6: Milford Haven to Holyhead, 22nd/23rd June
Shipping forecast, 22nd June 1201: Lundy, Irish Sea: SW 3 or 4 occasionally 5; fog patches; moderate or good, occasionally very poor.
Holyhead is not a place of any great charm but it is directly on the route north from Milford, makes a convenient destination for an overnight passage and has a new marina and all facilities, though these are not always conveniently placed. The passage from Milford Haven, setting off on the day following our arrival there, shortly after noon to take the north going tide, was for the most part uneventful with fine weather and the predicted south westerly wind giving us decent progress under sail except for a short spell under power when the wind failed for a while off St David’s Head.
Things started to get exciting as we closed in towards Holyhead Island and the great bulk of Holy Mountain during the morning of the 23rd June. I was surprised by Holy Mountain; I somehow expected Holyhead Island to be low and flat . The south westerly three to four increased to five to six and then six to seven as we rounded north of Holy Mountain and laid course for the harbour entrance, roaring along by this time under just little scraps of sail. It should ease off as we come in under the lee of the island I said, but it didn’t, instead continuing to increase, and was blowing straight out of the harbour at a steady thirty knots as we rounded the breakwater. At this point the engine chose not to start, adding to the drama, though it did so finally after several attempts, relief all round. I don’t know whether there was a general unforecast increase in the wind or whether it is a local topographical effect due to wind acceleration around Holy Mountain, but a fresh to strong wind continued to whistle through the marina from the south west throughout the time we were there, though during this period forecasts were for light winds, so I suspect it is a local effect and must be expected whenever the wind is in that quarter. It made berthing difficult. The fuel berth is particularly awkwardly placed for these conditions but we had to have fuel since it was reported not to be available at our next intended destination in the Isle of Man. I would try to avoid refuelling here another time. The marina staff were very welcoming and helpful though not accessible on channel 80 (this was often the case away from the South Coast; have your mobile phone at the ready). A particular piece of good fortune was that while chatting with the marina manager about our plans he recommended Peel in the Isle of Man, rather than Douglas, for our next stop. We had planned on Douglas, hadn’t thought of Peel, but Peel, he said, is much nicer and so it proved, and also it is much better placed, on the west side of the island, for a shorter more direct next leg into Scottish waters.
The supermarkets at Holyhead are some way out of town down the A5 London Road, a bike or taxi ride not walking distance, and shut earlier than their English counterparts.
The charted distance from Milford Haven is
111 miles, distance logged 108 miles.