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portland at springs

Dadof4

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TLDR: I've never rounded portland anywhere near springs - and generally in benign conditions - , is it best to completely avoid ?

Background
The lockdown boredom has got too much - so i find myself pre-planning 6 months worth of sailing trips. I'm currently planning an Easter West country trip.
I want to come back Brixham > Yarmouth in one hit, overnight 11/12 April 2021. Thats 81 miles (13-16 hours for my planning purposes).

The 12th April is bang on springs

My loose plan is due east from Brixham > 5M off portland > 5 mile off St Albans and then up through either Needles or North channel (depending on conditions).
Push the ebb across lyme bay and then carry the flood after portland

Heres the bit thats got me in a quandry:
I want to be coming through hurst before Dover HW-1 - which is 10:37 on the 12th
It should take me 7-8 hours to get from 5M off portland to Hurst (of course, it could be qucker in which case this all becomes a moot point)

That has me rounding portland at 0237-0337 (HW Dover +3 - HW +4) - about when the race is running its hardest


Would others even consider rounding portland at springs at the "wrong time" or is it just a question of making sure you have a bigger offing ? Is 5M enough ?
If i just go far enough off, does the timing matter ?
I could always duck into poole/studland and wait for the next tide , which would let me have the "right" times at both portland and hurst - but want to do it in one hit if possible
 

Robih

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"Would others even consider rounding portland at springs at the "wrong time"

No, you'll be going backwards.

I have done Dartmouth to Yarmouth in one hit but we had 25-30kts from the NW so fast sailing, just managed to creep in to the Solent against the tide by keeping very close to the shore but it was a slow process. Then when we got in to Yarmouth we couldn't get on the pontoon as the tide pushed us off every time. And the pubs had shut by the time we arrived. :( But it was a good day nonetheless :)
 

Bobc

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Take the early fair tide past Portland, stop in Swanage/Studland for a break, and then carry on back to the Solent.
 

laika

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That has me rounding portland at 0237-0337 (HW Dover +3 - HW +4) - about when the race is running its hardest
Might you have confused HW Dover and HW Portland in looking at the state of tidal currents at that time (and possibly have forgotten about daylight saving)?
 
Last edited:

RJJ

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14 Aug 2009
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2,021
TLDR: I've never rounded portland anywhere near springs - and generally in benign conditions - , is it best to completely avoid ?

Background
The lockdown boredom has got too much - so i find myself pre-planning 6 months worth of sailing trips. I'm currently planning an Easter West country trip.
I want to come back Brixham > Yarmouth in one hit, overnight 11/12 April 2021. Thats 81 miles (13-16 hours for my planning purposes).

The 12th April is bang on springs

My loose plan is due east from Brixham > 5M off portland > 5 mile off St Albans and then up through either Needles or North channel (depending on conditions).
Push the ebb across lyme bay and then carry the flood after portland

Heres the bit thats got me in a quandry:
I want to be coming through hurst before Dover HW-1 - which is 10:37 on the 12th
It should take me 7-8 hours to get from 5M off portland to Hurst (of course, it could be qucker in which case this all becomes a moot point)

That has me rounding portland at 0237-0337 (HW Dover +3 - HW +4) - about when the race is running its hardest


Would others even consider rounding portland at springs at the "wrong time" or is it just a question of making sure you have a bigger offing ? Is 5M enough ?
If i just go far enough off, does the timing matter ?
I could always duck into poole/studland and wait for the next tide , which would let me have the "right" times at both portland and hurst - but want to do it in one hit if possible
I've done Portland in that direction a dozen times or so. Some were racing, when of course you don't get to choose your timings.

In general, the timing of your Portland rounding is the "prominent" deciding factor in your strategy for this passage. It's more important than the Needles or St Alban's, where the worst currents are less significant and more localised (you can stay off St Alban's and go north of the Shingles) . Even at neaps, I'd be looking for a favourable Portland rounding and plan my departure accordingly.

If you stay far enough off, 5-7 miles depending on the boat and the wind, it's "fine" but it's still going to be bouncy at springs, and desperately slow.

