Tag Archives: Piel Island

Piel – Glasson Dock – Piel, an all together different perspective.

Some times its great to see the familiar things we love and cherish  from an altogether different perspective. Wardley’s sailors love the cut and thrust of sailing in and out of the tidal waters of the Wyre Estuary and Morecambe Bay. More often or not he is happy weekend after weekend to thumb through his little blue tide booklet,  bang out a cunning tidal-curve, and finally gamble on just how late he can leave it cutting across any sandbanks lying between Morecambe Bay’s choppy seas and a good pint at the Ship Inn. This quirky Wardley Marine Yacht Club art form was taken to its extreme recently by the magnificent skipper of REXY who amazingly made it safely home after a cracking trip back from the Ship Inn, going aground only ten yards short of his mooring buoy.

It occurred to Andy and Simon, as they discussed the possibility of an extended three day cruise, that maybe they should try and do things a little differently this time. The pre-sail-planning wasn’t going to be by any means a walk in the park! The moon was out of alignment with the two other significant ‘planets’ in the Wardley-sailor’s life, namely the sun and the earth. Neap tides were upon us!  And so the old tidal curve sums were going to count more than ever.

The plan was to go Piel-Glasson-Piel.  The problem’s discussed on a telephone  line between Rawtenstall and Rochdale were as follows. Could we assemble all our kit and make it out to Jamila without losing something or capsizing? The  measely 7.5 metre tide was barely going to make it to the end of the slipway. After unloading the dinghy into  Jamila’s  cockpit, could we get the boat ready before the water in the river Wyre  rushes away into the sea?  If we were late arriving, would there be any moorings left at Piel or should we anchor?  Would they open the gate at Glasson for us and would it open 12 hours later to let us out? And finally and most importantly, given the tide of Monday was going to be the lowest in the current cycle, would we make it back home? The decision was taken in the best Wardley’s tradition, let’s go for it.

Friendly Wardley’s Sailors milling about on the hard.

The two sailors arrived by car and as always there was a friendly club member to chat with.  A natter with Vic ensued where certain matters pertaining to the club were chewed over. Darren’s car was on the hard but with no Darren in evidence. He must be napping on his boat following a long shift at work. It would not be fair to disturb him!

Darren sleeping on a boat somewhere

Getting all the kit down the slipway was going to be tricky. Slippery mud covered the last four yards to the water. They did not want to bring mud on the boat. An idea was formulated to do things slightly differently. A plan to man handle the dinghy down the ladders and across the work boat was put into action. It worked well! The dinghy was deposited into the water. All the kit plus 25 litres of diesel in multiple cans took the same route. Eventually the two sailors, in cramped conditions, legs at awkward angles paddled out to Jamila patiently awaiting them on her mooring. The  clock was ticking. The river Wyre was soon going to empty itself leaving a mere trickle.

River Wyre with no water

Aboard Jamila with all the kit pushed into the cockpit it was a fight to get into the cabin. Arms, legs, diesel cans, loafs of bread, and more were everywhere. Still, it was all quickly packed away. The  boat was pointing down stream by now, the tide had turned. But the bilges still had to be pumped and Vic’s check list of things to do had to be followed before starting the engine. The engine burst into life first go. Jamila slip her mooring slightly behind schedule but still with a good chance of making it down river.  Both sailors watched the  depth sounder and looked anxiously at each other at times, but finally made it to Knott End.

Racing down the Wyre before the water ebbs.

It was an amazing sail across the bay. The wind got better and better as time went on. They even managed to eat a delicious vegetable curry and rice dinner on the go, as it would be largely passed pub serving hours on arrival,  They sailed directly into the inner channel, and were soon past Haws Point East, affectionally known as Norman’s Perch, and turned left at the buoys off the notorious East Scar into Bass Pool.

Out in Morecambe Bay. Jamila with with a single reef starboard tack

The sun was very low and soon to set in the west. They zig zagged into Bass Pool carefully noting the depths.  At a calculated 1.5 metres under the keel at absolute low water the anchor was set. They were tidying the decks when the sun dropped below the horizon. They rowed ashore. The walk up the foreshore was over soft mussel beds, but not quite soft enough for boots to sink in.  There were big boulders everywhere. Some would be dangerously awash when the tide returns. It was important at that very moment to concentrate on walking over the large pebbles and to not to turn  ankle whilst making for the grassy banks below the castle. Finally  they reached green grass, and walked across the castle’s outer keep. There were tents all around where campers were showing off their fashionable LED lights and barbecuing setups.

