Anchoring at Bass Pool full report. August 2019

A brief synopsis goes like so: –

Five Wardley’s yachts entered ‘Bass Pool’ to drop anchor, three  lay there for the whole night.

Those that felt secure enough to trust their ground tackle all had big heavy hooks with plenty of chain, or had the modern  delta type anchors that cut deep and efficiently into the sand and mud.

Those who relied on their Chart-plotter for a suitable location were punished severely  by an  ebbing tide, and  were left embarrassingly  high and dry. The moral here is don’t trust the men from the ministry and their new fangled electronic charts.

Those who sailed furthest into the pool dried out briefly until the tide returned.

Those on an imaginary  line between the lighthouse and the castle brief elevated a few inches and settled again once the flood tide began.

Only those gently swinging at the outer margins of Bass Pool stayed afloat throughout.

Skippers with ladies aboard opted for the perceived greater safety of the large buoys closest to the pub.

Fifteen sailors and two Wardley’s dogs joined in the club event that took place overlooking ‘Bass Pool’ behind Piel castle. Everyone had a great time and later mingled with the other party goers on the island.

The night at anchor was quiet All those involved returned home safely the following day.

Lots of people on the island.

For those who would like to hear more please read on: –

The following map will help make sense of the following narrative.

Fifteen Wardley’s sailors and friends made it over to Piel Island and went ashore for the main event. The Island was alive like has been seen rarely before. When Jamila sailed into the Barrow channel it was great to see four yachts awaiting in Bass Pool.

On the island itself, a large contingent of young Flemish Belgians  had erected a large cream coloured marquee on the grass immediately adjacent to the Ship Inn and had quite literally taken over the whole of the foreshore in front of the pub. The sight and smell of cotton canvas and accompanying mass of willow poles invoked the nostalgia of yesteryear camping.

On the other side of the island, the inner keep of the castle was chocka block with tents of the more modern hi-tech variety. A large group of people were obviously in residence, initially it looked like a club of some sort. There was a celebratory mood in the air. It turned out that there was a fiftieth birthday party going on for someone very popular in some local community. Over a hundred people had turned up to join the fun. A large gazebos style tent was erected for communal purposes indicating that a great deal of prior planning had occurred. Children and dogs were running everywhere, chatty smiling ladies sat cross-legged on camping chairs holding large glasses of wine, and men folk fussed around smoking barbeques, bantering loudly amongst themselves, with bottles of beer in hand. The rest of the island seemed to be  packed with similar care free and happy camping type enterprise,  but on a smaller scale.

From a small fleet of inflatable dinghies the Wardley’s sailors entered the affray. They marched inland with a slight sense of bewilderment since normally they have the island to themselves. Still, the crunching advance up the shingly beach had an air of resolute purpose and very soon an encampment was established just above the high water mark.

There was much to do. In fact several WMYC inflatable trips were required to land the necessary food and barbeque paraphernalia that had been provisioned aboard our little ships three or four hours before.

Once established on the island the  Wardley’s sailors cut a dash. Each was wearing a classic sailor’s hat of some sort. They mingled with the island’s seasonal inhabitants, eliciting wry smiles and jovial remarks along the way. Still, they were not the only ones somewhat out of the ordinary. Many of those strolling by the Wardley’s encampment had faces gayly daubed in bright colours replete with  speckles of glitter. Piel Island was in  party mood to be sure to be sure!

The Wardley’s barbeque did not get off to a good start. In spite of having two charcoal grill sets at their disposal, the indomitable sailors from across the bay couldn’t get them going. Try as they might, employing  copious amounts of inflammable fluids, the heat necessary to get  the burgers sizzling and the  sausages crackling could not be found from anywhere. At times the necessary heat looked promising but only to wither away once the wire grill, charged with the much sort after barbeque goodies, was put in position . A very dispiriting state of affaires came to pass. Despondency abounded for a time. Glum Wardley’s sailors looked at each other in bewilderment.  Mutinous whisperings of decamping to the Ship Inn could be detected coming from some quarters.

Then up the beach marched Norman ‘Ace’ Ingram, a long time WMYC member, the master of the yacht ‘Sika’. The said sailor’s grizzled brow contracted sharply when he saw the failing efforts of his fellows sailors. With an expert eye he soon spotted the problem, The griddle coke pans were assembled the wrong way around, so not providing sufficient fuel depth between the pan and food laden wire-grill. With a particular but nevertheless authoritative gusto he quickly got the BQ back on an even keel.  Better late than never and in a short time, the sizzling burgers and crackling sausages were finding themselves into buns and on to plates to the general satisfaction of all.

All the time the ebb tide continued on its inexorable journey back out into Morecambe Bay.  There was a ten-three metre tide that day. The Wardley’s Yachts out in the Pool began to take on strange attitudes. Yacht Sika seemed to be the first affected. Soon the poor girl was taking on a thirty degree list. Was she leaking badly?  No, as the water receded she was sinking into the ground.  One of her diminutive triple keels was sinking to starboard into the ‘Bass Pool’ sand. Between mouthfuls of barbeque grub, Norman complained bitterly that he had definitely anchored in the deepest point in the whole Pool according to his Raymarine chart-plotter. The damned thing had let him down, and this was the second time now! Still, despite the awkward looking scene, Sika was in fact safe and sound, and her bilges eventually settled on the soft surrounding ground. She would surely rise once again on the incoming tide in due course.

Barbeque behind Piel Castle. Wardley’s sailors settle down and relax.

