Menai Straights


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Bill Balme
Bill Balme
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Looking at the possibility of traversing the Menai Straights later this year as we move the boat northwards towards the Lake District.

Clearly the straights are challenging and require vigilance and a good understanding of the tide table - but I 'm beginning to feel that a trip up the straights is probably rather foolhardy... Especially for someone that has learned their sailing 'skills ' in North America and is coming back home to the UK to sail her waters for the first time...

Any thoughts?

Bill Balme
s/v Toodle-oo!

Simon Currin
Simon Currin
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Bill,

Don 't be put off by the pilot book writers! We used to keep our old boat close to Menai Bridge so know the area well. The tides are strong and the channels can be both narrow and shallow but nothing too daunting if you have got your timing right. We will be bringing Shimshal back to Conwy from Scotland next September so maybe a paths will cross in the Irish Sea?

Simon
Bill Balme
Bill Balme
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Thanks for the encouragement Simon... feeling quite daunted by the prospect of sailing in the UK with the immense tidal ranges (when compared to what we see over here) - will be wonderful experience - just hope we survive!

We 'll be heading up to the Lake District for August, then back down to southern Ireland for the winter months - maybe we can even convoy sometime in September!

Bill Balme
s/v Toodle-oo!

David Tyler
David Tyler
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Bill,
Simon 's right. The Swellies are no big deal - as long as you get the timing right. The leading marks are good, and it 's easy to do under motor, but not so easy under sail because the winds can be unreliable.
All around the UK, there are places (races around headlands, usually) where the pilot book writers have to talk about the "worst case", to avoid getting people into trouble, but in fact, in "normal" conditions, you wonder what all the fuss is about. I 'm thinking of places like Corryvreckan and Portland Bill.
If you 're visiting the Lake District by boat, Whitehaven would be a good base. It 's a lock entry into a marina in a basin that dates back to the rum and slave trade, centuries ago. (the tides are up to 8 metres, so approach at half-tide upwards).
jjarmitage
jjarmitage
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Just a note to add to your confidence. We used to rent a mooring from the official Menai Straits pilot. They regularly piloted small fuel tankers through the Swellies servicing storage tanks at Caernarvon (now removed). Just don 't do it in the dark hours for the first time !
Simon Currin
Simon Currin
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We went through the Swellies for the first time on a very dark night en route to Dublin. We emerged rather chastened by the experience having encountered a couple of lights that weren 't working. I guess chart plotters these days would have made for a less stressful passage but I agree with the advice, "Don 't go through the Swellies for the first time at night!"
jjarmitage
jjarmitage
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Beware the south entrance to the Straits. This can be tricky especially in strong S or SW winds and you again are advised to pass the bar near HW. Ensure you have up to date buoy positions, they change most years.
We preferred sailing N from S England via Milford Haven, cross to the lea of the Irish coast, enjoy their hospitality, cross to N England / Scotland and return S via Straits, collecting detailed latest info on the way. Remember the prevailing Westerlies which can make passages in the Irish Sea a matter of waiting for weather windows.
GO

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