1255Arnside is for the brave
- Aug 26, 2016One of my temporary neighbours in Fleetwood Marina was the owner of a rather stylish powered cabin cruiser of the 1960s, a Huntress, by Fairey Marine. He is also a sailing man, and we share a particular interest in the GP14.
When in the course of conversation I mentioned my plans to cruise the ports in the upper part of Morecambe Bay he said "You will get to Morecambe with no problems, but Arnside is for the brave, although they do take boats up there."
There are no charts this far up, because the channels change so frequently that any charts would be out of date by the time they were published. Up to date local knowledge reigns supreme, and without that one relies on a seaman's eye and on the depth sounder.
In recent days I have made a point of seeking out local knowledge, and comments have included (1) beware of the bore - weigh anchor in advance, stem the tide under engine, and take the bore on the stem; (2) "We take dinghies up there, go ashore for an ice cream, and come back on the same tide" (this is from Morecambe); (3) the tide goes round in a loop, the flood goes up some way off shore and then loops back close inshore, the moorings used to be close inshore, and the boats there do not swing - first they lie to the flood coming back down after making the loop, then they lie to the normal ebb; (4) Arnside is for the the brave.
My depth sounder is not to be trusted; it is good enough to be useful much of the time, but it is sometimes spectacularly wrong. It is one half of a Tridata combined instrumentation system which is overdue for replacement , and indeed this is on the wish list when affordable, but other priorities come first.
I locked out of the marina on the top of the tide, and wanted the flood to go further up the bay, so spent the night at anchor in the river. At crack of dawn, just after (the next) HW I motored downriver, to anchor over the bank just east of the Fairway buoy. Come LW I was ready to catch the first of the flood up the Bay, and having just seen the Isle of Man ferry steam past there was clearly ample depth at least as far as Heysham.
Wind very light, and on the nose, so gave up sailing and motored at little more than tickover with the flood tide under me, consistently making better than 4 knots SOG, until just short of Morecambe - by which time I was beyond the paper charts, and on the limit of the chartset on the plotter. Then, with the chartplotter insisting that I was fully within the Kent Channel, and the echosounder resolutely insisting that I had 5.2 feet under me, I had the keel rubbing hard on the bottom. Dropped anchor, raised rudder blade and drop keel, and sat in a tide about as strong as those in the Mersey; I estimate 4 knots, at least, perhaps 6, and this was on neaps! I see where the bore comes from in the upper reaches.
When I later mentioned this to my contact at Morecambe Sailing Club his comment was "That is not unknown!"
Aborted Arnside for the day, and when the tide had risen (and the rate slackened off) I went into Morecambe instead. I did hope to try for Arnside and back again on this evening's tide, from Morecambe, but by today it was blowing force 5 and generating a nasty swell, and coming back I would have had wind against tide into the bargain. Wind had been forecast to drop by this evening, but was late in doing so, and my anchorage was so thoroughly uncomfortable that I moved to better shelter.
Aborted Arnside for this cruise; Arnside is indeed for the brave, and on this occasion the conditions weren't right.