As the season draws to a close, several members have reflected on their 2023 cruising adventures. Many members have left Portishead on a good spring tide to propel them quickly towards Cardiff or Swansea or get them well on their way to Padstow if they’re going ’round the end’.
This year the club has seen members sail to Ireland, France and Jersey as well as tackle adventures starting in other locations.
To read all about who’s been up to what, head across to the cruising page and click on the stories you’ll find at the bottom of the page.
If any other members want to share their stories, just get in touch! Alternatively, if you’d like to join the club, there’s no time like the present! Meet the members at a social event, swap boat maintenance tips over the winter or join a racing crew who race the year round. Check out our membership page or contact our membership secretary, Dave Martin.
Some might say that joining a tall ship in Inverness bound for Amsterdam via Aberdeen, Holy Island and Whitby on the North Sea coast of the UK in October is a brave or even foolhardy move. In our defence, October in previous years has provided some glorious weather that befits such an adventure and this was the positive message that was deployed to convince my lovely wife that it would be more interesting than the usual charter holidays in Greece and Croatia.
We joined the Flying Dutchman, a Tall Ship built in 1903 and restored and renovated during the winter of 2003/2004, at Laggan Locks on the Caledonian Canal as she had been severely delayed by storm Babet and was not going to arrive in Inverness on schedule. Two buses with a stop in Fort Augustus took us half way across Scotland to picturesque Laggan Locks and after a short wait she hove into view and we boarded.
After a cruise along the Caledonian Canal and through Lock Ness in glorious autumn weather we arrived at Inverness. The ship had a chef on board and the food was excellent far better than our lunch in Fort Augustus which was ‘traditional’ Scottish fare of deep fried black pudding and chips!
Sailing out along the Moray Firth in fine weather gave us the opportunity to get to know our fellow shipmates and enjoy the view. While storm Babet was abating, we knew that the sea state when we got out into the North Sea could be, as one of Hullabaloo’s crew would say, “spicy”. The grade of spice however, remained to be seen.
We rounded Peterhead and the conditions deteriorated. The land disappeared into all round grey murkiness and the wave height continued to build. After 36 hours of heavy-weather sailing, Captain Aires decided to head for Berwick-on-Tweed and take shelter from the next front that was due to pass through.
Entering Berwick with a large following sea, strong easterly wind and a stone pier dead ahead, was going to require some serious seamanship to get us safely into port. As a wave picked up the ship and our speed built, Captain Aires spun the large ship’s wheel (14 turns lock to lock) hard to port and gunned the engine. As we fell down the wave, the prop and rudder kicked in and we swung round. With the stone pier close to the starboard side and breaking shallows to port we shot into the river. A coaster waiting for the tide was not so brave and spent a very uncomfortable 3 days at anchor outside until conditions improved.
Unfortunately, due to the weather, our voyage ended in Berwick where the Flying Dutchman spent a further ten days waiting for the right weather window to cross the North Sea. In the meantime we took a train to Edinburgh and an EasyJet flight to Amsterdam. Not the end to the voyage we expected and we have still not fulfilled a long held aspiration to sail into central Amsterdam along the canal behind the Central Station. Here, while waiting for numerous trains many years ago, a promise was made to one day sail into the centre of the city, something that still remains on the to do list!
5th June and 0830 lock out straight to Swansea via Nash Passage, blue water in one tide or nearly. Keeping close to starboard in the shallow river the tide’s rising & Tawe lock calls, enough water now. Moored up, a trip to a Dylan Thomas Theatre play. A bus trip to Burry Port. We are on holiday.
Saturday to Milford avoids the Castlemartin guns. Short stop on Dale visitor buoy then on up the Haven & we are behind Milford marinas high walls. The sun is hot so rig extra shade. Safety first, lots of fog this year & we don’t have radar so an AIS transponder is bought from Tim, who installs it.
