Tuesday May 23 Milford Marina S Wales
The previous few days were spent returning by train to Milford Marina in South Wales (8 hours), having Dark Star craned back into the water, bending on the sails and taking on provisions from the nearby Tesco store.
After several days of high winds and rain, high pressure has started to build and Wednesday looks good for a 12 hour, 68 mile run south to the next destination, Padstow. Padstow (like all north Cornwall harbours) has a drying harbour and can only be entered 2 hours either side of high tide.
Milford marina lies about 6 miles from the harbour entrance and involves negotiating a lock to leave the marina. A couple of hours can be taken just getting through the lock and motoring down to the harbour entrance. However there is an anchorage at Dale, close to the harbour entrance.
On Tuesday evening I leave Milford Marina, motor down to Dale and anchor overnight ready for an early departure at 05.30 for the 12 hour run to Padstow.
Wednesday May 24th Plans foiled
At 05.00 I awake to a dripping world of mist and sea fog. Visibility is less than 50 yards. Just 400 yards away I can hear large fuel and LNG carriers fog-horning their way through the main shipping channel.
I need to leave by 08.00 at the latest to catch the high tide and get into Padstow. Leaving later would mean approaching Padstow bay in the dark and looking for somewhere to anchor from the Atlantic swell until the following day's high tide. Strong winds are forecast to arrive overnight.
Eventually the sun breaks through around 11.00, way too late for my intended trip. I up anchor and set off to explore this huge harbour and treat the day as a shake down cruise. As it turned out the delayed departure proved a blessing in disguise.
Overnight the rain had exposed a leaky window. Sailing back down the harbour, the roller reefing system which furls and unfurls the genoa (fore sail) gives trouble. Later the autopilot starts to play up. I switch to the spare auto pilot with the same result which indicates a probable wiring fault.
However I spend a very pleasant, sunny 5 hours sailing down past Pembroke Dock and the Irish Ferry terminal, past Neyland Marina, under the Cleddau bridge where the harbour becomes remarkably rural and less than 200 metres wide. By 17.30 Dark Star is back in Milford Marina on her previous berth - B29A.
Thursday May 25 and Friday May 26 Its Very hot!
The forecast strong winds (south easterly 25 mph+) blow for two days through the marina but they are very welcome as the sun beats down in most unseasonable way. The windows are re-sealed, the fault in the wiring to the autopilots repaired and the roller reefing system sorted out.
Friday night brings a 03.00 spectacular thunder and lightning show. The rain is torrential but nary a drop leaks through the windows!
Saturday May 27
A miserable, drizzly morning with the wind still wrong for a run to Padstow, but the wind is forecast to change to the north tomorrow. So the plan is to leave Milford marina (again) this evening and anchor overnight at Dale near the harbour entrance ready for a dawn start to Padstow on Sunday.
I hope it works this time. It would be too embarrassing to return (again) to the marina ......