A short cruise in the Celtic Sea - Mylor to Milford Haven

Recommended places to take your Cape Cutter 19 with details of anchorages, marinas etc

A short cruise in the Celtic Sea - Mylor to Milford Haven

Postby Runrig » Mon Oct 30, 2017 9:44 pm

A short cruise in the Celtic Sea – Mylor to Milford Haven

The Celtic Sea is the area of water from Lundy Island in the Bristol Channel to the South Coast of Ireland and as far south as Brittany.

This can be an area of fierce seas and strong tides so good weather and favourable winds are essential to attempt this cruise in a small boat

Falmouth to Newlyn (35nm)[/size][/b]
I put in using the marina tractor at Mylor Yacht Harbour (£45) and stayed overnight on the pontoon (£20). The car and trailer were stored at the top end of the boatyard for the duration of the cruise (£3 per day). Tasty food in the café and restaurant/pub at the harbour but expensive. Little in the way of supplies available so you do need to arrive ready stocked.

For the favourable tide around the Lizard, Mark Fishwick in, “West Country Cruising Companion”, advises to be at the Lizard 2 hrs before HW Dover (Falmouth HW+4). Leaving Mylor at local HW gives time to cross Falmouth Bay. Once round the Lizard you then have a favourable tide across Penzance Bay.

From Black Rock at the entrance to the Carrick Roads the course is to the Manacles Buoy and then a course about 220 to arrive 3 miles off The Lizard to clear any tidal race around mainland Britain’s most southerly headland. With a favourable wind and tide good time is made across Penzance Bay toward Montapomous Buoy.

Penzance provides a locked in harbour with access HW-2/+1. Newlyn, one of Britain’s largest fishing ports, next door has access at all states of tide. I opted for Newlyn.

The facilities in the harbour at Newlyn are basic but the single shower and toilet accessed with a key from the harbour office are adequate. Berthing is £15 per night. The harbour is busy with all sizes of fishing boat and the large fish market. On the right day early-risers can see the fish market in full swing. There is a Coop supermarket near the harbour and Warren’s Bakery has excellent breads and pasties. It is a pleasant 30 min walk along the promenade to Penzance where there is a wider selection of inns and restaurants.

Newlyn to St Ives (28nm)
The pilot books describe an inside passage for rounding Lands End but when there is swell running the passage outside the Longship Lighthouse is preferable.

Fishwick advises reaching Longships +5hrs HW Falmouth. From Gear Buoy, outside Newlyn the route is often a beat into the Channel and then back toward Tetter Du Point with another beat into the Channel and then a reach to clear Runnel Stone buoy on a course to arrive ½ mile west of Longships.

One mile from Longships I encountered a line of surf across the horizon. Using outboard and sails I powered through the surf and into the mixed seas behind. The next hour was slow headway past Longships and into calmer waters beyond. Giving Longships a wider berth by going further west may give less turbulent seas rounding Lands End.

North around Lands End you can have over 8 hours favourable tide. Sailing with this favourable tide along the coast toward St Ives you need to give The Wra a good offing before turning east to round Mussell Point and SE towards St Ives harbour entrance.
The pilot states St Ives can be accessed at half tide. The harbourmaster advised HW +/- 2hrs. As you enter the harbour there is a building with 12 square windows arranged over 3 upstairs floors in front of you. In front of the building are 3 white buoys. These are the visitor mooring buoys. Each buoy has 2 rope ends attached to moor fore and aft from the one buoy.

The harbour is very sheltered and the tide trickles in and out making it possible to dry out on the sandy bottom and refloat without any of the slap on the hull often associated with drying out. St Ives was very busy, far more than on previous visits. There are plenty of places to eat drink and resupply but it was not a favourite stop.

St Ives to Padstow via Newquay (33nm)
To reach Padstow in one day it is necessary to use the north flow of two tides because much of the favourable tide is lost waiting for enough water to leave St Ives. Take the tide as early as possible from St Ives. Set a course NNE to clear the Stones N Cardinal and then NE along the coast. Rounding Towan Head toward Newquay I arrived too late outside Newquay to enter the harbour in the window HW +/-2. The harbourmaster advised it was too late to enter harbour but that local boats lay moorings outside the harbour entrance in the summer months. It is possible to pick up a vacant mooring for the afternoon and then in late afternoon use slack water and then the north going tide to make passage to Padstow. The moorings are used overnight by their owners so are only suitable for a short stay.

