MARLIN trip to Cumbria: Piel, Ravenglass and Whitehaven 2015

I mainly use tides favourably (this helps a lot) and motor at my displacement speed (5 to 7 knots).

After a summer of successive low pressure systems: at last the forecast had 2 days of calm weather with easterly winds after that. So, finally, I could venture north in reasonable seas.

Tuesday 11 August: Leave Liverpool Marina near HW [09.36 8.1m] at 10.40. Quite a lot of shipping in the channel as I left heading north up the main channel.

Dazzle ferry at the Pierhead; Jack-up rig working on the Seaforth in-river container terminal.

When I reached the Alpha buoy, I decided to cross the traing wall and head directly north across Taylors Bank. See more here.

Heading north I passed close to the Lennox gas/oil rig, did a bit of wreck surveying and had a nice view of Blackpool. The wind was slight but some swell from the west remained, so Marlin rolled a bit. I arrived off Barrow at 4.37pm and moored up at Piel Island by 5.20pm.

Lennox gas/oil rig; a view of Blackpool.

Visit Piel Island Inn . In calm weather, I rowed ashore to the Ship Inn for food and drink. I dragged my tender up the beach and tied the painter to the ramp (a concrete affair some 2 ft above the beach). As the tide came in my tender floated -- but then drifted under the ramp where it would be trapped as the tide came in more. Luckily a local spotted the potential for trouble and helped me, just in time, extract my tender before it got trapped.

Piel moorings from the pub terrace.

Wednesday 12 August. Leave my mooring at 7.10am and head out against the incoming tide. [Liv HW 10.22 8.4m; 22.56 8.7m]. Round Walney Island and head north close to shore. I passed outside Selker Rocks and decided to head in to Ravenglass. I was at the channel entrance at 10.40 (so after HW). I followed my previous tracks in, reaching the yacht moorings by 11.05. The red "corner" buoy was not in evidence. See here for navigation info. I picked up a mooring and rowed the short distance to the shore. There appeared to be no food available in the main street at that time, so I had a swift half in the Pennington and bought a chocolate bar in the Post Office. Then back on board and head out at 11.35 (one hour after HW). See also here for visit next day.

The outer entrance mark (peak Yoadcastle lined up with gap in trees); Marlin at Ravenglass; view of moorings.

I continued north, skirting Drigg Rocks, passing Sellafield. There were quite a lot of fishing markers in the Ravenglass area: so be vigilant. I was reminded of the sign advertising fish "not locally caught" because of concerns over radioactivity.

There had been some VHF traffic about reports of flares sighted off Ravenglass the previous day: the Barrow lifeboat went out to search. I saw some flares offshore myself: they were white and, presumably, associated with the Eskmaels firing range. I had heard a yacht reporting such a sighting to the Coast Guard who replied that they were not from a vessel in distress.

Pipeline buoy off Sellafield; Whitehaven harbour entrance.

I arrived off Whitehaven at 2.10 pm and was in the sea lock by 2.25. I had called the Marina previously about my visit (free voucher from Liverpool Boat Show) and the lock-keeper handed me down a bag on a line which contained a booklet with directons to my assigned berth and gate codes. Fuel up, explore Whitehaven Harbour and Marina and eat, drink (Wetherspoons) and shop (Tesco).

Whitehaven: Marlin at berth; Marina view; Entrance at LW (seagulls standing).

Thursday 13 August. Whitehaven HW was 11.30 and the entrance channel dries 1.4m. I estimated that I could get out at about 7.30 (HW-4) and as I awoke at 7.30, I saw a yacht waiting to leave. We (and another small boat) left together and were out of the lock at 7.55. I had 1m under my keel on leaving.

To avoid adverse current, I dodged into Saltom Bay and then rounded St.Bees Head to go south down the coast past Sellafield to Ravenglass. I reached Ravenglass entrance at 10.15 [Liv HW 11.10m 8.6m] which gave me the opportunity to survey the channel on a making tide. Moor up (same buoy as previous day) at 10.35. I rowed ashore and asked locals for advice. I was told that the cafe in the Narrow-Gauge Railway Station would be serving food. Indeed it was, the "Turntable Special" breakfast was excellent and my coffee came with milk in a cute little metal churn.
As I got ready to board my tender on the beach, a small girl playing there asked me what I had around my neck. I explained it was a lifejacket - that inflated on pulling a cord to make staying afloat easier. She asked was I planning to go swimming. It was hard to explain "safety" easily. Actually I have never needed to inflate my life jacket but I do always wear it in the tender. I support the regulation that applies in Ireland: wearing life jackets is mandatory in vessels of less than 7m length.

I was back on board at 11.50 and headed out by 12.10. My survey results (from 3 trips in to Ravenglass) are presented in navigation info.

Ravenglass: entrance leading line; narrow-gauge steam train; seafront from mooring

I wished to survey some wreck sites (U1024) just south of the Barrow windfarms, so I headed through the farms towards it. A right of navigation exists through the wind farms (exceptions include construction/repair/cable laying activities and trawling or anchoring are not allowed). There are a lot of turbines around Barrow - 270 listed here.

I discovered later (from the Police boat which acted as a escort) that a Nuclear Submarine had left Barrow around HW; pity I missed it.

5 MW turbines in the Ormonde Offshore windfarm with Cumbian mountains (Black Combe prominent) beyond.

The easterly wind was not building significant waves and, as time passed, the sky became overcast wih some rain. I rejoined the Liverpool Shipping Channel at Alpha buoy at 7.56 (so crossing the Bank and training wall at HW-3.40) and was off the marina by 9.15. Locked in (with 2 other boats) at 9.30 and tied up on berth at 9.50.

All information given in good faith, but please do not rely on it.

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