Dropping anchor in Bass Pool.

The ship Inn was busy. It was a karaoke night. A number of drinkers put on some accomplish performances. The usual crowd of sailors and fisherman were in propping up the bar. The story of a recent five boat tour of Isle of Man and Western Isles of Scotland was told. Apparently the cruise could not have been better, they all concluded that they had as good as won the lottery with the weather. Sheila rang a bell for last orders .  Some of the younger drinkers looked at each other a little puzzled. The more weather beaten looking sailors could easily read the expression writ large on the landlady’s face: “Right you lot, its last orders, I want you all out in 1/2 hour, and then I want to clear up  and  go to bed!” Last orders was soon over and  everyone  tumbled out of the pub, it was just after midnight.

Inside the Ship Inn.

The two sailors picked their way through the rising meadow towards the campsite. They tried not to trip over the many guy lines that lay in wait.  Many tents were festooned with faint solar charged LED lights that helped somewhat. Eventually, they threaded their way passed an inky black castle set against a star blazoned sky. Coastal lights swept the horizon from Morecambe to Blackpool. They stumbled down onto the beach. They disturbed a young couple sharing a sleeping bag under the stars. Apologies were made and humorously accepted. They re-entered the boulder strewn foreshore of Piel Scar. Black shapes were all around.  They stumbled on.  They questioned themselves: where’s the dinghy, did we come the same way back, have we walked too far, what’s the strange looking shape lying fifty yards square on the left.  They wheeled sharply to the left. As the distance closed,  the watery light emitting from their head torches revealed a shiny damp dinghy, almost appearing to glow-in-the-dark. Strangely the Avon round-tail dinghy looked like new under the ghostly LED light that shone upon it!

Soon the two Wardleys sailors were transiting the water between the shoreline and what, at that moment, appeared to be a dim shape out in the dark. It was a moonless sky. The countless millions of stars, as magnificent as they were, were even less capable at illuminating the boat than the head torches. However after twenty or thirty quick sharp strokes of the oars, the small distance covered was enough to bring the shape of a Mirage 2700 into focus. It grew larger and larger, eventually overwhelming the darkness, and for some strange reason, maybe the ale consumed in the Ship or other simulant, Jamila’s mast seemed taller than ever, reaching right up as high as the stars themselves.

After a quick check that Jamila’s position had not changed, and that the anchor was holding good the two sailors retired for the night. And so it was, Jamila spent a restful night tucked away from the world’s worries  moored in  Bass Pool on the much loved Piel Island’s  south side.

Andy heading for the dinghy. Jamila awaits at anchor on the south side of the castle in Bass Pool.

A scrumptious breakfast was enjoyed at the Ship Inn whilst looking out over Morecambe Bay. This time, one of King Steve’s small English breakfasts and a cup of tea proved quite enough. Ten litres of fresh drinking water was taken from the tap in the camper’s ablutions block and carried back to Bass Pool. Along the way, a few friendly nods were exchanged with bleary eye happy campers emerging from tents.

Rather than the previous landing in the midst of the boulders on Piel Scar, the dinghy was this time retrieved from the sandy shoreline further to the west. Yes, a little further to row, but a much more amenable landing point from a Wardley’s sailors practical point of view.

Andy and Simon take a pause for a selfie on the way to Walney Light House.

At the beginning of this narrative, it was said that an aim during this trip was to see the familiar from a different perspective.  Anchoring in Bass Pool as opposed to picking up a buoy was the  first great step in this regard. The views seemed broader and wider. The castle with its outer wall  looked more striking. The lighthouse on Walney Island is closer and more prominent. At low tide Bass pool gives an open expanse feel similar to that of a mere on the Norfolk Broads, being surrounded on all sides by a big skies.  But there was better to come. Just across the way was Walney Island.  Surprisingly, neither sailor had stepped foot on the largest of the Furness Peninsular islands before. Low tide had brought the sand of Walney within spitting distance of Jamila. A short hop in the Avon-round-tail was all that was required. The island turned out to be amazing. It felt like it was a links golf course that had been allowed to return to the wild. It had a swarthy but fresh open feel about it.  A rough road running a long side a deep green grass covered flood plain led to a tall white painted light house with an adjoining keepers house, which as been since converted into a lovely family home.

