On 23rd of April, 2014 at 6:30 am we weighed anchor for the last time for the season at St George's and started the trip to St David's. We made this trip once last year, starting at Clarke's Court, which is located at the middle of the south coast, St David's being almost at the east end. However we had sailed (motored really) from St George's to Clarke's Court countless times last year, so we know the way like the palm of our hands. I did not feel the need to look at my chart, since the yellow GPS tracks from last year show the safe path, a band really, after saving our multiple trips.
The winds were expected to be 15-20 from south east - our luck really, the worst direction for the wind, since the swells hit from the side, coupled with the current being against as well.
About 45 minutes after starting, we came to the south-west corner (Saline Point) with the help of the favorable current up to there. Once one turns east, one is caught at the washing machine where two opposing currents meet. Since there is also a small island to the south (Glower Island), very close to the shore, the current in the channel between is the strongest.
We turned east and soldiered on. The most we could do was 4 knots, but mostly 3. Thankfully the way is not that long, and we know all the danger points, first The Porpoises, the three rocks at the south of Prickly Point, which are kind of visible in calmer weather, but almost awash in high swells. But we know where to look, so spotted them. In fact, passing close to Prickly is safer than going too far.
The next danger is Tara shoal before Hog Island, and we know that too. The green colour of the reefs are almost visible and quite far when taking a dead east route from Prickly, instead of turning towards the Calivgny Point. Entrance to Clark's Court is marked by a series of green buoys, which come quite far to the south. We had safely entered many times as our tracks show. While slowly progressing among the swells which looked like mountains coming towards us, I saw one swell that crashed quite violently at our port side, quite close to us. We both saw the depth finder showing 8 ft under us. Al immediately swerved to starboard, and reached the 25 ft zone, running parallel to the coast. Then we remembered that the first green buoy marking the shoal of 12 ft at the GPS map is not existing. The first time we entered Clark's Court, we had wondered about that, and thought that it was not necessary. It became obvious that when the seas are high, there is no margin of error for the lowest point of the swell. That was scary, and again complacency. This time it was my fault, if I had looked, I would have forced Al to keep a safe distance.
After 3 hours, we reached the rock that marks the east side of the bay of St David's. Entrance to the bay is also tricky because of the reefs at the middle, but well marked. However, while turning to north to enter the bay, a huge wave crashed over us and soaked both of us at the helm, at the very last moment. But hey, we were there. The way was unexpectedly memorable. Usually we avoid sailing in adverse conditions, but when pressed for time, one does not have much choice.
We docked at the marina (at one of three berths) but the rolls were unbelievable. Al was convinced that the lines were going to brake the cleats on the boat by pulling on one and the other in turns. And the noise, it was not possible to sleep all night.
The next morning at 8:30 am, Ruyam II got transported to land, to a convenient location, right across the gate to the marina.
We worked for three days to get it ready to close up. When we leave it clean and make it air tight, is stays free of mold or dust. Then we said good by to RUYAM II until November.