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Old 24 July 2013, 12:07   #11
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So it has begun! As I write we are sitting in Falmouth at the Visitors Marina after an overnight run from Poole. Departing Cobbs Quay on the 9.30pm Bridge we watched the sun set over Poole Harbour and left the harbour behind for the run down towards Falmouth.

After the recent weather I was hoping for glassy seas and a very moonlit night so was a bit miffed to be bouncing around and then enter fog as we got towards Portland. Radar though is a godsend and whilst you can’t assume it is seeing everything to be without radar in fog would have extended our passage time hugely. Whilst we love our AIS unit a close (but not too close) encounter with a submarine first thing showed the occasional limitations of all these methods as we didn't see it on AIS or radar.

Overall we managed about 17 – 18 knots in some fairly lumpy seas. The crew took turns in getting some sleep but it is fair to say that the forward berth in any sea is a rather unpleasant place to be – I spent less than ten minutes there and wondered whether all my internal organs were still in the right place so gave up.

Fuel usage is a bit of a pain as whilst I had figured on about 3 litres per mile it has come in slightly over that. Our tank is 600 litres so we had about 25% spare at the end of the trip. We will need to be careful on the longer legs particularly if we end up towing or in rougher conditions.

Thanks to those who commented re availability of diesel. We are signed up for the filling from the tanker but ther eis no doubt that as ever diesel boats will have more options beyond the tanker should they need it. I was glad to hear today that green diesel in Ireland is 80p per litre! Wow!!

We had toyed with heading off at 2pm today for Neyland but the combination of a 5 – 6 this afternoon and being very tired having had no sleep whatsoever last night has meant we have re-gigged the plan to leave early tomorrow. It will be another 140 ish mile passage so in total to get to Neyland and back we will do roughly 600 miles extra afloat (A sort of Bluewater Raven from the last time! Look forward to catching up Mike). I think the whole circumnavigation is about 800 miles!

Off for a snooze then some boat jobs and other work.


Current leg

Distance travelled: 135 miles (ish)
Fuel used: 470 litres

Cumulative

Distance travelled: 135 miles
Fuel used: 470 litres
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Old 24 July 2013, 16:10   #12
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More importantly how is Biffer
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Old 25 July 2013, 13:42   #13
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How I love my autopilot! I don’t spend too much time actually cruising in Top Hat so had almost forgotten how useful the autopilot is on longer trips. Today was about 150 miles and of that probably 145 was with the autopilot on. Certainly for anyone speccing a cruising RIB I would strongly recommend putting it on the list, it is always interesting to contrast how comfortable the ride is between a helmsman steering and the autopilot doing the job. It doesn’t suit all situations/seas but when the conditions suit it works a treat. Our one is an older Simrad version and isn’t interfaced to the plotter which I tend to prefer as like when crossing the Bristol Channel today I can work up a rough course to steer and then direct the autopilot and it doesn’t try to fight the tide and rigidly stick to the A-B route.

Today started early with a 5am alarm call, engine checks were already done so it is was a quick departure and out into a choppy Falmouth harbour. Forecast was 3-4 with early 5s so I figured it would drop off (hopefully). The run down to the Lizard and round Lands End was lumpy but not spectacular, around the headlands it really kicked up but we had planned to skirt outside the worst bits.

As we got round Lands End and headed north it started to ease and for an hour or two it flattened and was lovely. With the tide ebbing out of the Bristol Channel we had wind against tide but we managed about 22 knots almost all of the way.

As we commenced our push away from land it was interesting to reflect back to GBRR2010 when we did Falmouth to Baltimore. As those who have seen the post I linked to a predicted 4-5 became a 7-8 NW and in the last 15 miles a lifeboat job – today was easy by comparison and I was glad to revisit that area and have a far easier time.

Hi lights and low lights of the passage?

