0031 - Holyhead to Pwllheli

Leaving Holyhead was kinda bitter-sweet - I kinda feel bad I didn't even leave the harbour, but life tied to an unsecured pier is a bit different than being in a marina.


It might sound silly, but I don't like leaving the crew on their own...in an unsecured location...I worry about them....lol

We left Holyhead at first light, just as the sun was peeking over the horizon, and that was to be the only nice thing about this particular morning.

The weather was lousy, wet and the wind and waves were not as predicted...but we pressed on regardless - we have places to be...or someplace to be...

We also had about 10 mins of GPS errors on the way out of this harbour, not sure if some places just have anomalies or if we have some faulty equipment - it seems unlikely that all seven onboard GPSs would all malfunction at the exact same time, and show the exact same error - Unless, however, there is something on board that is affecting them simultaneously...the plot thickens.

It was nice to be underway again, life on the pier was a tad boring...the place is very industrial with ferries and tankers coming and going all day and night - although the radio chatter was interesting to listen to...and there seemed to be a constant flow of trucks on and off the ferries, lots of merch moving around.

The next 6 hours were spent in fog with occasional checks on the radar and AIS for other vessels, and with visibility down to less than a quarter-mile, there was nothing to look at, just fog - in every direction - just fog...

At one point I just went below and just watched a film, quietly contemplating if the decision to leave Holyhead on this day was a good one. Tacking into 20 knot winds is slow going and is just a tad soul-destroying - as at a certain point I realized there wasn't any way we were going to get to our next destination at this speed, at least not today anyway.

At our present progress, it was gonna be the next afternoon before we got to Fishguard, a course change was needed, and a more probable port was needed as I wasn't going to sail for 36 hours straight - on this trip, I just wasn't prepared for that kind of trek...not against it, just not prepared properly for it on this day...


After checking the charts for a new destination - and being in this part of Wales there just aren't too many options. I decided to just head toward Pwllheli (yes, that's spelled right) and just see what happens, maybe the wind would cooperate...

We had just about crossed Caernarfon Bay which lies directly south of Holyhead and we were nearing Lleyn Peninsula - or so I thought - I can't see anything in this fog, and with the GPS errors earlier I was a little apprehensive - but the radar said there was land out there...nerves got a little higher as we approached Bardsey Sound and we still couldn't see anything...


But then I heard a noise on the hull - we had dolphin visitors, again!! And rather than use my main camera to film them - I used the GoPro - I think the results are better...

And Part Two of this encounter...

I had to keep wiping the lens as it was both catching splashes from the water and getting wet from the rain...but I think the GoPro worked better...I apologize for my appearance, but not having showered or shaved for a few days has an effect that can't be hidden..lol


Getting back to helm I began keeping an eye on the depths indicated on the chart and to ensure they matched up with what our sounder was saying in an effort to confirm our location, but at a mile out from the nearest bit of land, all we could see was fog. A half-mile out, still fog - but then out of nowhere, some land appeared!

On our Portside was the Lleyn Peninsula, and off to the starboard side Bardsey Island appeared and could finally be seen...we would be heading between them...and heading to the East toward Pwllheli.

Somehow it was just nice to see a bit of land, or at least be able to confirm our location...sailing in fog can leave you without a sense of direction, as every direction looks the same - I guess the same could be said for traveling in the desert...


And in getting around the peninsula we were able to get a better look at the land as things seemed to clear up a bit, but it was still a little hazy with fog...

We also got a bit of a better look at Bardsey Island as well...certainly a change from Holyheads industrial feel...

Everything around here seems to be covered in about ten shades of green, it was all very beautiful, this was the Wales I was hoping to see, I had heard about how nice this place is but after being in Holyhead for a few days, we had yet to see how nice Wales is...but things were beginning to look up.

Leaving the corner of the peninsula and the island behind us, it was time to make a decision as to whether to continue along this particular bit of coastline or continue South towards Fishguard.

Looking ahead, I could see that what was coming and it was looking real nice, and the wind was still not favorable for going to Fishguard, eventually, I just decided to keep going towards Pwllheli, this would later turn out to be a lucky decision.

Moving along the coast towards Saint Tudwals Islands things continued to improve, and the fog was continuing to lift more and more, revealing some very nice landscape!

The wind seemed to be perfect for traveling in this direction and we would sail the rest of the way with the engine in silence, moving along at steady five knots...

