Can we go over my passage plan? Belfast ---> Swansea (NI - Ireland - Wales or NI - NE - Wales)

DangerousPirate

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I am currently working out a passage plan for a trip to Swansea, where I have a friend, that I want to visit. Using this only as an excuse to go sailing of course.


Sailing on my own is difficult because I need to stop for the nights and get rest, but I try to avoid anchoring as I am not very confident with it yet. Mostly due to the fact, that I still didn't get around to get an all-chain set up and probably won't do that before the trip.

So I came up with 2 different routes that stop at marinas or at least buoys for the night, and wanted to go over it with you.

The boat is under sail (hopefully) and needs at least 1,7m as I have a fin keel and can't dry out.

First Route:
Belfast to Portaferry (should take 8:30h is about 80ish nm)
Portaferry to Douglas (9-10h, about 90 nm)
Douglas to Holyhead (10h, 95nm)
Holyhead to Aberswyth (13h, 120 nm)
Aberswyth to Skoomer Island to go on a buoy there (13h, 120 nm)
Skoomer Island to Swansea (11:30h at 105 nm)

The issue with this route is that I don't know Skoomer Island or the buoys and couldn't find much information on it. Do they exist? Are they usable? Is there a tonnage limit? My boat is not overly heavy but just making sure. And most importantly: Are there any alternatives nearby? I looked and looked and didn't find much before there to stop without being too out of the way. If I'd carry on to Milford Haven, it's only 2 more hours on top of that, but that leg would be 15 hours or so, and we all know that 5 knots is just an average, could be slower, and then I might end up 20 hours at the helm or something.

Second Route:
Belfast to Portaferry (again; should take 8:30 hours and is about 80ish nm)
Portaferry to Dun Laoghaire (14h at 70nm)
Dun Laoghaire to Arklow (6:45h at 34 nm)
Arklow to Milford Haven (16:30h at 85 nm)
Milford Haven to Swansea (11h at 55nm)

I have two very long legs here as well, Portaferry to Dun Laoghaire (but maybe I can stop at Carlingford Marina to cut it in half), and Arklow to Milford Haven. Milford Haven as an alternative to the Buoys at Skoomer Island, but don't think that would shave off a lot of time, besides, as I mentioned I am not sure about the buoy situation there at all in the first place. And between Milford Haven and Swansea it's another 50-60 nm, which is could be an issue with the tides there. Not sure what is the best procedure there.


Before crossing over to wales, I wish there would be another stop somewhere to make the trip shorter. I was looking at Rosslare Harbour, but I do believe that is a big commercial harbour.


Do you know any alternatives for any of those stops? Or maybe know something about those stops that I missed?

I also know that the Bristol Channel has crazy tides, 8-10 meters or so, so I assume the tides will be very strong, too? Any safety tips? Would that affect sailing in Swansea? Haven't got to check tides yet but will look into that tomorrow, getting late now.
 

dgadee

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Not Portaferry - you need to go up the narrows. I would say Ardglass is better. Howth is good. But I always went straight to Peel. You can tie up to a fishing boat, anchor or go into the locked area. I seem to remember buoys, too. Then one long run to Holyhead? And down the Welsh coast?
 

DangerousPirate

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Not Portaferry - you need to go up the narrows. I would say Ardglass is better. Howth is good. But I always went straight to Peel. You can tie up to a fishing boat, anchor or go into the locked area. I seem to remember buoys, too. Then one long run to Holyhead? And down the Welsh coast?
Ohh Ardglass. I missed that one. Good call! But why not portaferry? Is it not a pretty place?

I had to skip many harbours due to depth problems, kilkeel for example was one. I know the big tallships go there but I wonder where they tie up and if they sit on the mud?

Howth is one of those places. At least according to navionics.


Screenshot 2024-02-27 040810.png

But will definitely plan to go to ardglass instead.
 

john_morris_uk

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Am I missing something here? Some of the passage planning appears to be at 10 knots…. Or are all the distances wrong. eg Douglas to Holyhead is more like 50 miles.

The tidal streams will play a large role in your times of departure etc. There are some serious tidal gates to take into account too. (Eg round Skomer etc). You’ll get places a lot quicker if you don’t try to fight the tidal streams.

The tidal heights aren’t extreme in the Bristol Channel until you get up near Avonmouth. Range at Swansea is six or seven metres from memory. About a metre less at Milford Haven.

I don’t think not having an all chain rode should stop you from anchoring. I can’t imagine doing that trip without having the option of anchoring for a few hours kip in a sheltered spot while you wait for the tide to turn fair again.
 

ridgy

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Am I living in a parallel universe or are your distances miles out, like double?

Belfast to Portaferry (should take 8:30h is about 80ish nm)
35nm?

