Directions Through the Swellies.
Care is needed if the
Swellies are to be piloted successfully and the first passage for any skipper
would benefit from the company of a regular. Tidal streams at Menai Bridge are
sufficiently strong to drag a boat without a powerful engine into the Swellies
so once you are committed there is often no turning back.
From the north east end of
the Straits you will pass under the Menai suspension bridge
Keep N/E of the pier at Menai Bridge to avoid the strength of the tide, unless intending to pass through at high speed. This is NOT recommended since passage is dangerous to all small vessels except for a period of about 1 hour be-fore slack water ( in either direction ).
In particular, vessels travelling from the Menai Bridge end of the Swellies at the wrong time of the tide risk being carried to starboard of Swelly Rock.
Although a route does exist to the north of the rock and the island with a cottage on it weirs form along the passage as water levels at each end of the Strait differ by several feet during the strength of the tide which can run at 9 - 10 knots.
At the right time, the Swellies offer a totally safe passage within the channel shown on the accompanying plan and sketch.
Passage is possible at HW
Slack and, for most small vessels, at LW Neaps Slack. However, there are
depths of 0.5m. at LAT near Britannia Bridge. At HW Slack ( in either
direction ), the Platters lie at least 3m. ( 10ft.) below water level, as does
the promontory off Price Point.
From Menai Bridge town, pass centrally under the Menai Bridge and immediately adjust course to starboard to put Swelly Rock buoy ( S.Card. beacon, VQ ( 6 ) + LFl. 10s), fine on the starboard bow. As the boathouse ( see sketch and plan ) comes abeam, turn parallel to the mainland shore, to pass about midway between and the shore and the buoy. Immediately after passing the buoy ease to starboard to head for the cottage on Gored Coch in order to avoid the promontory off Price Point.
Continue on this course until the leading marks on either side of Britannia Bridge come into transit. These are not always easy to see, being open metal pylons about 4m. high, and positioned close to the bridge buttress. They each carry a fixed light normally lit day and night.
Change course to follow the transit until abeam of the triangular white beacon on the shore, then turn to pass under the centre span of the bridge.
Complete the passage by heading to the starboard side of the Straits to avoid a buoyed area around an historic wreck opposite Nelson's Statue.
With practice you can get through the Swellies with just the one course change, as shown on the sketch and plan.
The passage from Port Dinorwic to Menai Bridge reverses this course precisely. Take special care on the leg from the triangular beacon to Price Point because cross currents will tend to force the boat off it's reverse transit.
Pass under Britannia
Bridge close to the Landing Stage ( often infested with anglers and lines into
the stream.) DO NOT
keep to port side of channel to avoid the lines - you may find Cribbin Rock. At
the triangular mark on shore bear away to port to keep the transits in
line and hold this course until Price Point is abeam. Then make to starboard to
leave Swelly Rock buoy
When abeam the boathouse ( and only 50 ft. offshore ) ease to port to leave the Platters to starboard and head for the centre of Menai Bridge span. Once under the bridge keep to the centre of the channel until past the Red post to port.
TIMING the passage is
important and it is usual to complete it with just a little favourable tide.
From Menai Bridge to Port Dinorwic, this usually means arriving at the
Passage throuth the Swellies at night is not recommended to newcomers, but there are enough shore lights to make it a reasonably practical proposition.
NEVER ATTEMPT THE SWELLIES AT LOCAL HIGH WATER - remember that SLACK water precedes it by 1hr.30mns. to 2 hrs.
Passage at Low water slack
( neaps ) is possible and is regularly made by local boats, remembering that
slack water precedes Low by the same interval that it precedes HW.
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