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A group sail over Morecambe Bay, plus a leaking diesel saga at Piel, April/May 2018

A panarama of a Wardleys boat sailing away from Walney Island with ‘Black Coomb’ and ‘Lake District’ hills beyond. Click on this photo and it should open full screen!
Jay was one of a group of Wardley’s sailiors who sailed over the bay on the last two days of April. Jay is the new skipper of  ‘Thunderball’. Here, he is kindly crewing for for Darren on ‘Rivendale’.
WMYC yacht ‘NIMROD’ safely moored up in Piel Harbour. Her skipper Nick is either tucked up away in her spacious open plan cabin or in the Ship Inn getting well earned refreshments. On the skyline in the background sits the enormous Vicker’s ship yard facility.
WMYC members Nick and John. They both sailed over on Nimrod earlier in the day. John being a Piel Island veteran, was able to guide Nick through the sand-banks and sand-bars right up to, yes you guessed it, the bar in the Ship Inn. As can be seen, no time was wasted getting down to business.
Steve and Ginette  join Nick and John for an aperitif. Steve is one of Wardley’s most prolific sailors. Last year he sailed his 27′ yacht ‘Moonshine’ up to ‘Stornoway’ in the very north of Scotland. This, an impressive round trip of 600 or so nautical miles. On a previous year both of them circumnavigated Britain during a four month sabbatical!
Jay on Darren’s yacht ‘Rivendale’. Darren assures me he is just behind the camera.  In the backdrop, a long stretch of the Fylde coast from Fleetwood (left) to Blackpool can be seen.  Due to domestic arrangements, on the following day Jay left the island on the Piel ferry towards Roe Island, where his wife collected him by car. Jay will be skippering ‘Thunderball’ on this  well trodden route out of Fleetwood Marina in the months to come.
‘Rivendale’s skipper enjoying a pint ensconced in the Ship Inn.
Things don’t always go to plan. The following weekend, after heading out to Piel in  the skipper of ‘Jamila’ found himself sliding about in the cabin as if on ice skates! A quick peak in the bilges revealed a lake of diesel sloshing about. After anchoring up for the night, an  inspection of the engine revealed that the ‘second stage’ diesel filter had parted from the engine and was hanging by two fuel pipes. A small stream of Diesel was trickling into the bottom of the boat, and had been doing so for sometime. Following a number of urgent calls to through to WMYC senior members, Jamila’s skipper learnt that there was a fuel cock under the tank. This was quickly shut-off and a large cup placed under the unit for good measure. This at least stemmed the leak! Later on, a good half cup was fed back into the tank.

Once the regular sailors at the Ship Inn learnt about the problem Jamila’s skipper was far from being alone! There were many sympathetic ears to hear the story, and smart phone photos of the broken engine quickly circulated around the pub. Steve & Shelia Chattaway, the Ship Inn’s landlords, rallied the troops.  Local skippers Alan, Tony and Ash offered to come an take a look at around 11 O’clock the following morning. Before this time they had some early morning ‘Mooring maintenance’ jobs to expedite, which involved diving to the  bottom of the harbour using scuba diving  gear.
For a time that morning a crowd of inflatable dinghies surrounded Jamila’s stern. Very soon the errant oil filter was re-attached to the the starboard side of the engine with ‘Ash’ acting as the diesel fitter and Tony coordinating from the cockpit. Most importantly, the engine was thoroughly tested and given a clean bill of heath for use out at sea.
There was one little job left over due to damage done during the crane-in nearly three weeks previously, which was to fix the VHF aerial. One of the dinghies crowding around the stern of Jamila  shot-off to its mother ship and  came back with a bosun’s chair. One of the three skippers went high aloft (Alan). Tools and self tapping stainless steel screws were sent up in a small sack via the topping-lift, and after fifteen minutes or so of ‘lofty toil’ a successful radio check was finally requested from ‘Holyhead’ coast guard. Thanks guys!!
Glasson SC, Roger Pierce’s RedFox 20.
Met up with Roger Pierce, the ‘Commodore’ of the Glasson Sailing Club. He showed me around his RedFox 20.  A fast impressive boat that showed ‘Peter Duck’ a very clean pair of heals once when sailing out of Piel. This lifting keeler is quipped with a water ballast and two lee boards instead of the usual centrally located keel.
A close study of ‘Lighting Knoll’ buoy, with ‘Black Coombe’ hill lying several miles beyond. On a light wind’ed day, by setting-off  from Piel an hour before low water on the ebb tide, Jamila was able to sail back to Fleetwood using the tides and without burning any fuel.

