Round Britain – days 14 and 15

Crossing the Bristol Channel – Days 14 and 15
Once round Land’s End you are committed to a long passage, either up to Padstow, across to Milford Haven, or further west to Ireland. We opted for the latter, as the wind was free and we were storming along at 7 to 8 knots with tide under us. The ocean makes itself felt here, with big lazy swells lifting the boat. Heading north as night fell, we had entertainment from ship-dodging. Not many seem to traverse the Irish Sea north to south these days, but we were inevitably encountering them as the traffic separation schemes off the Smalls funnels them through. Not a problem with AIS, (automatic identification system) which shows a little ship icon on the chartplotter, closest point of approach and info about the ship. We could easily keep clear. A car transporter vessel going into Avonmouth altered course for us (the Radar target enhancer works OK then!), but unfortunately 10 degrees in the wrong direction, so we just slowed down until he went sliding past.
Two hours on and two off was the regime through the night, so Andy and I were pretty bushed by the morning. Dolphins were cheering the spirits; we had three groups come and play around the boat, diving from one side to the other, surfacing just in front of the bows and generally frolicking about. You could hear their sonar from inside the boat. I like to think we get a lot of visits from them because the underneath of ‘Nellinui’ looks a bit like two large upside-down dolphins, but that’s probably romantic nonsense. We have definitely had pairs of them imitating the motion of the boat through the water, as if to say “Hah, we can do that synchronised stuff too!”
The wind carried us along through the night, but died away as dawn broke, so we motored from there on. A pity, but unless you are prepared to jill around for hours way out at sea, inevitable.
The SE corner of Ireland rose slowly above the horizon, and we decided to anchor off Rosslare harbour. Mistake was not to check the tides, so we had a good hour motoring past Tuskar Rock against the flow until we could drop the hook safely away from the commercial port for a gentle quiet night and blissful sleep.