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Portishead to Poole

Basil B

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14 May 2020
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Hi Everyone

I hope you all well.

I managed to purchase a 22ft sailing boat just before this madness started, I would like to bring her home. She’s moored at Portishead Marina, the destination would be Poole in the South coast. I got some experience in sailing however not near enough to do the trip on my own. I would like to get some tips and suggestions regarding about the channel, I know its a tricky part of the world. All help is greatly appreciated.
 

Kurrawong_Kid

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If the wind is from Sw/W watch the wind strength carefully. You have to go with the tide and a bumpy sea builds up rapidly. Leave Portishead about an hour before slack water and aim for Cardiff/Penarth, preferably with a fair wind sailing along the edge of the big ship channel. You may struggle if beating, watching the depth carefully, but I have managed it in a 21ft bilge Keeler in a force 4 (very uncomfortable). Possible to anchor off Penarth Pier. Then suggest hug Welsh shore until off Aberthaw and then across to Watermouth or Ilfracombe, but both dry so Watermouth will be no go if you cannot take the ground. You will need to find a space against the wall in ‘Combe or anchor off. Should be able to do the distance with a fair spring tide. Would not advise Swansea because of awkward lock times and anchoring at Mumbles needs a lot of chain.
With a 22ft boat the North coast of Devon/Cornwall needs great care. I would suggest a fair wind is essential and a long day sail to Padstow, possibly breaking the journey by anchoring overnight at Lundy, but I would avoid the long run in and bar to Appledore/bideford .In benign conditions I have anchored just inside Stepper Point for a night to avoid the extra miles in and out of Padstow. Also possible to anchor in bay just North of Camel (can’t remember name). Again watching the weather carefully I would suggest trying to reach Newlyn in one long sail working the tides around Lands End, Although you may be forced to anchor off St. Ives to await a fair tide. I have been into Hayle to leave the boat when unable to proceed further but that was when a strong easterly was forecast which would have made entry to English Channell very rough. Difficult entrance and dries. Pick your weather and work the tides: perfectly possible trip.
I’ll leave others to do Newlyn to Poole.
 

graham

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Portishead to Poole is a passage that an experienced skipper would not undertake lightly.

There are long stretches with few safe havens to go into .

Not saying don't do it just be aware of the scale of the task you need to be an experienced person in a well found boat .

Any time spent in marinas or getting repairs done on route will quickly add up to the cost of paying a boat transport company to truck it there for you.
 

PilotWolf

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Long Beach. CA.
Portishead to Poole is a passage that an experienced skipper would not undertake lightly.

There are long stretches with few safe havens to go into .

Not saying don't do it just be aware of the scale of the task you need to be an experienced person in a well found boat .

Any time spent in marinas or getting repairs done on route will quickly add up to the cost of paying a boat transport company to truck it there for you.
Don th the crossing around the corner and up a couple of times in a 3 engine motor boat, you pick up and little mummer As said for a smallish boat there are some long stretches with no where to run to

Why no pay a delivery skipper and learn your new tou on the way?

W.
 

bitbaltic

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it’s going to be a long slog in a boat that small (slow). What boat is it and what sort of engine? Think I’d be with those thinking of trucking it as option #1.
 

jwilson

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The Bristol Channel bit and the south coast are the easy bits as you can mostly daysail between safe harbours and anchorages in any reasonable weather. Though particularly in the BC going west you will probably have to anchor off before going into harbour after arriving at LW. And even then most harbours are not much use for fin-keelers.

Once past Ilfracombe/Lundy it gets scary. I used to know the BC very well, and I've been into Instow, Clovelly, Padstow in smaller boats than yours (Padstow actually not that difficult despite crossing the Doom Bar) but by then I was fairly experienced and confident in most things. Despite this there were nervous moments. The difficult bit is Padstow to (probably) Newlyn in one leg round Lands End. I've been round/past Lands End quite a few times but always in bigger boats.

Your options are to allow a lot of time, and be prepared to wait for near-perfect weather for each leg, or a truck. A delivery skipper will still want to wait for decent weather at times, though he or she will probably set off in much worse weather than you would. Costs will probably be per day, and almost certainly add up to more than road transport.
 

