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The Compass Crew

by seadogrose

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It's been over three years since our Indian adventure - and our last post we are ashamed to say!

Rose is now five and there has been an addition to our number: Rose's little brother William who is already two.

We upgraded our boat 'Windrush' last year and now have a much roomier Beneteau 323 which we keep on Lake Windermere in the English Lake District, easily one of the most beautiful locations in the world, even if the weather is fickle.

After a couple of years of working too hard, we have decided to take an extended holiday and use up some of the ridiculous amount of accrued holiday.
The plan is to spend the next nine weeks sailing all the way around the United Kingdom, and we will share our experience through this blog. We hope you enjoy following our journey.

Jon, Kate, Rose and William.

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We made it!

Our final day turned out to be an easy one and in a gentle NW breeze we crossed the 39 miles over the Irish sea to Whitehaven, completing our circumnavigation of the UK. The pressure and tension lifted as we neared St Bedes head, and we even had time for toe-dipping and a spot of fishing off the back.
It's been an amazing journey and although very rewarding it's been a true challenge. The sense of relief and achievement were tangible and we opened a bottle of fizz to fuel the laughter.
It's too early for post-trip reflections but they will come.
We are having a good meal out and an early night followed by a well-earned lie-in before we pack up and begin our journey home. There will be plenty more unpacking to do there, sorting through the boxes from storage alongside the stuff coming back from our rental property, but the hard work will pay off when we are finally settled in our own home with the new kitchen extension, not to mention a dishwasher - a stark contrast to the galley on board. I might have to call ahead to the Barbakan to ensure they have some Chelsea buns In for when I get back, I have missed you Chorlton!
30th Aug 2015, 19:03   comments (6)

Homeward bound.

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Rising early we slipped our moorings for the last time and motored out of Douglas into a smooth sea as the sun rose.
Outdoor breakfast and England in view we expect to reach Whitehaven in the mid afternoon.
Bubbly in the fridge cooling.
30th Aug 2015, 09:39   comments (0)

Holyhead stopover and across to the Isle of Man

We had a tough day in Holyhead after a long passage with zero sleep. We were all very tired but looking forward to a visit from old friends tony Richmond and Mike and Kath Jones later in the day.

After a reviving breakfast in the marina cafe we managed a nap and a shower each in shifts, plus we got some laundry done and had a bit of a tidy below decks, not bad after missing so much sleep. Tony, a merchant navy college friend and shipmate from Blue Star, arrived on his immaculate Triumph having ridden through Snowdonia to get to us. Mike Jones (another ancient mariner) and Kath made the journey from Manchester through bank holiday Friday traffic to spend the evening with us, and it was lovely to celebrate being almost home, it was a shame we didn't have more energy to stay up a bit later! By the way Kath the lemon drizzle cakes didn't last past elevenses they were delicious.

6:30am came all too quickly, but we reluctantly crawled out of bed to hit the right tide to pass the notorious Skerries. We were soon on our way and clear of the traffic separation scheme, which didn't really matter as we've seen very few other vessels aside from the two ferries at Holyhead.

It was a sunny day, Rose and William joined us outside for most of it and with the wind behind us it was a reasonably comfortable journey, with a feeling of being at the end of the trip now. The hills of the island were soon in sight and although the distance is 50Nm we were inside the sizeable breakwater before 5pm. We opted to stay in the outer harbour to avoid getting locked in to the marina until half tide in the morning, which would be too late for our start to Whitehaven. It's not a luxury option with no facilities and not enough cleats to go round but fine for a night, and anyway we were in a rush to get up to the TT circuit!

With a parade lap about to start, we picked a spot looking over a wall a few hundred yards down from the start line and watched the bikes fly past. William's reaction to the sound of the engines was 'that noise is like my big bottom!' Now he can talk we have a window into his thoughts.

