Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Map updated

 Link to map
Click on the image to go to the navigable map.

In the last fortnight we covered 264 nautical miles in 71 hours, spread over 10 days. We were moving under wind power for 30 of those hours, while the rest of the time we were motor sailing or under motor alone.  

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Two rivers and a bridge

Waterford Dawn
I woke really early, and noticed a reddish tint to the light coming into the cabin, so stuck my head up to have a look. Julian asked what I was doing, then got up to take some pictures. while I want back to sleep.

After breakfast we went to the Medieval Museum, which was well worth the visit, with some interesting stuff about the trade rivalry between Waterford and New Ross. As we wandered round the town it began to drizzle, so we took our sandwiches back to Robinetta to eat. The weather did not help my end of holiday feeling!

The tide was due to turn at Dunmore East (the entrance to Waterford Harbour) just before 3, so there was no point leaving Waterford before 2. The tide was still ebbing rapidly at Waterford then, so we had to think hard about how to leave our berth safely. There was plenty of room in front of us, but the tide would soon sweep us down onto the next boat along... I thought we had enough room once Julian pushed Robinetta off at the bows and we swung out into the river, but then the current pushed the bow back in and I had to reverse in a hurry. That was the perfect manoeuvre as it made the stern swing out, and we were soon clear of the pontoon and all the boats without hitting anything. If only I had planned it...

We were soon heading down river in poor visibility due to the drizzle, with the engine hardly above tick over; just enough to give us steerage way. We were making 5 and a half knots. My calculations had told me that with at most an hour and a half to low water there should have been less than a knot of tide with us even at springs, but I was obviously wrong.

I had phoned the Barrow Bridge yesterday to advise them that I would want a opening today, and now I phoned again to give an hours notice. I felt slightly silly, we were at low water springs and there was every change that Robinetta could just about fit under the bridge, but the Barrow Bridge is on a disused railway line, and opening it does not inconvenience any trains!

The bridge began opening while we were still in the River Suir and as I turned Robinetta towards the bridge, and into the ebb tide from the River Barrow her speed dropped from 5 knots to 1. Even when I throttled up to maximum we were making less than 3... The bridge operator came out onto his balcony and watched Robinetta slowly pass through.

The river Barrow is shallowed than the Suir, and at low tide we had barely 2m beneath the keel. Plenty for us, but the river is buoyed for big ships. It is very pretty and looked totally rural, with wide muddy banks fringed by reeds. After about half an hour the ebb had ceased, and the drizzle cleared away, leaving us with a bright hot afternoon.  Once the decks had dried Julian asked me to make a start on greasing the shackles (a necessary job before leaving Robinetta) but the tide was hurrying us along again and I did not finish before New Ross came into view.

We saw a small freighter tied up to the far bank, making it obvious that the river is still used for commercial traffic, and the town quay side had the Dunbrody, a ex-working replica of a famine ship. The Three Sisters marina at New Ross is mainly used by motor boats, which can pass under the bridge in the centre of New Ross and gain entry to the entire inland waterway system of Ireland. It was only half full, so there was plenty of room for us to leave Robinetta there for a month.

We put Worm on the foredeck again. The tide current sweeps though the outer berths of the marina, bringing rubbish with it, so Worm was safer up there than in the water. She also acts as a good cover for the leaking hatch, and can not fill with water herself, so Peter at Dingle did a good turn when he insisted Worm would fit.

Friday, 22 July 2016

Up the river to Waterford

Robinetta grounded at about one in the morning. Unfortunately I had left the stern line on too tight, and as the pontoon also grounded we were pulled over slightly towards it. The tilt woke me, and I realised what was happening, so went up to release the line. Julian and I have slept on the slant before, and this was not nearly as bad as the first time we dried out at Maldon, but it was still a nuisance. Julian did not sleep well, and as soon as he felt there was enough water to support Robinetta again he went on deck and pulled her upright. When I woke at 04;30 Robinetta was upright again and floating.

Dunvargan in the sunshine
We wanted to be away from the pontoon early, so set the alarm for 06;15. By 6:50 we had cast off and were motoring away in plenty of water. The tide was still running in, so we made slow progress until we were clear of the channel, but once in the bay the tidal streams were much less.

We got the sails up, and managed to sail some of the time, but we also motor sailed, or just motored as the winds were light and variable. We did get some good views of the coastline, with their identifying marks, put up long before the days of GPS when it was essential to know where a long a coast you had made landfall.

We used the tiller pilot for most of the day, even when sailing, and "George" coped with the gentle swell nicely. It is really helpful to have such a third crew member after an early start, but we did need to keep a careful eye out for crab pots.

