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6 May, 2013 3:35
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Taking Top Cat back to Porthmadog 1993

Liverpool to Porthmadog - Spring 1993

In late 1992 Top Cat had been moved to Fiddler's Ferry yacht haven to have her a little closer to home so Albert could work on her throughout the winter months.

In spring 1993 it was time to return Top Cat from Fiddlers Ferry Yacht Haven back to her home port of Porthmadog. The crew for this delivery trip would be my father Al, my friends Simon (Tig) and Andy; including of course myself. We had chosen Easter weekend to give ourselves three days to complete the trip. The day before my father and I had sailed Top Cat up from Fiddlers Ferry to Liverpool Marina in order to take on provisions and make it easier for the crew to get to the boat early in the morning.


  Albert waits on Top Cat while they fight to open the gates at Fiddler's Ferry yacht haven  
  Andy hung over at Liverpool marina  

Liverpool morning!

Andy found this early morning sailing rather uncomfortable, this was also to be his first ever experience of sailing.

Alongside I make an early start attempting to stop the heat exchanger from leaking, it had sprung a leak some time over winter and was happily emptying itself out into the raw water cooling outlet.As we left we turned straight into the tide, about 6kts of tide. You do not get a choice at Liverpool marina. .

  Julian trying to keep engines serviceable for the trip home  
  From a week earlier, Top Cat in the lock at Liverpool Marina, Albert and Vicky on board  

They tell you which lock out you are booked for, so if you are first it usually means about 2hrs before high water, it will be another hour before it begins to slacken off. I could not repair the leak, the whole outlet end of the alloy heat exchanger on the vetus had corroded, I tried to rebuild it with glass fibre and gasket seal as a kind of get it going measure, but it was having none of it. There was nothing else on board of any use..


The Mersey

We became familiar with a few of the crews we see here as the boats might as well have been at anchor. It took well over an hour before we made any progress at all and then it was a slog.

Once the excitement and over revved diesels had calmed down and we could see through the black soot in this small area of the river, there was quite a camaraderie building up between the boaters.

  Top Cat Leaving Liverpool marina and stopped dead in the spring tide  
  Julian comes up for daylight from working on the engine  

During this 'quiet time', Julian was sent below to attempt a repair on the heat exchange unit on the port engine, a 2cyl vetus. After trying every epoxy and similar on board to no avail he gave up and we would have to rely on a single engine to get back to Porthmadog.

North Wales

Andy being ever vain steered from New Brighton until we were past Rhyl, he was shocked that everyone was happy for him to do this; this being his first trip too, well the novelty of steering wears off rather quickly.

We arrived at Beaumaris late afternoon and picked up a mooring, choosing not to travel the Swellies in the dark. 

  Andy on the helm of Top Cat  
  Top Cat moored off Beaumaris  


We Spent the next morning on a mooring at Beaumaris. Andy and Tig went off in the dinghy to bring back breakfast.

Later we would all go ashore for a wander about and could not help but notice people with inflatable beach toys.

So we had to buy an inflatable hammer, I don't know why. Once back on board the hammer was hoisted as our new burgee and off we went. When I took over Top Cat in 2002 I found the hammer stuffed into the corner of a locker, it brought back good memories.

  Andy and Simon in the dinghy  

After an evening in the Liverpool Arms the inevitable ciggy run was required first light.

The crew were sent on a breakfast and fag run to restock the ship.

  Simon and Andy pose for a photograph  
  Simon in the Galley at Beaumaris  

We set off early that afternoon to pass through the Swellies at slack water, it was a very uneventful passage. We carried on past Caernarfon and headed off towards Bardsey, a lack of speed meant we missed the tide flow though Bardsey Sound and had a terrible time going through eventually.

  Top Cat passing through the Swellies  
  A trawler near Porthdinllaen  

The Llyn Peninsula, Porthdinllaen and Bardsey Sound

Bardsey Sound is the narrow strait between the Lleyn Peninsula and Bardsey Island, where the restriction in the tidal flow creates overfalls, whirlpools, undertows and back-eddies. If you arrive here at mid-tide and put the engine into neutral, your boat will spin round and round as nature takes over the steering, pointing the bow in all directions.. We arrived at mid tide.


Once through the Sound we then sailed on to Porthmadog, where my mother was waiting with the car to take us all home. A fun trip although not too warm, but it was still Spring after all.

A fun trip not of notable distance, but nice memories to look back on. I wonder if Andy still remembers losing his sailing cherry on this voyage.

  Simon sailing towards Bardsey Sound  
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