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Ipswich to Pwithelli via lands end in December

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    Hi All

    We are now the very proud owners of a beautifully kept Nauticat 42, hull number 26. We would like to thank everyone who has advised us over the past year especially Colin and Victoria Lister, the previous owners.

    So she is currently located in Ipswich, uk and we would like to get her to Pwithelli, North Wales in early December. (600 miles) Has anyone any experience doing this trip at this time of year? Should we leave it until the days get a bit longer? Is it advisable to do it in 1 go?

    We are so chuffed with the boat, looking forward to meeting up sometime.


    Graham and Mandy

    John Crump

    Graham & Mandy,
    Congratulations on your acquisition! For planning this trip, you might consult Darren Hughes ( who made a similar trip from Brighton in a Nauticat 38. You will find a report on his trip under the Cruising Logs at:
    Regards, John Crump

    David Babsky

    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 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 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’.


    Hi, Graham and Mandy,
    Congratulations, a great decision to get a Nauticat 42 they are great cruising boats.
    I am a Nauticat 42 owner, living in Paignton close to the water,and have sailed this area extensively for some years in and out of Dartmouth.
    I read with interest your obvious enthusiasm to “get going to Pwllheli”….but for what it’s worth to you, this is my view.
    Your boat is new to you and I am not aware of your experience but the journey you are planning is not for the feint hearted at this time of year.
    The winds are almost always SW or WSW, along this coast to Lands End ….in short…on the nose all the way, believe me it’s hard work, unless you have a good competent crew to help, the tides are a governing factor all along this coastline and the days are short,and when you get around Lands End into the Irish Sea it’s not a great place to sail in the winter ….to say the least.

    Why not sail in and out of Ipswich for the winter….get to know your boat..they are forgiving and very enjoyable boats to sail….I sail mine alone at all times, and am not a young man…..then when the weather is better next year take two to three weeks for the journey…stopping along the way at some of the best places in the U.K. to visit along the coastline…I can assure you the wait will be worth it, that’s what these beautiful boats are all about…and you won’t need a big crew.
    If you have to go now, you have a great boat, but from experience I suggest the best you would average along the south coast would be no more than 5 probably a maximum of 50 miles a day…daylight hours…that’s two weeks to Pwllheli,also bear in mind that at present most marinas and chandlers are subject to the lock down rules,and any help you may need would be restricted.
    The one thing I can assure you of…when you get to know her….you’ll always have a smile when you sail her.
    Best wishes.
    Lyndon Craig….ps. That’s my Nauticat 42 in the website photo.

    Mark Ashley-Miller

    Many congrats Graham and Mandy
    I bought my 331 in 2018 and am still in love with her.
    My advice is to go slowly and enjoy all the beautiful harbours / scenery on the way.
    I have only done the passage Dartmouth to Pwllheli – but I did visit every harbour in between!
    I have met all the Harbour Masters on the way ( I am doing a charity challenge to meet them)
    I would strongly recommend calling in at these harbours which all have good facilities, good shelter and outstanding Harbour Masters:
    Newlyn (rather than Penzance)
    Bristol – if you have time!
    Cardiff – ditto
    Milford Haven
    If you would like any more advice please phone me 07817845775 or
    Instagram @harbourmastersailingchallenge



    Thanks for the great advice, we wont be doing any overnights. I think we may do 7 day sails and hopefully get as far as Plymouth and leave her there until around March next year. Hopefully we can bump into each other on the way.

    Again many thanks


    PS I did the trip, totally unprepared, in a MacWester 33 ketch 30 years ago (Isle of Wight to Liverpool) but it was around the longest day and I did have the indestructability of youth on my side.

    David Babsky

    That sounds about right!

    All the best!

    Michael Fenton

    The other way, that is the east coast is a another option. Perhaps leaving the boat at Amble over winter, then next season a relaxed return to N Wales via Caledonian Canal. We did this with the boat we bought in Essex. The only longish leg is Lowestoft to Whitby.
    Mike Fenton

    Roger Sturge

    I bought my NC33 in Ipswich but I had reasons for staying in that area for a time and had two and a half good seasons on the East coast from Woodbridge to Ramsgate and Limehouse. As I live in Bristol the plan was eventually to bring her round to the Bristol Channel via Lands End. However, I also had a dream of circumnavigation. With that and the thought of prevailing winds on the South coat, and that I had already twice been as far as Falmouth (in Arthur Ransome’s Nancy Blackett) I decided to go the long way round and take the opportunity of enjoying my favourite cruising grounds on the Scottish West coast on the way. Lowestoft to Hartlepool was the only passage involving an overnight sail. I took a break at Arbroath Harbour (very friendly, good rail connection). I spent 2018 based near Oban and set off South to my new home port at Cardiff Bay yacht Club in 2019 – incidentally stopping one night at Pwllheli, having been in Porthmadog where the tides don’t work for a passage South. I took two breaks (divorce prevention and crew change), one at Ardrossan on the Clyde – a large but efficient marina) and Conwy where there’s a choice of two marinas on opposite sides of the river. The one on the East is more accessible by train. We took two days from Conwy to Porthmadog, anchoring overnight at Porthdinllaen.

    I think Lyndon Craig’s advice is good – the sailing in the Ipswich area is first rate, second only to the Hebrides in my book. But you might want to take the break further North than Amble. I was happy with Arbroath as a break on the way to Oban but you could think of Inverness for a more even division of the passage from Ipswich Pwllheli. Stonehaven is a lovely little port but not a good place to leave your boat. Peterhead is a big marina and quiet (across the bay from the main town), but a bit soulless for my liking. If you haven’t been through the Caledonian Canal, it’s idyllic. And we enjoyed the Crinan as well unless you opt for the Mull of Kintyre.

    What ever you decide, have a wonderful passage.

    Roger Sturge

    Michael Fenton

    Actually I agree with Roger, splitting at Inverness could be a good option as good transport links and a large marina. Then re-start with a warm up through the Caledonian Canal. Amble is a little far south but an excellent marina. Lossiemouth is interesting! Anyway, have a wonderful adventure. Mike Fenton

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