James Stevens answers your questions of seamanship - this month, with increasing headwinds forecast is it best to leave now or wait for a better forecast?


Ron, 67, has just retired 
and is currently on a 
cruise up the East Coast 
of the UK to Scotland.

The boat he is sailing is 
a 42-year-old fin keel Albin Ballad, a 30ft cruiser racer which Ron has sailed single-handed for most of the trip so far, setting 
off from the South Coast.

He is currently in Lowestoft on a Friday 
in May. The next stage is to Grimsby, 100 miles away.

He’s decided to try to do it in 
one leg as none of the intermediate ports have all-tide access, except Great Yarmouth which has limited yacht mooring.

During the passage there are several well-marked shoals and a windfarms. There is a traffic separation scheme, strong tides and 
a precautionary area off the Humber.

Ron doesn’t fancy attempting this overnight trip alone so his nephew John has joined him for the weekend. John 
is keen to learn and has sailed a dinghy 
but has no yachting experience. He has arranged to return home on Monday.

The inshore forecast issued at 0100 
on Friday is SW4 increasing and veering NW6 later. Sea state slight becoming moderate then rough. Rain later, 
then visibility good at first becoming 
moderate later. 
For the following 
24 hours the wind is forecast to be NW6.

Continues below…

Yacht mooring on a river inbetween piles

A tricky mooring

James Stevens answers your Questions of Seamanship. This issue - how to moor between two piles in tricky conditions

Current conditions at dawn on Friday seem ideal.

The skies are clear and there’s a moderate southwesterly, which would give a fast beam reach. John only has the weekend free. Ron knows that if he delays he won’t have a crew for the long passage.

If it was a short trip Ron would leave immediately while the weather is good, but 100 miles on a northwesterly course into an increasing headwind looks less attractive. What would you do?


Offshore passage

James Stevens, author of the Yachtmaster Handbook, spent 10 years as the RYA’s Training Manager and Yachtmaster Chief Examiner

It seems an ideal 
day and it would be 
if there was a suitable intermediate port.

Unfortunately, the 
North Norfolk ports are tidal and the coast will turn into a lee shore during the passage.

The Ballad sails well to windward and the skipper is competent.

The crew appears 
to be strong but with no experience there 
is a possibility he may be incapacitated by seasickness when the sea state gets rough.

Once the wind veers and the passage 
is to windward it’s going to be hard work with complex navigation.

For a 30ft boat, 
F6 on the nose is at the limit of comfortable cruising and a passage time of more than 24hrs is gruelling for two.

I would advise that it’s better therefore 
to wait in Lowestoft for the wind direction 
to improve.

The crew will have to ring through his apologies and arrive home a 
day or two late.