Sunday, 29 July 2012


As we approached the entrance channel for the River Mersey, the sea got more, and more unpleasant, and hard work on the steering. The crew had to endure the confused sea until we got to New Brighton, where the expanses of sand finish, and the south bank of the Mersey starts. Fairly strong tides were expected, but in the event nothing over about 2.5 knots materialised. We passed large areas of docklands, some derelict, some definately in use, and the iconic skyline of the city was getting closer. Just as we passed by the waterfront area, the sun came out and forced me to break off from getting fenders and warps out of the locker, and get the camera.

We had made a point of going to Liverpool, as it was easy for us to get home by train. We had been without the autopilot from just before the Isles of Scilly, and had ordered a new drive motor, which was now ready to be delivered. After a short trip home to sort post and take delivery of said motor, we drove back with an assortment of tools to give the pilot a heart and brain transplant ! When everything was installed, and as configured as possible, we used the car to have a trip up the coast to Southport, and on the way back, we went through the tunnel to have a look at New Brighton from the landside. This gave us some good views of the city from the south bank, including the Port of Liverpool building ( below ).

Our son, James, came out from Sheffield to visit, and see the boat in the flesh for the first time, then, after a pleasant meal in the city centre we drove back to Leeds to get rid of the car, and returned to Liverpool on the train. We had bookmarked the 28th or 29th July as potential good days to leave ( tides a big issue ). In the end we chose the 28th, and left our berth at 07-20 to start the rather painfull 15NM slog to the fairway buoy.

As we passed the waterfront, we got a final good view, complete with cruise liner.

Once out of the Mersey we turned northwards past Formby, and Blackpool, and had an enjoyable sail in winds gusting to force 6, surfing down waves at up to 8.4kts. We were making for Fleetwood marina, which has limited access of HW +-1.5Hrs. In the end we had made such good time that we were one and a half hours early for the lock, but picked up a substantial vacant mooring and had our supper while we waited.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

The Menai Strait, and Beaumaris.

An hour or so after leaving Caernarfon, we approached the first of the bridges that span the Menai. The Swellies are located between this and the next bridge. Among the information given to us by the marina at Caernarfon were some pilotage notes written by the official Menai Pilot, these give various transits and leading lines to avoid the numerous rocks and ledges which add extra danger to the already severe turbulence caused by the rapid tidal stream - slack water last only 10 minutes at springs, and the initial acceleration is 1Kt every 10 minutes thereafter, with peak rates of 6 or 7Kts !

This is the main mark for the 'Swelly Rock' - ignore at you peril ! Also doubles as a Cormorant perch !

We were soon through the danger area, and under the second bridge, Bangor and it's pier was soon on our starboard side, and shortly afterwards we could see Beaumaris in the distance.

The anchorage at Beaumaris is in an area scoured out of a generally shallow expanse of sand. The shallows are used for the cultivation of mussels, and in fact the mussel business off Beaumaris is the largest in the British Isles. Fairly substantial boats trawl up growing mussels, and then pump them overboard into deeper water where they grow on. This process is repeated several times until the mussels are ready to be harvested.

This is the view of Beaumaris from the anchorage with a telephoto lens eye view of the castle ( below ).

After a comfortable night 'on the hook' we needed to decide on our next destination. We wanted to look at Conwy, but the tides were starting to get less favourable for our next destination, Liverpool. In the end we decided to go straight to Liverpool. The main channel passes between Angelsey and Puffin Island ( yet another tide race ! ). The lighthouse helpfully warns "No Passage Landward" - No Kidding !!!

We had a rather lumpy passage out towards Liverpool, but made good time, in fact we had to heave too for about an hour to ensure we didn't arrive too early for the marina lock opening - at least this meant we could eat our supper in relative comfort as we were swept up towards the Mersey entrance at about 2.5 Kts.


We like Caernarfon; a great deal of character, and a very friendly welcome. We were met at the pontoon by Mark the Harbour master, who took our lines, and helped make fast. The marina is fairly small and shallow in places ( we took the keel up ! ), but was comfortable, and had very easy access to the walled city ( the outer wall almost borders the marina ), and a large Morrison's supermarket.

Water is retained in the marina by a flap gate similar to that at Padstow, and is opened to a pre-set schedule, a copy of which was provided.

The town itself is very attractive, with the majority being within the outer wall.

The main Keep of the Castle is impressive, and very well preserved.

We were told that the Royal Welsh Yacht Club welcomes visiting Yotties; we didn't actually visit, but the club house is located within one of the turrets in the outer wall,

Here is 'NJ' from the top of the walkway down to the pontoon, if you look behind you would be looking directly at the castle wall.

We had a couple of pleasant days in Caernarfon, including a delicious meal at 'The Black Boy' which was recomended by the harbourmaster. The time was now right to transit the Menai Straight, and the infamous 'Swellies'. It is important to get to the Swellies about half an hour before HW slack ( Liverpool HW -2:00 ), which mean't leaving Caernarfon about half an hour after the gate opened. We paid up for our stay, and headed out, bound for the anchorage off Beaumaris at the NE end of the Menai Strait.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Pilots Cove

Yet another delightful spot which we had previously visited during a land based holiday to Angelsey.