First sail Wardleys to Piel Island April 2018

Wardleys to Piel Island April 2018,

The first cross bay sail of 2018 took place just after the last Committee meeting. Simons B & E and Joanna set sail in ‘Raindance’ and ‘Jamila’. Just to remind you where Piel is :), I’ve inserted  a rough chart showing the route. The course to steer as shown is set for a spring tide weekend thus we probably steered somewhere between the two headings shown.  All was a little hurried! Simon E’s plan, as it was the night before, had been limited to doing some post launch jobs on ‘Jamila’. There was a little list of things to do. The mooring chain needed attention, the VHF aerial needed bending back following the launching mishap with the crane, and the sails hadn’t been properly readied for the new season. Simon B and Jo, on the other hand had already done a shakedown sail having come down from MaryPort just the week before. Now single handed sailing out at sea is always a daunting prospect particularly when the skies are grey and the wind is whistling through the sails and rigging. Finding the courage to drop the mooring and to allow the boat to drift way with the ebbing tide requires thorough preparation, check lists with lots of ticks, so that every big and minor detail is just so!  Still I wasn’t to be alone, I had the experienced Skipper Simon B and Joanna (Jo has recently become a  ‘RYA Day Skipper’ ticket holder.). Yes, I would be tagging along. I could do some of the jobs like bending on the genoa, putting in the slab reefs whilst under-way and fixing aerials.  The ‘Simrad’ tiller pilot would definitely help out.
As you can see in the image there was preciously little wind and the visibility was down to only a couple of miles. A jenoa is large head-sail and bending it on to a roller-reef spar isn’t normally a problem with two pairs of hands, however today it proved very difficult with only one. The bolt rope in the luff kept jamming.  I  had to winch a little, run forward to align, run back, winch a little more,  then run forward to re-align and so on.  Tiring work, but slowly the sail worked itself up the mast.  And, it must be added, all the time having to keep a lookout to avoid an untimely collision with the shore. Then all movement of the jenoa stopped dead! I tried to winched harder, and then harder still,  then  Bang!  Something broke. Then I saw it. The cable from my chart-plotter was caught around the winch. Now chart-plotters are great, anyone can navigate to perfection. Well, I exaggerate a bit, but you always know where you are , you can see where you need to go, and you can avoid collisions with rocks and other obstacles.  As soon as the sail was up, I dropped down into the cabin to root out my Garmin GPS from its locker.  Damn, the batteries were dead! Where are the spares? Couldn’t find them!  At this point I was following ‘Raindance’ out to sea, heading for the Fairway buoy, and you guessed it, the visibility was down to just a couple of miles. After about twenty minutes I could just and so see the Heysham Nuclear power station’s vast ‘white clad’ bulk but not much else! Right, time to do some proper navigation. I’ve got my Coastal Skipper’s ticket, so time to cash in the investment!  With an old dodgy looking hand held compass I took the two available bearings. Plotted my current position. Counted the minutes until the Fairway buoy started to fade then plotted a second position,  and finally calculated a true bearing to take me over the banks into the barrow channel. Poor Simon B and Joanna could not work out what on earth I was doing, … thought I’d gone a bit daft! We travelled together for a while, but suddenly I looked over and noticed ‘Raindance’ was nearly a mile to starboard. Soon I found out why. Out of the gloom on the starboard bow a dark blot started to materialise. It was Piel Castle, which should have materialised much further to the port had my ‘old fashion style’ estimations and calculations been better! I was much too far down tide, and alas I would have to start the engine and work it hard, using up precious diesel oil, to get to safety.
Simon B and Joanna arrived first in ‘Raindance’. There was one other boat in the harbour, but now there were three. It was several years ago in April when the crew of ‘Alcudia’, a lovely red Cobra 750, moored up for the night at Piel. It was just after the crane-in. The skipper picked a robust looking buoy and pulled the mooring line from the buoy safely up onto ‘Alcudia’s big bow cleat. The following morning after what must have been a blissful sleep ‘Alcudia’s crew, who happened to be the same Simon B and Jo, were woken from their dreams by the sound of plates and cutlery crashing into cabin sole.  In the night the boat had parted company from the  buoy and had gently drifted with the tide up beyond Roe Island and had settled at a precarious angle up a little mud creek. In 2018, however,  there was to be no mistake. The buoy’s mooring lines looked a bit old and muddy with colonies of marine life growing on the end adjoining the buoy obscuring inspection! Instead, a nice new pristine length of rope was pulled from ‘Raindance’s locker and made fast, such that there would be no mistake this time around. Simon E on ‘Jamila’  grabbed a buoy nearby. Having had only happy times moored off Piel Island, he was only too happy to trust the equally muddy looking strops in order to get on with packing away the sails and to eventually paddle the short distance over to  ‘Raindance’ for a planned barbecue on board ship. The above photograph was taken en-route in the Avon dinghy. The Ship Inn was closed that night.

