Pembrokeshire Sailex

Text comms from Neil when possible.

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Left Neyland 20:00 on Friday evening then pilotage along channel out to sea.  Left Skokholm to starboard then set course broadly NW to Irish coast.   S wind F 2/3 variable so sailed mostly under genoa motoring in light winds.  Sea state light / moderate, but unpleasant motion and wet.   Weather cleared late morning and entered Arklow fish dock marina 15:20 on Saturday when the sun came out!  Now very pleasant; pub grub and stout tonight.

Sunday 40nm run north to Dun Laoghaire in southerly F 3 / 4 that increased later so reefed.   Fine weather.   Quick trip to Dublin.

Monday 3/9  Berthed in Dun Laoghaire.  Parties sent to Dublin on the Dart train.  Neville led splendid tour of main sites, lunch in Arlington bar then back to yachts.   Departed berths 19:55 for overnight passage to Bardsey Island. 





Molly Malone stands out!


Tuesday 4/9.  Anchored on Bardsey Island bay 08:30 after a speedy passage in F 4/5 slight moderate seas and a starlit sky.   Restful day at anchor before another (!) o/n passage south with Skoma the intended destination.  Brief trip ashore by Otter crew enlivened by dinghy leak and borrowed skiff to rescue.


Wednesday 5/9 Neil Macfarlane reports.  Greetings from TONG - the Trent Offshore Nocturnal Group.  Otter and Kalel left Bardsey Island anchorage at 20:00 and sailes south under genoa in northerly F 2 / 5 across Cardigan Bay.  Through Ramsey sound with the tide (past the bitches ed) then down to Skomer Island.   


North Haven lacked shelter from the wind so through Jack Sound to South Bay with both yachts anchored by 10:00 for welcome rest and victuals.  70nm passage memorable for splendid night sky!  Around mid day both yachts upped anchors and headded west for Grassholm and the gannetry and other sea birds.  18nm round trip back to Skomer for supper.


Thursday 6/9.  Some concern on Kalel o/n re anchor alarms and Manx shearwater activity.  With morning a leisurely breakfast then left Skomer anchorage to sail west in a NW F4 smooth/moderate sea, overcast.  Went about for a cracking sail running ESE leaving Skokholm Island to port headed for entrance to Milford Sound, past the oil terminals, under the bridge to meet Otter on moorings off Lawrenny.  The ashore early evening for both crews to the local pub for supper.  With a single working dinghy several trips were necessary to get both crews ashore then back on board.  Kalel 25nm.


Friday 7/9 Kalel and Otter back in Neyland refuelled, watered and cleaned.

Finally the crews of Kalel and Otter extend their thanks to the lead skipper Alan Mortimore, for his forethought, meticulous planning and enthusiasm in organising this Sailex and skipper Neville Buckle who jointly ensured its successful outcome.

Total distance travelled 335nm approx

Hebridean Sailex - Out of Oban

Saturday 5th May.


Eloise left Dunstaffnage Marina at 16:40 bound for Loch Maddy, North Uist, Outer Hebrides.  At 6:53 Neil Macfarlane reported just passing up the sound of Mull having eaten on board in anticipation of a night passage.  Photo - passing light house on south of Lismore Island.

Wednesday 9th May.

Second report from Neil updated Thursday 10th May while away from home.   

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Having left Dunstaffnage at 1640 on Saturday we passed Lismore Is to the south and then up the Sound of Mull as night fell. We were mostly sailing in a F2/3 which later increased to F5/6. At 2000 we passed Rubna Nan Gall light near Tobermory in increasing wind, rain and seas. At midnight Eloise sailed NW between the lighthouse Oigh Sgeir and the Humla Rock Mark (green) SW of Canna. The wind and seas subsided somewhat through the night and at 0700 on Sunday morning we turned into Loch Maddy, North Uist and anchored in South Bay. With a dodgy log our charted distance was estimated at 100 nautical miles. The rest of Sunday was for sleeping, eating with no shore leave!

Hoisted anchor and left Loch Maddy at 0600 Monday. Sails set and under engine Eloise made her way out to sea. E/NE wind F4/5 meant a long port tack east to seek advantage from the wind. Even so progress was slow on the starboard tack so Eloise motor sailed most of the way to East Loch Tarbert Harris. At 1345 we moored to the pontoon in the North Harbour in Scalpay and watered up later moving to shallow water on the fishing boat pier to refuel on the fast ebbing tide. At 1430 we cast off, headed around the north side of Scalpay, under the bridge with about 5m clearance (though it looked much less) and out to sea. Sails up we ran before a good breeze into the entrance to Loch Seaforth, then NW up the loch for a couple of miles, past salmon farms, to turn into Loch Maaruig to anchor for the night. Ca 35NM.

