryn let out twenty metres of chain and we watched for a steady transit across the beam to check the anchor was holding. Then we tied a heavy rope to the chain with a rolling hitch. Letting more chain out 'til the knot was well over the bow, we tied off the rope to a cleat and the chain was duly snubbed. This is a great technique for taking the load off the windlass. The rope snubber was touching the cheek of the stem head fitting, which could cause chafe, so we...