Dunmore East
We followed the coast as it curved round past Swines Head and headed into Waterford Harbour past Dunmore East. We had thought about stopping here, but it was only just past lunchtime so we decided to keep going all the way up the river Suir to Waterford.

We turned the engine off for a while and sailed slowly towards Duncannon, but the wind died away again, so we got the main sail down and went back to engine.

The channel is well buoyed, but there some big ships come down it. It was an interesting trip, with some fun tidal effects where the Kings Channel and the Queen's Channel rejoined at the eastern end of Little Island. I saw an actual whirlpool here, only 1m across though!

I phoned the marina when we still had an hour to go before we got there, and were told to go on pontoon C, which is the third (and last) one along the river side before the bridge. The marina manager was waiting to take our lines when we arrived, which was very useful given the strong current in the river. I had forgotten to pull Worm in close, but Julian saved the situation and we were soon moored up in the centre of the town.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Youghal to Dungarvan

Wind against tide made the Youhgal moorings a bit bouncy once the tide turned to run out against the wind around 8 this morning. The weather forecast suggested that the wind would increase to force 5 around lunchtime, but was less blustery than previous forecasts for the day. We decided to leave rather than spend a day on the mooring, but just head 20nm along the coast to Dungarvan. This has a drying harbour we would not be able to approach until 16:30, so there was no point leaving much before 10:30.
The swell at the moorings had quieted down as the tidal flow in the river increased; it had moved down river to the harbour entrance making a marked “bar” there. Since this was in over 5 metres of water there was no problem crossing it, but the short steep seas were uncomfortable and sluiced the foredeck a bit. Luckily Julian had already finished hoisting the jib and tidying the mooring ropes.
Once we were in clear water I throttled back the engine revs. Julian had seen gannets diving and wanted to see if he could catch anything. He ran out the mackerel line for ten minutes but nothing bit so he hauled it in and we got the sails up.
Mine Head
Despite the unpromising weather forecast we had a gorgeous sail east along the “Copper Coast”. The slight swell only became obvious round headlands, which just encouraged us to duck a little further into the bays once we were past, giving us some lovely views.
Helvick Head from the sea
We gybed round Helvick Head as the sun went behind a cloud, and after a few minutes the wind began to increase. The sun had gone, and we were heading too fast towards the entrance channel so we decided to get the main sail down where we were. The area we were in, just off Helvick, already felt shallow and contained a high concentration of crab pot markers. Between dodging the crab pots and eyeing up the depth it was difficult to keep Robinetta head to wind, and the sails came down in a bit of a mess (my fault, not Julians on the helm. It would have been a lot easier if I had remembered to remove the preventer before tying to centre the main..).
The cloud thickened and the wind continued to rise, then it started to drizzle which brought the visibility down. I pulled Worm in so she would not catch on any of the navigations buoys, then we picked our way from buoy to buoy in the Dungarvan approach channel which winds through drying mud flats for over a mile. We were at half tide, and never had less than 1.7 metres beneath the keel, but would probably have gone aground a couple of metres to the wrong side of a buoy.
The drizzle began to be driven by the wind, so we were glad to see plenty of empty moorings just outside the harbour. We would need at least an hour's more height of tide to get to the pontoons inside the harbour, so picked up a mooring to wait.
Conditions in the cockpit were nasty, with the wind gusting to force 6 and heavy drizzle being blown in curtains across the view, but inside the cabin was snug and dry so we went below and had a cup of tea. I called the Dungarvan Sailing Club, which owns the pontoon where we hoped to spend the night (and probably the mooring we were on) and asked for advice. The suggested waiting until an hour before high water to approach the pontoon, so we did.
I pulled Robinetta's bowsprit in and stowed the jib, then sorted out the mess I had made of getting the sail down, then Julian came up to help and we got fenders and ropes ready for the pontoon.
Perch marking Dungarvan harbour entrance
Robinetta was dancing round the mooring to the contrary demands of the tide and the wind gusts, so it took a while to free the mooring rope. The harbour entrance was well marked with perches, but the tide was setting strongly across it, so we took a ferry glide approach to the first pair. Once through those there were no problems.
We were tied up to the pontoon by 1815, with 2m below the keel. A quick call to the Sailing Club duty officer saw him appear with a key fob to lend us to let us off the pontoon and back.
Dungarvan is a good place to stop so long as your boat can take the mud. There was a good Indian restaurant and several pubs within 200metres of the pontoon!

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Worm out shackles and snapped backstays...