Tuesday - anchor up 0915 and tacked down Loch Seaforth out into the Minch. Then sailed NW between Lewis and the Shiant Is to the east. As we turned north to run up the coast the rain stopped the mist cleared and the sun came out. Dropping the main sail Eloise ran at SOG 7kt under genoa alone. Entered Stornoway harbour, keeping out of the way of the ferry leaving, and, after a bit of manoeuvring in a strong wind, moored up to the pontoon. Ca 30NM.

Wednesday- “storm bound” in Stornaway so took a bus trip to the Callanish standing stones then a bus trip around the island.

Thursday 10th May.


 Eloise left Stornoway at 0600 in S/SW winds F5/6 occ F7 later. Mainsail up with two reefs in harbour then motor sailed broadly south in bright sunshine to the spectacular  Shiant Islands east of Lewis. We motored back and forth on the north side of the islands, had lunch and admired the bird life. Then we set a main course of 170 down to the east side of Skye with Rona and Raasay to port. Moored temporarily to a pontoon in Portree harbour at 1550, then checked out a possible anchorage, but after dragging decided to pick up a buoy in the main harbour. Glorious evening, with blue sky and sea and snowy Cuillins to the south. Dinner on board. Distance 58NM. 

Friday 11th May.

 We got into Mallaig in foul weather which later cleared to nice evening. Our main sheet block which had earlier failed was replaced by the charterer. On Saturday we had a splendid trip from Mallaig to Canna in bright sun and good breezes to go ashore and overnight on a mooring in Canna Hbr.

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Sunday 13th May.

We sailed south and rounded the magnificent Barra Head (S most tip of the Outer Hebs) then headed northish for St Kilda. Anchored St Kilda bay 0400 Sunday. 90NM passage. Heavy swell, drizzle and overcast and decided too risky to go ashore in the dinghy.   We anchored for lunch in Vatersay Bay (beautiful white sand strand) on Sunday after a splendid passage in bright sunshine from Canna Hbr where we had spent Saturday night.


Monday 14th May.

Up anchor O715 and passed St K cliffs but mist v low. Headed for Boreray I and stacks but again obscured by mist so set course for Sound of Harris. Two reefs and small genoa in moderate sea in F5 and above meant a tough passage. Engine overheated just before Sound of Harris through no coolant. So sailed north under Genoa looking for anchorage while engine checked. Impeller replaced with some difficulty but Neville saved the day and after an hours plus delay we passed through the Sound and down to Loch Maddy at 19:15. 76NM. Now in pub all quite tired.

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Tues 15th May
Slipped mooring on L Maddy pontoon 1045. Out into Minch, mainsail up, genoa set in N/NW F4/5. Headed south bound for Rum. Wind rather died later so motor sailed intermittently. Mainsail down 1500 in fair sunshine but chilly. Anchored in Loch Scresort on east of Rum at 1925. Dined on board. 51NM

Treshnish isles

Treshnish isles

Wed 16th May
0915 anchor up. N/NW F2/3 fair, bright sun, blue skies and light winds. Sailed south with Eigg to port, then Muck. West of Arnamurchan at midday with Coll on starboard bow and Mull to port. Passed fine white strand of Calgary Bay, then odd shaped basalt formations of the Treshnish Isles to Staffa. Rounded Staffa, admired caves and sailed ENE to Ulva to the quiet, sheltered anchorage of Cragaig Bay on south side of  Ulva by 1600. 42NM. 



Thurs 17th May
0935 Left the bay, set sails and passed between Ulva and Little Colonsay in NW F 3/4 but variable in fine weather. Largely piloted around the west coast of Mull and later motor sailed until entered Sound of Mull. Just past Ardmore a white tailed eagle, fish in its talons, passed to starboard, flying low towards the shore. Just time for a quick photo! Entered Tobermory Hbr at 1400 and Andy moored us stern to the pontoon. 27NM. Leisurely afternoon in village with showers and shopping. Good meal in pub close to marina that evening. 

Fri 18th May

With Andy on the nav table we made the straightforward passage down the Sound of Mull. Initially under sail tacking against ahead wind F3/4 blowing up the Sound, but the tide was with us. Going about we had a practice man overboard drill and successfully recovered "the man". Progress against the wind was slow so the genoa was furled and engine on. Passed Lismore I into Dunstaffnage Bay we moored to the pontoon at 1415. 27NM. 

