Dear Graham and Mandy,
If you’re both used to day-&-night ocean racing at 17-21 knots, then you might want to go all-in-one from Ipswich to Pwllheli non-stop. But as you’ve bought a slow, cruising Nauticat, I’d think probably not!
“Should we leave it until the days get a bit longer?..” ..Yes. Daylight in December is what, 8am to about 4pm ..say 8 hours a day. In 8 hours, at 8 knots, you’d do about 60 miles, depending on what the tides and currents are doing. After about 8 hours you’ll be getting tired, and you’ll want a rest ..especially as it’ll get dark, and you’ll become a bit worried about what you might hit, or – if close to the coast – what you might snag, for instance unseen lobster pots somewhere near Eastbourne, so that’ll put more strain on you and you’ll want to keep checking your course as you won’t be able to actually SEE where you’re going!
“..Is it advisable to do it in 1 go?” ..No. You’ll become very, very weary. You say it’s 600 miles ..perhaps as the crow flies, but Ipswich to Dover is 80 miles (..though I’d stop at Ramsgate to pull in; it’s a nicer place, and simpler and easier for mooring up..) and it’s not much fun trying to feel your way into a harbour and moor up after the light has gone.
Ramsgate on to Eastbourne is 63 miles ..8 hours at 8 knots ..that’s if you judge the tides right. And, of course, the tides may not coincide with when there’s the most daylight!
Eastbourne to Portsmouth, about 65 miles – that’s another 8 hours at 8 knots. Portsmouth to Weymouth, about 60 miles ..and so on, around the English and Welsh coasts.
With sails up of course – though you’d often be going AGAINST the prevailing wind from Ipswich up to Land’s End – you may go faster: we did 11.5 knots with a gale behind us from Weymouth to Brighton once, and that’s in a Nauticat 33..! But our AVERAGE speed is 7 knots, and that’s what I work on when plotting any trip anywhere.
I’ve done long trips – intended to be non-stop – taking other people’s boats from, say, Goole (near Hull) to Penryn (near Falmouth) ..but struggling through the night when the tide’s turned, and the wind’s against you ..you want a bit of a break after 24 hours. It all depends on how many – COMPETENT – crew you have aboard. Other trips have been from Peterhead to the Crouch ..but stopping at Amble; Hull to the Thames, but stopping at Gt Yarmouth ..you get the picture.
So, non-stop in winter from Ipswich to Pwllheli? ..I very much doubt it unless you have at least 4 COMPETENT crew / navigators, a competent radio operator, plenty of spares (engine oil, gearbox oil, flushing oil, fuel filters, spare rubber engine hoses, big first aid kit, LOTS of relevant spanners and wrenches and sea-sickness pills, very bright small torches and spare batteries, lifebelts, charts, a Reed’s, full tanks and accurate fuel gauges) ..and intend to stop and refill with fuel when two-thirds empty. You’ll need a couple of spare engine drive belts – just in case – and lots of tea, hot water, biscuits and warmth!
Do read that log which John mentions – above – and you’ll see that they did the trip from Brighton to Pwllheli in FOUR legs, not one non-stop ..and that was in the SUMMER! Note that the log ends with “Total distance (Brighton to Pwllheli) 507nm, Average speed: 6.75kn, Time: 75hrs”.
With all best wishes,
David & Silke, ‘NAUTILIA’.