2nd to 3rd September.  Our timings for this voyage were dictated by tide, which gets stronger as you progress up the Bristol Channel.  Some of the crew went ashore in the morning for a stroll round Tenby and we set off at 2pm after a quick phone call to the RNLI station next to us to ask their advice on rounding Worms Head (“go outside the cardinal mark, not through Helwick Swatch”).  

The wind was strong, up to F6 at times, but we were sailing on a beam reach so it was to our advantage. The swell was unpleasant, and we rocked and rolled our way across the bay, rounding Worms Head and into Oxwich bay by 6pm.  It was just after low tide and we could see a long sandy beach with some end-of-the-day holiday makers. There were two fishing boats on moorings and several more mooring buoys to avoid, so we chose our spot carefully, tucked into the side of the bay as far as we could, and dropped anchor. There isn’t much shelter and we were concerned that we would have a rather uncomfortable night. It wasn’t the gentlest of anchorages, but not as bad as it could have been.  And our night was rather short…

Four different phone-alarm ringtones woke us at 3.30am and we got up as efficiently and enthusiastically as we could, eager to catch the start of the easterly flowing tide at 4.00am. It was dark: the previous evening we had carefully observed where was clear of mooring and fishing buoys so we knew our route out of the anchorage.  We struggled a bit hoisting the mainsail in the dark and freeing up reefing lines but we succeeded, and set off on a course well clear of the shallow Scarweather sands and Nash banks.

Sailing in the dark

The lights of Swansea Bay and Port Talbot were the backdrop for the first light of dawn, and after a couple of hours the sun rose. The wind was a little less strong than the previous day, apart from some gusty patches (up to 28 knots at one point) and we had between 3 and 4 knots of tide in our favour, so over the ground we were going 9 or 10 knots.  Sustained by porridge and bacon rolls, we made very good time and we rounded Lavernock point and headed north towards the channel into Cardiff Bay by 9.30am.  We were quickly settled into Penarth Quay marina, which is within the solid Victorian stone walls of the old dock, feeling rather weather-beaten and ready for a warm shower and an early lunch. We’re looking forward to exploring Cardiff Bay, an area of dockland which has been significantly redeveloped and is now a thriving quarter of the city. It is home to the Sennedd (Welsh Parliament), a beautiful modern concert hall and the imposing terracotta Pierhead building, built in the 19th century as the centre of operations for the major industry of transporting coal by ship around the world.

Cardiff Bay
  • Distance: 23nm Tenby to Oxwich, 44nm Oxwich to Cardiff. Sailed 9h 45m
  • Wind: W/SW4-6, W/NW4-6


On our passage ‘Around These Islands’ Anne is writing about each trip, and Jonathan is writing some more ‘technical’ blogs, from our perspective as ordinary cruising sailors. We are sharing what we’ve learned, and welcome your thoughts too. Please remember that this blog – and your comments – are public.

There’s also a special focus on 12 key ports on our planned route, with articles from These Islands and a series of podcasts from Chrome Media called ‘Around These Islands in 12 Ports’.


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