Llanddwyn Island can only be reached on foot at the bottom half of the tide, and pilots cove is near the southern tip. There are actually two anchorages divided by rocks - Pilots cove, and Mermaids cove, but both are beautiful and peaceful. We arrived just in time to have lunch in the cockpit ( not been able to do that too many times this 'summer' ! ) then spent a couple of hours dozing and not catching a fish supper.

From the anchorage, we had a great view of Snowdon, which had by now lost it's cap of cloud.

We rang Caernarfon Marina to check if a berth was available, and when the flap gate would open, to be told that the gate was already open and there was space for us. We motored out of the anchorage and out to the Menai Fairway buoy then carefully followed the marked channel up to Caernarfon, where we intend to have a couple of days.

Porth Dinllaen

Porth Dinllaen was always one of my favourite places when visiting the Abersoch area. There is a pub on the beach ( The Ty Coch ) which can only be reached via the golf course or by walking along the beach from Morfa Nefyn. We had a holiday in Morfa Nefyn a few years ago where we took a selection of sailing dinghys, and left the 'fleet' on the beach; it was great to return from seaward.

After a more pleasant night at anchor ( but still slightly rolly ) the sun was shining and all was well with the world. The atmosphere was much clearer now, providing lots of photo opportunities.

We had a gentle get together, then headed off towards Angelsey, and Pilots Cove near the south end of the Menai Straits.


We had a pleasant sail from Pwllheli to Aberdaron, but had to motor sail the last hour or so as we were headed with a fading wind. Good views of St. Tudwal's islands and Porth Ceriad were had on the way.

Aberdaron is a pleasant little village almost on the tip of the Lynn Peninsular, and is a good stopover point to wait for the tide through Bardsey sound.

The night did get a bit 'Rock & Roll' with a swell getting into the bay, so as soon as the tide was right the next day, we set out bound for Porth Dinllaen.

We has a fairly smooth and rapid passage of Bardsey sound, and were approaching Porth Dinllaen by 13-30.


We decided to have a couple of nights at Pwllheli, to give us a day to clean the boat, and do laundry. The town was about a mile from the marina, and we had a quick trip in with rucksacks to get some supplies. Between Pwllheli and Abersoch, there had been a music festival ( Wakestock ) which has been a complete washout, the festival goers were just leaving, and the bus station was covered in a fine layer of mud from the swamp which had been the venue! Following Pwllheli, we had to decide whether to go right round the tip of the Lynn peninsular in the day ( through Bardsey Sound ), or have another short day, and anchor off Aberdaron; fancying a short day we opted for the latter.

We had a nice little sail up to Abersoch, and through St. Tudwal's roads, followed by a fine view of Portth Ceriad bay, then headed out across Hells Mouth bay. Bardsey Island was now in sight, and Aberdaron is situated just before the sound. Timing is important through Bardsey Sound as the tide flows at up to 6Kts !


Just a short hop up the coast today, 8.6M to Aberdovey. We rang the harbour master from a few miles out, and were told that they would meet us on the water, and shown to our mooring - service !

Aberdovey is a fairly large estuary, with large expanses of sand at low water. The town itself is very attractive, with lots of nice shops and cafes. We went ashore using the dinghy, and had a walk along the beach barefoot.

In the evening, we were treated to another spectacular sunset. After a quiet night on the mooring we prepared to go to sea, and left just before 09-30, bound for Pwllheli.

Friday, 6 July 2012


We had arranged to meet up with my Mother & Brother whilst in Aberystwyth, and booked in to the marina for four nights. The berth allocated turned out to be fine, and with very few people about, was very quiet. At the north end of the town there is a cable tram up to the top of the hill ( The Cliff Railway ), this afforded super views of the town and the scenery up the coast towards Aberdovey, and ( in the far distance ) the Llyn peninsular

The sea front is an attractive mixture of Victorian buildings, Pier, and a modern Promenade. The town has a resident population of about 12,000, but this more than doubles in term time due to the University.

The beaches are rather grey and pebbley, and after the recent heavy rain fall, were covered in debris washed down the rivers, and deposited on the beach at high tide.

Access to the marina with anything other than a flat bottomed barge is about HW +- 2 Hrs, and looking at the entrance at low water, it was hard to believe that we had come through here in a yacht.

Another after effect of the recent floods was the deposition of huge amounts of gravel in the river end of the marina - in the photo below, the boats clearly standing on gravel should have been floating !! The marina management seemed to have to spend a great deal of time and effort with a digger and dump truck moving gravel upstream of the weir in an attempt to reinforce the weir itself, and wash the fines out of the dredged material out to sea. With the weather we are having this year, this seems like a Forth bridge job !

This is the view from the weir, looking towards the sea wall, with 'NJ' in the centre of the photo.

After another thorough soaking on Friday 6th ( when we met mum & Pete ), we intend to move north again on Saturday, possibly to Aberdovey or on to Pwllheli.