Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Long range options

I'm telling myself that any forecasts for Saturday and Sunday are still, at this point in the week, long range and so not to be trusted. It'll probably turn out to be much calmer than it's currently promising.

I think the "go/n-go" will probably be Thursday evening. If it is a no-go that will still give Dad time to make alternative plans for the weekend, and for me to find a crew for the Ent on Sunday.

If the forecast mitigates to more manageable conditions, then we're hoping to sail Calstar out to Cardiff and back over the weekend. The tides are straight forward for the trip down, but coming back on the Sunday will involve leaving Cardiff at 0430 and sailing back up in the dark to arrive back in Portishead a little after dawn.

The defining characteristic of sailing in the Bristol Channel is that the tide dictates when you leave and when you arrive, rather than more the minor considerations such as personal preference, available daylight, benign weather or the like. If we're going to sail much at all through the winter, we're going to have to get used to handing Calstar out there in the dark.

Getting used to night sailing will also open up more options for cruising next summer. Swansea, Lundy and Padstow all leap to mind.

We've sailed the run back from Cardiff to Portishead a good number of times now. Departing in the early hours of the morning and sailing most of the route in the dark seems a good first step. The waters are familiar, the boat is familiar, so we're only pushing one aspect out of our existing comfort zone. The plotter makes the whole prospect an awful lot easier, as does the fact there are no lobster pots or stray buoys around these parts to run into; the tide flushes them away.

Though there is still Vega's mast out there somewhere, perhaps.

I can't say I'm not more than just a little apprehensive, but I'm sure we'll be fine. However, we are not going if there's still the slightest hint of 40 knot gusts in the weekend's forecast by the time we get to Thursday evening.

In that case, Calstar can stay in port. I'll find a crew mad enough to race Buffy with me at Frampton on Sunday instead, and try not to break her or us whilst doing so.

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