Just to recap on a little bit of the journey , now Kika is safely back on her mooring in the Conwy River.
We had a fleeting visit to Falmouth which was basking in the sunshine. The Pendennis Shipyard looked a bit empty, but the pubs and restaurants were full and there were quite a few young live a boards in the harbour, making a precarious living but fed up with the rat race of city life. It was good to see them crammed like sardines on some old boats.
We rounded the lizard the next day to arrive in Newlyn , a proper Cornish fishing town where local people can still afford a house and all the pubs have pictures of Trawlers and local people. It's also the home of the famous Penlee lifeboat , whose predecessor the Solomon Brown was lost trying to rescue the crew from a cargo ship that had run onto the rocks in horrendous seas. The present Coxn is the son of the Coxn who lost his life on that cruel night.
The fishermen put us straight on the best time to get to the Runnel Stone buoy to get the early tide around Lands end on the inner passage. Conditions were good , but with a tidal race the Bishop Rock light would be a treacherous place in bad weather. I was quite apprehensive about the 120 mile passage up to Milford Haven as the wind was on the nose. We were able to tack out towards Ireland and use a tide sweeping us in a NE direction to get a heading for Waterford in Ireland. At about 10pm the tide turned to sweep us out of the Bristol Channel and by a stroke of luck the wind backed round to the NW allowing us to lay a course for Milford Haven on the other tack. Pete cooked up an excellent Pasta for supper despite the rough sea and we eat watching the sun go down over an azure sea. Just like the tropics! During the night we were joined by a school of porpoises . One could see them quite clearly as they came alongside because of the phosphorescence in the water. Above there was no moon , so all the constellations and the Milky Way stood out very clearly. We had a 3 hours on , 3 hours off watch system which worked well. However when we finally docked into Milford after a 26 hour passage we were all cream crackerd . Fraser and Nigel left us for North Wales swapping cars with Glyn who kindly joined us and loaned them the car for the journey home to North Wales.
After doing the long passage we had an easy time of it going through Jack and Ramsy sound to arrive in Fishguard. We had waited for the tide through Jack Sound by anchoring off Skomer Island ,an RSPB reserve where there is a thriving enormous population of puffins who took great interest in the inedible dog fish Pete was pulling up on a rod and line. We anchored in Fishguard Bay at night, working out the tidal heights, as Pete never fails to remind me of the last time we were there and picked up a mooring which caused our keel to touch the bottom in the night. When you go on your side the important thing is to remember to close the seacocks!
On past the sleepy Pemrokesire and Carmarthenshire coastline to take the channel into Aberystwyth Marina. Aberystwyth is its own place cut off by the mountains and the sea. On the bridge there is a plaque to commemorate the first protest by Cymdeithas Iaith Cymraeg in support of the Welsh Language. The town itself is an ancient seat of learning , a holiday resort and a home to loads of retired hippies and artists. There are lovely forgotten about corners, pubs serving a wide selection of real ales and a distinctly unfashionable air to the whole place which makes it so attractive.
On to Pwlleli which has a vey narrow channel and then a harder day tacking into the wind to catch the tide for Bardsey sound which we shot through at over 10 knots. The were overfalls in the middle of the sound which creates a sort of washing machine effect. No good if you are cooking!
The Porth Dinllaen lifeboat with its enormous engines came alongside us for half an hour to point out towing points on a sailing vessel to the crew. The tide had turned against us by then and we were tempted to ask them to put theory into practise.
From Porth Dinllaen we crossed Ceararfon Bar in rather poor visibility and a moderate swell to whistle up the beautiful Menai straights. Glyn helmed very competently through the narrows swellies where there is a whole catalogue of vessels that came to grief not following the leading marks. Our last night was spend moored to the pontoon at Menai Bridge dining out on lovely fish at Dillon's restaurant. A 6 am start brought us accross the swatch and into Conwy at high water at 9 am whereIain Mitchell was there to greet us. It was good to be home