Heading north from Newquay it is necessary to give The Quires, a series of jagged rocks off Trevose Head a wide berth. The pilot book gives a route after Trevose Head turning east to pass between Gulland Rock to the north and Chimney Rock to the south. With light winds and mixed seas around the headland it can be an uncomfortable, slow passage having turned east after Trevose Head. Consider heading further north to pass outside Gulland Rock and further away from the headland.

The pilot advises that Padstow can only be accessed into the locked harbour HW +/-2hrs. It also warns about only approaching the Camel River entrance and the infamous Doom Bar on a rising tide in good conditions. The channel to the east of the Doom Bar is narrow at LW Springs but is well marked and straightforward to navigate as far as The Pool, just outside Padstow harbour, where it is possible to wait until the lock gate into the harbour is open.

There is a very strong current in The Pool by the Town Bar Sands and the marker buoy where the Camel River and harbour channel split

Padstow is famed for the quality of its eateries and there are many great places to eat. Chip Ahoy was excellent, fish and chips cooked to order. The Chough Bakery must be a contender for the world’s best pasty, clotted cream being the secret ingredient. The Cornish Bakery had fresh breakfast pastries and The London Inn had live music. The small museum is worth a visit. If staying longer cycle hire and the Camel Trail make a good days activity ashore.

Padstow to Bude (25nm)
To make the best of the north going tide I left Padstow Harbour on an evening HW and moored on a vacant buoy in The Pool until the tide set northward the next morning.
In settled weather and an ebbing tide leaving the Camel River through the marked channel at first light was straightforward. From the mouth of the river leave Newlands Rock well to starboard and then a course of about 46 degrees will take you up the coast to Bude Haven.

Without doubt entering Bude is the scariest harbour entrance I have encountered. This was due, in part, to being unsure which of the many rocks at the entrance is Barrel Rock, a key navigation marker. Barrel Rock has a large pole on it with a barrel in a basket on top of the pole. Easy to spot when you know it’s there.

Just to the north of Barrel Rock you need to identify leading marks consisting of Yellow Rectangle on a pole and a white pole behind. These marks are at the left hand end of what look like a row of beach huts on the rise above the town beach.

Keeping these Leading Marks aligned will take you close to the surf breaking over Barrel Rock. Once past Barrel Rock the next pair of Leading Marks (2 Yellow triangles can be seen to starboard behind Barrel Rock. Following these will bring you to the sea lock of the old Bude Canal. Make sure to follow the second set of leading marks between the two lines of moored boats. There are lines to shore from the starboard set of boats and a potentially nasty sandbank outside the port set of boats so between them is preferred.

The sea lock can only be operated close to HW and it requires a lock crew to be organised to operate the gates so prior notice is essential. I arrived too late for the lock to be operated to give me access to the canal. Being shoal draft it was possible to enter the sea lock through the open seaward gate an hour after HW and moor in the shallow depth that remains in the lock as the tide ebbs. I stayed in the lock overnight.

There is a good shower along the canal basin accessed with a pass code from the harbourmaster. Mooring was £15 a night. The only problem with mooring in the lock is the long climb up an iron ladder on the lock wall. A bit tricky.

Bude has a well maintained, community run centre with bowls, tennis, crazy golf, café etc and excellent museum about the amazing Cornish genius that was Goldsworthy Gurney. There is a Coop supermarket at the top of the town for supplies and a launderette round the corner from the supermarket.

Having viewed the harbour entrance and the surf from the shore leaving is more straightforward. It still requires an act of faith to charge the surf leaving Barrel Rock close to port.

Bude to Lundy (19nm)
The plan for this leg is determined by the need to leave Bude at HW and to arrive off Lundy at slack water to avoid the worst of The Race off the south of the island.
Leaving Bude on HW set a course of about 350 to arrive off Rat Island at the south end of Lundy. Fair wind and little tide meant when I arrived there was no traceof the choppy waters marked on the chart and highlighted in the pilot. Rounding into Landing Bay there are moorings close into the shore providing good shelter from the prevailing winds blowing up the Bristol Channel.

