Odyssey to Whitehaven

February 9, 2018

Written by Simon Harrison – Ulysses II

The decision, finally to buy a yacht, was not so much born of a mid-life crisis (how could it be if I don’t expect to live to be 122?), but rather the realisation that yacht ownership would probably be now or never.  Of course, you should never buy the first boat you see, especially if that boat is in Lymington and you live in Wakefield, but, there again, Ulysses II is a bit of a gem!

Having taken the plunge, and had the boat on-shore for a re-fit over the winter, there was the question of where to keep it?  West Yorkshire isn’t an ideal base for yacht ownership and it boiled down to a choice of the Humber or the North-West Coast.  A long-standing love of the Lake District made it easy to choose Whitehaven as a sailing base.  So far, so good, it was now just a question of getting Ulysses from Southampton to Cumbria – not bad for a first outing!

Departure from the boatyard on the Itchen in early May was, inevitably, an hour later than planned, meaning the fuel pontoon had closed before we arrived.  Another hour disappeared while trying to work out how to get the number one jib to work with the roller reefing system – no luck, so back to the genoa and off towards Southampton Water and the Solent.  Cruise liners and container ships dwarfed the yachts that were out as the tide carried us, in the gathering gloom, to Yarmouth where we moored up in the dark.

The following days saw Ulysses II making good progress down the Channel, with the good fortune of having a spell of easterly winds.  Weymouth, Dartmouth, Falmouth and Newlyn were successive overnight stops as the miles were eaten up, tidal overfalls dodged and landmarks ticked off – the Needles, Portland Bill, Start Point, Eddystone rocks, the Lizard.

The final leg of that week was from Newlyn to Milford Haven.  Rounding Land’s End, broad reaching along the inshore channel in a steady force four was a spectacular highlight.  The wind died as night fell, leaving a long, moonlit motor sail across the Celtic Sea and an arrival into Milford just before dawn.

Six weeks later, Ulysses II, with new crewmates, set off from Milford Marina – after another tousle with the roller reefing, involving a trip up the mast for Felix (a German philosopher with no feline characteristics, other than a propensity to sleep for hours on end)!  As we headed North, we had overnight stops at Fishguard, Pwllheli, Holyhead and Douglas and memorable moments that included experiencing swirling, chaotic water in Ramsey Sound – despite timing the passage at slack tide, a horrible swell developing overnight in our Fishguard anchorage, porpoises in Cardigan Bay, entering Pwllheli just in time to catch a late pub dinner, the Holyhead cliff scenery and a brilliant whistle-stop bus tour of the Isle of Man.

This Ulysses’ odyssey concluded with a night crossing from Douglas to journey’s end at Whitehaven.  A wonderful last passage, lit up by neon-brilliant phosphorescence on the bow wave, and finishing with a warm welcome from the sea-lock team.


Ulysses in Weymouth


Fixing a forestay problem in Milford Marina


Westward down the channel


Filed under: Latest News — Whitehaven Marina @ 12:31 pm