At the very backend of October, members Malcolm, Tom and Simon from Wardleys Yacht Club braved the chilly airs and warnings of murky weather and set forth under full sail on a fishing trip. Apart from a few flatties that were too small to keep, business was slow. Nevertheless, oil lamps and a cosy cabin kept everyone feeling warm and comfortable. And in the time honoured tradition, there was some medicinal help in the form of a crate of beer and a bottle of scotch.
A Westerly Chieftain heading out in to Morecambe Bay
Grey was the colour of the sky. The sail over was quite uneventful. We kept our engine put-putting all the way. The sails were really just for effect and to cushion the incessant Morecambe Bay roll. The three of us stood at our respective helms under dripping hoods. For the whole day the rain pitter-pattered all around.
Under full sail mid Morecambe Bay
Tom and Malcolm with rods and bait.
On board we had fishing tackle boxes galore. They contained every conceivable device and trickery to get the fish to bite, and to haul them out into our awaiting frying pans! Alas, the lemon and garnish lay idle. We had not picked the right night. Or maybe the fish were onto our little caper?
A Canadian Canoe club arrived
We crossed paths with a Canadian canoe club. We expected them to have come from afar. But no, they had just paddled-out from nearby Roe Island. Still, no complaint, they filled the Ship Inn with good conversation and laughter. And as well, there was some thought provoking poetry recitals. The erudite looking canoeists lapped it up. The Wardley’s one member present, quietly watched on, much appreciating it all.
‘Luath’ at anchor.
Manta 19 ‘Luath’ came along in support. Whilst the men in serious wet-weather kit were fishing on the Chieftain, ‘Luath’s skipper took a moment to paddle around in the Avon dinghy and brush-off last month’s accumulated mud. On the island, see above, you can see the Ship Inn and neighbouring Customs cottages.
The weather forecast looked favourable so an early October trip across Morecambe Bay was arranged. It was the first trip for Manta 19 ‘Luath’ — a boat that has spent twenty odd years sat on a mooring on Windermere / Ulswater and more recently in a farmer’s field.
Algae is a problem for boats sat idle for long periods out of the sun. However, and here’s a trick, if a boat has been waxed before hand, the green stuff comes off much easier. It took five or six buckets of sea water allied with some good honest elbow grease to get ‘Luath’ looking spic and span.
The three men and two boats arrived at Piel Island and spent the night rafted up side by side. A shore visit to the island’s one and only public house was made, and for the time of year there was an encouraging number of sailors at the bar making merry.
The Saturday’s out-bound passage was cloudy but generally fine and Sunday’s home-bound passage was fantastic — we had unadulterated sunshine all the way. The three men and two boats started early to make the most of the tides. As you can see there was a lovely sun rise over over the town of Morecambe. Behold!
Now take a look at the view of the Lake District fells above. This was taken whilst heading up the Barrow channel. We saw a hot air balloon traversing the hillside from the right towards the wind turbines. Rather them than me!
Earlier during the passage home there was no point in parting company, so we remained rafted-up. Thus lucky ‘Luath’ got a free ride home — cheers ‘Sika’!
Bob Hoath reports that our excellent team of construction savy members have completed work on the club dock project. Yes, its finally finished and ready to provide good service. All members, and those interested in becoming members, are welcome to come down and do the ‘Wardleys Creek board walk’. Come and check it out and chat about anchors, sails, outboards, adventure on the high seas, or anything for that matter . Great views across the River Wyre thrown in to-boat .
Us mud berthers are Junior Gods having time off! You didn’t know this?
Around here, some people might suppose that the nice chaps and chapesses on Windermere that are often seen helming in southern ocean rated oilies, sheltered by gadget festooned consoles and behind enormous stainless steel wheels (auto-helm at a touch of a button) cruising the North Lake are the true kings. They may well be, but we at Wardleys Creek out rank them! This is how it goes: –
The Junior God looked from his place
In the conning towers of heaven,
And he saw the world through the span of space
Like a giant golf-ball driven.
And because he was bored, as some gods are,
With high celestial mirth,
He clutched the reins of a shooting star,
And he steered it down to earth.
The Junior God, ‘mid leaf and bud,
Passed on with a weary air,
Till lo! he came to a pool of mud,
And some hogs were rolling there.
Then in he plunged with gleeful cries,
And down he lay supine;
For they had no mud in paradise,
And they likewise had no swine.
The Junior God forgot himself;
He squelched mud through his toes;
With the careless joy of a wanton boy
His reckless laughter rose.
Till, tired at last, in a brook close by,
He washed off every stain;
Then softly up to the radiant sky
He rose, a god again.
The Junior God now heads the roll
In the list of heaven’s peers;
He sits in the House of High Control,
And he regulates the spheres.
Yet does he wonder, do you suppose,
If, even in gods divine,
The best and wisest may not be those
Who have wallowed awhile with the swine?