There were several wild life hides dotted around. As the two sailors ambled past them, they appeared very quiet and unoccupied, or so they thought? Finally they reached a magnificent beach on the far side where the sea stretches out across Morecambe Bay to Blackpool tower and beyond. Looking back the way they came, masts and sails  protruding above the grassy landscape were observed working there way across the  low country side.

Andy S. looks back at Piel castle across the ponds on Walney Island. 

In reality they were simply navigating the Barrow channel heading to the open sea. Yet again the two sailor were see things from a new perspective. It was an artist’s paradise! Andy painfully regretted not having brought his serious camera, which a that moment was sat uselessly back at home in Rochdale. Available smart phones were thus pressed into service as can be see.

Walney Light House up close. The closest these particular sailors have been.

Once back on Jamila it was time to clear the decks and to hoist the canvas for the next leg and perhaps the most interesting part of the planned journey. They were preparing to sail back to the Lancashire coast, but instead of the ‘Fairway Buoy’ the next waypoint was the ‘Lune No1 Buoy several miles further north’. The destination was the port of Glasson-Dock.

Plover Scar beacon marking the entrance to the river Lune.

The main channel into Glasson-Dock is surrounded by deep sand banks that are just and so covered at high water. The very prominent Plover Scar beacon  stationed some way offshore marks an out-crop rock where care must be taken.  If any part of this cruise could rip the keel or rudder off an approaching Wardley’s yacht carried along unknowingly by an incoming tide, it would be Plover Scar!

Jamila in the outer basin at Glasson Dock. The Dalton Arms is across the way just to the left of the gabled-end building.

The lateral marker buoys into Lancaster are few and far between compared with other places but Andy’s sharp eyes were able to pick them out one by one. Jamila’s keel kept clear of the bottom, passing Sunderland Point and finally arriving at Glasson Dock. The entry light was on red, but the two sailors could see the tidal gate sinking slowly under the water. The light turned to green that allowed the two sailors to advance over the threshold and tie up along side a pilot boat called ‘Trelawney,’ Just a little later on they were supping a pint in the ‘Dalton Arms’ dock side pub.

The stay at Glasson was short. The ‘Silver River’ coaster was due in at 6am. Bob the harbour master wanted them out before the big boat comes slewing in on the tide. Everything was going to plan until Jamila went aground just before the gate. This cost vital minutes. Bob shouted from the quayside that they should try again but take a line further to port. It worked except as they passed the tidal gate the ‘Silver River’ came in spinning around her stern, still being carried by the flood tide. The exit  out to sea was block by 500 tonnes of steel. Jamila was forced hard astern. For a moment they were faced with a large churning propeller forcing chunks of the river lune onto a rusty rudder as the big boat struggle to complete a full turn in front of the tidal gate. Silver River’s aim was the North wall just outside the gate where she takes the ground at low tide.

A coaster slewing around (not the Silver River)

All this action was happening on an overcast Monday morning. The plan for the day was to leave Glasson on the early tide, sail to Piel, have lunch at the Ship Inn, and return to Wardley’s Creek on the following evening high water.

After hovering for a  minute or two by the gate, where Bob the harbour master was standing tall commanding operations on the quayside,  a gap opened up through which Jamila made a dash for open water. The weather forecast was cited as force four to five. As Jamila passed the ancient quay side dwellings of Sunderland Point, home to a few hundred Lancastrians whos single approaching road is famously cut off at high water, a decision was taken to hoist the sails with a number one reef in the main.  The wind was mainly on the  nose leaving Lancaster. Neither of the Wardley’s sailors had much experience of sailing in this neck of the woods so it was decided to remain under engine until arriving at number four buoy.  At that point the Jamila’s skipper had calculated a  feasible close hauled course over the Sunderland shoulder (drying 4m above)  which would give up at least a metre and a half under the keel that would take us roughly, with a knot and a half of out going tide, in the general direction of Piel Island.