Last Day

Last Day

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And finally from the crew of Eloise and Trent Offshore Group many thanks to skipper Alan Mortimore for his forethought, meticulous planning and enthusiasm in organising an ambitious Sailex and ensuring its successful outcome.




Total distance: 547 nautical miles. 



Scotland - The best of the North

Friday 12th May.  Many of the crews of the TOG 2017 two week sailex in Scotland will be making their way north today, some part way to overnight in Scotland, some all the way to Dunstaffnage Marina, Oban, where they will overnight on a yacht before taking over Eloise and Highland Sealord.  A few will travel north by train.

The yachts were handed over Saturday afternoon and at 20:00 hours both were on course for Tobermory with the intention of pressing on to Stornoway.  All on board safe and well.

Sunday 14th May.  16:58 Both yachts safely tied up in Stornoway after a cracking sail across the Minch F4/7 a 142nm passage from Dunstaffnage overnight.  Alan reports that he is not sure what tomorrow will bring as forecast is for strong gale force winds.   No reports from Andy McWilliam just yet.

Monday 15th May. Heading for a safe haven before gale force winds go through.   Neil reports plan to set off from Stornoway for Cape Wrath and the Orkneys this afternoon.  Pic shows Eloise on the right with Highland Sealord in background on a finger pontoon.

The Orkneys beckon !     At 21:00 hours Alan reports that the yachts are now 3 hours from Cape Wrath on passage to Pierowall.  Mainly F5/7 SSE so able to make good progress with the third reef in.


Tuesday 16th May.  Neil reports great sunrise on route for Orkney.  At 14:45 hours both yachts are in Pierowall Orkney after a second O/N passage, this time 127nm from Stornaway.  The yachts are reported to be fine after instrument failure on Eloise - now sorted.  Steering on both yachts holding up (but then they are not on board a Beneteau Oceanis).    Your shore contact has just re-provisioned at Charnwood Brewery so stay safe tonight!  

Wednesday 17th May.  Neil reports that today will be a day of rest with the crews off to explore Westray.

Thursday 18th May.  Alan reports at 16:00 hours both yachts safely on moorings at Stromness marina.  Neil reported that a pod of four killer whales passed close by this morning but no one was quick enough with the camera.   A mini bus has been hired to tour the main island tomorrow (Friday 19th May). Photo left showing the brothers McWilliam taking lunch at Kirkwall, although your friendly UKIP representative appears to be following in the steps of his past leader and partaking of a liquid lunch.    Plan is now to leave Saturday morning for Wick, then depart Wick Sunday evening and O/N to Inverness arriving early Monday morning, for entry to the Caledonian Canal. and meet up with Graham Wassall.  

Friday 19th May.  The crew of both yachts enjoyed a mini bus tour of the main island today as the end of the first week approached.  Pic shows Ruth at the Ring of Brogdar.

Saturday 20th May.  The yachts will be setting off mid morning to pass islands within Scapa Flow to cross the Pentland Firth round Duncansby Head for Wick - home of Old Pilteney !   Stewart and Neil hope to introduce themselves as Maritime Heroes and maybe, just maybe, get a free drink.  Meanwhile the lead skipper takes a rest.

At 15:00 hours Alan reports that they have rounded Duncansby Head and are heading for Wick.  They should be in Wick within two hours.

At 17:15 Neil reports both yachts moored up in Wick Marina after a 40nm passage from Stromness leaving at 10:30  They sailed down Scapa Flow by the smaller islands - leaving Graemsay to the south, Cave to port, Fara to port, Flotta to port, and into the Pentland Forth leaving Switha to port. Tides were later and less than expected but the flood helped down to Duncansby Head avoiding the Pentland Skerries to the east.   Weather was fairly damp most of the trip with a F3/4 SE which enabled them to sail in poor viability.  Update at 18:22- just getting the G&T's planning to eat ashore tonight.

Sunday 21st May.  The crews had a relaxing night in Wick Marina and woke this morning to a bright and sunny day which contrasted with yesterdays wet and mist.  This morning saw the yachts festooned with wet weather gear and towels now drying out.  Neil reports that Wick is an interesting place, particular;y Telford's 19C Pulteney Town which is in some decay but with signs of restoration.   It is reported that Wetherspoon's was very lively last night with some sights! - no further details for the web!  Neil and Stewart were disappointed to find the distillery closed for the Sabbath.   The yachts will set of later this evening for an overnight passage to Inverness to arrive on the right tide.

