Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Calstar: Cardiff to Watchet Passage Notes

Saturday 1st April : Cardiff to Watchet
(23.1 nautical miles, 5 hours 27 minutes underway)

Standard Port Avonmouth HW 1105; midway between springs & neaps, tide times and tidal streams expected between Cardiff and Watchet for Saturday 1st April:

Distance from Cardiff to Watchet is 18nm; 4.5 hours at 4kts average SOG. Local advice is to arrive at Watchet at least 20mins before the gate closes.

Back in September 2015, a passage from Cardiff to Watchet took us 5 hours and 10 minutes from our berth in Penarth to a berth in Watchet and covered 18.3nm in getting there.

Knowing this, we left our berth at 0630 on Saturday 1st, 4.5 hours before Cardiff HW, aiming to be out through the Barrage and on our way by 0700.

Progress down the Pernarth Roads out to Lavernock Point punching the tide was smooth enough, but once past Lavernock it slowed to the expected crawl. Wind was F2 SW, so we motor-sailed with full main and headsail, just shy of close hauled to try and get the best course made good without flogging ourselves and the engine. Punching the tide under sail with Calstar isn't an option around here, certainly not into wind.

Some notes from the track, speeds given are speed over ground:

The passage took 5 hours on leaving the Barrage, and covered a shade over 18nm. Average speed for the passage was therefore 3.6kts speed over ground or as near as makes no odds. Slow for these parts, but reflecting the fact we punched the tide for 80% of the way.

Leaving 4 hours before HW from Cardiff is inefficient, to say the least. Could've made much better time if we'd left later, but would've risked missing the gate at Watchet. That would've left us anchored out waiting to make our entrance in the dark after the gate reopened at 2003. Watchet entrance isn't as intimidating as Portishead, but neither is it as familiar, and the margin for error is less, with much more hard stuff to hit or wedge yourself against if you get it wrong.

Getting in before dark was therefore really the only option, if at all possible.

I still wonder if we'd have made just as good time on the gate if we'd delayed our departure for a couple of hours. Will try that later in the summer when there is a little more daylight to play with. That is the third time we've made the passage from Cardiff to Watchet, and we've not managed to sail it yet.

That is a little frustrating.

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