View Full Version : Jack sound and Ramsey sound passage info

18-05-05, 12:03
I'm planning a trip from Milford Haven to N Wales passing through Jack and Ramsey Sounds if the weather permits. I'm trying to find out when slack water occurs but the info in the Lundy & Irish Sea Pilot is different from what's implied in the tidal stream atlas. The pilot gives HWD+3 for Jack Sound and HWD+4 for Ramsey Sound, whilst the Atlas gives HWD (this is for the change from S to N going tide). Maybe there's a big difference offshore to inshore but it would be good to have it confirmed! Can anyone shed light on the best time to arrive at Jack sound and then Ramsey Sound on a north going passage? Thanks for any advice!

18-05-05, 12:55
I went through Jack Sound once. We got through safely, but never again. It's far too scary.

The pilot says line up this rock ahead with that rock astern. Easy in theory, but when you get there, there are rocks all over the place. We weren't absolutely certain we had got the right rocks, but the tide was pushing us through and we couldn't change our minds.

The passage that you have to go through is uncomfortably close to rather sharp looking rocks awash just over there. The water is also turbulent and pushes the boat in all directions. It certainly wasn't as slack as we expected, although I expect it's the sort of place that never really has slack water at springs.


Ramsey Sound by comparison is much less disconcerting. The Bitches are well named, but there's plenty of space in the sound to avoid them, and easy to see in daylight.

18-05-05, 13:04
Totally agree, Ramsey sound is easy while avoiding it is very diffcult. Jack sound is nasty while avoiding it is very easy. Easy decision !

I don't have the tidal data to hand but the tides do turn at very significantly different times to the bulk of the Irish Sea. I used both Reeds and The Irish Sea Pilot for tides, they agreed with each other which was reassuring! Tides turn fast, don't imagine that a few minutes late won't matter!

Have fun!

18-05-05, 14:56
Hmmmm...sounds like I might leave Skomer to Sbd. As you say it's not much further to go around.

Thanks for the info.

18-05-05, 19:28
I've gone through Jack Sound on many occasions, aiming to do so close to slack water according to the pilotage instructions in Reeds Almanac. I'd hestitate before doing it in bad weather or poor vis, but with the detailed chart (1482) there's not too much to worry about. I vaguely recall that there was a good bearing off one end of Skokholm Island which will see you through the gap. Good feeling of achievement when you get through intact.

N Haven on Skomer is a great place to stop too. Well sheltered, good visitors moorings, useful if you're caught by an adverse tide heading S towards Milford Haven.

18-05-05, 21:02
its much quicker thro jack sound than leaving skomer to stb and if the weather is too boistoous for jack sound it will be worse in wild goose race. aim to go thro on slackwater=milf ord haven +2.30 hrs.
the course is leave blackstones 80m to port and transit on tuskar rock 026t. the rocks are diff to see from a distance but when the sound opens upthey are pretty easy to identify. not actually dfficult and all manner of small boat s make the pasage in summer. good pics and directions in pembrokeshire coastline by tom bennett

18-05-05, 21:08
Last time I went through it was disconcerting to see pots all the way through. To get snagged through there did not bear thinking about.

After a while I realised that as I only draw 2'2" I could follow the line of pot markers through as they were following the channel, and if the fishing boat could do it so could I.

I do not like Jack sound for the reasons above, next time I will go around, them there rocks to port are very sharp looking and there is very little room for error.

18-05-05, 21:26
Used to work there - so probably happier about where the rocks are than is good for me !

As already said slack is HW/LW Milford + 2-2:30 (varies a bit between neaps and springs). Tide can get over 6 knots on springs so not somewhere you want to be at the wrong time with not enough power.

The transect mentionead above lining up the W balckstones and the end of Skoholm is OK - just make sure you don't get pushed off the line too far by the tide.

At the south end there can be some big standing waves - and if you have significant wind against tide these really are best avoided.

Somewhere to treat with respect - but quite possible to navigate with care.

As said elsewhere if conditions are bad there broad sound will be interesting too - but at least no rocks to hit - other option is to go outise Skokholm as well - but thats a long way round


18-05-05, 22:43
At the south end there can be some big standing waves

[/ QUOTE ]
He he. Used to canoe there and on The Bitches - like white water river at times

19-05-05, 07:26
I've lost a set of diving gear to them - when someone kindly flipped a zodiac carrying the gear (not me on that occasion).

The royal marines lost a full set of assault gear when they flipped all but one of their rigid raiders returning after an (until then) successful night raiding excercise

Best missed when they are big - in a RIB you can nip round the side - but harder under sail

19-05-05, 09:53
As long as you pick your weather not to be above F4 both Jack and Ramsay Sounds are not difficult. Use the slack water times from the pilot that you mention. Hitting Jack at slack means that Ramsay will be running hard. I hit Jack about slack -1 and push through. I then keep a good speed up to hit Ramsay just after slack. Use the transits mentioned in the pilots. Going N through Jack you have to use a transit on a rock and the island behind you but they are obvious. One hazard in Ramsay that has not been mentioned is Horse Rock. From the S go through the centre of the channel missing the Bitches then either left or right but not straight on to avoid Horse Rock. You can often see the turbulence over the Rock at LW. This is usually as fast trip as you get tidal assistance all the way to Fishguard and even further N.

What's your destination? I sail out of Pwllheli. PM me if you need more details

19-05-05, 16:26
Ultimate destination is Conwy - which means I've got tidal gates as both ends and that adds no end of complications to the planning. My current feeling is to miss Jack sound and hit Ramsey on HW slack. That means the tide will be setting S against me after slack but the overall calculation seems to give a better tidal push by Anglesey if I go through then. Tide times on June 2/3 (if we stick to plan!) also mean I'll arrive off Bardsey at dawn the following morning so will have done the easy bit during the hours of darkness.
I've then got to get round South Stack and Carmel Head -Loads of fun!
The trip is from Port Solent bringing the new boat 'home' to Conwy. Must say I'm looking forward to it and praying for fair weather.

20-05-05, 10:13
Here's my confession, not something I'm proud of and certainly something I won't repeat but a couple of years ago I was responsible for taking someone elses Beneteau 25 (sport boat with 6' draught) through Jack Sound with the tide ripping through at 9kts and the wind blowing F4+. We were returning the boat to Milford from Fishguard and (stupidly) I decided to cut the corner. By the time I realised the mistake it was too late and we were committed and the tide got hold of us and we met a 6' standing wave, tiller pulled out of my hand and we shot through sideways, somehow missing all the underwater hardness. My mouth still goes dry when I think back to how lucky we were.
Lesson learned:
Give yourself plenty of time and don't try to cut corners.
If you bought a Ben 25 in Milford recently, you might want to check the bottom of the keel for scuff marks :-)
Oh and Jas, if you're reading this I apologise.