5: St Mary’s to Milford Haven, 20th/21st June
Shipping forecast, 20th June 17.54: Plymouth: variable, mainly W 3-4 occasionally 5; fair; good; Sole, variable 3 or less becoming S 4-5; Lundy/Fastnet: W or NW 3-4 occasionally 5 later; fair; good.
The northerly wind which had served us so well for the down channel legs of the voyage continued to blow, fed by a stable anticyclone to the west of the UK, and was now to hinder our further progress north into the Irish Sea. Thus it was that time was spent in the anchorage at Porth Cressa, perfectly sheltered in these conditions, beyond the extent of our intended stay. By the 20th June however the fresh northerly wind was dropping out and it was time to leave.
There are two options for the next leg: an overnight passage either to Kilmore or one of the other ports on the south east corner of the Irish Republic, Dunmore or perhaps Waterford, or, the other option, Milford Haven on the English side. The wind may dictate; north with a bit of east favours Ireland; with a westerly slant Milford Haven is better.
With an even choice Milford is my preference; there are more options. There is anchorage in Dale Bay with easy approach day or night, or marinas, if required, further up. On the Irish side, by contrast, there is no decent anchorage at Kilmore, and only a small marina, with, according to the Irish Cruising Club pilot, uncertain availability of space for visitors (and a more awkward approach and entrance). There are more options at Dunmore or Waterford but these places are further to the west and, Waterford particularly, well out of our way.
We sailed at 18.30 hours on the 20th June. There was a remnant of the northerly wind, though too light for sailing, but still an awkward lumpy sea remaining over from the earlier conditions, which made trying to push into it under power disappointingly slow. Given, as we were, the free choice over destination we decided on Milford Haven and, once clear of the outlying rocks and reefs of the Scillies, laid course for Milford entrance. The wind died completely and the sea slowly went down allowing better progress as the night wore on, though, once again it was cold work on duty at the helm (MICA at this stage did not have an autopilot). The wind came up fitfully from the west the following day and several attempts were made to sail, but progress was slow and on each occasion the engine was soon on again.
We arrived at Dale Bay on the evening of 21st June and anchored in 3m of water off Dale village in fine still conditions at 20.10 hours, charted distance sailed 120miles. Drinks and a smoke in the cockpit were enjoyed in the golden glow of the setting sun, one of those magic occasions when you know why you go sailing (though there are other times when you may seriously ask the question). It is a delightful anchorage, away from the industrial and oil refinery development further east with masses of room, good holding, and generally good shelter except from the south easterly quarter. There is a pontoon in the bay maintained by the local yacht club which visiting yachts may alternatively use.