CALM SEAS, BIG TIDES
Our cruise started at Dale, tucked into the mouth of the Milford Haven waterway. While tidal timings do not limit access to the Haven, the passage eastwards past Linney Head and St Govan’s Head is subject to currents of up to 4 knots; trying to sail against such an adverse flow is somewhat frustrating. Wise sailors time their departure to coincide with the flood tide as it sweeps up the Bristol Channel to Gloucester and the River Severn. Indeed, the tidal range of the Bristol Channel is the second highest in the world; Dale’s peak range is over 7.5m while Avonmouth’s can exceed 14m. It is not only the tide that can hamper eastward progress; the Castlemartin Firing Range is generally active during the week, and the exclusion zone can extend 12 miles offshore, though the detour can be as little as three miles. When in use, Range Control boats are on patrol to busily shepherd intruders to safety.
For the Friday of our trip the update line (on 01646 662367) told us that the range was inactive. We enjoyed reaching in a gentle southwesterly from St Ann’s Head to Linney Head, where we were careful to give the inconveniently placed Crow Rock a wide berth; drying at 5.5m, this ship-killer is usefully marked by a beacon. The flood tide gave us a swift passage past the cliffs, and we managed to spot St Govan’s lonely chapel in its hidden cleft in the rocks before rounding St Govan’s Head. We elected to stop for coffee and a walk at Broad Haven, a delightful anchorage and beach midway between St Govan’s Head and Stackpole Head with direct foot access to Bosherton’s Lily Ponds. The bay was well sheltered and the waters round Church Rock calm. After stretching our legs on the picturesque network of paths round the Lily Ponds we continued our passage towards Tenby.
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