By this time the overcast sky was being replaced by blue sky and fluffy white clouds coming in from the west.  With a reef in the main, a balancing portion of genoa was unfurled, Jamila engine was cut and a port-tack heading in the direction of ‘ Humphry Head’ was struck. Jamila’s sails filled and stiffened, she  healed to the wind, her gunwales buried into the on coming sea and soon the depth gauge plummeted as proof that she was making way and advancing over the said shallows leading to the open sea.

The three hour sail over to Piel was one of the classic sails that all sailors idealize about in the off season whilst thumbing through additions of the Practical Boat Owner, or  watching episodes of Dylan Winter on YouTube with a glass of scotch in hand. It was all blissful sunshine  blue sea,  canvas filled with wind and a frothy white trail left astern.

Eventually the depth dropped off dramatically as Jamila cross into the Heysham deeps. After an hour of tough close-hauled sailing, both sailors looked at each other quizzically and were agreed that the view looking towards our destination looked somewhat peculiar. The castle was way to the left and the Barrow docks well to the right. This is NOT how it looks coming out of the River Wyre! Why hadn’t the tide taken then further to the south?

What a fantastic summer we were having. So much sun fair weather.

Jamila’s  position was  plotted on the chart.  It was then compared again the estimated positions planned a few hours earlier.  This revealed that she was much higher up into Morecambe Bay  than expected.  The estimate of a one knot current sweeping us south had been an over estimation, and thinking back, no offset for leeway had been factored in, all which had contributed to the current situation. Luckily, during the course of the morning, the wind had backed-off to the south and the Wardley’s sailors were able to make the necessary  course correction without the need for a starboard tack. Nevertheless it was going to be a seat of the pants ride over shallow waters and drying banks until ‘Haws Point East’. Harking back to the premise at the beginning of this post, yes it is certainly invigorating to see the ‘familiar, from a different perspective!

The lunch at Piel turned out to be a non event. Steve and Sheila had just arrived back, in two rusty 4x4s packed full of previsions. There was a sense of mild disarray on the Island. Again, the different perspective thingy again, it was a Monday not the weekend when everything runs like a swiss watch. Although Steve gave the answer we were looking for, the look on Shelia’s face told us straight that we weren’t going to be sat over looking the full  expanse of Morecambe Bay with a large pub lunch before us and a pint in hand any time soon. The two Wardley’s sailor beat a retreat over the island, passing the castle and the few remaining tents,  back to Bass Pool where Jamila lay at anchor.  A lunch of sorts was rustled up from the left-over provisions on board. It wasn’t that bad to be honest, but no draft beers were consumed that lunch time.

The wind was dropping. By the time the boat slipped her anchorage the tide had been on the flood for an hour. The engine was required to get out 0f the channel. Once back at Haws Point the engine was cut and a course set for home.  Three knots was the best the boat would do. Unfortunately this was not enough. One of the big questions arising out of this trip was still to be answered, would Jamila get back to her mooring without running aground? The sailors looked at each other and almost without having to touch anything the engine burst back into life.

There was a moment of respite from the monotonous throbbing found however. Once the boat had passed the Fairway Buoy the tide veered in towards the river Wyre. Now, the wind and tide ran in the same direction. The last couple of miles were completed under sail alone.

“The two well dressed elderly ladies sat in the bay window of the  Euston hotel, looking out over Morecambe Bay, sipping their afternoon tea, were duly treated to the sight of a Wardley’s Marine Yacht Club boat under full sail lazily drifting up the channel into the river Wyre. What a way to spend a Monday afternoon!”

Once back in the river. A cunning plan was put into action. It was neap tides. The best we could expect was 7.5 metres of water in the river. This was touch and go territory. To the rescue, Andy had a trump card tucked up his sleeve that would help us up the river. In our possession we had a small  iBook tablet. On it was chart plotting software putting a our disposal latest depth survey sounding of the Wyre’s upper reaches. Equally important, it would tell us our exact location with respect to the multitude of depth numbers shown on the little screen.

Back up the Wyre passing the chemical works.

Needless to say, the two sailors made it back to the mooring.

At times there was very little margin for error. Some agressive turns to port and starboard were required to keep to the optimal line.  At one point there was only half a meter under the keel. Momentarily the boat crossed a deep pool marked at 0.5 surrounded by 4s and 5s. As predicted, Jamila’s depth sounder shot up very briefly to 7 metres. Once passed the chemical plant the going was straight forward with little to go wrong.