No doubt re the highlights – about 150 – 200 dolphins from multiple sightings but a spectacular 10 minutes when we were heading towards a flock of birds dive bombing what must have been a school of fish. I eased off figuring there must be dolphins and we were surrounded by a pod of about 40 of all sizes racing around, alongside and under Top Hat. So graceful and majestic.

Lo-light was approaching Milford Haven where we dropped off a wave with a thump. I then noticed we were reading empty on the fuel gauge having previously had a ¼ of a tank. We had about 6 miles to run. So had the guage been stuck at ¼ and the bang moved it to where it should have been or was it faulty? My gut feel was that the bang had switched the guage off as I figured we would end the leg with about 100 litres but I didn’t want to try a reboot by shutting down and restarting in case we couldn’t restart. Checking the other gauges we were showing strange readings so my bet was on a faulty guage. We cracked on (with fingers crossed) as I figured once into Milford Haven I could get an anchor down if needed.

Entering Milford Haven all looked good and an uneventful trip up the river to Neyland at low water was interesting. The area is beautiful. A refuel at the marina showed indeed I did have about 100 litres left and a reboot got the gauges all working again properly – great!!

So now we are in Neyland Yacht Haven – what a lovely marina, picturesque with great facilities – well worth a visit.

Starting to bump into other entrants, the first being Mike Deacon in Hot Lemon 6. To those interested in high speed long trips in RIBs Mike needs no introduction so it will be great to be going round with him.

Final thoughts of the day – if I was speccing a boat for cruising I would also specify a flowscan meter as with the longer trips I am a bit nervous about our fuel usage.

Looking forward to just a 70 mile passage tomorrow. Funny how you quickly become blasé about the length of these trips. Thinking back to the Great British RIB Rally we had two days where we did 280 miles or so each day so 150 miles is pretty lightweight!!

Current leg

Distance travelled: 150 miles (ish)
Fuel used: 487 litres

Cumulative

Distance travelled: 285 miles
Fuel used: 957 litres
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Old 26 July 2013, 02:48   #14
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The wonderful Neyland Yacht Haven

PS: Mike Deacon's Hot Lemon 6 Scorpion in shot too
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Old 26 July 2013, 05:28   #15
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For those "watching" - Top Hat is transmitting AIS and can be monitored online.
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Old 26 July 2013, 15:26   #16
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Blimey – that was a game of two halves!!

Nice morning as we got up at Neyland, a bit overcast and a little more windy than hoped for but nothing serious.

Nice breakfast at the marina followed by catching up with various of the entrants. As ever on these events it is always a mad rush as things need fixing, bits need sorting and so on. Hannah & Mo’s Seaswift/Highfield RIB was only able to get there in the morning so everything was a bit delayed in sorting the jobs on their boat – fixing the EPIRB, programming waypoints etc.

Around 1100 - 1130 everyone that had gone through scrutineering by Hugo departed to congregate in the main channel. Everyone present and the RIBs begin their run past Milford Haven and out past St Anns Head.

The rough plan (although it is up to individual boats to decide where they go) was to pass north of Skokholm Island and south of Skomer Island then north of an area of shallows known as the smalls.

Wind against tide created some large and very confused seas as the flotilla passed through between the islands and we felt for the smaller RIBs (which we are shadowing) at the back of the fleet as we looked on from Top Hat. Hannah was driving Pink Panther and did a fab job guiding her and Mo through – it has to be said watching your daughter and not being able to give guidance in her ear may be great for her but not great for parents watching!! ☺

Past the overfalls we crack on and the seas ease. As it eases one RIB checks in to return to Milford Haven with a seasick person on board. Another RIB (Cetus) suffers issues with its GPS mounts and stops, we hang back and get separated from the rest of the fleet as Cetus gets going again. It was always going to be impossible to keep eyes on all of the smaller vessels but it is a shame that we got separated so early – not that it was anyone’s fault. We pick up a good pace with Cetus a mile or two off to starboard and as we get towards Kilmore Quay we separate as we decided to go south of Great Saltee and in the ‘back door’. Cetus with less draught and in great conditions heads up further north to the entrance from the east known as St Patricks Bridge.