Portaferry to Douglas (9-10h, about 90 nm)
48nm?

Douglas to Holyhead (10h, 95nm)
51nm?

Are you really passage passage planning at 10 knots? Does that not ring alarm bells?

Why would you go from Portaferry all the way to Douglas on the other side of IoM if you were going to Holyhead? Peel if you must but Douglas?
Portaferry to Holyhead is about 70nm, a comfortable if long day in the prevailing with no access issues at the destination.

There are no depth issues at Howth...you add low water height to those numbers giving you another 0.7 or whatever at minimum.

I would think about staying on the Irish side if wind firmly in the west.

Edit: JM beat me to it.
 

ridgy

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Wexford has visitor bouys, uncomfortable ones perhaps, for an easier crossing to Milford Haven and avoiding the associated tidal constraints.

> but that leg would be 15 hours or so, and we all know that 5 knots is just an average, could be slower

If you're not willing to continue overnight and wind not playing then you're motoring.

> and then I might end up 20 hours at the helm or something.

if you haven't got a reliable autopilot then I wouldn't be thinking about any of this.
 

Dellquay13

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There are 3 day visitor buoys at Skomer North Haven, they are marked no overnight stays which is widely ignored. You can anchor further out from the buoys if they are full, but you need scope, you have over 10m LWS with a 7m rise. Further out you are more exposed to swell. If N haven is untenable, South haven is usually ok, and vice versa. Anchoring only at S Haven, which is popular with locals.
If you stay overnight while the sea birds are nesting from March until late July, get plenty of anchor light up into your rigging (even on a buoy) to prevent the ‘twang, thud’ of nocturnal Manx Shearwaters coming to an abrupt end on your deck.

Skomer South Haven to Milford Haven marina (good shelter, facilities and reprovisioning) is about 11miles which can be 2hours on a rising tide or 4 hours on a foul tide. Dale anchorage is about 2 miles nearer than Milford, but needs a tender to get ashore for the Pub or showers at the Yacht Club. There is an offshore concrete pontoon in Dale bay which needs good fenders if there is swell.

Rounding Skomer in either direction can be 10mins of white knuckles with the tide through Jack Sound or an hour or more beating through the overfalls round to seaward against it.
There are considerable tidal gates (5-7kts) at Ramsey and Skomer, both changing direction at HW+2 and LW+2
You can PM me for more detail
 
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vyv_cox

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Keep out of Cardigan Bay, the Aberporth range can be a big obstacle. QinetiQ - Information for Mariners. Holyhead to Pembroke should keep you outside affected areas but you need to check.
Definitely do not go to Aberystwyth, it is only available near HW and will severely restrict your arrive and leave timing.
Work tides as much as possible all down Irish Sea, you will struggle to make more than a couple of knots against the flood.
 

Supertramp

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Aberystwyth is shallow at LW - might be OK at neaps but not springs. Better to cross Cardigan Bay offshore and avoid the firing range. I would (and do) follow the Irish coast as the tides are less extreme. Howth and Greystones are all tide access marinas, although I have touched the bottom in Howth at 1.5m draft.

Anchoring is a very easy and simple way to stop for an overnight rest, at least in settled conditions. I use Lambay Island and Skerries and others further North. Not suitable in all winds or swells but the big plus is being able to catch the right moment of a tide change without having tide constrained marina exits. In offshore winds there are numerous spots where you can pause for 6 or 18 hours, not so easy on the Wales side.

Understanding and using the tides is really important, especially in springs. Especially when factoring in the effect of slower averages. I have a decent size engine but even so its better to work with the wind and tide, not against it.
 

dunedin

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You need to do your tide planning VERY carefully if planning to use Portaferry in Strangford Lough - or Carlingford Lough - as stops on passage. They are lovely places to visit if you have time in hand.
BUT the tidal flows in the entrance are very strong, such that most yachts will find it near impossible to get against the tide. And need to be very careful heading outwards with the tide if any Easterly / onshore wind or waves.
I dont have my tidal atlas handy, but when passing up and down the Irish Sea the tide times never seemed to work for me to go in there on passage and make use of favourable tides on the passage (instead we returned when not time constrained, and waited for the right tides to enter and depart).
As others have noted Ardglass, Peel and Howth are options more directly on the course - though Peel lock gates are also tidal, and when we were last there Howth was not accessible at LWS (boats were aground in the channel!), but this may have improved.
 

dgadee

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Portaferry is an awkward marina to get into. Just across past Strangford is a very nice bay where you could pick up a mooring or anchor. But the narrows have very strong tides and you need to consider timing very carefully.

You don't say how long you have for the trip. That makes a difference. Plenty of time? Then go up the narrows. It is very a interesting run and very speedy with the tide in your favour.
 