The club house was very quiet when they returned. A bye stander would have observed two tired but happy looking sailors finally disembark from an Avon round-tail dinghy and carry their kit up concrete slipway. It was around 7:30pm and there was a relaxed sultry feel in the air. The day was  getting  long in the tooth and in a few hours the sun would be setting. All that remained was to pack-up the dinghy, put stuff in the car, start the engine and go home.  Still, what an amazing three days.

Jamila takes a well earned rest.

 

The End.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Isle of Man – Wardleys to Derbyhaven – May 2018

In early April an assortment of Wardleys sailors crowded around a small map on the club house notice board and chattered excitedly amongst themselves. The map showed a large bay facing  the north-east with a thin strip of land separating it from yet another bay of equal size on the opposite side.  To the east of these conjoined bays was a thin strip of land, containing a golf-course, jutting out into  the Irish sea. Tom, one of the club’s experienced sea-sailors, clutching a large mug of tea, suggested that this would be the ideal place for a ‘Wardleys flotilla’ to rendezvous, after setting out from the tidal channels of Morecambe Bay. Five Wardleys’ skippers declared they were up for the challenge!

Morecambe Bay to the Isle of Man. A very long day 12 hour sail.

Any anchorage had to be well sheltered from the prevailing south-westerlies, and not-least be somewhere on IOM,  so a quick straw vote was taken and ‘DERBY HAVEN’ bay it was to be.

Derby Heven Bay in the south east of the Isle of Man. Five intrepid Wardley’s sailor on four boats sailed into this bay in the month of May 2018.

Well, as we all know, great plans are easier to make than to realize.  Beers in the club house, a good bit of banter alloyed with collective   desire for adventure can easily give birth to plans, but somewhere between making and executing plans things can happen.  But hey-ho,  a month later two Wardleys boats and three members found themselves sailing with the ebb down the river Wyre,  stocked up with provisions, diesel, and sails aloft.

Simon was on ‘Jamila’ and Darren and Phil on ‘Rivendell’.  The plan was to complete the outward bound cruise in two legs.  First to head over to Piel — not that far in the scheme of things — get an early dinner,  drink a pint or two, and be sleeping by ten o’clock so ready for a half-past three morning departure.

The other skippers in the planned cruise, Nick, Malcolm and Tom, all hoped break their shackles and rendezvous later on in the week.

For ‘Rivendell’ and ‘Jamila’, the first leg went pretty much according to plan. The two Wardleys  boats arrived at Piel in unadulterated sunshine. The scene was the classic ‘summer holiday’. Crowds of tourists, sailors and  campers milled around the Ship Inn. Children were crabbing in the shallows.

Crabbing at Piel

The Piel ferry was at the slipway full of punters with happy smiles, climbing on and off over the gunwales.  Up on the island by the Ship Inn the sounds of joking and laughter,  mothers calling children,  and dogs barking, all came floating down over the water as far as the two Wardley’s boats now sat at anchor.

Piel ferry full of punters

The three sailors decided to wait an hour for the hustle and bustle to clear, then launch the dinghy,  go ashore, dine quietly in the Ship, then retire early in preparation for the early start. In fact, all three sailor fell asleep for a short while!

Unadulterated sunshine at Piel Island

The three sailors packed tightly into Rivendell’s small dinghy to go ashore. As they rowed towards the long pier they could just and so hear, over the rhythmic creaky clattering of the oars, the faint sound of the  ‘put, put, put’ sound from the last Piel Ferry heading into the distance depositing the last of the Island visitors on the main land.

A disappointment was awaiting the three sailors!

The walk up the slipway to the Ship Inn was eerily quiet. The landlord’s 4×4, wasn’t in its usual position adjacent to the kitchen, and looking in through the windows, chairs could be seen upside down on every table. The pub was shut! The transition from ‘busy’ to ‘dead’ had happened so quickly. Well, it was Sunday evening, the landlord had some urgent business to conclude in Barrow, and had to leave quick whilst the tidal path across the sand was passable

A rather forlorn walk around the island ensued.  The evening was idyllic, the views over Morecambe Bay were magnificent but there was a sense of loss and disappointment in the air.