We take a VHF call from Rascal to say they are down to one engine and being accompanied by Jurgen in the 4m Searider (a great looking boat – more of which another time)

Rounding the Great and Little Saltee Islands Ireland looks fab, the sun is out, we are 200m short of our final waypoint at a safe water mark due south of the entrance and things change…..

We take a call VHF call from Kilmore Harbour Master who is with Hugo and alerts us to Milford Haven Coastguard co-ordinating the response to a PLB that has been set off. It seems it relates to a 4.8m RIB. I have been in a few ‘incidents’ over the years but it was a sickening feeling. The seas had been rough and one of the smaller boats could easily have gone over but we were sure that as we dealt with the issues referred to re Cetus etc the smaller RIBs were all ahead of us. We couldn’t work out who it was as we could account for everyone.

We spoke to Rosslare Coastguard to advise them of our route and the specific track we had followed and listened as Rosslare CG and MH CG directed various assets including an Irish Warship to the scene. We obtained the lat/long from Rosslare and plotted the PLB position as just north of the Smalls just outside Milford Haven – the time given for the PLB made no sense.

We entered Kilmore Quay and refuelled as we heard the cross channel ferry that the support crews were on was directed to the scene. We considered returning but were 3 hours away and there was a helicopter and lifeboats searching so we tied up and just listening. Not good.

Increasingly it was looking as if the RIB was not one of our fleet as Hugo checked the lists.

Time passes – very slowly, it doesn’t feel good. An MOB in those seas would find it really tough. The PLB info identifies it as a RIB that Hugo is are 99.99% sure had not indicated that it would be crossing with us from Neyland – everything remains confused. Shore crew on the cross channel ferry remember seeing a RIB fitting the description launching at Neyland as they left the marina some time after the RIBs had departed.

Thankfully about 30 minutes later we receive a call from Rosslare CG that a helo on scene is lifting a casualty from the water. At that stage they cannot confirm the status of the casualty.

Over the next 15 minutes and from a mixture of Hugo’s direct contact with Milford and our contact with Rosslare we learn that indeed the RIB whilst partaking in the RI13 challenge was definitely not on the group transiting from Neyland and had launched later and decided on a solo transit to Kilmore. Initial reports indict the solo helmsman was thrown from the vessel and ended up spending a couple of hours in the water. He was wearing a LJ, drysuit and PLB. Had he not got the PLB and the drysuit it is highly debatable whether he would have survived – there is little other traffic in the area

After being winched into the helo he was then put back on the RIB and returned to Milford.

So what are the lessons? The specified kit list saved this persons life (probably). Whilst we were 99.99% sure the vessel was not part of our fleet it was a very confusing situation initially – whilst we were very sure it wasn’t one of the ones we were sheperding the fact we were separated though caused doubt, it makes you wonder if we had failed to get the lists correct, missed one off – Hugo hadn’t but you wonder nonetheless.

http://www.dft.gov.uk/mca/mcga07-hom...1D4&m=7&y=2013

And the event – that starts tomorrow – lets hope for a less eventful few days!


Current leg

Distance travelled: 80 miles (ish)
Fuel used: 230 litres

Cumulative

Distance travelled: 365 miles
Fuel used: 1187 litres
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Old 26 July 2013, 16:05   #17
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Reading between the lines I think that is MustRIB on here. Glad everyone survived the ordeal, and whilst probably not how you wanted to start will certainly ensure that your and Hugo's "systems" are all in place / working well before the real event starts - a good test!
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Old 26 July 2013, 16:56   #18
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Very good reading Paul. Hope to see you and family safely round and back in Poole soon.

Glad things work as they should even for non 'flotilla' boats. Crossed fingers all is ok..which I guess they must be as person returned to boat to continue.

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Old 26 July 2013, 19:15   #19
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Old 27 July 2013, 02:37   #20
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Great reading, thank you for spending time to post.

Excellent news all are safe.
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