May 31

Wales to Liverpool

Bardsey Island from Bardsey Sound

Sorry folks, I’ve had some technical issues, now resolved. I made my way from Pwllheli, single-handing (which in boat terms means with no crew to assist). I was advised by every guide and publication to me especially aware of Bardsey Sound, which is a major tidal ‘pinch-point’ in the Irish Sea. The tide runs sometimes to 8 knots, with 3m standing waves. I was very cautious, and in the event, the transit was through calm waters, with only a little 2 knot push from astern. Too easy!

I made my way around to the tip of Wales at Holyhead, and moored, to the accompaniment of the wash of ferries. Nothing nasty, just no mill-pond smooth.

the westernmost point of Wales at Holyhead

Holyhead harbour on exit

Then, on to Conwy. Another nice journey, though the late afternoon breeze across the lowlands made a cross-chop that wasn’t very comfortable. I arrived up the tortuous channel into Conwy, and was

part of Llandudno from the sea: the longest pier in Wales

advised that the marina was full, so went to the smaller, but accommodating marina in Deganwy. I was able to arrange a ring in Llandudno, and had a chance to observe a rally of about 500 Porche cars along the seafront. Llandudno is certainly a resort town, with a seafront reminiscent of Brighton, with a long pier, and huge beach.

I then cruised through the huge wind farms in the approaches to Liverpool. another nice day, though I had to go very slowly, because of the tidal gates at both ends (Deganwy and Liverpool). I therefore drifted and circled for a while (the AIS track you can examine on the link below the picture shows this apparently confused track). I arrived at Brinswick Lock early, and had to wait for the tide to rise enough to get me into the lock. Up the Lock and into Brunswick Dock where Liverpool marina has been established in the huge old docks, now re-purposed from the major port that used these in pre-container days.

a couple of ‘companions’ on the approach in the Mersey

Liverpool is as vibrant as ever, and I have had fun exploring the city again. Ringing has also been fun, and I’ve collected a couple more towers on my list.

Albert Dock warehouses on the left, with a few landmarks of Liverpool

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May 18


St. David’s Head and Ramsey Sound

the only obstacle to navigation in the Sound: this ship was cruising back and forth across the fairway!

calm, focussed, and efficient: Steve at the wheel

I departed Neyland at first light with Steve aboard as crew, on May 10. We made a long day

Aberystwyth Castle ruins, with the square tower of the church and the hotel in the background

of the passage around St. David’s Head, and across Cardigan Bay to Aberystwyth. It was a good day, with calm seas and light winds, but inevitably in a long day, we were against the tide for 6h. Much slower progress, then!

Ramsey Island from the Sound

Aberystwyth foreshore as we approach

look carefully under the white building to see my boat tucked into the marina

the whitish dot on the right is actually a huge jellyfish. Hard to photograph, but about 0.7m in diameter, there were hundreds as we entered the harbour

the funicular going up to the headland, where there is the world’s largest camera obscura, a replica of one from Victorian times

the foreshore of Aberystwyth

Aberystwyth was deceptive in approach, as we saw the ruins of the castle on our approach, with what seemed to be a much better preserved section. This is actually a large Victorian hotel building behind the castle ruins, now, unfortunately, also in disrepair. We moored in the small marina, and had a day to explore the town, visit the funicular railway, and see the large University. Lots of walking, but a great day.

We then set off in the rain to Pwllheli. It rained all the way, and the seas were much rougher early on. However, as  we got further towards the Lleyn peninsula, the seas moderated and we had a comfortable trip. The canopy over the flybridge made the day much better as well. Moored in Pwllheli, and Steve set off for his home. I got provisions, and did more boat maintenance, which is a necessary and constant process. There were two days of monsoon-like rains, which have been noticeably absent this spring. I found a few new places that water can enter the boat, and worked to deal with them. Next will be the major trek through Bardsey Sound: one of the more notorious places in coastal Britain for fierce conditions. If anything like Ramsey Sound (at St. David’s Head), all will be well, as that was a non-event in terms of nasty conditions. Aiming for slack tides is critical!

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May 8


Tom enjoying the breeze on the upper deck

After spending time in Swansea, I left the harbour at 0530 to make the tide, on my way to Milford Haven. Tom joined me as my willing (?) crew,

headland at entrance to Milford Haven

and we set out, locking out the night before to await the tide on the harbour pontoon. First light, and we were off, for an idyllic day. Smooth seas that got even smoother as the day went on, and a wonderful passage from sunrise. We made out way to Milford Haven harbour, and decided that we should make our way even further upstream to Neyland. A wise decision, as we are in the nicest, most sheltered harbour, especially as it is tide protected, spring tides, and all!

Neyland Yacht Haven: One of the nicest, protected marinas I’ve been in

Pembroke Castle from the bridge across the river

Pembroke Castle yard, showing the newly paved square, the Great Keep and ruins of the living areas

Tenby, with the small harbour, beach, and landmark point

Caldey Island from Tenby Point, with the Bristol Channel in the distance

I’ve said goodbye to Thomas, (and thanks for being such a help on this major excursion), after some explorations of the area in a significant walking tour! I’ve also been able to explore the other shore at Pembroke, and toured the major castle there. All good!