Not a lot going on this clip, or was there? As it happened, a thunder storm passed by just beyond Piel Castle. We saw quite a number of lightning strikes. Some were the classic bolts you see in the horror movies, and some were like the one caught on this clip at the 8 second mark. All were followed by deafening thunder claps that had the three Wardley’s sailors laughing unconvincingly at each other. Our sudden bout of gallows humour eventually died away as the storm moved on further up the Cumbrian coast. Still, fair-do’s to our innate sense of self preservation, we did have the tallest lighting conductor in the harbour right over our heads!

Simon E was not as well organised as the crew of ‘Raindance’ in terms of ships victuals and needed the help of the Piel Ferry to get back to ‘Jamila’ after breakfasting ashore.  Now, the barbecue aboard ‘Raindance’ the night before this photograph was a resounding success. Joanna had done an ace job ‘literally’ running around the finest charcuterie shops and boutique butchers that Fleetwood town had to offer. The food was excellent and the finest wines were served ‘grace au’ skipper de ‘Jamila’. And not forgetting Simon B’s story telling that  had us riveted with  his daring-do on tall ships in various far flung places. The morning was grey and overcast. Simon E paddled the short distance to the Ship Inn. Landlady ‘Shelia’ was behind the bar, and three lads who appeared to be in there late teens were busily warming themselves by the fire. The trio had camped the night on the island but the plan went awry when they discovered the pub was shut, and so no beer to drink,  and, as well as tents, you need sleeping bags to go camping! Sheila and Nicola (ex army medic) were going their best to cheer them up with anecdotes of how much colder it was in Norway and that only the hardest of soldiery could put up with it. A big breakfast was ordered. Eventually King Steven walked in with a large plate of eggs, bacon, sausages and all the trimmings. After placing down the plate he plonked himself down on a nearby seat and  we both exchanged news and views about what had happened on the ‘Furness peninsula Islands’ and ‘Wardleys Marine YC’  during half year just gone. Eventually it was time to say farewell. On the way down to the Avon round-tail dinghy, the Piel Ferry was alighting two day trippers . We passed on the narrow jetty exchanging friendly nods. The Skipper and crew of the ferry stood waiting for me. I pointed at my dinghy but they smiled knowingly whilst looking down at the Avon, and opened a conversation informing me that the tide would be flooding rapidly by now and that I just might want a tow. I gratefully accepted. They refused any donations for their services and posed for the above photo before heading back to Roe Island. The radio then crackled into life. ‘Raindance’ to ‘Jamila’ over! A brief discussion ensued. Simon B recommended a single reef in the mainsail would suit the force 4 gusting 5 that was by now blowing, and very soon we both had most of our white canvas high aloft, bellowing in the wind, for the sail back home.