Alan reports both yachts slipped their moorings from Wick at 16:35 and are now heading for Tarbat Ness and on to Inverness.   The yachts tracked down the NE coast on 210 degrees under sail for several hours in mainly a south east F2/4 in fine weather.  At 05:00 hours Neil caught sunrise and Highland Sealord (in the distance) on the Moray Firth.

 At 06:00 well down the Moray Firth near Fort George they were met by a pod of bottlenose dolphins which swam alongside for about ten minutes. 

Monday 22nd May.  Entered Inverness Firth, under the bridge, and entered Clachnaharry Sea Lock at 08:00 hours.   Graham Wassall joined the Sailex at this location. The yachts then progressed through a swing bridge and up a flight of locks, through the small Loch Dochfour and into Loch Ness.   The yachts motored down Loch Ness with the wind on the nose and later into heavy rain.    At 16:35 they moored up at Fort Augustus at the south west end of the Lock having completed a 24 hour passage.


Alan sounds the bell at the High Point

Alan sounds the bell at the High Point

Tuesday 23rd May.   So Loch Ness now behind them and the long decent through the canal section, Lock Oich, and Loch Lochy down through the locks towards Fort William.  At 19:16 both yachts were moored up at Banavie, above Neptune's Staircase.      The plan being to get into Loch Linney tomorrow and catch the evening tide to anchor off Shuna Island.


Sea Lock at corpach

Sea Lock at corpach

Wednesday 24th May.  This morning saw the crews up early to decend eight locks in quick succession, Neptune's Staircase.  At the bottom they had to wait for the road and rail swing bridges to open, the latter giving priority to a steam powered Harry Potter special!  Through a further two locks into the sea basin at Fort William, then in the sea lock both yachts rafted up to a large dutch barge.  The lock gates opened and they "escaped" the confines of the canal and out into Loch Linnhe - back on the west coast! (Neil sounds very relieved to be back at sea).   Highland Sealord released Robert McW for 90th birthday duties and drafted in Graham.    Both yachts then tacked down Loch Linnhe for a time then under engine to pick up buoys for the night in the anchorage east of Shuna Island.

on mooring in shuna

on mooring in shuna

Thursday 25th May.  Highland Sealord left Shuna and put into Dunstaffnage to put skipper Andy McW ashore to pursue mother's birthday and electioneering. Highland Sealord then sailed off Mull before mooring up in Kerrera for the night.   Eloise sailed down the Firth of Lorne, NW up the Sound of Mull and into Lochaline for lunch.   The crews enjoyed blue skies, sun and F3/4 from the SW, the west coast at its best.   On extra low springs the depth gauge read ZERO for a cable or so but they did not touch bottom.!   Then back into the Sound on a rising tide  down SW to the island of Seil to a beautiful anchorage for the night.

at anchor seil island

at anchor seil island

Friday 26th May.  After a night out in Oban Highland Sealord's crew blew away the cobwebs by sailing off Mull in the Firth of Lorne in glorious sunshine, then into Dunstaffnage for mid pm.  Eloise left Seil and sailed down to the Garvellochs in search of wild life.  Neil report they saw seals basking in the Skerries but that was all.   In a F4/5 Eloise touched 9 knots before they put in a reef.   Back up the Firth of Lorne running before the wind, under genoa alone, via Kerrera Sound passed Oban and into Dunstaffnage for 16:00 hours.  Cleaned the boats and into the marina restaurant for beers and a meal.  Approx 580 nautical miles.





Eloise  final day

Eloise  final day


2016 Old Pulteney Maritime Heroes Awards

This year three TOG members were nominated for an Old Pulteney Maritime Heroes Award.  The first stage of the awards has required the judging panel to select thirty semi-finalists and we are delighted to say that all three – Stewart Cook, Neil Macfarlane and Adrian Johnson were chosen.

They each received a Maritime Heroes Certificate and a bottle of 12 year Old Pulteney Single Malt Scotch whisky in celebration of their achievement.

Caribbean Sailex 2016

The long awaited Caribbean Sailex to the Leeward Islands got off to a good start on Thursday 14th January.  Two Oceanis 48's were chartered with 7 on board each yacht.   Starting from MARIGOT, Saint Martin both yachts sailed south - beats the UK weather


Text received from Dave Clark aboard Dalton on Thursday 21st January 

Dalton had major instrument meltdown two days ago and all except the plotter died. Thierry 1 and Thierry 2 at Dream Yacht Charters have been on the case all day. Including going up a 30 metre mast... a bar stool, especially Neil Mckechan's dodgy ones, are high enough for me smile emoticon — at Jolly Harbour Marina.