Walk around the island. The sailor were hungry Only the owl was dining that night on the island.

The Wardleys sailors retired back to the boats and set about choosing a route over to ‘Derbyhaven Bay’. After some discussion, a decision was taken on which way to go around the huge wind farm just off Walney Island. One route looked marginally better for the tides, the other route looked better for the winds. A priority was set on sailing and so they selected the southern-route and maybe make a small saving in diesel along the way.

The march of time never stops, dates, deadlines and everything else in life sooner-or-later comes along whether you want it or not. Morning wake-up alarms rang on both boats at half-past three. Luckily, ‘Rivendell’ crew member Phil,  a good solid early riser, was on hand to ensured that his skipper ‘Darren’, who’s solidity here is highly questionable, was up and ready by four o’clock, the allotted time for departure. Simon on ‘Jamila’ also made it out of his bunk, and both boats quietly slipped anchor as scheduled. The sun was still more than six degrees below the horizon, just behind the seaside resort of Morecambe, thus the sky was still a dark shade of black. An early morning dog walker, looking out to sea, would have witnessed the dimly lit sails of two vessels quietly tacking down the Barrow channel out into nothingness.

The first part of the long road to IOM was easy,  the helmsman  maintains a steady path between the red and green channel lights until reaching the ‘Lighting Knoll’ buoy. This last is the main cardinal that marks the start of deep water ahead. During this first leg the sun, still hidden below the horizon,  entered the sub six degree sector and the sky started to lighten dramatically. The far-distant shore lights that could be seen all around started to  disappear one-by-one and were replaced by thin faint strips of coastline.  By the time the two boats arrived at the ‘Lightning Knoll’  buoy a magnificent sunrise over the Northwest coast of England took place. Now…, without doubt, there is no better place to witness this thrilling moment than out at sea.

Sun rise over Morecambe Bay. ‘Rivendell’ making way. Click image to see in full detail.

Over to the west and through the semi daylight gloom a forest of wind-generators started to appear. The first ‘wind-mills’ people see from the shore are just a small farm twenty to thirty strong, but behind those, are three much larger farms that reach-out deep into the Irish sea. Here there are hundreds of them!

The question on the mind of one of the Wardleys skippers was: “Do I go all the way around to the south,  or do I cut through the farm and set a heading direct for Derby Haven bay?” By now, the wind was blowing nicely on the beam, perfect for a fast reach all the way to the Isle of Man.  The question quickly became, “Should I?”

During this decision making process, the skipper of ‘Jamila’ was looking at the big arrow on his GPS. It was pointing confidently across the Irish Sea  towards Derby Haven bay some 50 miles distance.

[It was back in nineteen-seventy-eight that our Americans cousins launched the first of the thirty-three satellites  that give us this marvellous navigational aid — god bless Uncle Sam!]

Quite suddenly a corridor opened up in the grid type arrangement of generators and the said GPS arrow was pointing straight down the middle.  The corridor looked clearly defined as far as the eye could see, help by the closed-up elignment  of the towers on each flank.

Why not?

In an instant Jamila’s tiller was pushed hard to port, her sheets were slackened, her sails allowed to billow, and away she went diving directly into the vast mechanical forest.

Jamila changes course and dives into the forest of wind generators.
Phil on ‘Rivendell’ with first field of generators (closest to Walney) to starboard. The photo illustrates nicely now the towers line up in a grid pattern.

The skipper of ‘Rivendel’ decided to stick to the original plan and head for the GPS way-points that had been discussed the night before on Piel Island. This meant a couple more hours of arduous motor-sailing into the wind and tide in order to skirt the southern edge of the wind-farms.  This wasn’t really a problem though, for ‘Rivendell’ is a Mirage 2700  equipped with a powerful diesel, and with her big blue spray hood pulled up, she makes a comfortable motorboat when the conditions require. ‘Rivendel’s dividend was paid in FULL two or three hours later. By then she had passed the planned GPS way-point, she was well to the south of the wind farm, she was able to change course to west-north-west bringing the wind onto the beam thus providing the optimum angle of attack, but most importantly, the tide had turned in her favour. All the key parameters had come into alignment. Now, it was full speed ahead for Derbyhaven Bay.

But things got even better!

