Navigating The Swellies - Menai Strait - North Wales

Beverley was wondering about the passage and worrying about the length of time it would take. So we got the maps out and I saw immediately where she was going wrong. It was the same mistake that I had made the previous day, in that she was reading the wrong scale. She was reading the scale of the main map, rather than the scale of the insert. I showed her what she was doing wrong and it was like a light bulb going off in her head. She saw what she had done wrong and a huge weight was taken off her shoulders and now we knew that we could get there with plenty of time.

We had to leave early, as the boat that normally moors on the mooring that we had borrowed had already turned up, but was tied up on the pier waiting for us to depart. So we slipped the mooring and motored down to the council moorings which are free to use, while you wait for the tide to turn in your favour.

Calculating when the tide is in your favour can be quite a challenge. In the key phrase is "High Water Slack (HWS) at the Swellies is about 2 hrs before High Water Liverpool". Unfortunately, we have two High waters for Liverpool. Liverpool (Alfred Dock) and Liverpool (Gladstone Dock) and there are a few minutes difference between them. However, it is the Gladstone Dock one that they are referring too, as that is the main port for Liverpool.

After waiting until just before the slack, we slipped the mooring and motored down to the mid point of the first bridge. Both Beverley and I had read the pilotage several times, but as we were going through, I was calling out each section of the passage so that we got the order correct.

  • Pass under the central point of Menai bridge
  • Head for the Swellies Rock Perch until you have passed the platters
  • Then head for the mid point between the Swellies Rock perch and Prices Point, a mark very close to the shore.
  • Once through the mid point, head for the flag pole, just by the cottage in the middle of the channel
  • Look for the transit markers, on the Britannia Bridge
  • Once on the transit line follow it until you are abeam of the white pyramid
  • Now head for the centre of the first span of Britannia bridge
  • After Britannia Bridge head for Nelsons statue and then you are done
It's an action packed little passage, made all the harder, by the shear amount of traffic that are using the channel at the same time. On top of the other yachts, there was jet skis, which Beverley christened Jet Fleas, that went past at 20knots, kicking up a lot of wake. It was a calm day, when we went through the Swellies, so we had very little wind to deal with but I can imagine that the passage could be a lot harder than the experience that we had.
Once we had successfully navigated the Swellies, we went past a yacht that we had put an offer in on, that was now moored up on the river. The yacht was very similar to Salty Lass, but it has two cabins at the back rather than one. It also had a lot smaller V-Birth as the toilet was at the front. I'm glad that our offer was not accepted, as Salty Lass is just a better boat for us.
We then went into Port Dinorwic which is a harbour wall again, but this time they did not have risers but instead had a long line, that was clearly been designed to fit another boat perfectly. Once we were moored up, it was time for a cup of tea and a relax.