Boat ownership is all about freedom and having fun. For the early May Bank Holiday 2019 18 motor and sailing vessels set sail from Portishead Quays Marina to Penarth Quays Marina on a Cruise In Company as part of the RYA Active Marina Programme.
The cruise in company saw 12 motor boats and 6 yachts set sail on a staggered start on Saturday morning to head out into The King Road and down the Bristol Channel to Cardiff. It was a little lumpy on leaving through the Portishead Lock Gates, straight into a disappointing Northerly wind blowing at F4 with some strong gusts. Once around the breakwater heading down wind with an ebb tide the conditions flattened off a little. There were around 50 people on board the fleet along and 4 furry friends (all wearing lifejackets!) with 2 U18s – the youngest Ollie Potter at just 5 months old and Harry at 14 ably assisting his Dad on Jenny Wren! The fleet was a mixture of vessels from the smallest “Doctor’s Orders” (a 6.2 small fisher), a range of motor and sailing yachts through to the largest “Gracie” and “Liberty” at 50ft.
Skippers and Crew had attended passage planning sessions with Compass Sea School in the previous week to look at the types of charts they needed, useful publications and websites and to plan 2 passages: one for the yachts and one for the motor vessels. Motor Vessels planned to head down the channel to Weston-Super-Mare, pass south of the Holm Islands and then approach Cardiff up through the Wrach Channel whist the Sailing vessels planned to head on a more direct route avoiding the sandbanks in the Channel. The passages ranged from 17nm to 25nm.
“This was a great adventure for some of our Bertholders as for some this was their first trip down the channel and over to Cardiff so the passage planning and pilotage was challenging and the entry to the barrage a whole new experience. ” explained Kath Scott, Compass Sea School’s Chief Instructor. “The passage planning session offered all participants the opportunity to get involved in the planning, learn some navigation skills and most importantly to get together as a fleet and make new friends!”
A mile or so south or Portishead point all boats were in for a real treat as RNLB Annie Blaker and her dedicated crew were making their final trip up to Portishead Marina where this iconic lifeboat was to retire from an amazing 30 years of dedicated service where she had launched over 348 times and saved an incredible 408 lives. Accompanied by the Atlantic 85 “My Lady Anne” from RNLI Portishead she was an impressive sight speeding through the waves. The Annie Blaker is the final Tyne class lifeboat to be retired by the RNLI as it has been replaced by a brand new Shannon Class lifeboat “Jock and Annie Slater” capable of up to 25 knots
“Having been involved in the RNLI for over 20 years at both RNLI Weston-super-mare and now RNLI Portishead it was an honour to see the iconic Annie Blaker on our Cruise – we gave her a long blast on the ships whistle and some very enthusiastic waving from all of Celtic North’s crew! said Jake Scott, Compass Sea School’s Principal and Helm and Lifeboat Training Co-coordinator at RNLI Portishead
With so many different vessels making different speed over the ground the fleet spread out with some vessels choosing to head straight to Cardiff and an adventurous three vessels: “Jenny Wren”, “Sans Souci” and “Indulgence” making it all the way around the passage down to Weston, around the Island and into the Wrach Channel. For some this was their first experience of such a trip and they were quite rightly very pleased with themselves to achieve it!
There was only one minor issue en-route with S/Y Grand Slam having a small problem with her steering on approach to Cardiff Barrage and with their auto helm jamming their steering some assistance from Penarth RNLI was required to get the boat safely into the marina.
Once all of the boats had safely arrived skippers and crews gathered for the “Blindfold Rowing Challneg” – a simple chal;eng to row a small tender ver a shrt courses in the quickest possible time. The only difficulty the rower was blindfolded and their crew had to give instructions. Needless to say there was much “Left…. More Left…. Lots of LEFT!!! NO the OTHER oar!!! ” being shouted at the rowers with their crews mixing up Left from Right providing some fantastic entertainment for everyone on the pontoons watching. Who knew that such a simple activity could provide quite so many laughs! Competition was tight with just seconds splitting the top 3 places whilst the other end of the table took a more scenic route and quite a lot longer!
RESULTS: Line Honors were taken by Seagrass with 3 mins 22 secs closely followed by Celtic North (A) at 3 mins 25 secs and Scaramanga at 3 mins 30 secs!
With racing complete for the day everyone gathered at the Fuel Berth to wait for a water taxi to take us across to Cardiff Bay Yacht club for the evening where we had a very warm welcome from Stuart the Marina Manager. Once we were all onboard it was just a short hop from Penarth Quays across the bay but something of a challenge for our helmsman to get the quite long taxi “The Princess Katherine” a 90 seater alongside a very small gap on the Cardiff Bay Yacht Club pontoon! He did a great job and got a well deserved round of applause. The Yacht Club had reserved 2 long tables for us upstairs in the bar with a fantastic view out across the bay and put on a great Curry dinner – even the Commodore came over to chat to us – I’m sure we definitely added to their bar profits for the evening. At 2130 it was home time and a short taxi ride back to Penarth Quays.
“All in all, it was a great cruise away, stretching peoples legs a little with some new friendship made, confidence boosted and everyone asking when and where we are off to next!” concluded Kath.
Heading home back up the channel to Portishead the following day was a much flatter experience with a rare treat being able to enter Portishead Quays Marina on freeflow with both lock gates open at the same time!
Next Active Marina Event……
A selection of the photos taken on the Cruise In Company