Starring Wardley’s ACE (and dashing) skipper Norman Ingram
(Three trips to IOM this year!)
Skipper: Norman Ingham
Crew: Bob Hoath
Date: Sunday 18th September
We met at the clubhouse and straightaway took our supplies down to the boat. Now, the tide didn’t wait for King Cnut so it certain wouldn’t for couple of Wardley’s Creek sailors. With everything checked and carefully stowed aboard the good ship Sika, we threw off the mooring lines and with the engine made our way down the river on a fast ebbing tide. The depth gauge was dropping fast, but there was no need to worry because were soon making good progress along the pastoral shores of the river Wyre, passing the plethora of Knott-End moored boats and, sooner that one would have liked, found ourselves out at sea feeling somewhat exposed in that great wet wilderness. Our plan was plain and simple, which was to make it safely across the shallow and turbulent waters of Morecambe Bay and find the Ship Inn on Piel Island. We picked up a mooring in the lee of the magnificent but daunting ruins of Piel Castle. We watched the endless stream of wind-farm work-boats powering their way up the ‘Walney Channel’, who, when traversing the Piel Island anchorages kindly throttle-back in order to smother their enormous wakes, and who more often that not, wave heartily at any passing sailors and fisherman. A couple of cruisers followed us in. With a fast falling tide, a large cruising trimaran decided to dry-out on the mud between us and adjacent Piel Island Inn, it’s cabin lights appeared to grow brighter as the day slowly faded into night. We suppered on corned beef and beans with lashings of Worcestershire Sauce (the Skippers speciality) and discussed our plans over the best part of a bottle of Scotland’s finest.
The next morning was bright and clear, so we set off early and we crept down channel past Seal Beach. There was too much northerly in the prevailing breeze so a hard-wind-on-the-nose plug up the Cumbrian coast as originally planned was out of the question. We therefore slackened-off and set sail for Isle of Man. Douglas was to be our first port of call. Very soon we were in the Morecambe Bay wind farms surrounded by monster wind turbines with slashing rotor blades. Like the haunting ‘Weaping Angels’ scene from the BBC’s Dr. Who series, every time we had to take our eye of them, say to look down at our charts to make a calculation, when we looked back up, one of them would be intimidatingly close to us! Putting primeval fears a side, we could only conclude that we were indeed making good our passage. We were under full sail surging along at six knots.
This is what its’ all about: –
We were able to keep the same tack for about six hours, but eventually had to tack north. At this point in the cruise the skipper spotted a problem with a slack shroud. We furled the sails and motored towards the still distant Douglas Bay.
The promonade’s electric lights grew brighter as we approached. And similarly the sights, sounds and smells of the waterside grew in amplitude. Finally we tied up in the outer harbour at about nine pm. Whilst we waited for the gates to open to enter the yacht marina, we watched in boyish awe as the ferry ‘Manuman’ pivoted into it’s dock – all lights blazing. Finally on the twelve chimes of midnight, we crept passed the open gate and snuggling-up alongside the North Quay wall. We were both feeling tired.
Tuesday was a maintenance day and I was able to take lunch with a friend from ‘Derbyhaven’ whist the skipper re tensioned the shrouds.
The start of our journey home was dictated by the Manx tides and the 7 knot waterline hull speed of a 32 foot ‘Golden Hind’. We calculated to best slip our moorings at 5am as soon as the road bridge would swing open and give us access to the sea. After leaving the harbour we checked the charts set a course for home. About three hours of passage the sea started to mount up into series after series of moving walls of water. At times we were struck by great green slabs from over the bow.
Looking beyond our own plight we could see ‘Ben my Cree’ passing well to the south on her long dogs-leg to Heysham, and also see a turbine erection vessel passing astern with three towers and all blades set, with it’s jack legs raised clear of the ocean floor.
We made good time and re-entered the pastoral scenes of the River Wyre with the last of the flood, the coarse shrieks of the sea birds were gradually replaced by the singing of their woodland brethren as we swept further inland. The skipper took back the helm as the opening to Wardley’s creek slid into sight to port. Keeping a strict eye on the ‘leading marks, we threaded a path up the narrow channel passing familiar boats, jetties, resident ducks, and sundry, until the bend in the creek marked the end of our voyage. A beautiful spin-turn was deftly executed, and ‘Sika’ gladly secured to her awaiting berth. Our journey was complete at three in the afternoon.
All in all it was a great four days
A pre-sail meeting at the Wardleys Marine Yacht Club on a wind and rain swept Saturday morning wasn’t enthusiastic for a planned Morecambe Bay crossing. Talk of F8 winds and atrocious conditions in the Irish sea eroded the once rock solid resolve to get out after several weekends of bad weather. Three skippers, having made plans via a flurry of texts, were originally set to go. By the end of the meeting only one boat was still up for it – helped by a phone call to the Ship Inn in which Sheila, the landlady, confirmed a warm welcome was awaiting any adventurer daft enough come.