38mess

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Done cardiff to Plymouth quite a few times on cargo boats, I always used to think I wouldn't like to do this trip on a small boat.
But lots of people do, if you are confident in your self and in the boat, do it. Or just get it trucked for a few hundred quid I would imagine.
 

Gwylan

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Put it on a low loader and lorry it home.. :)
Truck it !
That way you will still enjoy sailing.

Seriously as others say it is a long and potentially exposed sail in a small boat.

Unless you can budget a couple of weeks and cope with adapting your body clock the tide table, you are stuffed.
Have done it several times in 24 and 34 foot boats. One size was fun the other was really hard work.

You will have to pucker up and put a few long legs in to make any real progress.

Portishead to Oxwich, anchor and sleep
Oxwich and go for Lundy or St Ives
Depart to make The Brissons to get around Lands End.
Go "inside".
Armed Knight and Kettle Bottom are just names to keep you on your toes.
Inevitable stop in Newlyn. Not as bad as I have made it out to be in the past.
Sleep and stock up. You will need to.

Falmouth, Town Quay if you can get on. More supplies

Salcombe for a sleep.
Then bang on to Poole or wherever

Trust me, book the truck
 

Kurrawong_Kid

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Oxwich/Lundy to St Ives a long tedious trip in a shall boat . Agree truck is best option if you are in a hurry, but as a cruising challenge and experience worthwhile providing you take your time to pick your weather and work your tides, especially around Lands End and Hartland. I went North from Falmouth to Sharpness in a 21ft. Debutante in 1972, stopping/anchoring at St Ives, Padstow, Ilfracombe, Barry and Portishead. Headwind off Perranporth saw 4 hours going sideways until tide turned! Much younger then too! Been southwards 3* since and northwards 2* in 30/32 ft.boats in fair F3/4 winds in summer months and very pleasant trips. Long passages, but no more than Dartmouth to Weymouth.
 

oldmanofthehills

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The problem is once you start you cant stop and there are no all tide all weather havens on the english/ n cornish side until St Ives and even that can be very lumpy. And then that awkward bit round The Land.

Quite doable given a fortnight of fine weather, but I would not want to do it singlehanded as first outing on a new boat. And I would want good engine, autohelm etc. I would also want life raft - this is almost offshore sailing in parts. Poor VHF signal and land not visible

Day 1. Leave Portishead 1 or 2 hour before HW. Trying and get to Foreland point before tide turns. Punch tide till Ilfracombe. (If slow break at Blue Anchor overnight) Go into Ilfracombe on rising tide or anchor in fairway
Day 2 Leave Ilfracombe 1 to 2 hours before HW and push to Stepper point near Padstow. Hope shelter good as unsafe in northerly or easterly
Consider going up into Padstow
Day 3 Relatively short 8 hour hop to St Ives.
Day 4 wait for good weather break and try and get rest and supplies
Day 5 Leave before HW to get to The Land at Low Waterish. Avoid Longship rocks and go up on Rising tide to Penzance/Newlyn.
Day 6 Sail on rising tide (stream starts after LW ) to Falmouth
Day 7 get supplies and possibly find new crew
Day 8 Sail on rising tide to Plymouth Sound - plenty of harbours to get into at high water as alternatives start to relax
Day 9 sail on rising tide to Dartmouth
Day 10 Sail on rising tide to Salcombe
Day 11 Sail with trepidation past Portland races to Portland Harbour or Weymouth. Lyme bay is big and exposed and you need to go round Portland at near slack so timing very very critical, or you must go out between the Race and the Shambles. A pussy cat if all fine a ship killer if you get it wrong
Day 12 Sail to Studland or if lucky Poole
Day 13 get into Poole

OR hire truck
 
Last edited:

jwilson

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The problem is once you start you cant stop and there are no all tide all weather havens on the english/ n cornish side until St Ives and even that can be very lumpy.