There is a pub on Lundy and a beach in the corner of Landing Bay looks a possible place to land in a tender. With a forecast for gale force winds in the area in two days time I opted not to land but to leave on the early morning favourable tide at 02:30 the following morning.

Lundy to Dale in Milford Haven (39nm)
The start of a favourable ebb tide on the north side of the Bristol Channel I calculated as Padstow HW+3. Leaving Landing Bay I sailed north to clear Lundy and catch the ebb tide. The forecast was for wind from the W and NW, backing to WSW around noon. Unfortunately the wind stayed in the NW which once clear of Lundy meant it was pretty much on the nose. The only option after some long fruitless tacks was to motor sail with outboard and main. The journey was further complicated by being instructed by the Firing Range Launch on the approach to Milford Haven to stay outside St Gowan S Cardinal and Turbot Bank W Cardinal.

With unfavourable winds, some sailing against the tide and the diversion around the firing range the stats for the day were: sailing time – 14 hours; distance – 51nm; average speed 3.7 knots. The price you pay for sailing a distance longer than 1 fair tide in an area of strong tides.

Approaching Milford Haven with light winds and no swell it is possible cut the corner of the Turbot Bank W Cardinal and use the East Channel to enter Milford Haven. From The Angle N Cardinal continue north across the shipping channel to The Dakotian E Cardinal. Turning WNW past the The Dakotian into Dale Bay a pontoon in the middle of the bay off Musselwick Point provides a free mooring for the night. The only problem with the free pontoon is the lack of toilet facilities and the proximity to other boats using the pontoon.

There is also a pontoon attached to the shore in Dale which provides access to Dale Sailing Club facilities, The Griffin Inn and a café at the West Wales Watersport Centre, all just up the pontoon.

From the water the right hand side of the shore pontoon is used by local fishing and dive boats. The left side is, according to a local skipper, for public use and ‘you can stay as long as you like’

Dale to Lawrenny and back to Milford Haven (19nm)
With a morning flood tide and a wind from the North it is a fine sail along Milford Sound and under the Cleddau Bridge. After the bridge the landscape becomes rural and peaceful. With a rising tide it is pleasant sailing all along the upper reaches of the river as far as Picton Point. Timing it right it is possible to take the flood up to Picton Point and have time to visit the Lawrenny Arms on the Carew River, which is to port coming back down the Cleddau. The Lawrenny Arms has a pontoon in the Carew just down from the pub. This is past the Lawrenny Boatyard which has a pontoon for berth holders only.
Milford Haven town has a large marina which is accessed through a lock gate. Free flow at HW and by arrangement 2 hours either side of the free flow period. The Marina has a public ramp, crane and a wide range of restaurants and cafes along the water front. There is a large Tesco just outside the marina and a railway station handy for the journey to collect car and trailer from Mylor. To collect the car I took the train to Falmouth, the foot ferry to Flushing and then a 40 minute stroll around the headland to Mylor.

The West Country – Lyme Bay to the Isles of Scilly. Imray
West Country Cruising Companion. Wiley Nautical
Bristol Channel and Severn Cruising Guide. Imray
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Re: A short cruise in the Celtic Sea - Mylor to Milford Have

Postby ianrmaciver » Thu Nov 02, 2017 9:51 am

Another great , and even more comprehensive ,account of your cruise.
You're rapidly constructing a Cape Cutter 19 cruising pilot...keep going.
In Minnie we covered some of the area , travelling from the North.....I must
pull out the log and get writing.
Well done , start dreaming of next year.
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Re: A short cruise in the Celtic Sea - Mylor to Milford Have

Postby oak » Sun Nov 19, 2017 6:58 pm

Very enjoyable log,Runrig.Look forward to the nexr one.
Followed it on a chart to live it.
Reminded me that I was crewing for a well known yacht delivery skipper in 1958 bringing ex Admiralty tender from the South coast to Penarth .Bad forecast so the third had cried off.Off Lands End the engine packed up ,skipper suggested Mousehole but as his time was money eventually he got it fixed and on we went.
The owner was not pleased at the weather damage to his new boat.I was just delighted to get there.
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