We do a spot of rock hopping to nearby bird sanctuaries & anchor in noisy south Skomer inlet and watch comical Puffins returning with food for chicks.
Good AIS investment it’s a foggy trip across the Irish sea. At Arklow, beyond the stone entrance walls a 24hr access mooring pontoon can accommodate a lot of boats & there’s power on shore. It rained, well it’s not called The Emerald Isle for nothing. The harbour has been gentrified & has an ALDI & nearby shopping mall but good ‘craic’ (& Guiness) over the bridge at local pubs.
Next stop Greystones, now a ‘proper’ marina plus blocks of flats, not just portacabin toilets. The coast path to Bray is blocked by rockfalls, so it’s a bus ride. The driver seeing our OAP passes waves us aboard no charge. We are lucky it’s the same driver coming back.
Never sailed into Malahide let’s go there, we sail in flat sea & sunshine. Just rounding the Nose of Howth a thick fog bank changes our plan, we turn left into Howth Marina. We are not negotiating a river channel to Malahide in fog. We did visit by train though, using the DART.
On the lawns at Howth there were bagpipe & drum bands competing. Huge noise and colour of Irish tartans.
Next stop is Ardglass in Northern Ireland – to be continued!
When I set off from Portishead on 18th May on Molia with my husband Mark and our friend Tim, I was feeling distinctly nervous. We were heading to Jersey, to visit our daughter, a junior doctor in St Helier, a round trip of 1070 NM.
We had agreed our strategy in advance to address my principal concerns: a wardrobe full of warm clothes, a good supply of anti-seasickness remedies, and plenty of leeway in the schedule.
It was a phenomenal start. The sun came out as the tide and wind swept us past the Holms Islands. We tied up for our first night away in Penarth Marina, had a celebratory beer in the evening sunshine and dinner at The Deck. The sun continued to shine every day for the next 6 weeks!
Tim, left the boat at Padstow. Over the next two weeks, with just the two of us on board, (having already done Nash Point and Hartland Point) we rounded the various other ‘legendary’ headlands: Cape Cornwall, Land’s End, The Lizard, Rame Head, Bolt Head, Start Point, Portland Bill. While I excitedly took photographs of my favourite West Country holiday resorts – unrecognisably small in the distance.
The channel crossing, from Portland to Guernsey, was the leg I had been most nervous about, and in the end proved to be one of the easiest – both because of the lack of wind and our guest crew, an extremely experienced nephew. We motored the last outward stage from St Peter Port to St Helier in a fog, which lifted only as we rounded La Corbiere and we were met on the pontoon outside the harbour by our daughter, thrilled to bits that we had come to visit her by boat.
The combination of good weather, careful planning, guest crew members and a very patient husband meant that I was more relaxed for the return trip. We retraced our route, stopping overnight in Dartmouth, Plymouth and Falmouth and we were comfortably tied up in Pendennis Marina inner basin, as the Fastnet race started from Cowes in winds gusting 40+ knots.
With our final guests joining us at Newlyn, we were ready for the homeward stretch – Newlyn to Padstow and then Padstow to Penarth. The first day was idyllic – dolphins off Land’s End, sunshine all day and the wind behind us. The second day proved more challenging, with the southerly wind eventually reaching 20 knots apparent, and increasingly heavy rain from the early afternoon. We approached the locks at Penarth as the light finally disappeared, two hours ahead of schedule, drenched and glowing with an immense sense of achievement. And as a measure of how comfortable with sailing I had become the final hours to Portishead the next day were a breeze!
New for 2024, and in response to member requests, we’ve included a number of dates where there are no races but the tides are favourable for crews to go out for a practice, training or just a fun sail. You’ll see these dates on the calendar as Sail Training.
The 2024 Notice of Race, Sailing Instructions and other key documents will be added to the racing page in time for the start of the new season.
As the festive season rapidly approaches, the club will be hosting one of its traditional evenings at the clubhouse. Come and hear the Pill Owls and the Mudlarks while munching on a mince pie and enjoying a glass of mulled wine.