I would say the efficient strategy is to round Portland with 2 hours of flood left at the Bill - giving you an hour or two in-hand so you are clearly round and clear before the turn. The foul tide at Brixham won't hurt you much for three hours or so; then you'll get favourable tide across the second half of Lyme Bay and around the Bill. Then take your grief off the Jurassic Coast, until you then get favourable tide at the Needles.

More specifically, it may depend on the boat and the weather. If you're doing 4 knots through the water, against Portland at springs, you might as well have enjoyed a longer supper. At 8 knots and in a bigger boat, you can manage a bit better and you can also handle a bit of bouncy-bouncy. If you get a brisk Northerly you can be a little more relaxed about the rough water; in a SW F7, it's a total non-starter and a small boat must be at least 5-7 miles off (and still expect discomfort).
 

laika

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Might you have confused HW Dover and HW Portland in looking at the state of tidal currents at that time (and possibly have forgotten about daylight saving)?
I think I misunderstood and you really *are* thinking of rounding Portland against the spring ebb. Per everyone else...<understatement>I'm not entirely sure that would be my first choice</understatement>. I generally plan to hit Portland just as the tide is about to turn fair. Given a reasonable wind from the right direction, the huge boost you get at springs between Portland and the needles should give the average type of boat we sail a fighting chance of getting to Hurst before the tide turns foul again. Plus assuming you're not facing an easterly it's much more comfortable.
 

doris

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Having done Torbay to the Solent many times, its easy. Just leave at the top of the tide and eat it across Lyme Bay, there's not much against you in the bay, then pick up the flood just before Portland and rocket up into the Solent. If you are confident of being at the Bill at slack water, the inshore passage is easy, just be careful about fishing pots, but otherwise give 6 miles offing and you'll find it all rather a bit of an anticlimax!

I would plan 12 hours Torquay to Gosport in a 39 footer as a routine cruise home, assume no beating. Have done it in a lot less.
 

ip485

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If you are cruising, dont round against the tide, why bother with the pain. All the plan should be to round with the tide, and if you find yourself slow use the engine. Always take the inner passage (no more than a few hundred yards off the shore) in anything up to a F5. More than a F5 and you may want to think about it depending on yacht and experience. The tidal streams are very odd around the head, and reverse at times as you round the inner passage. Well worth looking at the detailed tidal flows when you plan.

Against the tide at full spring flows in most yachts you will struggle to do much more than stand still.

It is very straight forward from Brixahm and no good reason not to arrange passage to work with the tide.
 

Fimacca

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Somerset
I am doing the same trip end of march, just the other way around with my new tub. But I will stop on route and chill !
Weymouth perhaps.
 

bdh198

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Solent
You have this wrong, the tide turns East going at around HW Dover +4 1/2
At HW Dover +3 West going is slackening off.
Portland Race (QV) : Monty Mariner
Looking at that tidal atlas it looks like you could sneak the inside passage at HW Dover +4:45.

I think my preferred option would involve rounding the Bill with a favourable tide and timing the change of tide for dropping the hook in Swanage/Studland before picking up the next favourable tide for the Needles. You could even set off a little earlier and punch the weaker ebb round the north of the Shingles and keeping close to Hurst Point.
 

ip485

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Yarmouth to Brixham with favourable tidal gates should be possible in most yachts (or the reverse), even if you resort to the donkey in very light conditions, or you routinely plan at lower speeds because of hull size.
 

Dadof4

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Hi all - thanks for the advice. (and, no i hadn't confused Portland with dover or forgotten about DST) - but think my comment "race running at its hardest" was misleading

So, distilling everybodys comments, my understanding is this
1. on that passage, plan around the Portland tidal gate first, everything else is secondary
2. Best time to round (east or west) is as the tide is slack, just turning in favour (to give 6 hours push after)
3. Dont even think about trying to fight the tide near Portland at springs
4. doing Brixham>Yarmouth at springs is just about doable but unlikely. Buy a lottery ticket the day you manage it.
(my boat is 38' so i use 5-6 knts as basis for planning)

Is that a fair summary?

For the trip in quesiton, I'm going to adjust to round portland 2-3 hours later, then have a kip & brunch at studland for a few hours before heading back to solent.

That solves this specific day, but theres one bit of my initial question that I'm still unsure about. .....

