sail log 2011


First bit of sea


Getting soaked


Solo sail weekend


Redwharf bay

other information

Harbour master Conwy
Harbour Office, Conwy Quay, Conwy,
LL32 8BB
tel: 01492 596253

Conwy River festival and Redwharf Bay

Friday 19th of August, Conwy River festival

We arrived the Friday evening before at 20:00 and were all onboard 30 minutes later. Coming up would be the last weekend of the Conwy River Festival, with activities on the quays all Saturday and the Old Gaffers and Nobbies race. As we are apparently an old gaffer ourselves (type of rig), we could join in theory, but I suspect a mutiny would be brewing under the younger crew members if we would spend 5 hours on the water with no apparent purpose.

Lanterns in the night Lanterns in the night

The first entertainment was a lantern walk through town. The size of some of the models was quite impressive and an art to handle in the wind. Sadly, these days candles have been replaced by electric lights, otherwise the spectacle would have been brief and intense early on.

Saturday 20th of August

Against plan, we went for a brief sail, it being only the 2nd family sail this year. We cast off at 12:30 and set off on motor and jib. There was little wind and we were all back at 13:50. This week we would enjoy a neap, which means low high water and high low water if that makes sense. It also means no strong outboard testing currents. The outgoing tide at a spring reaches easily 5 knots which makes our engine struggle and require a strategic creep along the Delganwy side of the river.

A brief sail A brief sail mostly enjoyed by the parents

Back in Conwy the entertainment focussed more on the young crew. We had lunch, a visit to the toyshop, and a walk around, visiting a bird of pray demo and a walk over the castle walls.

Lunch fun Lunch fun Fun while out for lunch during the Conwy River Festival

Conwy festival in town Conwy festival in town Bird of pray harrassing innocent tourists

Sunday the 21st of August, the Old Gaffers Race

This was the day of the Old Gaffers and Nobbie race. We watched the preparations of the Nobbies on our pontoon. We hoped to go out at the same time but found ourselves to be langging behind somewhat.

Sitting on the boom on the way out Sitting on the boom on the way out

Like last year, we felt our way through the North Deep with the tide only just providing enough water to crawl over the sandbanks. The weather was fairly good with a variable F3 from the NW.

The old gaffers race The old gaffers race The Nobbies and Old Gaffers race

The 30 odd traditional yachts sailing for the starting postion is a fantastic sight. The commodore boat used its traditional miniature cannon to announce the various countdown stages before the start of the race.

The courageous sailor The intrepid sailor

We sailed around for about an hour, had lunch on water while hove to and around 16:45 we found ourselves back on the mooring. Then it was time for more pottering around.

Rowing fun at high tide The heads used in anger Fun at high tide (left) and the heads used in anger (right)

The weather forecast did seem to provide a 2 day window for us to finally go to Redwharf bay, a trip which we had planned for 2 years but never managed due to the weather. It was time to do some passage plannning (not involving the heads). As Seaghost is slow against the wind we decided to leave Conwy just before low tide, which leaves us 9 hours to get there instead of the 6 if you leave 3 hours after low water. In theory, the currents would help us was well but we were suffering from a serious neap.

Monday 22nd August, on our way to Redwharf Bay

We left our mooring at 09:08. There are 2 banks to cross before you reach fairway; the 1st near Delganwy Point, the 2nd over the Scabs, both dry to about 1m. Low tide was at 2.1 m which would leave us about 1m under the keel. This all provided there are no waves.

Passing Puffin Island Passing Puffin Island

It all went well and at 09:55 the outboard was stopped and we slowly crept towards Puffin Island with a F1 coming from the NE. At 12:30 we had lunch; Heinz Bigsoup + Oxtail. Around 12:00 we were on 10 feet bank. At this point the tide was against us and we slowed down to 1.7 kts.

Sandbanks in close up Carreg Castle Stuck on the sandbanks (left) and the view outwards across the West side of Redwharf bay (right)

Around 13:00 we asked the outboard for assistance which made the speed creep back up to 3 kts. The channel into Redwharf bay is at the West end and we were all looking for a green buoy for the channel entry, according to Coast Pilot book, published in 1983. Things can change.

A proper white/red (small) fairway buoy indicated the start of the channel. It just being half tide made an exiting entry; the keel scraped several times over the sandy bottom as we were feeling our way in. Both Meryl and Timo were on the bow trying to give the skipper directions.

Playing on the beach Playing on the beach Playing on the beach

We finally got stuck and I dropped the anchor waiting for more water. That didn't take long and I used both anchors and a few lines to lower us down to a mooring buoy downstream (patent pending). It was 14:30 when we rowed ashore, which is always a fantastic Robinson Crusoe feeling.

Sea Ghost, a Westerly 22 Sea Ghost, a Westerly 22, in full glory

After playing on the beach for while we rowed back preparing to go out for a meal in one of the 2 restaurants on the shore. After that it was time for a short evening walk. When we came back we saw how even Seaghost had dried out.

Skipper Just in time Low tide on an uneven ground (left) and just scraped out across the sand in time the next morning (right)

There is a state of the tide when it is too shallow to row and too deep to wade. We choose that moment to get back to Sea Ghost. Stuck in the Dinghy halfway we all had to take our shoes off and wade to Sea Ghost. After washing ourselves a bit (salty sea water makes a sticky body) I spend the rest of night doing the passage planning for tomorrow. The calculations indicated we needed to leave before 08:10. Alarm set for 7:30.

August 23rd, back to Conwy

After a bit of a restless night, looking out several times across the bay for no apparent reason, I woke up by the alarm at 07:30. Seeing losts of sand next to the boat was an indicator that time had run out and the calculations of the previous night weren&t all that accurate.

Within 10 minutes I had the outboard running in full reverse pulling Sea Ghosts nose from the sandbank. Having memorised the deepest part of the channel the night before, I steered Sea Ghost towards the sea. Twice more we scraped over the sand. If we became stuck our return trip would be delayed by at least 6 hours.

Towards Puffin On the way back towards Puffin Island and a brief change from F0 to F5

As soon as we reached open sea a nasty swell from the NE hit the boat. With no wind it was a plodding on slowly towards Puffin Island. Around 10:00 a F3 arrived from the SE. Close to Puffin, the wind changed within a couple of minutes from F3 to F5 from the SE. This was not a good wind direction to get back efficiently.

Meryl in her bunk Skipper Meryl hiding in her bunk and the skipper relaxed now the harbour is within reach

After bashing for hours against the waves and doing seemingy endless tacks parallel to the East of Puffin, we managed to slowly creep towards the Fairway buoy. It might have been more the tide than any sailing effort which made Conwy creep nearer.

Back in Conwy river Back in Conwy river

Around 14:00 the wind died down and it was outboard assistance time again. At 15:30 we were back on our mooring in Conwy. Overall the weather had been fine, providing us a safe passage. We spend some time to clean up the boat after which the usual routine took us back ashore and we left for home.