Sailing by Karen Hale
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Spring Onion’s Lyver cruise 2017

Spring Onion’s Lyver cruise 2017:
Last summer Spring Onion decided to enter the Lyver Trophy race organised by LYC together with the Royal Dee Yacht Club ending in Dublin.

However, probably it’s more prestigious attraction is as an official race in the Royal Ocean Race club (RORC) schedule; and a ‘qualifier’ for the Fastnet race. We hoped for Aeolus not Neptune.

OK so what are we doing in an LYC cruising log? Well, long ago, Spring Onion won the Lyver Trophy but that was before it became a RORC race and before it finished in Eire; it ran then to Holyhead. So the challenge was to race across the Irish Sea in what is probably LYC’s longest standing competitor boat? Any reason why a trip to Eire and back, with a race in the middle is not worthy of a log...?

We loaded up with the funny stuff - noodles, some Desperados, James’ (very modest) hip flask, extinguishers, a life raft - and other things never otherwise contemplated. So, inspection proof, we were ready for the sail to Holyhead where the race was scheduled to start at Holyhead on Friday June 30th. The delivery crew was Simon Windle, Jim Hart (James to us as we also have Jim Bland crewing) and Richard Jarman.

We left Liverpool at about 3pm (HW 3.30) on Wednesday 28 June - a typical summer’s day; sunny with some cloud cover. Through the Rock Channel and up goes the spinnaker, without the main – a pleasant way to cruise with no worrying about the boom. We bowled
along at a good steady pace and were reminded of the modest but welcome content of Jim’s flask in our coffee, the galley contents more dubious but just as welcome.

It was an atypical wind mainly from the east forecast to move round northerly with a lively front coming through late the next day.
It was a pleasant sail past the wind farms toward the Orme; the forecast was for freshening winds but we were making excellent time just with spinnaker, dusk brought us off the north coast of Anglesey and the deepening colours of the land as night approached. The wind kept building and the ride became exciting.

The boat is equipped with the mandatory paper chart sufficient for the regulations. Simon (a master mariner) now uses electronic charts exclusively. It seems only a short time ago when satellite navigation was forbidden while racing. How long will the requirement for paper
charts remain. Electricity has become reliable since Faraday? I am not suggesting that a recreational boat will not want (& need) paper at times but compulsion? Nevertheless there was something wondrous about a race fleet finding and rounding a buoy miles away on a dark night:
“Start – channel course, Lightening Knoll to starboard, finish; electronic aids forbidden” – times past?