Then, a chance to ring in Pembroke Church, with a nice group of people, from early teen to older in years.

I spent a day on the bus visiting the holiday town of Tenby. Lots of caravan (trailer?) parks and camping areas in evidence along the coastline. Tenby is a very pretty town, certainly focused on tourism. A lovely beach and off-shore island attracts lots of visitors. It was a lovely day- until I stepped out from protection from the wind, that was blowing to make 2m whitecap-tooped waves across the bay. I’m glad to be sheltered in Neyland.

I’ve had a chance to ride around the area, exploring the Pembroke Dock area, which was once an important naval base, and is now a ferry terminal (to Ireland), and smaller shipyard.

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April 19


I’m still in Swansea, and preparing for my next explorations along the Welsh coastline.

I’ve upgraded the ‘Find Me’ tab on the menu above and deleted some older, no longer as relevant links. Please try out the various features of this new link, and let me know if things work. I appreciate the comments about the former link being frequently out of date. The new one also lists past journeys on the left (says I was in Padstow and headed to Swansea- stating times of travel as well!).

I’ve had a couple of ringing opportunities in Swansea, but the towers here seem to be struggling with numbers of ringers: St. Mark’s, only rang the front 4, and in Sketty only rang the front 5. I do get to meet all sorts of interesting people, however.

New carpet flooring in the lounge should make things more comfortable. renewing the boat is a never-ending challenge!

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April 17


Well, I made it to Swansea harbour and am in the marina there. A long trip: 13h, including more than 6h against the tide (second nastiest in the world!). We had to stem the tide, as departure from Padstow only occurs near high water. The Bristol channel was rough for the first3h, with swells approaching 2m. The boat was fine- no issues there, but it was a little uncomfortable for the captain and crew!

We made it past Lundy Island, and the tide finally turned in our favour, so we persevered on to Swansea Harbour, arriving at 1830h. All good, through the lock into the harbour and then through a second lock into the marina. Here, I said farewell to Nick, who was so kind to help me out from Falmouth. I am staying in Swansea until the next visitor arrives on the 21st. A few cleaning things, a little maintenance work, and all is well. I had the chance to ring for Easter Sunday at St. Mary’s in Swansea, though I was the fourth person, so we only rang the front four of a ring of 8. Wonderful service afterwards, with choir, orchestra and organ. Photos of my Welsh visit to come.

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April 12


I made the trek to Falmouth and settled there for a week or so to await crew for the major excursion to Penzance, around Land’s End, and eventually to Wales.


Falmouth harbour on departure

Falmouth was a very good place to spend a few days, and this was enhanced by a chance to meet with friends of Nick Seager, David and Sheila, who live in the area. I had a chance to explore all around the town, and enjoyed fish and chips, breakfast on the beach, and walks around the castle and area.


Penzance Harbour, tucked into a corner beside a landing craft, just aft of a workboat.

Nick joined me and we set off for Penzance, with a lovely passage once the fog cleared for us to get out of the harbour. Arrival in Penzance was dictated by the harbour that only opens the tidal gate for about 2h at every high tide. We were installed in the working inner wet dock, and as you can see, surrounded by a most eclectic mix of vessels. IMG_20170409_161022963


St. Michael’s Mount from the approach to Penzance Harbour


the gardens of St. Michael’s Mount from the upper ramparts

We had a chance to explore in Penzance area and visited St. Michael’s Mount in the next village to the east. This is a sister monestry to the Mont St. Michel in France that I have visited in the past.


the ferry to Scilly Isles making last minute preparations

We only stayed in Penzance briefly (I’d have spent several more days there by choice), because the weather dictated the passage around Land’s end. We departed at 0545 because of the tidal window, with a wonderful sunrise to welcome us on the journey.IMG_20170411_063110744


Land’s End as we rounded the point at the end of the English world…

We made our way slowly towards Land’s End, because of the tidal currents that we didn’t want to fight against. A gorgeous morning cruising along and examining the South Cornish coast.


Is it this way…?


or this way past Land’s End???

Once we rounded the point, the weather remained lovely, but there were much higher lumps in the water- rocks to avoid, but also a significant sea of swells and tidal confusion. all part of things in big water! No problems, though we did find out about things not well secured inside!


one of the many derelict (disused in English English) tin mines

We made our way along the wild north Cornish coastline, noticing the many chimneys of derelict tin mines along several parts of the coastline. We arrived in Padstow harbour after 13h of cruising, and moored in the very quaint harbour there. All was well, despite the long day.

Our next destination is to be Swansea which we are aiming at for tomorrow, weather dependent. It looks ok (so far!).

