Getting to Piel in less than 4 or 5 hours in a small cruiser from Glasson is not easy because if you plot the safe route round all the buoyage correctly it will take you round Lune 1 buoy, Danger Patch buoy and Sea 5, the green buoy next to the big Halfway Shoal Racon structure. Then you will have a hard slog against the current rushing out from the Walney channel, probably with big, bouncy, wind-over-tide waves to contend with as well. This is the only guaranteed safe route, but there is an alternative one for boats of about 4′ draft or less, and capable of maintaining at least 4.5 to 5 knots for the whole passage.
This is a screenshot from Navionics free webbapp:
Alternative route if you are happy with the risk of grounding :-
Set off from Glasson no later than HW and follow the buoyage to Lune 1, then set a direct course for Hawes Point East mark. Keep a good watch on the echo sounder, and if you start getting less than 2 metres below your keel, be prepared to head South for deeper water and plan to head for Halfway shoal after all. If you are well up Mort Bank area and going South seems to take you even shallower, you will have to backtrack half a mile or so to to deeper water as you might be heading up along an underwater gully, and might not make it to the channel before grounding firmly. However, if you are sure of your course using GPS and are on schedule, all will be well even if you see only 1 metre below your keel when getting close to the Walney Channel.
The important thing now is to enter the channel at the correct position, about 2 cables north of the Hawes Point East beacon ( hopefully it will be repaired before it falls into the sea ) The white tower behind Triagos (below) is the leading light outer mark.
The waypoint “Seldom” is about a third of the way between Hawes East and the leading light white outer tower structure.
The East Scar green buoy north of Hawes Point East is often found resting on the mussel bank known as “Seldom Seen”, so when passing this point it is advisable to keep to the centre of the channel, if possible.
Leaving on a rising tide
If the sea is rough head part way down towards Halfway shoals tower before leaving the Walney channel and when leaving the channel you will have to watch carefully that you are not washed down onto any of the Starboard buoys. The shallow water extends over the two banks and then it gets gradually deeper as the tide is making. For half an hour or so, if the wind direction suits, point the head of your boat towards Blackpool tower, then set your GPS course for Lune1 West Cardinal buoy. For this period of the crossing, avoid getting carried too far towards Heysham on the incoming tide and aim to pass well clear of the cardinal buoy.
It is vital not to proceed from the area around Lune 1 Buoy before HW -2 as you will soon find yourself in a danger area, with the possibility of being carried down onto a sandbank which can induce broaching, or you could connect with one of the stone underwater “training walls” after Sunderland Point.
The Glasson Dock gate only opens at earliest 1 hour before HW, so there is little point in leaving Lune1 at an earlier time anyway.
If you are recovering your boat onto your trailer at the club, you are well advised to arrive at the jetty an hour before HW to make best use of slack water which now seems to occur well before HW Liverpool
Updated August 2021 David Booth