MARLIN trip into Dee estuary and Alt Sep 2016

Tues 6 Sep. Leave Liverpool Marina at 3.23pm (HW 14:46 8.6m). Proceed past Cruise Terminal (Boudicca) to New Brighton (at 3.55). Then explore/survey Murphy's Gut. This is the charted channel that runs just west of the training wall and then NW. See more info.

Boudicca on Cruise Terminal; seals on Holyle Bank near He4 with Burbo Bank wind farm construction beyond.

Cut across Hoyle Spit to head past He2 into Hilbre Swash. Then past Hilbe Island to He4 where the bank was just awash with seals lounging on it at 5.45. Find a suitable spot to anchor south of Hoyle Bank with 2m below my keel. It was calm with light wind. I touched botton at 7.15 and was completely dry by 8.15. Both the Hoylake lifeboat and the Wirral hovercraft lifeboat were out on excercises. The hovercraft was surprisingly noisy.

Apart from the lifeboats, there was no boat traffic until the morning when some windfarm boats could be heard setting out from Mostyn. The seals moaned and the terns screeched until the nearby bank was covered.

Wednesday 7 Sept. (HW Liv 03:01 8.5m and 15:21 8.3m). During the night as the boat refloated, the waves were a little bigger. The anchor dragged and my drift alarm (GPS) alerted me. So I re-anchored. I took the gound again and was dry from 8.43 to 10.20, allowing me to scrub and de-barnacle. It was a sunny day with light southerly wind and warm for September.

I refloated at 11.15 and headed out past He4 into Hilbre Swash. As I was planning to cross East Hoyle Spit with the tide level below half-tide; I used previous experience to take a route 057° from He2 towards my waypoint Rock to avoid the shallower parts. I had a minimum of 3.4m under my keel -- so this worked well.

Marlin on the Hoyle Bank with Hilbre beyond; seals lazing.

Carrying on the spirit of explortion, I decided to make use of the period before HW to head into the Alt. This is quoted as accessible on a tide of over 8m by shoal draft vessels. I prefer to explore on a making tide: since it is then easy to back out of a shallow contact. To reach the Alt entrance (near C14 buoy), I crossed the Burbo Bank since it was after half-tide (at 12:30) and there should be enough water (I had 2.3m minimum under my keel). I then crossed the training walls and main shipping channel to approach the red buoy making the outer end of the pipeline at 12:54. HW-2 was at 13:20, so I hoped to be able to get as far as the entrance channel which is very close inshore by a pipeline. After following parallel to the Alt training wall (buoys at each end); I saw a green and red spherical buoy close together which mark the start of the channel in. Soon after that a forrest of poles with red and green topmarks mark the snake-like channel round a pipeline and lead very close to shore. I proceeded into the Alt channel itself which was very close to shore and had a dry bank offshore at that tidal state. This was rather narrow with current inwards. I turned around at 13:05 using a multi-point turn with alternate forward and reverse, with barely enough width in the channel to swing without touching the edges. I was back out past the Alt training wall by 13:12.
I had a least depth of about 0.5m under my keel (hard to be sure since sonar is erratic in very shallow water) but did not touch bottom. This corresponds to a seabed of about 5m above CD. See more details .

I then re-entered the shipping channel and headed in to Liverpool. I again took the chance to survey Murphy's Gut since it was getting close to HW. The southerly wind had strengthened and it was quite choppy off Liverpool. I passed Magellan (CMV) on the Cruise Terminal and locked into Liverpool Marina at 2:30pm.

Offshore mark to Alt entrance; Magellan on Cruise Terminal

Above trip was mainly at tick-over (6 knots through water) and used about 3 gallons. Distance run (over ground) 16.1 nm outbound and 19.9 nm returning.

A record of the depth and track of my voyage is available from teamSurv

If higher resolution versions of the above images are wanted, please contact me. All information given in good faith, but please do not rely on it.

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