Suddenly ‘Rivendell’ wasn’t alone, but surrounded by dolphins. A whole pod of them for a period of thirty-minutes  headed in the same direction.  It is often said that this particular experience can stir and prick the emotions of the hardiest mariners, Daren and Phil can confirm this!

A dolphin off the starboard bow.

Further to the north ‘Jamila’ was struggling! Advancing beyond the the wind-farms seemed like a losing battle.  The south-westerly force-four winds didn’t really materialize as promised. For far too long she was surrounded by them and they just wouldn’t go away.  This was largely due to  plugging a flood tide still heading towards Morecambe Bay.  And in addition, it was all too easy to get complacent whilst relying on the tiller pilot. On more than one occasion the skipper set a course down a corridor of towers only to find, when emerging from the cabin after say doing a spot of chart-work,  a blooming great tower reaching high out of the sea,  well above the mast and sails, and only yards distance.

Along way up to get to the ground floor!
The bottom of the blade still high above Jamila’s mast top.

The hours passed by. Then three positive events came into conjunction. The tide turned, the wind increased, and Jamila had finally passed the last of the wind-farm generators. Until this point there was still two-thirds of the total distance to sail and four hours had passed by. The GPS was predicting a ETA of eleven o’clock in the evening. It was not a very nice thought, arriving in a strange location late at night in the pitch-black, dropping a hook and hoping for a good night’s sleep. Four more hours passed, during which time Jamila steadily creamed across the Irish Sea, the sky was blue, her white sails pressed hard, and the water around her turned a deeper blue with the odd white crest here and there as the wind steadily increased. Nothing much changed visually until you look behind and traced your eye back along Jamila’s foaming wake to where the wind-farm had been, for now it was but a thin strip of gleaming  pins just visible on the horizon.

More time passed and still no sign of anything. Its often when you stop straining your eyes looking for something that the something in question comes into sight. Shrouded in mist that is often the case for the Isle of Man the land became visible. Amazing when the Skipper next looked at his GPS the ETA had reduced to seven o’clock in the evening. The combination of the increase in speed and an ebbing tide carrying the boat directly toward ‘Derbyhaven Bay’ had been astonishingly beneficial. The pubs might be still open!

Land appearing shrouded in mist

In the meantime Daren and Phil on ‘Rivendell’ were taking the more southerly route around the farms. With the wind more or less on the nose she had gunned past the wind-farms under engine and made much better time. By the time the favourable beam wind had arrived, she was more than an hour ahead, and had disappeared out of sight of ‘Jamila’.  In the end both boats arrived safely and dropped their anchors, still in bright daylight.

Derbyhaven Bay looking north west towards the aerodrome.
Derbyhaven Bay looking southwest towards Derbyhaven port.

As it happen, visits to pubs was far from what the Wardleys’ sailors really desired. What they all really really wanted was sleep and lots of it!

‘Rivendell’ and ‘Jamila’ with Ronaldsway aerodrome beyond. Taken from Langness golf club the following day
View of Derbyhaven from Langness.

The delights of Derbyhaven, and Castletown just beyond, would be checked-out in the morning.

As for the other Wardleys sailors who had been huddled around the club notice board back in April, Nick arrived a day or two later, Malcolm arrived a week later, and Tom’s dreams of a late May IOM adventure were spoilt by unexpected commitments.

There’s more to come soon: “The middle of the night gale in Derbyhaven Bay”

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.

Odds and sods, mid season July 2017

Odds and sods, mid season July 2017

Ship Inn, watching a boat sailing by.  In the distance: Morecambe, Lancashire.

Brendan at Piel
Brendan at Piel
Malcolm's dinghy and Simon's seagull at Knott End.
Malcolm’s dinghy and Simon’s seagull at Knott End.

Tom and Simon heading to the slipway to off-load Jamila’s CQR anchor

The Swellies. Taken shortly before running though on a Sparkman & Stephens 47
The Swellies. Taken shortly before running though on a Sparkman & Stephens 47

 

Meal time on a Sparkman & Steven’s 47 during a RYA Skipper exam. Candidates getting some hard earned grub.
Spacious Mirage 2700 ‘Jamila’. Now doing the regular milk run to Piel.
Coastal freighter doing a U-Turn at Salford Quays.