I suppose this is about sea state really (as opposed to the effects on boat speed) , so let me word this differently: would there be any concern about rounding Portland with a strong FOLLOWING spring tide. Obviously, most people choose to round at or near slack so they get 6 hours in the right direction but is the race itself and its effects going to mean that i need to leave more offing,etc as springs. than i would at neaps. Would people sill aim to round at slack or be happy to round with the ride running strong.
Oh- and when i say round, I'm thinking offshore, not the inshore passage

obviously, wind over tide is the biggest potential issue I guess, but I'm ignoring that for the purposes of this question
 

Bobc

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Hi all - thanks for the advice. (and, no i hadn't confused Portland with dover or forgotten about DST) - but think my comment "race running at its hardest" was misleading

So, distilling everybodys comments, my understanding is this
1. on that passage, plan around the Portland tidal gate first, everything else is secondary
2. Best time to round (east or west) is as the tide is slack, just turning in favour (to give 6 hours push after)
3. Dont even think about trying to fight the tide near Portland at springs
4. doing Brixham>Yarmouth at springs is just about doable but unlikely. Buy a lottery ticket the day you manage it.
(my boat is 38' so i use 5-6 knts as basis for planning)

Is that a fair summary?

For the trip in quesiton, I'm going to adjust to round portland 2-3 hours later, then have a kip & brunch at studland for a few hours before heading back to solent.

That solves this specific day, but theres one bit of my initial question that I'm still unsure about. .....

I suppose this is about sea state really (as opposed to the effects on boat speed) , so let me word this differently: would there be any concern about rounding Portland with a strong FOLLOWING spring tide. Obviously, most people choose to round at or near slack so they get 6 hours in the right direction but is the race itself and its effects going to mean that i need to leave more offing,etc as springs. than i would at neaps. Would people sill aim to round at slack or be happy to round with the ride running strong.
Oh- and when i say round, I'm thinking offshore, not the inshore passage

obviously, wind over tide is the biggest potential issue I guess, but I'm ignoring that for the purposes of this question
Spot-on for all of that. As you say, go offshore (5 miles). There is no point in taking the inshore passage unless you are going into Weymouth.

No problem in going round the outside with a spring tide underneath you, so long as it's not too windy, and the wind isn't Easterly.

You will find that pretty-much due East from Brixham will get you to the right place for Portland, then keep going until you are past St. Albans race, then you can head for Anvil Pt. and round to Studland.

If you get get to Portland at early flood, the tide will help you all the way to Studland.
 

ip485

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I dont think this is quite right.

Assuming 6 knots and anything that doesnt require tacking if you leave Brixham a few hours before the Easterly flow sets you will pass Portland and be passing the Needles with the flow with you. The adverse stream across Lyme Bay is barely a factor. The direct track is pretty much 80nm. It is true going outside the overfalls adds nothing to the track distance.

Aiming for the inshore passage will take you through or close to through the firing range if it is active so worth checking as the guard boats may push you south a little.

Horses four courses, but with planning I see no reason not to have a good tide with you pretty much the whole way, with the concern making the Needles before it sets to the West more important.
 

LadyInBed

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Me - Zumerzet Boat - Wareham
would there be any concern about rounding Portland with a strong FOLLOWING spring tide.
If the wind is SW to N you should go like the clappers!
With the wind behind me I do it on twin poled out headsails, it's not worth trying to time it to go inshore, 5 or 6 miles off and you don't have to worry about pots or overfalls and your south of the Shambles.
I did an overnight run back to Poole written up here: Summer Cruse 2008 - Voyage Abandoned : Monty Mariner
 

doris

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Torquay to Gosport is 100M, so 12h is an average speed over 8kn. Wow, that’s some going over two tides; must be an IMOCCA 39…
Not through the water it isn’t if you play the tides right. Sod all in Lyme bay and loads from Portland onwards. It’s a tad under 85 over the ground and tides take ten off this.
A nice SW5, the prevailing, and where’s the problem? Lovely kite run all the way!
 

ip485

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On a reach of some degree and F5 or above I will do +8 knots true all day long, so these are doable passages albeit in larger yachts.
 
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