Dee estuary rally 2017

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Dee estuary rally 2017

John Hughes 2457
Dee estuary rally, Wirral, June 3rd-4th 2017.
Contact John Hughes 0151 632 0178, [hidden email]
Launch/recover Dove Point, Meols, north Wirral coast, within an hour of HW.
HW: Sat Jun 3, 07h00, 19h50; Sun Jun 4, 08h15, 20h50.
Either day-sail, Sat or Sun, out morning, return on evening flood, or sleep aboard overnight.

The rally this year coincides with neap tides, with HW morning and evening, and therefore offers a variety of options for both day-sailors and those prepared to sleep aboard. Day-sailors may launch in the morning, stay out all day between tides and recover on the evening flood. Sleepers aboard have the opportunity to explore some unusual anchorages within the estuary where it will be possible to dry out overnight. The main constraints are that launch/recovery at Meols is only feasible within about an hour of HW, and the time of HW in the morning will require an early start, around 07h00 Saturday and 08h15 Sunday. Given the early start, I suggest that people arrive the night before. I am happy to offer accommodation in Meols (close to the slipway) to anyone wishing to stay ashore overnight, either a spare bed, floor space, or space to pitch a tent or park a camper van, either on Friday, Saturday or Sunday. Moorings could be had at Dove Point, Meols, for anyone wishing to launch on Friday evening.

The rally this year also coincides with Hoylake, West Kirby and Dee SC's Commodores' Cruise on the Sunday. A great variety of vessels will set sail at HW on Sunday morning from the three clubs, from Meols, from West Kirby and from Thurstaston, and converge to anchor on the West Hoyle Bank in the vicinity of the HE4 (green) buoy, there to dry out for the day to barbecue, drink beer and play ball games. In previous years I have seen up to 70 vessels gathered on the bank, from kayaks and wind surf boards to ocean going yachts, and traditional designs to racing catamarans. The fleet will return home on the evening tide.  Essentially this is a grand cruise in company, a transient migration of sailing humanity, completely ephemeral, gone by the next tide, the sand washed clean, all trace of it having been obliterated. Support boats will be available throughout the day to ferry people to and from the mainland shore. DCA members will be welcome to mingle, or not, as they please.

Given suitable weather, I personally hope to sail on Saturday morning, stay out the whole weekend, and return Sunday evening. There are a number of possibilities for interesting explorations. One would be to sail into the estuary on Saturday and with the afternoon flood sail into the upper reaches of the estuary to explore the saltings towards Parkgate, there to find a sheltered spot to dry out overnight. Then Sunday morning, sail down with the ebb to join the party on the West Hoyle Bank, then sail home on the Sunday evening flood. But various other options are possible, including simply anchoring overnight at Hilbre, as has been done in the past. Given very settled conditions, it is possible to anchor overnight in the Welshman's Gut in the lee of the W Hoyle Bank; here one spends the night in the company of seals.

Sailing from Meols into the Dee estuary involves passage outside the E Hoyle Bank, an exposed sea passage where the seas can be boisterous and possibly intimidating with a NW breeze of force 4 or more. Other possible launch sites within the estuary on the Wirral shore are (1) West Kirby, at the S end of the marine lake by West Kirby SC, and (2) Thurstaston, Dee lane, by the Dee SC. Launching is also possible from the Welsh shore at (3) Greenfield, (4) Flint, and (5) Connah's Quay, but I have no experience of the latter. Sailing from West Kirby to the West Hoyle Bank would be a more sheltered passage, but note however that seas can also build within the estuary, especially with NW breeze against the first half of the ebb in the main channels where streams run strongest; after HW+3h the surrounding banks start to dry and afford some shelter. Having dutifully issued these warnings, sailing in the estuary in gentle conditions is a delight!

More detailed pilotage notes for small boats sailing in the estuary may be found here: Dee Estuary Pilotage Notes

Please let me know in advance if you plan to attend in order to discuss details.