As we approached the Saint Tudwals Islands things just got better and better. The water completely changed colour as the depths became quite shallow, in fact, this whole area is quite shallow - I had better start watching out for pots...lol

I haven't seen any pots for a while, there were very few in Ireland, and the ones we did see we very easy to spot, I still have nightmares about the loch at the back of Skye that must have had a hundred plus pots in it...

Getting close to the Saint Tudwals Islands we were fortunate to see some quite stunning rock formations along the way - Now this is the Wales I was looking for! I don't know if it comes across in the pictures very well - but it was awesome.

There was also this bit of farmland - it was just on a complete slope, I'm sure on the land it looks normal, but from the water, it just looks tilted...but still worked as evidenced by all of the fields on it, it just didn't look right for some reason...lol

There are two islands that make up the Saint Tudwals Islands and just as we passed the odd farmland, the West Island came into view.

They are rather uncreatively just called West Island and East Island...at least they are pronounceable - I have really struggled with the Welsh language, not that too many people use it, but I just hate pronouncing things horribly wrong, I'd hate to offend anyone with my poor pronunciation...

Then out of nowhere - I saw a pot. Now, I am used to large to medium-sized orange buoys, or even white ones that mark pots - but a tiny white one with a dark green, almost black flag - not cool Wales - Not cool - at all.

I will have to keep an eye out for these things, and I did see a few more, all with the same shitty dark green flags - only really visible from an eighth of a mile away, and if the light is poor, say when a cloud is passing overhead...even less

And then the West Island came into full view, and this also means we are almost to Pwllheli, and that's kind of a relief, it's been slow going for most of the day...


Part of me still can't believe that we are in Wales now - we have traveled some distance to get here - it's been a long trek - and we still have a fair bit to go yet!

The East island wasn't quite so imposing, but I include it here in an effort to be complete. It was still a cute little island, it had a little cottage on it as well, didn't look inhabited though...or maybe it was, I just couldn't tell...

In between the islands I spied another pot, I can't believe they use Dark green flags to mark these things here, I wonder if it's the same all over Wales, or if it's a sort of local thing, but a keen watch will have to be kept from here on out....hmmmmm.

As we passed the islands I saw a distress flare! Was about to go over and investigate, but as I turned the VHF over to Channel 16 to call it in, I heard the RNLI announce that they were performing exercises for some cadets. You can see the flare clearly in one picture, and you can see the trail of another flare as it dropped behind the East Island...

I would normally be monitoring channel 16, but I had been listening to the Coastguards weather reports on channel 64...but all was well, and nobody was in trouble...

Looking back, the view from our stern had the sun peeking through the clouds, another one of those heavenly displays that I never tire of seeing...

It was almost sunset again, another full day. I like it when I have a full day, so many days in the past just melded into forgettable weeks and months, but now I seem to remember each day, especially the full days.


Somehow after a full day, I am left with a nice feeling, sort of like 'you did it right today' kind of feeling and it seems to stick in my memory - I hope I have this recollection forever, I hope it doesn't fade, having said that I can barely remember my old life at this point, and I can't believe I didn't make the transition sooner - even if this only lasts for a few more weeks, months or years - or however long it lasts - I don't regret my decision.

Anyway - this day was ending - and we were almost to Pwllheli - I could see all of the masts in the marina, and we would be going in - as some very nasty weather was due tomorrow at some point - expecting thirty-five plus knots of wind.


The predictions are that it will last for 48hrs and we can be underway again...and we need to haul ass and get South as the sailing season is pretty much over - for most people - but not for us - but we'll see what happens...the next few months are going to be interesting - for sure.

On our final approach to the marina, and only about 10 mins away, I dropped the mainsail and as I did so, in the space of thirty seconds - everything just went orange in the last light of the day.

It's weird, cause there is still a few hours of light left, but in those minutes as the sun drops to a certain height - you get that odd orange glow to everything...today started out a bit rough, rainy, foggy and the wind was a disappointment - but at least it ended nicely.

The entrance to this place is a bit strange with some not very clear channel markers and had we entered at a lower state of the tide, we might have touched bottom - but we didn't and got on to the dock just fine...

Phoebe was on deck before I even got the ropes tied, but Chloe refused to even go past the top step of the companionway for some reason.

We should only be here for a day or so, but with the weather being the way it is - we will just have to see - we have a weather window and if we miss it we'll be stuck here for a bit. But as always - we'll just have to see what happens...

107 views

Recent Posts

See All