- snipped
I certainly wouldn't regard St Ives as an all weather haven, unless your boat can dry out safely possibly with bumping on drying and refloating. There's a reason so very few yachts are based there. And you can only enter near HW. I don't believe there are ANY real all tide all weather havens on the English side between Portishead and Newlyn. Once past Newlyn there are plenty, Falmouth, Fowey, Plymouth etc onwards, mostly nicely small boat easyish daysail apart, with the exception of Lyme Bay.
 

oldmanofthehills

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I certainly wouldn't regard St Ives as an all weather haven, unless your boat can dry out safely possibly with bumping on drying and refloating. There's a reason so very few yachts are based there. And you can only enter near HW. I don't believe there are ANY real all tide all weather havens on the English side between Portishead and Newlyn. Once past Newlyn there are plenty, Falmouth, Fowey, Plymouth etc onwards, mostly nicely small boat easyish daysail apart, with the exception of Lyme Bay.
I have moored at St Ives after 36 hour crossing from Camaret. No fun and harbour masters assistant had to help us pickup buoy due to vigorous swell. Only able to sleep due to complete exhaustion. Have dried out in harbour on other calmer occasions but hard to get near wall and very muddy to go ashore if you dont.

Probably in one of our present boats I might be able to beat my suggested timings but I have sound engine, sound Navigator and am willing to do long legs. However I have been stuck in Ilfracombe and Padstow quite a few times waiting on the weather. enjoyable enough unless you are in a hurry

All of which is why our newer boat is based in Plymouth sound not the Bristol Channel (and we might shift the older one too)
 

38mess

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We once spend two weeks of our three week holiday just getting from Cardiff to Ilfracombe. Holed up in watchet for the best part of a week, then tried to punch the wind past foreland, ended up turning back to watchet. Choose your weather. And don't set a timetable. 36 ft boat with experience crew
 

oldmanofthehills

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The OP needs a diesel engine with fuel for 24 hours minimum IMHO. If making passage to Padstow or Scilly (as different to just playing) its normal to get motor on at Foreland etc to ensure Ilfracombe is made. Its a bit freer beyond there. Winds usually SW and on the nose but shelter worse in the odd easterly. Most cruisers actually spend about half the time under engine unless time is no worry and even then tacking against headwind in a small boat for 14 hours can get a bit dull
 

jwilson

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I regularly used to go down to Minehead, Porlock or Ilfracombe and back from Weston over long weekends in first a 17-footer and later a 19-footer, with a 3 hp Seagull as power. Yes it can get seriously bumpy in a wind with west in it against an ebb tide, but the tide really helps you get there. Leave Weston after work on an evening tide, down to Barry, next morning Barry-wherever chosen. If dead westerly or WSW might choose Minehead or (preferably) Porlock. Anchor off and go in to harbour on rising tide. Only very rarely could I get back all the way to Weston from Ilfracombe on the flood, usually stopped in Barry again.

Took same boats to Lundy, Instow, Clovelly and once Padstow, and spent lots of time in Pembrokeshire and out into the Irish sea. I then took a YM Offshore exam in a UKSA Contessa 32, and the examiner said I could certainly sail very well, but was absolute rubbish at handling under power.
 

oldmanofthehills

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I regularly used to go down to Minehead, Porlock or Ilfracombe and back from Weston over long weekends in first a 17-footer and later a 19-footer, with a 3 hp Seagull as power. Yes it can get seriously bumpy in a wind with west in it against an ebb tide, but the tide really helps you get there. Leave Weston after work on an evening tide, down to Barry, next morning Barry-wherever chosen. If dead westerly or WSW might choose Minehead or (preferably) Porlock. Anchor off and go in to harbour on rising tide. Only very rarely could I get back all the way to Weston from Ilfracombe on the flood, usually stopped in Barry again.

Took same boats to Lundy, Instow, Clovelly and once Padstow, and spent lots of time in Pembrokeshire and out into the Irish sea. I then took a YM Offshore exam in a UKSA Contessa 32, and the examiner said I could certainly sail very well, but was absolute rubbish at handling under power.
Yes, long ago I have done similar in 19ft then 22ft having learned to properly sea sail under the guidance of Lydney YC members, though i was not so bold then

If the OP had suggested learning in the BC for a year under suitable tutelage, it would be one thing. But relatively inexperienced is not the way to tackle the Upper Bristol Channel and its tides and occasional tidal races, and small boat short handed is not the best way to tackle the long voyages and big seas of the lower Bristol Channel
 
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