16th May Padstow to Milford Haven


Fishing Boats in Padstow

All stories have a beginning, middle and end.  In the beginning of this short tale was an early start from dreamy Padstow and dawn was breaking, as we slipped through the pier heads and up the narrow dredged channel, past a visible Salisbury Point that had been but a dark shadow on arrival.  Pausing off red Greenaway we sorted ourselves out, watched by dolphin nosed Stepper Point before rounding Pentire Point under sail by 0630.

A little while later, a curt log entry read; “rough, grey, sh…y!” and so we entered the middle section of the story.  The salty playground was full of bullies left behind by the gales that had passed through hours before.  The wind was only 20 – 24 knots, not enough to stop A-Jay thrusting both full sails skywards, but the combination of the motion that caused the boat to pitch and crash like never before, as Boreas the God of the North Wind perched mockingly on the pulpit, was enough to spoil our fun.  We sailed awhile, but the wind direction meant that many hours and miles would be added to the long passage and, being solo, I decided the best option was 50/50, so Yanni gave us just enough shove to head higher to the wind.


Dolphins in the Rough

At this low point, less my spirits flag God sent the dolphins to play, 6 or 7 of them and sprinkled diamonds on the sea to glitter in the wan sunlight, just for me I felt; humbling.  I’m an old hand at dolphin photography now, so managed a couple pictures.  All would be well.



The haze on the horizon reduced long range visibility such that all but one of the oil laden or empty behemoths heading to or from Milford Haven passed unseen by eye, but captured on the radar screen as elongated, curved purple blobs.  Hartland Point slipped by to Starboard and by lunchtime Lundy Island lay abeam, sometimes lost in a trough, but closer than I wanted for the tide was sweeping us towards the Bristol Channel.  I tacked out to sea and with the help of a little more Westing in the wind, managed to set the bows more towards our waypoint off Linney Head 30 nautical miles or so North.

I found tropical fruit mix and water to be a brilliant mix in these horrible seas for I had no wish to seriously deplete my generously stocked nose bag just then.  In between lookout and log writing I lay and dozed showered occasionally with flying spray. It was about here that I suffered another of my not infrequent “Doh!” moments when my folder containing the passage plan shot under the hatch garage never to be seen again, as A-Jay crashed nose down into a deeper valley.  Oh well, this is when the good skipper pulls out his Plan ‘B’, which for me comprised the damp Almanac, chart and a fast fading memory of my notes.


Linney Head

Gradually and oh so slowly, the pencil marks crept across the chart and by tea time I placed the first mark on the next chart – progress!  An hour later I handed the genoa as the gusts were stronger now and I wanted better visibility, as we closed the coast.  So the long middle bit ended and we began the shorter end bit, usually for me an interesting and exciting time especially if visiting for the first time.  My spirits soared on the wings of modest triumph as we hit 8 knots, for we had caught the tide just right at HW + 1 ½ though more by accident than design if I am completely honest.  So we swept passed Linney Head where I agonised about which side to leave the Turbot Bank and on towards Sheep Island.  I had decided on the Eastern approach as I did not want to cross the ship channel at the estuary entrance and because I had noted this dry comment in the Almanac; “…avoid St. Annes Head to the West when rough, as yachts have been capsized.”  Fair enough boss!

In close to Sheep Island and Blockhouse Point, avoiding the Chapel Rock (where do they get these names from!), before turning off Thorn Point across the estuary towards Dale Cove and as we did so, I saw upstream a huge disgorging tanker pointing at us, like some enormous lobster from its rock crevice home.  I am not very superstitious, but I had everything crossed in the desperate hope that my chosen anchorage would be peacefully, calmly habitable; it was.  We had had dolphins, diamonds and now a peaceful haven, not so bad.


Crossing the Estuary to Dale

Taking advantage of our small size and ability to take the ground, we edged deep into the local moorings close to the Southern cliffs and dropped the Rocna in 4.5 metres of calm water half a mile from the beach just before sunset, fourteen hours and 60 miles out.  Looking at the logbook with a mug of tea I reflected that the wind strength though playful, had not been excessive but it had been stubbornly contrary; however the sea state, recorded in the log every hour as “rough” told the true story.  I noticed too, as I swapped the logbook for Daphne du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn, how short had been the log entries a sure sign that I had not been a happy skipper.


Looking Ashore in Dale

Morning broke and no, it hadn’t been a dream.  Daylight revealed Dale to be a lovely little spot, a rural idyll incongruously close to the oily life blood being pumped ashore from terminals little more than a mile away.


Peaceful Dale

I reflected over porridge on what on earth we all did before mobile phones, Ipads or Monster Wet Wipes for I find the latter amazing for a host of uses including wiping thick crusts of salt from windows, vital parts and the radar screen.  The other miracle of modern times for me is ACF 50, reputed to keep naval aircraft protected from the marine environment and which I spray and wipe liberally into important orifices.

As I finish this, 0.4 metres of muddy water lie beneath our keels at low water and I’ll review forecasts and tides before deciding how long we remain before moving upstream to Milford Marina, for I fear we’ll be here awhile.  Before I leave the keyboard, I am what one might call the nautical equivalent of a train spotter and it amused me to find the followed moored around me;

“Moody, Mirage,

Halcyon, Westerly,

Hunter, Cobra,

Sadler, Hillyard,

Arvor, McWester,

Seamaster, Verl,

Maxi, Crabber,

Halmatic, Trintella

Cox & Red Fox too”

Toot! Toot!

By ajay290

One comment on “16th May Padstow to Milford Haven

  1. sounds pretty grim…..glad you made it. Hope you can get some rest at anchor!  

    Gesendet: Sonntag, 17. Mai 2015 um 20:07 Uhr Von: ajay290 <comment-reply@wordpress.com> An: nigel.willis@gmx.de Betreff: [New post] 16th May Padstow to Milford Haven

    ajay290 posted: " All stories have a beginning, middle and end.  In the beginning of this short tale was an early start from dreamy Padstow and dawn was breaking, as we slipped through the pier heads and up the narrow dredged channel, past a visible Salisbury Point tha"

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