Providing a great opportunity to kick off the festive season in style, why not come down to the clubhouse and listen to carols from the Mudlarks and then the Pill Owls bedecked in their Dickensian garb of top hats, fancy weskits and flowing cloaks!
The fun will start at 20h00 on Wednesday 13th December at the clubhouse.
If you can’t make it, check out our other social events for the rest of 2023. Alternatively, if you’re considering joining the club, there’s no time like the present! Check out our membership page or contact our membership secretary, Dave Martin to learn more.
It’s time to start peeling the spuds, prepping the sprouts and getting those turkeys in the oven! Per club tradition, Val Bundell and her crew will be taking to the club kitchen to prepare the annual feast, hosted in the clubhouse. This year lunch will be served at 13h00 on Sunday 17th December and will comprise a main course, desert and cheese.
Demand for tables at this event is always high so get your booking in to Val as soon as possible. Our well stocked bar will be open too, ensuring you’ll be able to enjoy a beer, glass of wine or soft drink with your festive fare.
As our last social event for 2023, this is an event not to miss! Alternatively, if you’re considering joining the club, there’s no time like the present! Check out our membership page or contact our membership secretary, Dave Martin to learn more.
The 2024 edition of the Holms Race will be on Saturday 28th September.
This annual race is for many a highlight of the Bristol Channel sailing calendar. The course leaves Portishead, rounds Flat Holm to port, Steep Holm to port and then returns to Portishead. Featuring a choose your own start time, it pits skippers and crews against the wind and tides of the Bristol Channel with the aim of being between the islands at slack water ready to race back on the new flood tide.
To encourage participation from all Bristol Channel Yacht Clubs, once again in 2024 will be the special prize for the ‘Top Club’.
Currently held by PCC, the amazing rose-bowl trophy will be awarded to the top club in the Holms Race. The top three results from each club will be amalgamated and the best placed club will be pronounced as the ‘Top Club’. As the BCYA said themselves, ‘you’ve got to be in it to win it!
The Notice of Race, Entry Form and Sailing Instructions will be available closer to the event. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please contact us.
As boats start to come out of the water for the winter, the marina have been busy completing their lock maintenance program. This is now completed and the locks are once again operational. The marina have also advised that a further maintenance period will be scheduled in February 2024.
With the locks now fully operational, Autumn 6, scheduled for the 19th November will be run for any boats who’d like to compete. Interested boats should check the PCC Racing WhatsApp group for details regarding lock times and forecast weather.
For those club members looking to come out for the winter, the Parish Wharf is filling up so if you’re planning to come out for maintenance etc. over the winter, please book your dates as soon as possible!
As the temperature starts to drop and the days shorten, many club members are starting the process of lift out and wintering on the hard. As the Parish Wharf starts to fill-up and to celebrate the end of another busy sailing season, the club will be hosting its annual laying up supper at the clubhouse on 11th November 2023, starting at 20h00.
New this year will be an appearance from the Port of Bristol Shanty Crew for which there will be a collection in aid of the Teenage Cancer Trust. For food, the club is taking an ‘American Supper’ style approach – i.e. bring your own dish. However, to make sure we don’t end up with 20 plates of sausage rolls etc., please liaise with our Social Secretary’s Owen and Sushi Boyle who will co-ordinate everyone’s contribution.
Why not take this occasion to come to the clubhouse, discuss your wintering plans with fellow members and celebrate another fantastic season on the water? With club members cruising over to Ireland, sailing round Scotland, attempting the FastNet, the Round the Island race, the Shanghai Cup and our own racing series here in Portishead, there’s much to discuss over a drink or two from the well-stocked clubhouse bar.
If you can’t make the laying up supper, check out our other social events for the rest of 2023. Alternatively, if you’re considering joining the club, there’s no time like the present! Check out our membership page or contact our membership secretary, Dave Martin to learn more.