Miles logged: 21
Total miles logged: 186
Days since leaving Fleetwood: 4
Days at sea: 4
We had the luxury of a lie-in at Porth Melgan but woke to howling wind and a rather dull, grey morning. From the cockpit I could see the churning waters of Ramsey Sound and really did not feel like taking them on. I was pretty anxious about the prospect in over 20 kts of wind. A day’s rest at anchor was appealing but the weather was forecast to be similar tomorrow, and we didn’t want to stay on a remote anchorage with no mobile signal for too long. So we decided to wait as long as we could for the weather to improve in the hope of continuing on our way later on.
We had to pass through the two remaining notorious tidal gates – the most infamous of them all – Ramsey Sound and Jack Sound. It is impossible to pass through both at the ‘right’ time when heading south so we decided to compromise and take Ramsey Sound an hour early and Jack Sound about two hours late. I was very anxious about these decisions given the strong winds, but shortly before set sail the sun came out and that made me feel better. Even with a powerful electric windlass, weighing the anchor single-handed, in a blow, in a confined space, can be a tense business and in the stiff breeze the windlass did sound as if it was really having to try to bring the hook and its chain aboard. But with the anchor stowed, the sun out and Pagets Lady beside me I felt ready, if still a little anxious, to take on Ramsey Sound.
By the end of today we will have passed the Swellies, the Caernarfon Bar, Bardsey Sound, Ramsey Sound and Jack Sound but of these only Ramsey Sound was for us at all unpleasant to transit. The photos don’t quite capture the angry sea-state and howling wind but, although uncomfortable, the passage was short and the scenery was magnificent. Within the Sound one has to keep to the Welsh mainland side because of a wicked string of dangerous rocks which project at right angles into the sound from Ramsey Island. Welshmen of yore who knew what they were talking about named these rocks ‘The Bitches’. We made sure that we kept well away.
Once through it was a rapid motor-sail across St Bride’s Bay, with several Milford Haven-bound tankers at anchor to look at, then through Jack Sound. The latter has a fearsome reputation but in spite of our late arrival it was, for us, almost totally flat. Once through we sailed on a fast reach most of the way to St Ann’s Head before powering up to run into Milford Haven against the tide. We had two plans; if we could make the final lock-in time of 1733 we would go to Milford Marina with all its comforts and amenities. If not, we’d go a little further to Neyland Marina, which has 24-hour access. Happily we made it and with great relief rafted-up in the lock and were soon on our cosy berths.
In contrast with the previous few nights our marina berths were totally still, silent and peaceful and I slept like a log. Sunday will be a rest day – I will have a run, a ‘proper’ shower ashore, do some shopping, wash the boat, get some diesel and relax. We must also plan when to set off on our next leg – a substantial one, to Padstow. The weather seems set fair, so I don’t expect our rest at Milford to be a long one.