The barbeque went on and on. Most people got second helpings and some lucky sailors even managed thirds. Much beer had been drunk including a  bottle of red wine.  Here most sailors got at least a small ration to wash down their charcoal cooked meat in the good old continental tradition. Note that the sophisticated WMYC catering arrangements also included ‘Veggie Burgers’ from the renowned ‘Linda Mc Cartney’ range, thus all needs had been catered for. But after a while some sailors were ready to retire to their bunks and others were enticed away by the partying in and around the island. This included a well attended disco replete with pumping speakers and improvised disco lighting in a Piel castle keep.

‘Jamila’s skipper, and author of this post, had invited his dad to the island to join in the fun. He duly arrived on the Piel Island ferry on one of the last sailings of the day.  Light was beginning to fail so the said dad had to be ferried back to his car on Roe Island. Norman kindly offered the use of his suitably sized inflatable.  At the time of departing Bass Pool with the said dad on board the tide was rapidly flooding once again.  As they motored gently out of the finger of water that was ‘Bass Pool’ at the bottom of a whopping ten metre,  they noticed ‘Barn Dancer’s dinghy about to be enveloped and carried away by the incoming tide. In the distance, Jack could be seen hurrying across the  sand to save her from an early trip back across Morecambe Bay. Would he make it in time? It looked touch an go. The said dinghy was completely surrounded by water by the time Jack arrived, but stayed in place long enough for a panting skipper to grab the gunwales and saving the need for a red faced  excuse back at the clubhouse.

The trip back to Roe Island took some time to complete. During the passage that led through the multitude of moored boats in Piel Harbour, skipper Darren and crew was observed heading back to Rivendel. All was quiet on the water. This gentle and subdued scene contrasted starkly with the laughing and excitement coming from the Island.  Soon after, the WMYC skipper’s dad was deposited on the long jetty at Roe, and good-byes and farewells were exchanged.

The scene back at the Ship Inn was riotous in the best sense of the expression. Everyone was in good humour and loud joyful conversations abounded the main bar. The Wardleys contingent were easy to spot whilst sporting their Sailors Hats. Other island visitors loved the scene so much that they demanded to have their photographs taken with the said sailors. No request by  attractive and smiling young ladies were refused. Some Wardleys’ sailors were also invited into a card game, in which they acquitted themselves not too badly, winning the first few rounds of a simple but jolly game called ‘Chase the ACE!’.

All the time however the tide was flooding, the moonless sky was darkening, the wind was rising, and some of the four remaining Wardley’s sailors  were  getting worst for wear. They still had to return to yacht Jamila in a small Avon round-tail  dinghy under oar. With some difficulty the Skipper prized his crew out of the Ship Inn and together they stumbled back passed the castle to the barbeque location overlooking the anchorage. The sky was an inky black! The tide was right up to the high tide mark. The Avon round tailed dinghy was made ready. Jamila was just and so identifiable as a small smudge glowing weakly a long way in the distance. The only saving grace was the bright mast head light on yacht Nimrod anchored nearby. This was to be the guiding light on the journey back. There was still an hour and a half to high water. The time was 00:30H. Three trips were planned since three in the dinghy never mind four was considered a none starter given the distance and the threat of a remaining one hour and a half of flood tide. The first outward trip started well. The two sailors rowed out keeping close to the black shadow of Piel castle to port, to avoid the expected tide for as long as possible. A promising advance up stream of the distant smudge that was ‘Jamila’ was gained. Confidence was running high that a quick sprint at a roughly calculated forty-five degree angle of attack, across the black chasm, and into the arms of Jamila could be achieved. So off they rowed at full bore. Initial progress looked good. The guiding light coming from Nimrod remained steady in location relative to the regular ten second flash from the Walney lighthouse. The Wardley’s skipper redoubled his efforts at the oars. The worst for wear crew member held on tightly as instructed. The plan seemed to be working.  After a minute of intensive labour on the oar, the skippered took a second out for a quick bearing and was astonish to find that the mast head light of Nimrod had simply disappeared! Where had she gone? She was the all important guide after all.

A moment of total disorientation took hold. What on earth had happened? The inebriated crew member was oblivious to their collective plight. The skipper craned his head in the other direction and spotted a light some distance  from the Avon round-tail. It was Nimrod! She was lying in an unexpected position a long way up stream. The two Wardley’s sailors were being remorsefully carried away from the Island by the tide. The lights of the Piel island cottages had come into view. The fight was now on to get back to the safely of Piel! The round-tail turned and headed back in the direction it came from. Sooner than feared the two sailors were back on Piel crunching their way up a black beach hauling a tired inflatable between them. There was nothing for it, the next attempt would have to happen at the 02:00H HW. It was to be a long wait. Only, three of the four sailors made it back that night. The forth sailor decided, and probably quite sensibly, to spend the night on the island. After all, the disco music was still playing loudly and the multi-coloured lights were still dancing in the castle keep. For some on the island, the night was still young!

Collecting the barbeque kit the following morning. Campers queuing for the Piel Ferry.

All the Wardleys Sailors enjoyed a peaceful sleep at either anchor or at a mooring. The breeze that mounted in the wee hours causing trouble for the midnight rowers abated. The morning was quiet. The sailor’s had squirrelled the cooking equipment into the long grass just before the failed attempt to row back to ‘Jamila’. Once fully awake, the said crew headed back to the island and then on to the Ship Inn for breakfast.  They moved the equipment across to a staging position by the white washed wall of the pub. Bill and Norman from ‘Sika’ joined up with them. Following a brief wait for the King of Piel to find his apron and warm up his stove, they were all soon sat enjoying a full ‘English’ of eggs and bacon, sausage and beans, and observed the early bird Wardley’s sailors, with white canvas hoisted high aloft into a blue sky, drift away from the island on the last of  the ebb.

All the Wardley’s sailors made it back across Morecambe Bay to the home creek safe and sound.


















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