Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Ardrossan to Milford Haven

Hi everyone,
Last Thursday evening we trained to Glasgow and taxied to Ardrossan.  Our goal was to sail Zen Again to Wales, and hopefully to Milford Haven.  The weather outlook was for light winds initially and then light to moderate southerlies.  We departed Ardrosan at 0645 on Friday.

Here are the usual plots...

Zen Again Track
Zen Again Speed
Here are the vital statistics...
  • Distances/Speeds
    • Route Distance = 255nm
    • GPS Distance = 303nm
    • Duration = 2 days 12 hours (60 hours)
    • Average ground speed = 4.7 kt
  • Weather
    • Minimum wind speed = calm
    • Average wind speed = 8 kt
    • Maximum wind speed = 25 kt
    • Apparent wind angle range = 0 to 45
    • Seas up to 1.5m
    • Initially sunny with gradually increasing cloud
  • Engine
    • Total = 42 hours
    • Driving = 42 hours
    • Charging = 0 hours

The speed plot clearly shows the effect of strong tidal currents.  These flow basically North/South through the Irish Sea so we had 6 hour periods of adverse current followed by 6 hours of favourable current.  The periods of peak adverse current were demoralising as our speed over the ground either slowed to a crawl (when motoring) or course over the ground slewed from SW or SE to W or E.

The first 24 hours were spent motoring in calm or near-calm conditions.  We made good progress but it was very, very boring.  Reminded us of "sailing" in Indonesia and Malaysia.

On Saturday a nice SW wind came in which allowed us to sail straight down our route.  Marvellous.  We were accompanied by dolphins for a while, and a seagull made repeated attempts to land aboard but eventually gave up.

Dolphin Escort
Seagull "going around" after another failed landing
Sadly the SW breeze only lasted for a few hours before the wind died and we were motoring again.  A few hours later a S wind gradually built up.  We motored into it until our progress slowed to a crawl, then we bore off and went sailing.  That's where the zigzagging in our track began.

For a period on Saturday late afternoon the wind got up to about 25 knots, with 2 knots of that from a S current.  This created a lumpy "wind over tide" seaway which Zen Again loved.  When the waves get steep enough she simply drives through them!

Later on Saturday evening the tide turned which radically flattened the seas, and overnight the wind eased to 10-15 knots.  We had a great sail overnight, zigzagging between Ireland and Wales.  We got close enough to Ireland to get texts on our mobiles saying "Welcome to Ireland"!

The wind held in until Sunday mid-morning.  It eased down to 3-4 knots S, which was just not enough to keep us going at a reasonable speed.  So the engine came back on and we motor-sailed then just motored.  Passing St David's Head we had the tide with us and were hitting 10 knots SoG.

We entered Milford Haven at about 1830, motoring past the tanker jetties and entering the marina at 1900.  After a quick boat clean up and showers for the crew we joined another yacht crew at the Harbourmaster Restaurant.

Zen Again in Milford Marina
Our carriage awaits
On Monday morning we were up at 0500 in time to catch the first train to London and work.  We're really pleased to have delivered Zen Again so far south in one passage.  It was hard yakka at times but we got the job done.  We may have to go around the UK again in cruising mode, but our goal this year is to get Zen Again to London for winter.  Looking forward to seeing a few new ports along the south coast on the way!

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Crinan Canal to Ardrossan

Hi everyone,
On Thursday evening last week we trained north to Glasgow and on Friday morning we coached and taxied to the western end of the Crinan Canal.  There we met Anne and Graham who had been sailing Zen Again for the month since we left her in Oban.  As their track below shows, they got around...

Anne & Graham's Scottish Adventure on Zen Again
We joined Anne and Graham above the Crinan sea lock mid-afternoon.  From there we motored through the western part of the canal with Anne and Graham working the locks while Nicki and I crewed the boat.  It was a bright sunny day with no wind.  It was spectacular motoring along the canal which is much narrower than the Caledonian Canal.

Zen Again above Crinan Sea Lock
Going Up!
Along the canal in dead calm under a sunny sky
We could only get as far as Dunadry Lock since the locks are disabled at 1700 each day.  We secured Zen Again and then walked with Anne, Graham and all their gear to their hotel at Cairnbaan where we had dinner with them.

Zen Again lying above Dunardry Lock 
Dead Calm
On Saturday we were on our own.  Happily the wonderful weather continued and we were assisted through some of the locks by staff.  At others Nicki worked the locks while I single-handed Zen Again in and out of the locks and handled the lines aboard.

Entering another lock
Between locks
Entering Ardrishaig sea lock
We arrived at the eastern sea lock at 1330 and Zen Again was back into sea water by 1400.  Sadly there was only a light breeze and it was blowing directly up Loch Fyne, so we motor-sailed down the loch.  Over time the wind died entirely and the sea glassed out.

It was a long warm motor to Clyde Marina.  Warm enough to expose skin to the sun and acquire just a little sun burn.  Beautiful!  The scenery was great too and there were lots of yachts on the water.

We arrived at Clyde Marina (in Ardrossan) at 2000 after a 6 hour motor.  Twas good to accomplish our mission for the weekend but disappointing not to have had an opportunity to sail.  Here's our track for the weekend.

Zen Again Track
On Sunday morning we tidied up the boat and gave the engine a treat.  She got new oil, oil filter, fuel filters, impeller and V-belt.  The engine is approaching 1000 hours since installation new in Langkawi in November 2013 (see here).

Berthed at Clyde Marina
On Sunday afternoon we left Zen Again in her temporary new home.  We hope to move her further south soon.

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Loch Drumbuie to Oban

Hi everyone,
On Friday 25th we sailed from Loch Drumbuie to Oban to complete our brief cruise of W Scotland.  We had a great sail down the Sound of Mull in a nice N-NW breeze.

Initially the wind was quite strong, gusting to 25 knots, but it gradually faded to be very light for our arrival.  We gybed to and fro down the sound in bright sunshine.

Through the race off Lady's Rock
Entering Oban Bay
We berthed Zen Again in Oban Marina for the night.  The marina is actually opposite Oban on Kerrera Island.  Sunderland flying boats were based here during WW2, including an RAAF squadron early in the war.  More recently, the marina has been under new ownership for several years.  We had a very nice dinner at their Bar & Grill.

Zen Again in Oban Marina (off Kerrara Island)
Here is our 28nm track...

Our two week cruise was fantastic fun.  The first week was very, very cold but we got to see at least parts of the Outer Hebrides.  The second week was less cold, sunny and provided little wind.  Here are the overall statistics...

  • Log = 350 nm
  • At Sea = 55 hours
  • Average Speed = 6 knots! (perhaps the new log needs calibrating)
  • Engine = 30 hours
  • Gas = 2 litres (approx, for both cooking and heating)

And here's our overall track...

On Saturday friends Anne and Graham arrived from New Zealand.  They are going to be sailing Zen Again in W Scotland for the next month.  We spent the day briefing them on the boat's systems and then motoring over to Oban town marina for them to load supplies.