‘Jamila’ was the first to cast off. The ferrymen were quite right. The tide had turned and was to prove a little too much for canvas alone. ‘Jamila’s Volvo-Penta was bought into play to maintain a steady 4/5 knots  of speed on what was basically a close hauled beat up the Barrow channel. The Simrad autopilot’s self tacking mode made easy going of it at a time when there was no room for error given the fact that the hidden Sel-dom-Se-en reef was just off the starboard marker.  The self-tacking goes like this: with the Sel-dom-Se-en green marker quickly approaching at about fifty yards to port, you press the  autopilot’s  red ‘tack’ button and immediately press the right arrow button. the Autopilot starts to bleep loudly. The crew then must quickly prepare for the tack, loading the  winches and untangling sheets etc. Suddenly the beeping turns into a long continuous bleep and the tiller is automatically pushed hard over to the lee. Next the crew must release the sheets to port, awaits the bow to pass the eye of the wind, and then sheet in to starboard. By the time one finds the time to look up, the tiller has centred itself, and the boat is heading on the next tack – in this case towards the lighthouse on Walney Island.
Still a little behind, ‘Raindance’ was slowly catching up. She’s a much longer boat than ‘Jamila’ and the extra waterline length demonstrated the extra displacement speed she had available. By the time the castle was becoming a small feature in the distance, she was right up behind, both crew members were beaming a broad smile from behind the large spray hood. In a last ditch attempt to stay in the lead ‘Jamila’ released the full extent of her large Jenoa in the hope of scraping a few extra fractions of a knot, but nothing could stop the approaching ‘Raindance’. Very soon she was sailing along side, with her bows crashing deeply into the on coming chop.

 

Once the two two boats were side by side, cameras were pulled out from their protective pouches and pictures taken. Above are example taken from both boats. ‘Raindance’ pulled ahead and both boats entered the choppy waters of mid Morecambe Bay. The wind was favourable and provided sufficient speed over water to beat the flood tide, which at this point was pouring into the said bay at a rate of two knots. Time seemed to go fast at this stage. Soon the remnants of the Fleetwood Tower, marking the start of the channel-approaches hove into view. Both boats passed the Fairway north cardinal buoy and joined forces with the tide reaching speeds over-ground close to 7/8 knots, up the channel into Feetwood. At this point the boats parted company. ‘Raindance’ made for the marina at Fleetwood and ‘Jamila’ made a solitary trip up the River Wyre, under sail all the way, and was soon safely back at her mooring.

That’s all folks, the end of another great sail by three Wardley’s Marine Yacht Club members.

Crane in Day, April 2018

Everyone was too busy to be taking photographs, but still we managed to take some, so ‘VOILA’ a new post that attempts to do the best with a rather sparse bunch  🙂

Above all, however, we must thank our craning-in crews, our club house caterers, and a particularly big thank to our Banks man ‘Mike Morris’ for all their hard work.