Yesterday Butch, the owner of Tiger Moon, the boat we were moored up, on asked us to move onto a vacant finger berth so he could take Tiger Moon over to the slip way to dry out and get her keel pressure washed early the next morning. We moved happily, being pulled the short distance into the new berth on ropes.  We were left bow facing out, making for an easy get away today.

We prepared Robinetta and Worm to go, then rushed off to the Farmer's Market that starts at half nine every Wednesday. By ten we were back aboard and casting off.

Charles Fort, Kinsale
We got the sails up in Kinsale Bay and were sailing as soon as we got past the Spit Buoy. We put on the no 2 jib as the wind was forecast to increase in the afternoon. As we cleared Bulman Rock and turned on to course we put the preventer on for another day of nearly dead running with light swell from behind.

We had an hour and a half of pleasant sailing before the wind failed us and went too light to use. The engine went on and we soon lowered the main and tied it off to stop it flogging in the swell.

A few minutes later I heard a bang, and looked round to see that the forward port shroud had come loose from its chain plate. This is the shroud that carries the wiring for the radio aerial, so securing it was urgent even thought there was no load on the mast. Julian went forward immediately, and much to his surprise found that the shackle and its pin were both still on board. He reattached the shroud, but decided he should replace the shackle anyway. The pin was half worn through, but even more alarming the thread was so worn that screwing it in did not hold the pin in place. There could have been real problems if the shackle pin had worked loose while under load in the swell.

As we rounded the headland west of Cork Harbour we really started to notice the swell building. There was a large ship anchored almost exactly on our route and every now and then the swell would swing Robinetta's bow round so she was aiming at the side of the ship, which was also yawing round by 90° on its anchor.

Once we were west of Cork Harbour the wind began to build again, so we raised the main and turned the engine off. We also had the tide with us and were making 5.5 knots over the ground. Then the swell began to get up too.

After a while Robinetta was making over 6 knots and the steering was getting rather heavy. It was time to reef so I lowered the throat and peak halyards before putting the engine on to  turn us ehad to wind. Scandalising the sails did nothing to de-power them on this point of sail, so Robinetta turned quickly into the waves and Julian pulled in the reefing line. I wanted two reefs in
Capel Head

Facing into the waves made it obvious how big they were for a small boat.

Robinetta's bowsprit went into one as she turned, but after that she rose to them easily. Going back onto course took longer, and 2 waves rolled Robinetta well over before I could get her stern on to them again.

Robinetta was much easier to hold on course with the reef in, but that course was almost a dead run. By the time we reached Capel Island at the headland to the west of Youghal Bay we were half a nautical mile further out to sea than planned, since I was making sure we would not gybe. Half a mile before I expected to turn I steered slightly too far to port, and accidentally gybed.

The boom bounced off the working backstay with such force that the backstay rope broke. Luckily that slowed the boom down enough that nothing else got damaged, not even the sail! I quickly made off the previously lazy backstay and we stayed on that tack. Our distance south of our route, plus the knot of tide helping us along the coast helped us make a good course to clear Capel Island.
Meanwhile Julian ducked below and fetched Robinetta's old topsail halyard from the spare rope locker. It was the perfect rope to bring the starboard backstay back into commission.
Moll Goggins Corner at Youghal

After the drama of turning towards Youghal we had a pleasant sail across the bay towards the river Blackwater. The swell disappeared as soon as we were round the headland and our new point of sail contained no threat of a gybe. We got the sails down just before cutting across the west bank. We were only an hour before high water so their was plenty beneath our keel. Julian saw gannets diving, so got out the mackerel line to fish, but we had no luck.

As we came onto the river entrance we saw 3 GP14 dinghies racing, accompanied by a safety boat. This came over to Robinetta, and told us there were 6 new mooring buoys, laid only last week. We went on one, despite the Pilot Book's warning that they would be subject to swell. After dinner on board I rowed us over to the landing stage in Worm, and we had a look round Youghal.

The tide runs quickly past the moorings and made for an interesting return to Robinetta on the way back!

