Rigid Inflatable Boats : RIBS and Inflatables
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Log of the Corryvreckan:
Redbay – Cowes - Redbay
By: Steven Ferres
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Redbay Boats

Corryvrechan at RIBEX 2010
(click pic for larger image)


Charles Stewart of Redbay's Powerboating School and Steven Ferres brought one of Redbay's latest RIBs all the way by sea to RIBEX 2010. The furthest sea passage undertaken by any of the RIB's at the latest RIB Show on the Isle of Wight. This is their log of the voyage across the Irish Sea and along the English Channel.

Maiden Voyage

The maiden voyage for Redbay Boats’ new demonstrator RIB ‘Corryvreckan’ was a trip from Redbay to Cowes on the Isle of Wight. The brand new Stormforce 11 was due to be displayed at the Ribex Show in the Yacht Haven marina in Cowes on the 7th to the 9th May. Corryvreckan was first launched for her sea trials on Saturday 1st May, and after a couple of hours testing in Redbay she was recovered back onto her trailer and returned to the workshop for a final cleaning and refuelling before she headed off towards Cowes on the following Tuesday.

On Tuesday morning Charles Stewart, RYA instructor with Redbay Powerboating, and myself met in Redbay anxious to get going since we wanted to get to Milford Haven before night fell. Everything ran smoothly getting the boat launched and the two of us were underway at 0920. The sea was calm with a gentle northerly breeze aiding us. Since Corryvreckan was literally brand new and only had 6 hours on the clocks, we ran her fairly gently at about 2900rpm. Even at this rate we were managing an impressive 26/27 knots and were looking good to be tied up in Milford Haven at a sensible time.

Since the sea was calm we decided there was no need to follow either the Irish or Welsh coasts, so we plotted a course down the middle of the Irish Sea. Visibility was only average, so we couldn’t see either shore which meant for a dull trip with nothing to look at, we barely even saw another boat or ship. But our progress was great and we arrived in the tidal lock gate at Milford Haven marina at 1850. Total mileage for this leg of the trip was 230 miles.

After waiting for about half an hour in the lock gate with six or seven other yachts we finally got in and went straight to the fuel berth to get refuelled so we could get away as early as possible the next morning. With the boat now full to the neck with diesel, Charles and I tied her up in the marina and contacted the harbour master enquiring what the earliest time the lock gate would open at the following morning so we could make an early start. The answer was 0815 and that we would be contacted on the radio just before 0800 so we could confirm that we still wanted out of the marina.

As promised the evening before, the gates opened at 0815 allowing us to get underway and set our course for Lands End with the intention of refuelling and spending the night in Torquay, somewhere neither of us had been before. The weather was much the same as the previous day, overcast with a gentle following breeze. Since the engines now had a few more hours on them and had loosened up slightly, we decided to run them a little bit harder. We set them at 3000rpm and we were averaging 28/29 knots which felt effortless. The distance from Milford Haven to Torquay was 212 miles.

The chart showed us that Torquay had a large marina so we assumed that it would have a fuel berth. But upon arriving at 1750 that evening we discovered that, yes it did have a large marina, but did not have a fuel berth. Fortunately just across the bay was Brixham Marina which we knew definitely had a fuel berth. The question was could we get refuelled that evening or did we have to wait until the next morning? Upon contacting Brixham Marina by phone the answer was, their fuel berth closes at 1800 and didn’t open until 0900 the next morning. So if we could be there by six we could make an early start in the morning. This seemed like an appropriate opportunity to test the top speed of Corryvreckan, confident that we could be in Brixham within the next five minutes. Off we went from Torquay to Brixham at a top speed of 38.4 knots and were tied alongside the fuel berth at 1759 much to the disbelief of the marina master who was surprised we got to the fuel berth before he managed to.

Happy now that the boat was topped up with fuel and that we would be able to make an early start in the morning, we tied the boat up on our allocated berth in the marina and walked into the town to get something to eat. We planned to leave at 0830 the next morning hoping to get to Cowes before lunch time so that we could get the boat washed and cleaned, and get checked into the hotel, in good time.

Upon awaking in Brixham we were greeted with a dull drizzly morning with quite a heavy fog. We headed off cautiously while using the radar to identify the dozen or so ships which were anchored in the bay. The first two hours was hampered by the fog and progress was much slower than the previous two days with our speed kept below fifteen knots because we knew there were a lot of fishing boats and lobster pots which could prove hazardous. Soon enough however the fog cleared and we were making good progress once more.

We arrived in the yacht haven in Cowes at 1215 having carried the tide with us as we entered the Solent, this tide added an extra three knots to our speed for the final hour of our journey. The distance from Brixham to Cowes was 90 miles. The boat was now safely tied up in Cowes with the first half of our trip completed, a total of 532 miles and 23 hours travelling time.

Corryvreckan proved a popular attraction at the show with her bright orange gelcoat standing out over all the other RIBs at the show. The show was to finish on Sunday afternoon and Charles and I were keen to get away as soon as possible with the intension of getting to Falmouth on Sunday night. We refuelled the boat on Sunday morning and bought a few supplies for the trip. We managed to get away at 1525, all being well we would make Falmouth just after night fall.

True enough we got into Falmouth at 2130 just as it got dark happy that we had most of the south coast of England behind us and only had Lands End and the Irish Sea ahead of us. The distance from Cowes to Falmouth was 154 miles. We knew that we wouldn’t be able to get fuel in Falmouth until the next morning, so decided to get up early and leave Falmouth at 0635 and head for Newlyn where we could get fuel and breakfast before rounding Lands End and heading up the Irish Sea. Newlyn is the last stop before Lands End and is a busy fishing village so we knew there wouldn’t be any problem getting fuel.

We arrived in Newlyn at 0750 and got fuelled up and got some breakfast in the town, and we were back on our way at 0940. We knew from the forecast that the wind was still blowing from the north and would be a bit stronger than on the trip down, this meant that it would be on our nose as we travelled up the Irish Sea. As we rounded Lands End and started to head north, the sea was becoming increasingly choppy due to the wind over tide. It wasn’t long before the sea had turned rough. This had now become an excellent test of the boat in rough conditions, and Corryvreckan was performing excellently. Large waves were breaking over the cabin but the RIB powered through them effortlessly! It had also become a good test of the new air suspension KAB seats which we had fitted for the first time to Corryvreckan. They were doing an excellent job of cushioning the slamming caused by the waves.

Charles and I decided that an overnight stop in Arklow was looking appealing which would leave a short trip back to Redbay the following day rather than arrive in Redbay in the middle of the night. We arrived in Arklow at 1840 having completed the 181 mile trip from Newlyn in 9 hours. That meant an average speed of 20 knots which is incredible in those conditions, an average speed which amazed the lifeboat men in Arklow. We spent the night in the marina in Arklow and got a splash of fuel in the morning, just enough to get us home, before leaving at 0830 and starting the 152 mile trip back home to Redbay.

The conditions had relaxed a bit from the previous day and we were making good speed. The tide around some of the headlands was creating a sizeable chop but nothing which hampered our pace. We arrived back in Redbay at 1430 to meet the tractor and trailer awaiting our arrival on the slipway. The trip home was 521 miles and took 22 hours at sea.

The total distance travelled was 1053 miles in 44 hours and the total fuel used was approximately 2400 litres. This gives a fuel economy of approximately 1.1 litre per mile per engine or 6 gallons per hour per engine.

Stephen Ferres

June 2010

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Rigid Inflatable Boats : RIBS and Inflatables