Another day in the heat wave…. a long but very rewarding 65n. miles day sail from Swansea, round the Mumbles, then the length of the Gower Peninsula, across Camarthan Bay to Tenby and then into Milford Haven which is “Aberdaugleddau” meaning “the mouth of two rivers Cleddau” in Pembrokeshire.
Milford Haven is an important commercial port and industrial centre ( oil and liquid nitrogen gas )… so the landscape you first meet on entry reflects its history… one of the deepest natural harbours in Europe with several oil refineries.
Once past all this ….. our marina that we are staying in tonight is 10n.miles fom the sea…. then the scenery changes and opens up into villages, countryside, woods, and peace and quiet. The actual waterway is known as a ria in geographical terms…. a river valley flooded by sea water at the end of the last ice age.
Geography lesson over…. we left Swansea Marina at 8.30am this Friday morning. Already quite warm, shorts and tops were the dress code for the day. We passed through the marina lock with no problems ( although a strange lock in its shape… only two forty footers could fit in at any one time )…. and then out into the huge main Swansea Barrage Lock on the River Tawe.
It was high tide and on the radio, the Barrage Lock Master had told us that we might be able to do “free flow”…. what this means is that the high tide sea level on the outside is as high as the level in the lock and the river. When we got into the lock and just before we stopped to “hold station” in the middle as the far end gates were shut…. he said “sorry… no can do free flow”…. so we started to move Poli Poli sideways to moore up at the box pontoon…. then over the radio… “oooops sorry Poli Poli…. think I can do free flow” …”just hold station in the middle” and I will open the gates..”!
From moving sideways we moved the other way back to the middle… none of this is easy with a 15 ton boat who sometimes has a mind of her own! The big gates swung open, the throttle pushed forward and Poli Poli glided out into the River Tawe and into the sea at about 9am. Thank you Mister Lock Keeper! We all laughed.
Photo… above the Mumbles and start of the Gower Peninsula, south of Swansea.
A strange, very hot day out at sea… passed the Mumbles and Oxwich Bay ( is this the one famous for surfing? ). One minute the wind ( a mere fickle of a breeze ) came from the east, then the south, the west and even the north…. I do think that by the end of the day we had wind from all points of the compass and never more that 10 knots.
Photo above… note wind speed of 3.5 knots…. Poli Poli needs at least 10 knots… and from one consistent direction.
Absolutely useless for sailing. However , when in the south the slight breeze provided us with a “beam reach” point of sailing and we had both sails up and did actually sail. However, that lasted no more than half an hour… so in the end we motor sailed with both main sail and jib up. But as soon as the wind went “variable” these had to be constantly fiddled with or taken down altogether.
Just before I was about to start making lunch downstairs in the galley… hot baked beans on bread and butter…. real gourmet luncheon… we had visitors. From upstairs in the cockpit Mike shouted out “dolphins”….. “look all around the boat!” I came up with phone camera at the ready and sure enough… a whole pod showing off… some leaping out of the water around the boat… into the air… others zooming in twos and threes racing along the sides of the boat…. and some, the real “show offs” going straight to the bow to race the boat.
What a really impressive and breath taking spectacle. Nature at its very best. Pure, unadulterated and natural entertainment. Does anybody have any theories as to why dolphins do their bow wave spectacle? I am sure having watched them today for at least 15 minutes at the bow, they roll sideways and look up at you. Marvellous. Made the day a special one.
We entered the drowned river valley at about 4pm… the ria …. of Milford Haven and Mike helmed Poli Poli most of the ten miles by green buoy hopping…. in this case green to green in the East Channel…. to the entrance of Neyland Yacht Haven on the north bank. T got a chance to practice his nautical skills in putting out 16 fenders and 6 warp mooring lines ready for berthing. We docked safely at 4.40pm…. tired, hot and very thirsty.
Photo above of our chart plotter…. we are the black boat…just rounded the Mumbles south of Swansea, about to set a new course along the Gower Peninsula going westwards… stay in the white water… the deepest.
One factor that should be considered in evaluating the quality of a marina, in my mind, is always the initial welcome you receive when you first arrive… and assistance provided in berthing on a strange pontoon. Well Neyland comes very high on this score… the welcome and help we received at the actual berth was both impeccable and second to none. A young gentleman was there to guide us in and take our lines and show us the basics… ie shore power, office location, showers and toilets etc etc.
This also happened at Brighton Marina, Dartmouth, Dart Marina, Plymouth, Bristol, Cardiff and here at Neyland. All were exceptional in their welcome and help at arrival. They deserve a word of praise.
Photo above Neyland Marina… evening of Friday29th June 2018. Can you see Poli Poli?
Another view of Neyland Marina.
Map to show where we are now, Friday evening, all day Saturday, leaving Sunday morning for Ireland.
So today…. Swansea to Neyland… 65.00 n.miles, duration 8 hours.
747.0 n.miles from Eastbourne.
Saturday is a rest day. Sunday is Ireland and Kilmore Quay across the Irish Sea.
ps… “Springs” are exceptionally high tides and exceptionally low tides. They occur twice every month when the sun and moon line up in a straight line with our earth and there is a double pull on all the oceans and seas. So we say Springs are “high high tides and low low tides”. That’s all to do with the height of the tide… Springs also mean very very fast tidal streams… the rate and speed of flow.
In between the two monthly “springs” you get what are called “neaps”… just ordinary tides. So beware “springs”!