Monday, 18 July 2016

Castletownsend to Kinsale

We woke to fog again, but by 9 it had burnt off, leaving us in bright sunshine. There was no wind, but we decided to up anchor and head for Kinsale anyway. Almost as soon as we were out of the bay we were back in thick fog.
With no wind and no visibility it was time to put George the tiller pilot on duty, and he performed admirably all day.
Every now and then we would motor into clear patches and be able to see the coast line but most of the morning the visibility was less than 2 cables. It seemed to be clearing as we reached Glandore, so we did not go in, but then the fog came down again. We would never have left port in those conditions, and as far as we could see no other yachts did!
One fishing boat appeared off our starboard bow then vanished astern, several rafts of guillemots with just fledged chicks sat on the water, and we saw low flying flights of gannets, immature and adults together. Just east of Galley Head we saw dolphins, bottle nosed rather than common. One jumped clear out of the water, but mostly we just saw their rounded backs and fins.
By one o'clock we were heading across Clonakilty Bay in bright sunshine, having seen no trace of Galley Head, which remained shrouded in fog. There were yachts visible now, one well out to see and motoring west, and one almost directly on our route. This one was behaving oddly, going round in small cirlces, and we wondered if there was anything wrong so changed course to look. As we approached they straightened up and motored past us, waving happily, then went back to their circling in our wake. We decided they were probably fishing.
Fog hung over Dunworthy Point and Seven Head, so although I caught glimpses of the coastline west of them we could not see the headland. The wind freshened slightly, right on the nose; luckily there was still not much of it as we now had the tide woth us and wind over tide can be uncomfortable, especially going round a headland.
cave entrance on the Old Head of Kinsale
Once past Seven Head the wind went back to light again and the fog lifted, Looking back the whole coast line was in bright sunshine, but looking forward to the Old Head of Kinsale revealed nothing but another fog bank. We had got the main sail up before leaving Castletownsend, but put it down as we began to cross Courtmacsherry Bay. The wind was too light to use it, so all we were doing was damaging the sail. It had made us more obvious in the fog, but we were in sunshine again.
Rounding the Old Head of Kinsale
All at once the fog lifted from the Old Head of Kinsale and we got a great view of it as we rounded it quite close to. We could see Kinsale entrance ahead, with a yacht coming out, and then the yacht vanished abruptly behind the thickest fog we had yet met. We got the foghorn out, and began sounding it at two minute intervals while we both peered ahead, trying to make out any boats coming towards us. Twenty minutes of nervous motoring later we were through the fog bank, with brihgt sunshine and the entrance to Kinsale obvious ahead. 
On the way through the bay to the town we saw a lovely lug yawl dinghy, called Blackbird, that reminded us a little of our own Tiki, and a huge motor yacht. Its accompanying pilot boat asked me to take Robinetta out of the channel to give them the most possible space.
Kinsale Yacht Club marina visitor berths are on the outside of the pontoon, and they looked very full as we motored towards them. I phoned the yacht club, and when the marina manager heard Robinetta was only 7m long he found us a nice sheltered berth, rafted up on a resident boat on the inside of the pontoon.
We tied up in bright sunshine, wondering when we would next encounter the fog. 

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Fog or not fog

About 10:30 Julian put his head out of the cabin for a look and thought that the fog was lifting. When I checked at 11am I was not so sure, but we decided to get ready to go anyway. We cast off Robinetta's lines from Aoife just past noon and motored slowly out past the moorings.

The new chartplotter gave me reassurance that we were not straying off our route along the buoyed channel, and the fog as definitely lifting. We could see from one channel marker to the next, and the white pillar, called Lot's Wife, showed well on the hillside above us. Then we were through the harbour mouth, to discover that the fog was not merely thinning; the sea ahead was blue and the coast line eastward showed clearly.

We got the sails up, shaking out all the reefs, and turned off the engine to sail on a reach so broad that I asked Julian to put the preventer on against the chance that the swell would roll the boom across the boat. We had a lovely sail in light airs, with the swell rolling under us and the tide helping us along at 3.4 to 4 knots. Three yachts came past in the other direction, heading west under motor. We saw one sail across our bows, coming out of Castletownend or Glandore and heading south.
The Stags off Toe Head
As we passed between Toe Head and the Stags the wind shifted and almost died. The main tried to gybe across but was stopped by the preventer. Once we were back on course and there was some slack in the preventor line I undid it, and gybed the main across properly. Soon after this we rounded Toe Head and gybed the main again, then hardened up to sail into Castletownsend Bay.

We sailed through a line of numbered buoys, uncertain what they were for, then say another abiout 200m away and realised they were lanes for a race.
We turned round head ot wind and lowered the main, then motored slowly into the harbour area, looking for a place to anchor. As we did so 5 or 6 racing skiffs came out, with safety boat escorts. Julian steered Robinetta carefully through the moorings just off the town quay to leave the race course clear.

We dropped anchor just up river of the town, near a 35' gaff rigged yacht. “That's a Wylo,” said Julian. The couple on board waved, and invited us over for a drink, saying “We're OGA too!”
Granuaile at Castletownsend
Once Robinetta was properly tidied up with her sail covers on we rowed Worm over to Granuaile, and had a lovely evening talking to her owners Richard and Eilish Wylie, who plied us with wine, and fed us dinner. Richard built Granuaile and their travels make Robinetta's look tame.