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!

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