Refueler

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10kts ????

Even with a race boat - I still plan on 5kts .... especially if single handed - you would be setting boat up to be 'safe' and not pushing her .. so 5kts would be max average ..

Even though I am not a supporter of rope rode anchoring ... if you are anchoring in sheltered waters - what's the problem ? Lets be honest - with such a trip - you should have alternative 'bolt-holes' to drop into if needed .. and that would usually mean anchoring.
 

oldmanofthehills

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Long long passages on the Welsh side with big deviations needed for harbour and 3 of the worst or at least most challenging tidal races/gates.

Go via Eire. Sheltered from the westerlies, inside the banks for much of the route thus sheltered from any easterlies. Final passage to Wales is Kilmore Quay to Milford, about 80 miles with wind behind you.

Man is lovely to visit but hardly a useful staging post
 

Dellquay13

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Long long passages on the Welsh side with big deviations needed for harbour and 3 of the worst or at least most challenging tidal races/gates.

Go via Eire. Sheltered from the westerlies, inside the banks for much of the route thus sheltered from any easterlies. Final passage to Wales is Kilmore Quay to Milford, about 80 miles with wind behind you.

Man is lovely to visit but hardly a useful staging post
Leaving Kilmore Quay an hour or so before HW you get the SW ebb tide set keeping you clear of the entrance to Tuskar TSS, and the later NE push from the returning tide helps you clear the NE end of the Smalls TSS.
 
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dgadee

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Long long passages on the Welsh side with big deviations needed for harbour and 3 of the worst or at least most challenging tidal races/gates.

Go via Eire. Sheltered from the westerlies, inside the banks for much of the route thus sheltered from any easterlies. Final passage to Wales is Kilmore Quay to Milford, about 80 miles with wind behind you.

Man is lovely to visit but hardly a useful staging post
"Ireland" is what the natives call it. Kilmore Quay is awkward going round the corner.
 

DangerousPirate

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Oh, I am sorry! It was very late, I must have some mistakes while copying down my route.

I did plan with 5kts, or so I thought. But everything is off, and I didn't notice when I posted! :O :O

You are very right when you say it's obviously planned with 10 kts, and the distances are off, too. Let me do that again haha
 

Refueler

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tYEkNcXl.jpg


Where we going next Steve ?

r7itaKml.jpg


Dunno maybe here Nige ?

2IbOXMpl.jpg


mmmmm what about here Steve ??

Photos from Swedish Islands cruise 2011 .... blimey that long ago !!

Sorry ... just having a bit of fun ...
 

DangerousPirate

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Belfast - Ardglass = 10h, 50nm
Ardglass - Douglas = 11h, 55nm
Douglas - Holy Head = 10h, 60nm
Holy Head - Aberstwyth = 16h, 80 nm
Aberstwyth - Skoomer Island = 15h, 75nm
Skoomer Island - Swansea = 11h, 65nm

Holy Head to Aberstwyth is a big one, and Aberstwyth to Skoomer is big, too.

Will go over the plan again tonight and apply the newest info from this thread :)

tYEkNcXl.jpg


Where we going next Steve ?

r7itaKml.jpg


Dunno maybe here Nige ?

2IbOXMpl.jpg


mmmmm what about here Steve ??

Photos from Swedish Islands cruise 2011 .... blimey that long ago !!

Sorry ... just having a bit of fun ...
Yeah, that's how I sail when I don't have to be somehwere :p Who needs locations when the journey is the goal?
 

DangerousPirate

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Long long passages on the Welsh side with big deviations needed for harbour and 3 of the worst or at least most challenging tidal races/gates.

Go via Eire. Sheltered from the westerlies, inside the banks for much of the route thus sheltered from any easterlies. Final passage to Wales is Kilmore Quay to Milford, about 80 miles with wind behind you.

Man is lovely to visit but hardly a useful staging post
That sounds indeed like the better plan, it also looks like fewer stops to me.

So far looks like I scratch out Portaferry and go for Ardglass instead, then Dun Laoghaire, Arklow still not sure about that, milford haven (would like to find something in between 16 hours is still doable, but I'd rather avoid such long distances just in case I sail slower), and then swansea.

Personally wouldn't mind a trip to Dublin tbh. Who can pass that up?
 

Refueler

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I actually like a destination ... it gives two things : A reason for going ... and exercise to meet a timed arrival.

That glow of inner satisfaction is worth it.

Until a few years back - work interfered - a trip across Baltic to Stockholm Archipelago was an annual affair. Steve and I stretched the 2011 one out to ~ two weeks .. staying in a different location each night. This year with the new boat - I am planning to restart those annual cruises ... along with various other such as odd regatta / race etc.

DP ... I admire your spirit .. take care and enjoy !
 
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