Charts, pilots, weather – Scotland, West of Ireland to Scillies

The cost of a portfolio of paper charts for the British Isles is enormous, so we ignored advice in magazine articles and pilot books to stock up on large scale charts and relied mainly on electronics. (See this link to earlier posts: electronic navigation ).

We have:

C-Map NW Europe – chartplotter.
Memory Map UK and Ireland – laptop.
Navionics UK and Holland, including Ireland – iPhone.
Antares, Bob Bradshaw’s ultra large scale inshore charts for West of Scotland – laptop. (We tried them out in some very tight little anchorages, and they seemed very accurate).

We used Imray paper charts covering the whole area, though pilot books can be a bit sniffy about them:

C66 Mallaig to Rubha Reidh and Outer Hebrides
C65 Crinan to Mallaig and Barra
C64 Belfast Lough to Loch Foyle and Crinan
C53 Donegal Bay to Rathlin Island
C54 Galway Bay to Donegal Bay
C56 Dingle Bay to Galway Bay
C56 Cork Harbour to Dingle Bay
C7 Falmouth to Scillies

Next is a list of the larger scale UKHO charts we had on board, a very small proportion of those available. They cover a handful of particularly tricky areas in the West of Ireland. 22 of the 60 or so charts for Ireland have been reissued lately because of a major survey effort by the Irish government (see this link to post on survey accuracy ). But many others rely on Victorian era surveys. To check this, study the source information on any UKHO charts you buy  – its absence on Memory Map raster charts is their main drawback. It is also puzzling why there is so little source information on Imray charts.

UKHO 1820 Aran Island to Roonah Head
2792 Plans on the NW Coast of Ireland (the only one we would have missed).
2707 Kingstown Bay to Cleggan Bay and Inishbofin to Inishturk
3339 Approaches to Galway Bay including the Aran Islands (not the same Aran as in 1820).

We also had an old UKHO folio for the Mull and Oban area on board, bought in 2007 for a previous cruise, and not corrected since. In practice, when we wanted large scale UKHO charts we used Memory Map on the laptop.
Finally, we took 2692, Western Approaches to St George’s Channel and Bristol Channel.

Cruising Association almanac

We economised on pilot books in Scotland by using editions bought for a 2007 cruise there. Apparently the Lawrence pilots will no longer be updated and the Clyde Cruising Club will be the only source. In Ireland, the 2013 edition of the Irish Cruising Club’s Sailing Directions is essential because substantially revised and because it is one of the best pilot books we have seen, even commenting area by area on chart accuracy.

South and West Coasts of Ireland Sailing Directions, 2013, Norman Kean, Irish Cruising Club Publications.
East and North Coasts of Ireland, Sailing Directions, 2002, Irish Cruising Club.
The Isle of Mull and adjacent coasts, Martin Lawrence, Imray, 2008.
Clyde to Colonsay, Martin Lawrence, Imray, 2007.
Skye and NW Scotland, Martin Lawrence, Imray, 2002.

For the Scillies, we have to admit to using a pilot bought for a cruise in 1994 plus the Cruising Association almanac and Reeds, and the large scale UKHO charts on the laptop.

Cruising Ireland, Balmforth and Kean, Irish Cruising Club Publications – an excellent read for planning.
Cruising Cork and Kerry, Graham Swanson, Imray

Weather on line
Apart from standard sources such as Navtex and coastguard broadcasts we used: – they have an iPhone app for Grib files, includes swell  (no sailing app yet).
Met Eireann for Irish Sea area forecasts.  has useful weather links

Wind Guru – download the iPhone app
WeatherPro – land forecasts for seaside towns – download the iPhone app.   – for Ireland forecasts.
For rainfall radar and very short-term forecasts –

Round Britain 2012-13: Cowes, Whitby, Inverness, Oban

This is the story of the first year of our two-year round Britain cruise in Spring Fever, a retired racing boat on a mission to go slowly (like us). A previous round Britain in 2007-8 in an earlier boat, Pepper of Brixham, had left us hungry to see more of the beautiful West of Scotland, where we had time to spend only a month sailing.We decided to go anti-clockwise, up the East Coast and down the West, rather than the clockwise route we used last time, and to use the Caledonian Canal rather than Cape Wrath and the Orkneys, which we visited in 2008. The account of our passage back from Scotland down the West Coast of Ireland in 2013  was written as a daily blog (follow this link to see all the posts) but this first part of the cruise is a single account, a photo album with words.

A cheerful start - a Robin spends time with us off Beachy Head
A cheerful start – Robin off Beachy Head

We left Cowes on 11 April 2012 for what always seems a bit of a trudge to the Thames Estuary, though with the right timing there are about 11 hours of favourable tide on the way from Beachy Head to Ramsgate, which cheers things up. After leaving Brighton, for an hour or two we were much entertained by a stray Robin’s search for a safe haven on the boat. He eventually found such a good hiding place – it was a mystery where – that we didn’t see him again until he flew off while we were entering the Deben in Suffolk more than a day later. He had hitched a 130 mile ride.

Follow this link to read the the rest of the story of our cruise up the East Coast and through the Caledonian Canal.

Round Britain in Pepper 2007-8

Goodbye, Kehaar. In  2001 we decided we were spending too much money and time on the boat we had owned for ten years, and sold her. Wouldn’t it be much more sensible to charter other peoples’ boats in nice places, and get on with our lives the rest of the time without obsessing about equipment and cruises?

Pepper of Brixham
Pepper of Brixham

For several years it worked. Hello, Seychelles, Adriatic (several times), Greece and other destinations. However, William began to investigate the idea of buying a small boat and sailing round Britain in his gap year, so naturally I helped him narrow down the choice and began to visit boatyards with him to look at ideas, with a Contessa 26 the favourite. We looked at several.

It was the beginning of a slippery slope back to boat ownership. Will changed his plans and went off round the world using other means of transport; I kept on visiting boatyards, egged on by a small inside voice telling me that it would be good to have a healthy outdoors project in the run up to retirement, and sailing round Britain could fit the bill – my own sort of gap year. The upshot was that in 2005 we bought Pepper, a Verl 900, a 30 footer with an unusually large amount of room down below for a boat from 1978, and a surprisingly good turn of speed for her top-heavy looks.

She had a new engine and Furlex, and the hull had just been resprayed professionally, but otherwise she needed a big refit, which we spread over two years, until we had new rigging, electronics, sails, ground tackle, and a host of the other odds and ends that need renewing on every boat of this generation. The plan was to go slowly, fitting a round Britain cruise into other schedules by doing it in stages, exploring as we went, and finding places to leave Pepper whenever necessary, including a winter at Oban in Argyll.

Follow this link to read about the round Britain cruise in 2007   and this link to read about the second year from Oban to the Orkneys and back down the east coast.