A big crane arrives on a windy Tuesday morning and sets up just a few yards off Jamila’s starboard bow. At this point members awaited with abated breath as to whether it would all go ahead.
Members chat amongst themselves whilst Wardley’s ‘Banksman’ Mike Morris engages in a serious discussion with the crane driver.  High above twenty knots of wind is registering on Jamila’s anemometer.
Finally a decision is taken and the crane’s bright red jib elevated itself high into the Blackpool sky, dwarfing the surrounding masts. Next, a large hook silently descended to a point just forward of the driver’s cab, as seen in the photograph, and a set of  hardened steel lifting chains were hauled out. GAME ON!
Wardley’s crane-in crews organize into gangs of four men,  and surround the first boat to lift. Each man must attach one of the four lifting chain hooks to its designated strop.
Four crew members clamber aboard Jamila. The two seen in the photograph are to the aft awaiting their respective lifting hook to arrive.
First boat is Jamila.
John Gorse stood on the port bow of ‘Jamila’ diligently awaits a ‘soon to descend ‘ steel hook.
And finally away goes the first boat of the day across the yard, keeping low to the ground because of the wind,  and onward into a safe location in  mud berth one. She will then be ‘waiting for the tide‘ that is due in a couple of hours.
And a little later on, away goes ‘January Six’! The first four boats are placed directly on to the floor of an empty creek and must await  the flood tide. Once floating they will be moved to nearby jetties or to  mooring out on the river. The  rest of the boats can then be craned straight into the water.
This photo DOES NOT tell the tale, but throughout the day,  tea, coffee and bacon & sausage sandwiches were provided by three wonderful ladies (including our vice commodore Lynda Mathews). Thanks for your most welcome contribution!. This particular image was taken very late in the day when John Gorse kindly provided toasted tea cakes to any lingering Wardley’s yachtsmen. This photo only shows a fraction of those served up.

Video thanks to Darren Griffiths.

Wardley’s crane-in day, Tues 17th April, fast approaching.

From the left: Tom, John, Nick, Richard and Andy. All working hard in a yard where tea is always in plentiful supply.
Nick, John and Simon out on the river checking mooring tackle. It was grey and overcast, but amazingly quiet. The only sounds were those of the shoreline waders, woodland birds and the odd squadrons of Oyster Catchers flying past.

 

Not all the mooring chains inspected passed muster.
This mooring chain looked quite good! Encouraging!

 

Some good work has been done fixing-up decaying jetties. (Well done Norman). However, there’s much work to do else where.

 

Wardleys’ boats are getting their bottoms scraped and anti-fouled. Its hard physical and messy work. Notice all the barnacle-scrapings carpeting the gravel.

 

Wardleys sailors have found time to get in a few ‘2018’ warm-up sails. This is Richard at the helm of Sailfish 18 ‘Peter-Duck’ somewhere between Skipool and Wardleys Creek.

 

Another photo of a ‘2018’  day-sail on the river. Believe it or not, this photo of Wardley’s Creek was taken on the 4th February. Darren and Simon ventured out on Sailfish 18 ‘Peter-Duck’. They weren’t the only yachts out and about. There was a good showing from the Blackpool and Fleetwood sailing club, battling to be the first over the line

 

A back of an envelope sketch of a scary moment last year. (See the Three Men in Two Boats video clip from 2017). Its looking north up the Wyre with Knott-End on the right. Norman Ingram’s Sika (Golden Hind) came along side ‘Lueth’ (Manta 19) that was anchored awaiting the flood tide. However, the extra weight of ‘Sika’, all 5 tons, was too much for Lueth’s anchor. Both boats were caught by the tide and whipped backwards at 5 knots onto a sandbank. ‘Sika’ lurched over at 45 degrees showing a keel embedded in the mud. She stopped dead. The flood tide surged around Sika’s hull in a maelstom of foam and broken water. With John Gorse fighting with the rudder, Norman ‘Ace’ Ingram traversed the heaving deck up to the pulpit and put out his biggest and heaviest anchor. Amazingly it held firm! In half an hour the rising water re floated ‘Sika’ and all lived happily ever after.

 

An impressive boat has appeared in mud berth number 6. This is Vic Mathew’s new motor sailor. There’s plenty of work to do to get her ready for Morecambe Bay. Vic reckons she won’t be ready for her first sea trials until the start of the next season.