Sunday 24th January.   Neil sent the following text saying that Joule had a problem

Joule's steering mechanism failed.  They were unable to steer properly with the emergency gear so we took them in tow.  However they began to take in water and the auto and hand bilg pumps appeared u/s.  Towing was very difficult and they began to sink despite bailing.  Adrian had sent a pan-pan so upped it to Mayday.  We went alongside and took off the ladies.   Keith and Adrian stayed on board, then the helicopter arrived and dropped two guys on board.   They could not do much so we took Keith and Adrian on board and we're now approaching Deshaies leaving Joule to her fate.  Both yachts have already shown major problems requiring DY technicians!  Joule's crew remarkably cheerful.    Neil

Dalton successfully transferred the crew of Joule to Guadeloupe for the night.  Monday 25th January Adrian made contact with Dream.    These are the pictures taken by Dave Clark of the attempted rescue and final moments of Joule.   Dream Yacht Charter later confirmed she had sunk.

Guadeloupe coast guard dropped from helicopter

Guadeloupe coast guard dropped from helicopter

Joule low in the water. CG on board with Keith Stedman and Adrian Johnson

Joule low in the water. CG on board with Keith Stedman and Adrian Johnson

Guadeloupe CG on board trying to fix the problem

Guadeloupe CG on board trying to fix the problem

Joule now very low in the water - time to leave.

Joule now very low in the water - time to leave.

Monday 25th January

Neil and his crew plan to press on to Martinique tomorrow morning.  Adrian and his crew will discuss their options with Dream Yacht Charter and hopefully join up with Neil and the crew of Dalton on Friday for  the last night supper.  Much to tell , we wish them all well.   We understand that the crew managed to recover most of their personal kit before Joule sank .

Tuesday 26th January.

Neil and his crew aboard Dalton have reviewed the worsening weather forecast and have made a decision to stay put in Basseterre until Thursday then complete two long hops to DY in Martinique.        Adrian called from the DY base in Guadeloupe saying that he and Keith have now completed their reports and will spend Tuesday and Wednesday exploring Guadeloupe.  They spent the first night in a hotel and are now based on a super CAT on the marina - bags of room and great sleeping with en-suite facilities.  On Thursday they will either fly or take the fast Sea CAT to Martinique.  Have Friday to explore then meet up with Dalton's crew friday evening for dinner.

Thursday 28th January

Neil's text arrived 21:30 hours today.  After two days in Basseterre, Guadeloupe to let high winds pass through, Dalton left at 06:30 bound for Dominica.  Passage between th islands was rather bumpy with high seas and a big squall gusting 35Kn approx.  In the lee of Dominica the seas subsided and we made good progress to Roseau at 14:00 hours.   Now on a mooring and cleared in/out by customs.   Neil

Adrian and the crew of Joule made a decision to tale the flight rather than the Fast CAT and arrived in Martinique before lunch.   Dream Yacht had  no suitable yacht free for the crew to use for a couple of days/nights so Adrian made a decision to check into a hotel for Thursday and Friday nights.  

Joule picture from the web.

Joule picture from the web.

Attempted recovery

Attempted recovery

Friday 29th January

At 5.00 pm Neil sent a text to say that Dalton was safely moored up in the Dream yacht base in Martinique, and they were having a beer after a long 68Nm trip from Dominica.   They all ate ashore in the evening. reports good.

Saturday 30th January

Hand over day for Neil and later all will make their way to the airport for the flight home which leaves Fort de France at 19:25 Caribbean time ( 23:25 UK time) scheduled to arrive Paris at 8:30 on Sunday morning.   The final leg with BA to London then onward by road to the respective homes.

Sunday 31st January

Air France flight from Martinique arrived Paris Orly at 9.09 this morning some 39 minutes later than scheduled.  Next leg BA Orly to London scheduled to depart 10.45 and arrive Heathrow and arrive London at 11:10 - Stats show arrival at 11:12.  Unfortunately more lost luggage but this time hoped for recovery.

Looking forward to the TOG annual Dinner / Disco two weeks today on Saturday 13th January at Quorn Grange, Leicestershire, to get first hand accounts.   Bookings for our Annual Dinner / Disco are now near if not already at maximum.  Any last minute interest must be directed to Andy McWilliam - see the Social Page.