We've looked at the passage plan and are now catching up with the blog, strange to think that tomorrow is the final sailing leg of the trip and soon we won't have to think about tides and wind and the next passages. We're back on the Isle of Man and technically completed our circumnavigation; it felt a bit unreal to be at the TT and almost at the end of the trip, but also a great achievement to be here pretty much on schedule - excellent planning Jon! Forecast is for light SW winds and calm seas for the 36Nm journey, it should be an easy trip back.
29th Aug 2015, 22:22   comments (2)

The longest leg

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After loosing a few days waiting for a gap in the weather we were keen to try and make up some time. The west coast of Wales curves around to the east to form the Cardigan bay and the obvious short cut was to head straight for Holyhead in one go and potentially saving 30 miles. This would involve a 114 mile 23 hr leg but rested and with strong following winds we decided to go for it.
We left at 8 as the first lock opened and passed at slack water through the tricky waters of jack sound and Ramsey sound which were still choppy in the fresh SW wind.
W made great progress averaging 7.5 kts and finding ourselves 2 hours ahead of schedule. The following seas were fairly big and it was hard work keeping on course as when each wave overtook us it tried to knock us upto 30deg off course.
The day passed slowly with no land in sight and no other shipping. William and rose spent most of the time down below and Kate kept moral high with constant hot drinks and snacks.
As evening set we were escorted by a large pod of Whiteside dolphins that circled all around the boat at times only inches away. The clear waters and low sun gave great underwater views as they swam through the large waves and they stayed with us for about 20 minutes before moving on.
The clear skies and nearly fulloon illuminated the night hours and just as dawn appeared we rounded South stack light into Holyhead.
We were very tired after a long and challenging sail but also uplifted as were were now within striking distance Whitehaven and the conclusion of are circumnavigation of the UK.
We made fast and tiptoed to our cabin hoping for a little sleep but Rose and William had other ideas and another day began!
29th Aug 2015, 22:15   comments (0)

Holyhead breakwater in sight

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Wow long night!
28th Aug 2015, 06:00   comments (3)

Setting off at last

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We left Milford Haven on the 8:43 lock, our destination is Holyhead in Anglesey with an eta of 8am tomorrow Friday. It will be a long passage but will put us within two days of home.

Forecasts are all good with a solid SW and a favourable moon.
27th Aug 2015, 12:31   comments (1)

Storm bound in Milford Haven

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After four long sailing passages we were all in need of a day off so monday was spent indulging the children with; Pirate pets indoor play centre, stories at the library, ice creams and the movie Bugs World at our onboard cinema ( front cabin with pillows, duvet and lights out)
Being constantly outside we have, over the past eight weeks an increased appreciation and respect for the sea and weather. it can be our best friend as we harness the wind and it propels us around the uk but it can also flex its muscles and be very inhospitable which is the case right now.
we spend much time each day examining weather forecasts and tidal currents and all our various sources are saying we will be pinned here in Milford haven for the next few days.
Yet another complex low pressure system is approaching from the west with its associated high winds and high seas ( 6-7 meters at Lands End)
Its frustrating being delayed so close to home but with our precious cargo onboard we are not taking any risks.
25th Aug 2015, 17:18   comments (0)

North and on to Wales

Our anchor held firm and our two anchor alarms remained silent overnight but we got little sleep as the wind howled and Liberty lolled around in the waves. Everything that could creak or tap made itself known but we had too short a night to stop t all so we got as much rest as we could. We rose reluctantly at 5.30am and were hoisting sails by 6 as William and Rose slept on.
Several coffees later we were well out in the Bristol Channel making good progress on the SW winds. There was heavy rain and thunder storms forecast which could be seen all around us but we miraculously escaped them all and stayed dry.
As the day wore on it felt different from the previous ones and we were averaging a respectable 6.5 knots on the decreasing seas. Rose and William spent the day outside with us listening to bbc 6 music, singing songs and telling jokes. It was a shame to pas Lundy island without stopping as it is a nature reserve and had been an option for an overnight anchorage, but after the night at Padstow we favoured a sheltered marina!
The next sighting of land and the masts of the oil refinery came not long after, but the lack of other vessels and coastline made it feel quite distant. We did however reach Milford Haven ahead of schedule, and even had time to eat our dinner and explore the fortifications before passing the huge oil terminals and through the lock into the marina for a beautiful sunset. We should do long passages with no sleep more often!
Oh and today was also a good dolphin spotting day with pods playing around our boat, jumping and swimming alongside at several points on the passage. It's amazing how spirits are lifted by their visits.
24th Aug 2015, 22:53   comments (1)