RBC Leg 11. 18th - 28th August. Liverpool to Padstow. NRHQ
Maj Robin Bolton RA Skipper
Maj Philip Godsall-Stanton Mate
Maj Tony Stevens RE Day skipper
Maj Steve White REME Day skipper
Maj Lizzie Stileman RLC Competent crew
Maj Scott Sloan RA
Wed 18 Aug
As a National Reserve unit, getting everyone to the start point was always going to be a bit of a challenge but the team successfully arrived at Liverpool marina to meet our skipper, Maj Robin Bolton who was remaining on St Barbara V from the previous leg. We were met with the disappointing news that there was a significant engine issue that would need to be repaired before we could set sail. In the mean time we went shopping to replenish the cupboards and get acquainted with the local area.
Thu 19 to Sun 22 Aug
It turned out that fixing the engine was even more challenging than expected forcing an extended stay in Liverpool. We made the most of seeing the city, learning more about the specifics of the boat and Maj Sloan got stuck into the theory parts of the competent crew course.
Mon 23 Aug
With the early morning arrival of the critical replacement part for the fuel injection system, we were repaired and raring to go. By the time everything was signed off by the engineer we were committed to slipping off at midnight to catch the high water lock out and a night transit of the Mersey, along the North Wales coast towards Anglesey.
Liverpool by Night
Tue 24 Aug
Following a calm passage, we arrive off Beaumaris on Anglesey early on Tue morning with glorious weather and a fantastic view across the Menai Straits to Snowdonia. To make sure we get through the Straits safely we had a slight pause as we waited for a favourable tide to get us through the Swellies.
Before long the tide turned and we made our way through the Menai Straits, under both bridges and moored up in Caernarfon to grab some much needed sleep!
We made the most of a glorious evening and had a look around historic Caernarfon and its ancient walls and castle before visiting the Royal Welsh Yacht Club who are housed in the walls of Caernarfon Castle.
Wed 25 Aug
We left Caernarfon bright and early to make our way to Bardsey Island off the Llyn peninsula of North Wales. As the plan was to conduct another night sail, the crew split into watches and we made the most of the best conditions of the entire trip to get the main and yankee sail up and were soon making 9 knots. On arrival at Bardsey Island we dropped anchor, had some food and watched the seals basking on some nearby rocks as we waited for the tides that would help us across Cardigan Bay.
Thu 26 Aug
We raised anchor late in the evening of the 25th and set off across Cardigan Bay. The wind dropped, the sea was flat and as the night wore on visibility started to reduce as mist and sea fog started to build.
After crossing Cardigan Bay, we negotiated Ramsey Sound and dropped anchor in Porthlysgi Bay for a well earned snooze followed by a very bracing swim for some!
Once we were feeling suitably refreshed, we raised the anchor for a short move across St Brides Bay to Skomer Island before making our final leg of the day to Dale Bay in Milford Haven. As none of us had been to Milford Haven before we were all surprised to find it wasn't just a huge oil and gas terminal but large areas of it were actually very picturesque. We moored alongside a floating pontoon we had been told about a few days before by a local and planned the following days activities.
Fri 27 Aug
After another early start we said goodbye to Dale Bay and spent the morning making sure Maj Sloan had completed everything he needed for his Competent Crew practical and his theory exam.
That done, we started our final move further into Milford Haven before mooring at Neyland marina. The weather remained fine making the cleaning of the boat much more agreeable than it could have been.
Our last night on the boat saw the RSM of NRHQ RA visit the team to hear the stories of the voyage and our extended time in Liverpool.
With the food itemised, the boat cleaned and the oilskins sized and ready for the next crew from 29 Cdo Regt RA, we enjoyed our final night on board before heading off on some fairly epic journeys to get home, none more so than the skipper who had a full day drive to get back to his home in Newcastle.
We have all had a fantastic time, despite our initial engineering setback, and have found the whole experience both challenging at times and rewarding. We want to thank the RAYC for delivering the expedition and our skipper, Maj Robin Bolton for making the week challenging, interesting and fun.
Best wishes to 29 Cdo for the final leg and getting St Barbara back to Gosport in time for the RA Regatta.