a travel log
From France to Scotland by sea.

Sunday, August 11, 2002

(this post was updated on August 12th - it's a long one!)

Departure from Aberdaron Bay at 6:30. Arrival in Holyhead at 5 PM. Conditions: SW winds force 6, sometimes 5, once 7 for about 10 minutes. Some rain early on, low visibility; rough sea.

Well, as I mentioned in my previous post, I'd arrived in the little bay of Aberdaron, on the tip of the Lleyn Peninsula, with the plan of getting up reasonably early the next morning, and attempting to cross over to Ireland... That was not to be.

I went to bed around 10, and had a hard time falling asleep. I was being rolled by the slight incoming swell, and it felt that everything that could make noise on the boat... did. The halyards were clanging on the mast, the table panels were banging against the table feel (the table folds), drawers were sliding in their rails... on most other days these sounds would of rocked me to sleep, but on this day, since my sail had been short, and I was not physically exhausted, I could not sleep. Somehow I managed to sall asleep, probably around 12, only to be woken up around 2:30 AM. The wind had turned and what had begun as a nice little sheltered harbour was now a pretty exposed trap. The slow rocking had turned into pretty serious rolling, and the boat, rather than pointing away from the beach, was now pointing towards it. Had my anchor loosened I would of been on the rocks before I could do anything about it. I felt pretty confident that the hold was good, as I had let out all the chain and rope I had, yet after that I did not manage to go to sleep. Incredible things happen in ones mind when one is forced to stare at the ceeling, being worried about ones safety, and feeling very very tired... One thought came to mind again and again: Here I was, a pile of cells, sitting on a chunk of plastic and steel, floating on a huge sea of moving water particles, surrounded by rapidly moving gas... and the only person I had to blame for my sad state of affairs was me. Where does will come from, and why did I will this? Anyhow, I digress

The point of the above is I had 2.5 hours sleep.

Fed up with the sleeplessness, I decided I would leave at dawn for Ireland. At least I would get there earlier, and I could sleep properly once there. Well, as I left there was 15 knots of wind; 1/2 hour later there was 25, and a little later I hit 28 knots. That's F7. The difference with the previous day was that I was no longer sheltered by the coast. A short, violent sea was formed, and quickly I worried about my ability to take this weather all day... To make things worse, I soon realised it was a matter of time before I would get seasick... which I did. Because of the strong currents pushing me up the coast, the option to return to Pwllheli was not available. It would of taken me hours and hours to get there, so after sailing for about 1 hour, I decided to abort my passage to Ireland, and head North. By going North I had the wind behind me, the waves pushing me along, the current my way, and I covered a lot of ground very quickly. I was doing 8.5 knots on the ground.

For most of the sail, I felt sea-sick. Don't need to get into the details, but suffice it to say that it was not pleasant. I was only actually sick a couple of times, but as anyone who has been sea or car sick will understand, ones energy gets completely depleted. Not the greatest thing when one is alone on a boat in rough seas. I can't say I was ever scared, but it certainly was no fun.

Here is a shot taken from inside. It is always difficult for a picture to portray accurately the feeling of a big wave... all I can say is that I was there... and they were big! :)

I arrived within sight of Holyhead Moutain around 3 PM. Sadly the tidal currents carried me no further, and the opposite current was now speeding up. What should of taken about 20 minutes took 2 hours - and what should of been a smooth arrival was quite frightening. I sailed right into the Holyhead race, and had waves break on that boat's side... not fun at all; like being caught in a washing machine.

When I finally arrived in Holyhead, I was greated by a nice man who helped me moor the boat. Although I was absolutely exhausted but the events of the day pushed me to go for a big long walk into town, to be on firm soil - and to loosen up a little. Picked up some curry (for some reason that was what I was craving for), ate on the boat, and went to sleep.

Picture taken coming into Holyhead harbour. One can just make out, at the back, the foot of the Snowdonia mountains.

10:23:57 PM    
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© Copyright 2003 Thomas Degremont.

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