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2 April

Well, the next year of exploration begins.


cutting timber the Rwandan way


a massive tea plantation, from the processing plant


part of Kigali city


a primary school across from Munkittrick’s home

After a wonderful winter’s mooring in Plymouth, with excursions to Canada for Christmas, and Rwanda to visit my sister in February, coupled with an amazing ringing community in and around Plymouth, I have had a good winter experience.

I’ve rung is a wide variety of towers, including Bere Ferrers ( a Devon call-change tower that has bells in three layers to enable cramming a ring of 6 into such a small tower, and the home tower of Steve and Sally, who were so kind to me as I started in this area), Emmanuel (with the amazing tower captain (Alena Wardle) who has an entourage of everyone from older people to a whole group of enthusiastic young, university folk) and as far as Exeter Cathedral, with the second heaviest ring of bells in the world. I also rang in every tower in the area, including the challenging bells of St Andrews, the light bells of Stoke Damerel, and the energetic community of St Budeaux. I had an amazing time with all of the ringers who made me feel so welcome and part of a community.

And now, onward. I am looking to go around most of the UK this year, with a side excursion to Ireland along the way. I made my way to Falmouth yesterday, with calm seas, fair winds and glorious sunshine. I will be moored here for a bit and explore Cornwall, before I move on. Do follow my adventures if you will.



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Feb 6

There hasn’t been much happening with the boat and myself, though I did have the opportunity to travel back to Canada in December to visit friends and family.

However, today, boat things started happening again, in a big way. I had the boat lifted from the water in Plymouth, at the Mount Batten marina. This is as part of the annual servicing for anti-fouling and replacement of the anti-corrosion anodes. The boat will be out of the water for at least a week (weather permitting), and a number of things will be attended to. I wanted to have the boat repainted, but that will have to wait for another time. WC2671

Meanwhile, I am ringing bells as often as I can. I have added several local towers to the list (St. Budeaux, and Sampford Spiney), and have been working hard on method ringing, learning Grandsire and trying to perfect Plain Bob. I have rung  doubles (5 bells)  minor (6 bells) and triples (7 bells), which adds layers of complexity. I have been very fortunate here in Plymouth, to have several towers to ring in, and people keen to make me work hard to progress. I am trying to meet the challenge! The bell-ringing community here has been very welcoming- no doubt they see a challenge in getting a Canadian to improve in ringing!

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December 11

Hello faithful followers. My apologies for the infrequent posts of late.

a special autumn day in Plymouth Harbour.

a special autumn day in Plymouth Harbour.

I am still moored in Plymouth, and ringing my little hands off, with visits to many of the local towers. I’ve been to St. Andrews Minster, Emmanuel, St. Budeaux, Laira, Tavistock, Walkhampton and Pillaton. I’ve been working hard to master change methods up to Bob Triples, plus working with the call changes that are so important in Devon.

Ive spent some considerable time trying to make my boat work properly: there are a number of continuing issues partly related to the useage over the past years, and the very different expectations that I have for the boat. New bilge pump systems, plumbing, electrics, and, in the near future, new canopy and deck. A never-ending project, I think.

I have taken a break from all of the above, however, and am in Canada for the annual Christmas seasonal visiting of family and friends. While Britain continues to intrigue and provide moments of wonder and challenge, it is good to be back among the many friends and family I have in Canada.

I hope you all have the very best Christmas season: to recall the true meanings of Christmas; to spend time with loved ones; and to remember why we have this festive season. Merry Christmas to all.

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Oct 19

Hi folks.

Sorry I have been negligent in posting as often as I should to keep you updated. However, there isn’t all that much new in my world!

I’ve spent about a month at Weir Quay on the River Tamar, north of Plymouth. Here, I have had major engine work done- new main crankshaft bearing seal, new alternator, and seawater cooling pump bracket. All part of having an older complex machine, and having made it work in different ways than the previous owner.

I had a great month: mostly supported by a local couple, Sally and Steve, who ‘adopted’ me and shared their ringing experiences, squiring me around to towers in Walkhampton, Whitchurch, and their local tower at Bere Ferrers. I met a young lady (about 90!) who is a friend of a friend of my parents in Canada. She toured me to Dartmoor, where we spent a delightful afternoon in a moor pub. I did the usual trips for food and all, but that was complicated by having to use the dinghy every time as I was on a swinging mooring in the middle of the river. I am much more confident and adept at navigating the dinghy at night, in the wind, and against tidal streams!

I have moved on to a mooring in a marina within Plymouth, as I am looking for  long-term mooring for the winter, and further boat refurbishment. I’ve met some ringers here, having rung in Plymstock and Brixton (call-changes only), and Plymouth Minster (a very heavy 10, ringing all sorts of things, with me on the 1.5 tonne tenor!). I’m still awaiting responses for quotes on the refurbishment and moorings, and will advise.


placid mooring on a buoy on the River Tamar (not always this lovely!)


the viaduct for the Tamar line of the railway, at Calstock


Dartmoor from the garden of the inn where I had a delightful afternoon with Sally Mulford

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