Missing Link log 13 May 1999

Crew: Kim Hollamby and Howard Jones.
From: Bristol Floating Harbour, Bristol.
To: Penarth Marina, Penarth, Glamorgan, Wales.
Port engine start hours: 331.3. Finish hours: 334.6. Hours run: 3.3.
Stbd engine start hours: 331.4. Finish hours: 334.7. Hours run: 3.3.
Log start: 3507.6. Log finish: 3546.8. Distance run: 39.2.
Navigation log (full commentary follows below)
1545: leave Baltic Wharf. Slightly clip starboard prop as we depart (Wharf shallow at the extreme NE end due to landslip).
1550: through Junction Bridge.
1555: enter Cumberland Lock. Engines off.
1615: leave Cumberland Lock. DM reports wind 11kn SW, one yacht at Pill moving upstream, no other traffic. Set throttles at 9kn, slow to 6kn for yacht and for Pill. Punching approx 2.5kn current.
1700: underneath M5 bridge.
1714: Avonmouth Signal Station.
1715: up to 22kn.
1723: Newcome stbd mk.
1736: Welsh Hook S cd mk. Down to 20kn. Wind SW F4.
1756: EW Grounds sw mk.
1805: N Cardiff stbd mk. Established contact with RIB ‘Newport Divers’ for rendevouz; turn and run downwind to Newport on autopilot waiting to meet them for photoshoot. Meet in Peterstone Flats, take photographs, then turn and run SW again for N Cardiff and the Outer Wrach. Wind rising, poss F5.
1850: Outer Wrach W cd mk. Requested barrage bridge lift on Ch72 and marina entry on Ch80.
1900: through bridge.
1910: through lock.
1920: alongside berth B12 in outer basin.

Whether he realises it or not, Harbourmaster Geoff Lane is a keen ambassador for the fascinating areas of water under his control. Arriving in his RIB on a drizzly late morning, he offered us a tour of the winding Floating Harbour and its various arms that opened our eyes both to what the City of Bristol once represented and what it is gradually becoming.

We had already taken in some of the most obvious sights to the west of Prince Street Bridge from Missing Link ( see yesterday’s report ), but Geoff was soon heading the nose of his well-travelled Avon further into the heart of the city. All around was a mix of traditional buildings and modern structures. Where the latter have been built, rules have been put in place to improve the infrastructure both for boats and for pedestrians who want to amble around the harbour. One day in the far off future it might be possible to take the very substantial walk around the whole lot without leaving the waterside.

It doesn’t work everywhere at the moment, but there was more than one moment where the view seemed uncannily like a trip through Amsterdam. Our tour certainly provided a fascinating cross-section through many centuries of history. What a shame that only a small proportion of Britain’s boatowners have discovered this gem.

That said, Geoff has already got about 500 boats on his books, some on quays, the balance on an expanding number of modern pontoon facilities. Although we stayed at the more distant Baltic Wharf, the main run of visitors’ moorings are right in the heart of things and are served by water and shorepower points.

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Geoff dropped us off close by in St Augustines Reach. We needed a forecast, so why not pay an unscheduled visit to Bristol Weather Centre?

The staff there were no doubt surprised by our arrival, but were kind enough to show us around. In the increasingly commercial world of the Met Office there was no way we would be allowed any weather information, printed or verbal. But by peering at the fascinating charts on computer, updated live, and by looking at the paper print-outs scattered across desks, we could see the low that had been throwing so much rain in our direction was gradually filling and a high was on its way in.


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