The weather forecast for Thursday is not great for a 12 hour trip East. The plan is to get to Liverpool to see John’s daughter Sarah and the grandchildren, but a combination of tide gate out of Isle of Man and a very restricted tide gate into Liverpool Dock make this a bit fraught. However it looks like a trip to Conwy is do-able on the following day…and Sarah can get there reasonably easily as well.
The forecast is promising SW 5-6 veering W 4-5. This will be a bit bumpy at first but should ease during the day and free up for a nice fetch down to N Wales. We take the 10.15 bridge out of Douglas and head out into a heavyish sea. We take stock of the situation but decide that this is the worst it is likely to be and will improve as the day wears on, especially as we close the shelter of Anglesey.
The wind has more south in it than we expected and while the triple-reefed main pushes us along nicely with a touch of motor, a filled genny just takes us too far to the east. We need to get off Anglesey with enough west in our track to make the tricky entrance to Conwy… The purists would either turn back to wait until we can sail to where we want to go, or go where the wind takes us…we’re not purists and settle in to a bouncy motor-sail.
Heydays behaves perfectly. With the engine just above tick-over and our scrap of main, we are making 7kts through the water. We tuck behind the spray-hood in the warm and dry and let the auto-helm guide us.
Bouncy is probably an understatement and the picture does no justice at all…
Mostly we ride nicely over a surprisingly confused sea, but every so often a huge breaker dumps several bucket fulls into the cockpit…but we are warm and dry!
After a few hours the wind has veered very slightly and we get a scrap of genny out to match the scrap of main…this is great sailing even though a bit bouncy.
All of a sudden the waves ease and the wind frees and we relax for all of 30s until we realise that the continuous and sometimes violent shaking has damaged some compass connections. The autohelm has no idea where it or we are going.
Below is not a great place to be (despite stugeron) and the helm is not great either. However for the next 4 hours James gets regular duckings of green sea water, while John spends half an hour at a time (before needing to see a horizon), upside down in a locker trying to repair the corroded connections. With a very faint coastline coming into view he gets the autohelm working again and we tuck in once more under the spray-hood. Despite the duckings and the upside down-ness, neither of us is worse for wear or even damp. The motion eases slightly but there is no sign whatsoever of the forecast west wind…
Soon we are peering into the gloom to make out the approach buoys and as the first appears we reluctantly dispense with the sails. Of the North Welsh coast we see almost nothing on this fine summer’s evening!!! We berth in what appears to be the North Welsh equivalent of Lymington. This is out of our class, with expensive-looking gleaming boats all around but at least Heydays has been to sea…!
Footnote: The day has one last surprise. The posh marina bar has stopped serving food, but when we explain we have just arrived ON A BOAT, they suggest we go into town for food . “Don’t worry, its only 5 minutes by car”!!!!! Grrr. We get wetter walking back from town (fish and chips on a bench) than a whole day at sea.