The skipper of ‘Peter Duck‘, one of the smallest craft at Wardleys, pumped up his Avon round-tailed dinghy and rowed out into the river to find this boat bouncing and bucking in the pouring rain. Just hauling himself on board felt like a bridge too far. Ahead lay the prospect of a lonely wet squally fifteen mile sail into a grey world of surging tidal rips and hazardous sandbanks.
Just at the point when ‘Peter Duck‘ was readying to cast-off, all of a sudden, like a bolt of lightning with blue and white sails, out of the creek and into the river sailed ‘Thunderball’, at a rate of knots, canvas aloft, pressed hard by the wind.
Two boats were up for it now!
The first leg down the river didn’t take long helped by a following wind and four knots of ebbing tide. The two skippers, both displaying a firm-jawed resolve, stood at their respective helms quietly contemplating the challenge ahead.
Once out at sea and at about the time they reached the Wyre Tower, all sight of land disappeared and a world of grey closed in. In such grim situations, compasses and hand-held GPS units rule the roost and become a skipper’s most prized possessions.
The wind was offshore so the sea-state was initially slight. By the time they reached the halfway point the sea-state began to deteriorate and the wind strength increasing to F5/F6. ‘Peter Duck’ with a broken tiller pilot, heaved-to in order to take some shelter and slurp at a badly slopping thermos cup of coffee. The general direction of drift was roughly on course for Piel Island so all was well. A VHF call was duly made to advise of the manoeuvre such as it was. ‘Thunderball’ surged ahead and quickly became just a small sail on a large grey horizon.
After ten minutes of welcome recuperation Peter Duck resumed her course, now chasing some way behind. Suddenly the distance between the two boats shortened. It appeared that ‘Thunderball’ was in some sort of difficulty. She had turned around and seemed to be making her way back. Her sails were flogging, her bow rearing high on the oncoming waves, and her skipper up on deck fighting a problem?
Peter Duck passed close by and suprisingly received the thumbs up from a beleaguered looking boat. It quickly became clear that Thunderball’s skipper was bending some very deep reefs. After all, she had had come out under full sail. The wind by now was a full F6. Still no sight of land. The boats resumed course together, both chomping at the bit, surfing down the following waves.
Eventually land fall was made and in no time the two boats entered the Barrow Channel and were plugging the still ebbing tide to Piel Island. The wind had backed somewhat during the crossing, and since both had turned to starboard, the wind was on the nose. Peter Duck being heavily reefed and towing a dinghy required the help of Mr. Mariner 4HP to complete the final leg to Piel. Soon, both boats were thankfully at anchor with the wind still rising and the rain still pouring.
Now, before leaving the Creek, it was reported that another of Wardley’s serious sailors and skipper of yacht ‘Sika’ had left a few days earlier en route to IOM and no one had heard any news since. It was thought that chances were her skipper would abort the trip, given the dire weather warnings, and would be holed up at Piel Harbour. This turned out to the case. ‘Sika’ was found at anchor with both crew members alive and safe but a bit little sorry looking. To aggravate matters, Sika’s diesel powered heating system had caught fire but was quickly extinguished by a skipper who’s very thankful of possessing a good sense of smell. An electrical fault in all evidence was to blame.
All Wardleys Creek Club Members were duly ferried ashore and received the best of Cumbrian hospitality at the Ship Inn. Sheila pulled the pints and Steven doled out some good honest gastro nosh just how us Brits like it (Ah Qui, c’etait exactement ca, les rosbif se regaler!).
The wind blew hard in the night. The tide carried on ebbing, then started a long flood and eventual started to ebb again. All club boats pitched and rocked relentlessly! Sleep wasn’t easy for anyone.
Come the morning the wind had dropped a little, however the sky was now blue and the water turquoise. Everyone was smiling. The VHF was full of requests of ‘what time do we all start back?’. The excitement of the day ahead was contagious. As the early morning progressed the wind steadily dropped to F4 – the perfect wind for setting sail on Morecambe Bay, and exactly as predicted by XC Weather.com The colour grey had been finally banished!
Soon it was time to sail home. Peter Duck was the first to slip anchor closely followed by ‘Sika’. ‘Thunderball’, not wanting rush a traditional eggs and bacon breakfast, departed a little later. Three boats from Glasson Dock, also having braved the weather the previous day, joined in and thus six sails made their way up the Barrow Channel in bright sunshine. What a fantastic sight!
The sail back was perfect. No need for noisy diesel engines or outboard motors. Just white canvas against blue skies, blue seas and brilliant white foam, and the the gentle creek of rigging taking up the strain. All boats got back to Wardleys Creek safe and sound. So yet again, another great and memorable adventure undertaken by members of the Wardleys Marina Yacht Club. Bravo!
A friendly base for Yacht Cruising on Morecambe Bay