It was a highly exciting two weeks as Sephina had her first trip out and what a trip it was. General pictures here. But before that there was frantic preparation to get her ready. The mast was sealed, the solar panels installed, the new engine for the dinghy fitted, flares purchased and general rigging. There were several things on the list not completed but the day of the first trip arrived. We were going to cruise in company with my friend's yacht "Kika" a Rival 38 but this was in Port Dinorwic. This meant we had to get Sephina there first so my old boss volunteered to help me on her maiden voyage. There were certainly nerves as we inched out of the berth and I had to be reminded that a centre cockpit boat has a lot hanging out the back! The sail to Port Dinorwic was magical, a light breeze and a quick visit to the Gazelle pub for lunch meant we arrived at the Swellies in time for High Water Slack. Luckily I had navigated this interesting stretch of water a number of times with friends but doing it in your own yacht for the first time is a little daunting. The arrival at the lock to meet Kika and assembled friends was a delight and my "Shed Mate" on Little Ship a superb Grand Banks was also there. Much champagne was consumed!
The next day we set off for Aberdaron over the Caernarfon Bar and anchored in the afternoon. This was in preparation for an evening departure to Kilmore Quay in Ireland. The weather forecast was E 4 or 5 increasing 6 or 7 later. The direction was right but I hoped we were tucked up before the 7 arrived. We weren't. The following sea meant for a miserable night and the corkscrew motion got to 5 of the 8 crew of the two yachts. Luckily I was OK but this meant I was on watch for 15 of the 16 hours we were on passage. There was some excitement as the visability dropped to less than a mile as we approached the traffic separation scheme of Rosslaire. Thankfully we had AIS and the appearance of shipping on the chart plotter gave a welcome reassurance that we would not hit anything big. Further excitement of Tusker Rock saw a local FS8 kick in, as we had electric reefing for main and genoa it was simply a few seconds of button pressing to reef. A fabulous close hauled sail brought us quickly to Kilmore Quay for mid afternoon arrival. A quick bag of chips from the local chippie saw me tucked up for 3 hours of much needed sleep.
The next day saw a SE 4 or 5 and this pinned us on the pontoon. Ahead there was precious room to turn and astern there was no room either. I helped Kika by using the dinghy to pull her bow into the wind and as I had a bow thruster I was confident I could just make it. Fate reared its head. The control for the bow thruster was water logged and wouldn't work. It was probably the only switch I had not replaced. We decided not to risk Sephina's new topsides to a botched departure and remained to chase up a supplier of a new bow thruster control panel. Internet searching revealed the supplier in Norway and as it was a Bank Holiday in the UK we telephoned them. They gave us the UK details but we had to wait to the next morning to make the call. The part was TNT'd to Waterford our next port of call. As the wind was light and a large trawler blocking our departure went out to fish, we set off for Waterford to rejoin Kika. It was a great sail beaming along for 2 hours. We then decided to try out my new toy. The parasailor was deployed in the Welsh Flag design I had commissioned. It was not only stunning to look at but was a joy to use. A journey up the delightful Suir brought us to Waterford. Oh and yes a slight brush with a Starboard buoy saw a green stripe on Sephina's paintwork, quickly removed by Ciff!
The weather was set for storms so a few days in Waterford was going to be necessary. Unfortunately one of my old university friends was joining us for three days and there was no prospect of sailing. Luckily the Guinness and history of the city plus fine fish resturants kept us occupied. The part for the bow thruster was deliverd by TNT to the quay side. Great Service. It was quickly unwrapped and installed but it had 5 wires instead of 4. The spare wire was left out and it failed to work. Inspection showed the connector was wired differently and some rewiring resulted in a working bow thruster. 'Parking' as my wife calls it will be easier! A crew change ensued and my old boss returned to take us back to Wales. After three days the storm abated and a fantastic sail back to Kilmore Quay was rewarded by another fine fish dinner.
The next day saw fair winds for Dale in Milford Haven. The sun shone and the Parasailor was quickly deployed. It sat there untouched for 10 hours giving us 5.5 knts average in a FS 3 - 4. Combined culinary skills between Sephina and Kika produced a fine evening dinner and Sephina with its airy saloon took on its usual role as after dinner drinks venue. Sephina has also hosted 3 film nights in the trip showing; Battle Royale, Master and Commander, Transporter and The Commitments.
An early departure from Dale to Fishguard in fog kept us in close formation. We even resorted to use of the fog horn in Skomar Sound. Dolphins joined us for the trip and they were captured by the mast head camera here. Anchoring in Lower Town Fishguard was made tricky by a number of mooring buoys with extremely long pick up lines. Kika ran over one but her long keel and skeg rudder protected her prop. Sephina dropped the dinghy (thank goodness for the powered davits) and scooted both crews to the beautiful harbour for a shower and Guinness. Sephina's crew discovered a shop selling gourmet frozen meals and Coq au Vin for dinner at anchor with fine wine befitted the Oyster herritage.
A lack of wind meant a long days motoring up to Porth Dinllaen on the Llyn but a pint in the Ty Coch and aquantance with old friends was a just reward. We had a caravan near Morfa Nefyn for many years and we always dreamed of sailing our own yacht into the harbour. Job done. The wind increased and a FS 5-6 was predicted for the next day but tides meant we had to wait for an afternoon departure for Caernarfon. A fine reach saw Sephina pick up her skirt and at over 6 Knts through the water and 8.5 Knts SOG we quickly arrived at the fairway buoy. In driving rain we struggled to pick out the channel markers but were soon off the Benllan narrows for berthing in Victoria Dock. A little trouble ensued as the berth we were given was too small so a nifty bit of reversing in a cross wind to the other end of the dock saw us parked up. Kika went to her home port of Port Dinorwic but her crew joined us for drinks at our Yacht Club (only the second time we have been able to visit) but would you believe it was closed on Thursdays!!!! A swift pint in the Caernarfon Sailing Club and dinner in the Chinese on the Quay topped off a fabulous two weeks inaugural voyage.
The next day we had to get Sephina home so an afternoon departure in blustery conditions saw a spirited trip with tide through the Swellies on to Beaumaris and around puffin to a final beam reach to the channel. Arriving at Deganwy and final "parking" quickly saw us showered and in the Bar at the Quays. Sephina, the crew and good company made for a very successful first outing. Yes there is a list of niggles to sort out but the number of people who looked at her and thought she was a new Oyster made ours and Barry's 20 months of cold work in the shed all the more worthwhile.
The adventure begins.....
The masthead CCTV camera was also tested and some clips can be seen here:-
Arrive Backwards into Caernarfon
Wave off Waterford from passing Ship
General pictures here