Trip on Kalel starting 2011-10-15 in BSANov11
Weekend trip from Milford Haven 15 - 16 October – report by skipper Jeff Birkin
The crew of Mike Berry, Chris Baxendale, Peter Wakeling and Rhian Philips and skipper Jeff Birkin arrived at Neyland Marina on Friday evening to find our intended Sun Odyssey 37 was being used for a course and exam. Fortunately, Kalel, a newer Sun Odyssey 36i was the available option and as it turned out, a superb option at that.
Kalel is in very good condition for 14,000 nm and is the only boat I can remember where all cooker burners ignite on the button and you can take pressure off the control within 3 seconds. Totally unheard of! It has a full set of instruments including a chart plotter above the chart table. The table itself can slide to cover the seat and give extra room for seating around the saloon table. All the rigging lines lead to the cockpit with the exception of the topping lift and out-haul. It is a joy to be able to report that everything on this boat worked and worked extremely well.
Something I had not seen on a boat of this class is the life raft stowed beneath the helm seat; a great idea in terms of safety. On the other hand, it makes the seat very low forcing the helm to stand. Unfortunately, the throttle is on the port side inner cockpit moulding, something I really struggle with. The only other gripe is the lack of hand and foot holds in the cockpit which, for a boat that sails this well, is disappointing.
That first night we had an excellent meal in the marina restaurant, clearly something of a local attraction and worth booking in advance.
Early on Saturday morning we set off in the calm waters of Milford Haven. With just 10-12 kts of wind, Kalel immediately rewarded us with 6.5 kts boat speed and continued to respond to every change of trim. No doubt this was partly due to the folding prop and partly the 2.1m keel and not our prowess at sail trimming.
Leaving the Haven and heading into open water, the winds built to over 20 kts with some lumpy seas. Although we were reefing early, Kalel seemed extremely stable. Passing south of Skokholm Island and rounding the west edge of Skomer, we pulled into North Haven, a steep sided bay that gives excellent shelter to sea and breeze from all points other than north. Using one of the visitors’ moorings, we watched seals play around the boat as we ate lunch. Lunch over, we headed for the tiny coastal village of Little Haven anchoring just off the beach and waiting a few hours for the tide to rise.
That evening we took the dinghy ashore for a very enjoyable meal in the Castle pub, immediately next to the slipway. Once back aboard, we raised the anchor and spent 15 minutes motoring a short distance west to a sheltered mooring we had earlier located beneath the cliff. It was a very comfortable night, punctuated by a few heavy rain showers.
Having packed away the dinghy, a relaxed start to Sunday saw us heading for Jack Sound, the eastern passage for Skomer. With several nasty rocks and the tide flowing through at up to 7 kts, this passage is hazardous for the unwary sailor. However, 2 hours after high or low water, the passage is at a stand for a short time and relatively safe to navigate. Unfortunately, the wind was heading us and we were forced to motor-sail for 20 mins to guarantee our suitable slot. With a dolphin following us in, we cleared the jagged rock strewn passage and headed for Milford Haven.
Arriving at Dale, just inside the west entrance of Milford Haven, we moored on the pontoon for lunch. A thoroughly enjoyable afternoon sail saw us arriving back at the marina just as rain began to fall. (It should be noted that at low tide, the entrance to the marina is extremely tight. With this depth of keel, you have to keep very close to the boats moored on the pontoon to port)
It was a really great weekend on an excellent boat in a superb sailing area. With good company, good food and a laugh, I think it should become a regular target for club charters.