DAY 58 – Thursday 16 June 2022 – East Tarbet Bay to Whitehaven

Miles logged: 45
Total miles logged: 1,627
Days since leaving Fleetwood: 58
Days at sea: 37

East Tarbet Bay is, as it was when I last visited, an excellent anchorage in the right conditions. We had a peaceful night there and I slept very well. A departure time of 0630 was chosen to ensure a favourable tide all the way to Whitehaven. Today, as for almost all of our other legs, we have avoided the need to set off at night-time or in the very early hours.

A southerly breeze was forecast so we hoped to sail to Whitehaven. We were able to make about 4-5 kts and held that for a while, but the wind dropped so we motored, but only for an hour or so until the wind-speed increased. We soon had a good 10 kts of southerly breeze and more later, so we were indeed able to sail for the vast majority of the 45 miles. 

Farewell to Scotland. The Mull of Galloway recedes into the distance

Looking astern and to the north we watched Scotland fade into the early morning mist. To the south, the distinctive, familiar outline of the Isle of Man was conspicuous. Then, at last, the peaks of the Lake District’s mountains emerged so we gazed upon our first sight of England for several weeks. Best of all, we were both sailing in ideal conditions, reaching at 6 or more knots, heeling gently and, of course, racing each other hard. Bubble claimed a clear win when the breeze was lighter but when it increased as we neared Whitehaven I had a fight on my hands. Pagets Lady was going like a train and despite constant adjustment of my sails and optimising every control I could not pass her. Perhaps, at best, by the time we slowed to fit our lines and fenders I had, at best, drawn level. 

The yachts under full sail in ideal conditions

At Whitehaven, one of our favourite marinas and the one perhaps most frequently visited by Fleetwood yachts there is an impressive new entrance lock. It serves two purposes; it’s chief purpose is to protect the town from flooding during storms, especially when onshore storm-force winds coincide with the very big spring tides that we have on this coast. It’s second purpose is to allow vessels to lock in and out of the dock system which, since the lock was installed, is entirely impounded so vessels can remain afloat at all states of the tide. Unlike at Fleetwood, Liverpool and other harbours along the coast which allow access for only a couple of hours around high water, the Whitehaven Sea Lock allows access at plus or minus 4 hours. This makes passage-planning much easier and it means than when approaching Whitehaven from far off the timing of one’s arrival is much less critical than at the other ports. For some of the period around HW for which the lock operates vessels are locked in and out in the manner employed on canals. But for a time around HW both gates are opened, so that passage in and out of the marina is by ‘free flow’. The free-flow period serves to top-up the impounded water and it allows some exchange of impounded water and clean, fresh seawater. The trick is to time one’s departure and arrival for a free-flow period to avoid the hassle of tying up in the lock basin which, when single-handed at least, it is preferable to avoid.

Approaching the entrance lock at Whitehaven. Pagets Lady is already in the lock, on the left-hand pontoon. Bubble will shortly berth astern of her

We planned to arrive at free-flow but when Mike called up he found that, due to the spring tides at present, whilst there would be a free-flow period the locks would close over the actual HW period for two hours. So we had to lock in. In the event we arrived very soon after the locks closed so having gone through the rigmarole of entering the lock slowly and tying up to the floating pontoon, we were locked-in after the water levels had been equalled. The difference was, as far as I could see, no more than a couple of inches.

In the entrance lock. The lock keeper handed us a plan of the marina showing clearly where are allocated berths are. This is excellent practice, seen infrequently elsewhere

Inside there is plenty of space to manoeuvre and fit fenders and lines. This is helpful if one is allocated a berth which requires fenders and lines on the opposite side to that required at the pontoon in the lock. In the calm conditions within we were soon settled in our favourite corner of Queen’s Dock. The marina is in the centre of the town so access to everything a hungry and thirsty yachtsman requires is easily to hand.

The yachts berthed for the final time away from home. We will remain here for two nights

We now contemplate our final leg, our 38th, which will take us from Whitehaven to Fleetwood. It is a passage we have done many times. By arriving at Fleetwood at around HW the tidal streams will be fair for the entire passage, but it is a passage which cannot be sailed in a southerly wind, as is forecast for Friday. So Friday will be a weather day for us in Whitehaven and we plan to sail on Saturday morning. All being well we will arrive back in Fleetwood at some point between when the lock-gates open at 1330 and HW at 1503. It will be the sixtieth day of our circumnavigation.

There is some video footage of our passage from East Tarbert Bay to Whitehaven here

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