We had completed the Rock Channel passage using the LYC transits (helped by the corner of the wind farm). Once past the Orme with tide beginning to change the navigator directed
inspection of the electronic equipment; at the same time I accessed my old iPhone. I
switched the navigation programme off sometime after we arrived and tied up at Holyhead.
Below are some clips of the track along the north coast of Anglesey:
Of course at the time I had no intention of writing this and the track was saved perchance.
The wind was building all the time as we approached the north Anglesey coast and soon
built into a wind of over 20 kts. All the while we had the spinnaker up with no main. Life was
exciting.
At some point approaching West Mouse I was directed to go below, stay in the hatch and
watch the navigation devices (iPhone and ‘tablet’). I was later told that this helped the crew
stay calm and serene as we rock hoped (in what was by then a gale) around the point into
Holyhead bay....
Into the bay and the helm announced nature called; the sea was bouncy and irregular; a
steady rhythmical motion of the tiller is called for, not then, the helm practised knots....
We bowled into Holyhead and in the lee of the breakwater took the spinnaker down, undid
the aforementioned knot and continued under bare poles. Spotted a vacant pontoon with
some ‘corner’ fenders – the master used one as a pivot to bring us alongside.
Desperados opened we broke open the under stocked liquor store.
We reckoned about 10 hours sailing time from exiting the lock to arriving at Holyhead
harbour with just the spinnaker....quite pleased with that!
We left on Wednesday for a Friday evening start not only to have time at Holyhead SC but
also because we knew from forecasts (all those we spoke to had actually read them as
well...) that there was to be a nasty blow between Wednesday afternoon and the race start.
Thursday morning: after a good sleep tied to a pontoon (adventurous when coming on deck
during the night – it was blowing hard and raining..) we reported to the office and took a
shower. Why is it that the facilities anywhere outside Liverpool are so much better??
We took a taxi to the “Mouseloft” with a sail needing a minor repair. Roger’s classic S&S
Swan 36 was choked up outside; a lovely looking boat. We last saw it in 1994 when Spring
Onion raced in the “Scottish Series” (Rover week as was ). Roger had also entered and
delivered a new spinnaker almost on the start line. Tarbet was different then, there were no
pontoons but it was hot! The hillside opposite the quay was ablaze and helicopters were
waterbombing the flames.
We left the sail with Penelope who asked us to collect it the following day before the race
started
As we got back to Holyhead Marina the sea was breaking over the harbour wall – true gale
but still forecast to blow out before the start. In spite of this a boat arrived from Pwhelli,
short handed, with the intention of racing. No boats from Eire arrived and the news was
that the Irish ISORA contingent was not coming’ having suffered breakages at a recent event
skippers did not wasn’t further drama.
Sitting at the bar at HSC the talk was depressing; it was accepted that a postponement
would be a good idea (a Saturday morning start was favourite) if only to allow the Irish to
come.
The bar at HSC
Later in the day we were told that the race had been postponed to weekend later in the
summer (we were unable to make that).
We made some (undeserved) acerbic comments about this - after all if Spring Onion could
deliver in time why not the modern, bigger boats). Worries that RORC might be unhappy
were later assuaged when we realised that the RORC Commodore (an Irish skipper) had
been involved in the discussions.
Jim Hart had intended to leave the boat in Dublin to visit friends so he rearranged to get a
ferry.
Caroline (Thompson) nevertheless came up from Pwhelli that afternoon; we went to the
pub for a meal to mull over our plans. So easy over well brewed potage! Caroline decided to
come back on Saturday morning to join us in a sail south from Holyhead to Menai; if she
came by train she would be able to get home easily from Bangor.
Friday saw us collect the sail from Mouseloft and watch the still dramatic sea state slowly
moderate.
We reluctantly agreed that Spring Onion starting a race across the Irish Sea in those
conditions would not be sensible!
Saturday morning:
A typical English summer sky, sunny with cloud skitting across the sky. Caroline came aboard
and we motored out of our berth putting just the main up.
Rounding the breakwater we found a moderate swell and a good breeze. Had we put a jib
up we would have had a reef in the main so probably 20 knots?
We had a brisk close reach down the east coast of Anglesey, a lovely sail and the first time
Richard had sailed south of Anglesey’s west coast – normally, for him, an annual trip on the
round Anglesey race. The breeze and weather remained constant towards Caernarvon Bar.
Approaching the bar the wind (or apparent wind) eased. Richard was directed to keep eyes
on the plotter ( a ”tablet” with Navionics). Simon all the while bearing in mind that we were
entering the Round Anglesey race in August.
The passage over the Bar and though the straits is always interesting with lots of shallow
water and many sandbanks. A beautiful passage nonetheless and always to be savoured.
We still sailed under main alone but the wind was moderating although we were pleased
still to be sailing. I wasn’t until we approached the Britannia road bridge that with the tide
turning we resorted to the motor. It had been a satisfying and picturesque sail from
Caernarfon Bar.
We moored up inside the pontoon at Menai with the bow facing south; Caroline and I
watched with admiration as Simon steered into the berth toward the bridge walkway and
turned alongside – not a manuouvre for the fainthearted. We know there was chance of
grounding at low water. This would not trouble Spring Onion which spent its first on or two
years on a drying mooring at Hesketh Bank.
Off to the Liverpool Arms where the kindly staff arranged a taxi to Bangor station for
Caroline. At this point we would like to write that we greatly enjoy sailing with Caroline
she’s a good sailor but more importantly such fun to have on board (and we mean that not
to be a gender based comment).
Approaching Menail we arranged for Jim Bland to join us for the passage back to Liverpool;
he arrived as Caroline left.
The Liverpool Arms serves some of the best and freshest mussels anywhere. The biggest UK
mussel beds are on the nearby Lavan Sands. Perhaps surprisingly I have also had superb
mussels from the Queensferry branch of Asda, I wonder if the supply chain is direct in this
instance?
As a bonus the “LA” does ‘half’ portions so we could have both mussels and gammon
(another excellent LA offering). Most memorably Simon ‘put his card behind the bar’ –
please don’t do that again.
This is the track that Jim kept on his tablet.
Rounding the breakwater we found a moderate swell and a good breeze. Had we put a jib
up we would have had a reef in the main so probably 20 knots?
We had a brisk close reach down the east coast of Anglesey, a lovely sail and the first time
Richard had sailed south of Anglesey’s west coast – normally, for him, an annual trip on the
round Anglesey race. The breeze and weather remained constant towards Caernarvon Bar.
Approaching the bar the wind (or apparent wind) eased. Richard was directed to keep eyes
on the plotter ( a ”tablet” with Navionics). Simon all the while bearing in mind that we were
entering the Round Anglesey race in August.
The passage over the Bar and though the straits is always interesting with lots of shallow
water and many sandbanks. A beautiful passage nonetheless and always to be savoured.
We still sailed under main alone but the wind was moderating although we were pleased
still to be sailing. I wasn’t until we approached the Britannia road bridge that with the tide
turning we resorted to the motor. It had been a satisfying and picturesque sail from
Caernarfon Bar.
We moored up inside the pontoon at Menai with the bow facing south; Caroline and I
watched with admiration as Simon steered into the berth toward the bridge walkway and
turned alongside – not a manuouvre for the fainthearted. We know there was chance of
grounding at low water. This would not trouble Spring Onion which spent its first on or two
years on a drying mooring at Hesketh Bank.
Off to the Liverpool Arms where the kindly staff arranged a taxi to Bangor station for
Caroline. At this point we would like to write that we greatly enjoy sailing with Caroline
she’s a good sailor but more importantly such fun to have on board (and we mean that not
to be a gender based comment).
Approaching Menail we arranged for Jim Bland to join us for the passage back to Liverpool;
he arrived as Caroline left.
The Liverpool Arms serves some of the best and freshest mussels anywhere. The biggest UK
mussel beds are on the nearby Lavan Sands. Perhaps surprisingly I have also had superb
mussels from the Queensferry branch of Asda, I wonder if the supply chain is direct in this
instance?
As a bonus the “LA” does ‘half’ portions so we could have both mussels and gammon
(another excellent LA offering). Most memorably Simon ‘put his card behind the bar’ –
please don’t do that again.
This is the track that Jim kept on his tablet.

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