Another sea trial today. Out of Portishead Harbour up channel to the Second Servern Crossing and back on the turn of the tide.
No “sinkings or drownings” though a lot of diesel fumes and some litres lost due to the fuel tank filler nozzle fracturing off in the “moderate to severe” seas in force 5/6 – spray right over the top of the boat and front of the boat completely under water at times! A bit of a baptism of fire for my young son, but he coped admirably.
We had 3 serious close encounters with a large dredger off Avonmouth that Boat Beacon really helped with. First off, Boat Beacon started flashing that the dredger was on a collision course with us even though visually it looked like it was sideways on passing behind us. The currents are deceptive. We could find out the name of the ship immediately from Boat Beacon, UKD BLUEFIN, and thus radio it to ask what its intentions were. Unfortunately no reply on VHF channel 16. Then we heard another Boat call up the Bristol port authority (VTS) on channel 12 about the ship to ask what it was doing. If we hadn’t known the ship’s name we would not have appreciated the value of the subsequent radio dialogue. It was dredging just outside the port and would turn round to go back in to port to continue its dredging. So although we thought it was headed straight for us – it turned and went back and we carried on.
An hour later on our return down estuary to Portishead the ‘Death Star dredger’ BLUEFIN came out of Avonmouth yet again headed straight for us on our port side. We were hoping/thinking it might just turn around again to head back in to continue dredging. We radio’d the Port Authority to ask what its intentions were. No. This time it had finished dredging for the day and was really heading for us on its way to drop its load on the spoil ground off Portishead. So we made a speed and course change to pass behind it.
Home stretch. Sea state moderate , waves still breaking over the canopy, dredger on the horizon, sideways on to us and stationary on Boat Beacon, only 2NM to go to Portishead Marina. Time for a cup of tea. Alarm. Dreaded Dredger heading straight for us again! It had completed dumping and was returning to Avonmouth – at 10 Kts and 1 NM off. Time for a 90 degree course change. The challenge was whether to head out to sea towards Wales to pass port to port (accepted behaviour) or head in towards shallow water where the dredger should not go. Heading out risked missing Portishead altogether – we couldn’t beat the tide that was now running at 3 Kts- and might have to spend another 3 hours of heavy wind over tide waves to Cardiff. Boat Beacon gave me the confidence that we could make the dash for shallow water – which we did………(see red arrow on screen shot below)
The long straight white dotted track line leading North is the bug we discovered in the first day of Sea trials – fixed for the next release of SeaNav.