Saturday, 20 September 2008

Cross your legs while crossing . . . Relief

A nice forecast loomed for the weekend. A quick barter for a free pass in exchange for a day of shopping sans children was made and Friday evening had me hastily putting together the plan to revisit the Bristol Channel Crossing. Hywel made a not too dissimilar transaction. It may have been hasty but it was thorough. Getting there was sorted, but our return the same day, to fulfill “the bargain”, posed a problem with tide times producing lack of daylight and at 2am with my brain going to sleep, my vectors were not checking out and I still needed to pack. Too many lemons and not enough oranges. One way trip it had to be.

Goodbye Nash

Setting off at 8.30 into the fog there was no sight of the other side and before long after seeing the last of Nash Lighthouse, there was no sight of land to our rear.

The fog heightened our awareness of crossing a shipping lane with this sort of viz. Every chug of a motor seemed to be coming directly towards us and those dark silhouettes of large vessels were appearing out of the fog in my mind at every turn. It made me feel very small and vulnerable indeed.

3 hours after departure the first sight of land . . . just

Then the sun breaks out as we cross Porlock Bay

4 hrs since leaving Welsh soil we enter Porlock Weir and are soon supping Somerset Cider in the glorious sunshine.

Entrance to Porlock Weir

14.4 Nm in just about 4 hrs would have been reduced
had I not needed to . . . well you know

There is a stark deviation to the very nice curve of the crossing near the English coastline at Hurlstone Point. Well I learnt that it is one thing to be prepared with a bottle for ones relief when away from landfall but without a zip or the means to gain access . . . well I put it off for as long as I could, and when I came close to the first bit of land I paddled like a man possessed against the tide and deviated for my own relief.


Silbs said...

Night and fog: Nothing, absolutely nothing, teaches one to trust the instruments (in this case the compass) and the drift calculations made before launch. It is particularly challenging when fatigue is a factor. Nice posting.

eurion said...


The task was to navigate just using the single compass bearing that I'd calculated. The fog added that little extra "trust the compass" between and after each short break before setting off again, with absolutely no visual clues as to which way we were pointing.

I confess to having a GPS along, which I used to see if my predicted position every hour was where we ended up. This gave a little reassurance, but also removed some of the satisfaction.

I've never navigated on land with a GPS, and take my hat off to those that do without at sea. At the moment I just don't like the idea of not knowing what input the sea is doing to my position when there are no static references!