Our next stop to spread the word and promote Action for Children was Caernarfon. To get there we needed to navigate through the Menai Straits and the infamous Swellies (a short stretch of water 0.8Nm between the two Menai bridges with a maze of rocks, islands and strong tides).
We past through the Swellies comfortably with light winds and slack tide. The rest of the afternoon was enjoyable and a good learning experience for Ant as we tacked our way upwind through the twisting channel surrounded by beautiful countryside and into Victoria marina, Caernarfon.
Time to see the sights, shake the bucket and tell this part of Wales our story.
My brother, Ant, joined Dan and I for leg 8.
It was 1500 before we could leave to catch the ebb tide leaving the Mersey. We gybed our way down river past the famous Liverpool landmarks one last time.
Out to sea, yet again the wind was coming from where we wanted to go so we tacked our way through the growing number of offshore wind farms as we inched our way to Wales.
We arrived at Puffin island, the gateway to the Menai Straits just in time before the tide turned. By 0530 we were safely secured to a mooring at Beaumaris. Ant had survived his first day sailing. Little did he realise it would be an overnight 15 hour challenging voyage. His sense of humour and adventure was exemplary.
Well done Ant.
I planned to have the morning off today and wait for our guests to arrive. Members of Action for Children, family and friends planned to meet us in the afternoon. However, Paul Pratt invited us to race with the Liverpool yacht club and offered to take passengers out on the committee boat to take photos.
We had about 40 minutes to prepare before heading into the Mersey to race. So a quick brief on what we were about to do and then we set off.
It was a close start with light winds but strong tides, making it quite a tactical race.
On the downwind leg with the spinnaker flying we crept into first place! Then the wind died leaving us all drifting with the tide. Lou noticed that the spinnaker line was caught at the top of the mast so she donned the Bosun’s chair and was hoisted aloft to sort it out. As she was working away at the top of the mast the wind kicked in with a vengeance. With sails and lines flapping everywhere she worked hard fixed the problem and was soon back on deck.
We were back in the race but slipped to third place. Not bad for a relatively novice crew in a little boat that has sailed over 1500 miles loaded with food, spares and other kit.
We retired to the club house and spent the evening with our family and friends telling our stories. It was the icing on the cake and inspiation to keep going knowing so many are following and supporting us.
Thank you all.
A bit of planning was needed for this leg. We had to be out of the marina in Douglas harbour by 1500 to clear the cill and have enough water to clear the drying harbour. To get to the Liverpool marina we needed to be there by 1100 the following morning and can only make it on a flood tide.
A good forecast was predicted as we set off to sail through the night. However to get the tide right to enter the river Mersey we needed to slow down. So we hove to, watched the sun go down and relaxed in the middle of the Irish sea.
We continued on through the night and into the morning. Sunsets and sunrises seem so much more spectacular at sea.
As we sailed past the city sights we were met by Paul Pratt and other members of the Liverpool yacht club. They very kindly took lots of photos as we sailed in and escorted us to the marina
Another early start today after a good early night’s sleep saw us heading off with poor visibility, rain and thunder and lightning.
Dave did a great job of braving the weather and keeping a good course steering us around the calf of man and the appropriately named chicken rock.
With the clouds passed and a southerly wind we hoisted the spinnaker but it was short lived as the wind collapsed forcing us to waken the trusty engine for the run into Douglas.
We called the harbour master on channel 12, he opened the bridge and was shocked to see a 5 foot 9 inch chicken on Tikka’s bow! He and his staff were very helpful though and sympathetic to our cause once we explained what we were doing.
I think the long days, early mornings and pressures of the trip are beginning to take their toll. Suffering with a cold I kept my aching body below most of today and caught up with emails, texts and ideas to promote our trip to raise more money and awareness for Action for Children.
It was a relatively easy passage with light winds from Ardglass to Peel and Dan, Dave and Lou took turns to navigate, helm and look out for the fishing fleet trawling the seas.
The wind freshened for the last 5 miles and into Peel harbour with regular gusts hitting us from the hills. The offshore wind and flat seas allowed us to carry a full mainsail and Genoa sending us into the harbour at 6 knots. We gave the engine a well deserved rest and sailed up to the visitor bouy under mainsail alone.
After supper and a bit of maintenance it was time to launch the dinghy and row ashore. The Isle of Man will soon know about Tikka’s Travels.
0530 we slipped from Bangor. Winds were light and the tide was strong so we sailed to give Lighthouse island a wide berth before heading south towards Strangford Lough.
With the tide in our favour we were hitting 7 knots over the ground at times but as we crossed Strangford Lough the wind died, the tide turned, fog came rolling in and some heavy overfalls were sighted. Amazing how the conditions change so much throughout the day.
After bashing through the overfalls we entered the narrow little entrance to Ardglass harbour at 1830.
Lou knocked up a great chicken curry as Dan, Dave and I put Tikka to bed.
Ardglass is still a very small fishing harbour with a small marina but has great facilities for visiting yachts which we took advantage of before getting an early night ready for tomorrow’s early start.