Friday, 27 July 2018

All done and dusted

Well here we are in Aberystwyth, the final destination of this year’s trip.
We had a great sail today from Pwhelli in light winds and warm sunshine.
We saw dolphins who came close to the boat but who sadly were uncooperative when it came to photos
.Arrival at Aberystwyth was very straightforward and my wife Jane says that  she really likes the facilities here.... they are all bilingual !
Anyway this is the moment to thank all three of you who have followed this blog. I have had a truly great time and enjoyed every minute of the trip and I hope you have enjoyed reading my banal missives en route.
Thanks to all those people who helped me to reach Aberystwyth in one piece and to those whom we have met en route ... it has all been a hugely memorable experience for me.
I look forward to completing the trip back to Faversham, next Summer... after I have repaired a few leaks and given Calismarde a bit of a tidy up!
Thanks again

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Through the mighty Bardsey Sound to Pwhelli

Bardsey Sound beckoned us early this morning and we were relieved tofind a flat calm when we awoke.
We motored the 12 miles down the coast and arrived just after high water whilst it was still calm. 
Despite the peaceful sea, the Sound was a cacophony of  breaking waves swirling water and a strong tideThankfully we emerged unscathed and had a lovely sail along the the South coast of the Lleyn Peninsula into Cardigan Bay

After a short wait at anchor we are now in the massive marina that is Pwhelli

The town is remarkably pleasant and was largely developed in the 19th Century as a tourist destination thanks to the railway, which still runs to Machynlleth
Tomorrow is hopefully the last day of our journey to Aberystwyth!

Down the Lleyn Peninsula

After Janes triumphal arrival yesterday we enjoyed an evening in the bars of Caernarfon before leaving at 7 this morning to face the other famous Caernarfon bar.....the formidable Caernarfon Bar marking the exit.... or entrance of the Menai Straits

Thankfully , after a uneventful crossing back into the Irish Sea we enjoyed a boring motor sail against strong head winds and were happy to drop anchor at Porth Dinllaen by early afternoon

We initially couldn’t leave the boat because of strong wind. However by teatime we were able to get ashore for a walk and a drink in the Ty Coch
This is a beautiful seaside village owned by the National Trust and which once housed an Iron Age fort. Tomorrow we tackle Bardsey Sound en route to Pwhelli

Friday, 20 July 2018

Conway to Caernarfon through the scary Swellies

Conwy has a lovely marina and Mal and I were so pleased that my sister Pat made the effort to visit us for lunch  yesterday to enable us to have a thoroughly enjoyable family reunion.
After lunch, the crew ventured into Conwy which is a very interesting walled town. The Normans cleverly built the castle right next to the railway obviously knowing that it has regular connections to London via Crewe.

On our return to the boat we enjoyed a chat with our neighbour about our forthcoming journey to Caernarfon via the fearsome ‘Swellies’. Despite previous reassurance that we could reach Menai Straits in just a few hours, it was clear that this was not at all possible. Rather  than have an easy day and an afternoon departure, the crew unanimously decided there and then to leave early today. Our neighbour was part of a large boat rally called the ‘La La Rally’ and invited us to join them as they too were heading to Caernarfon for the night.
After a largely uneventful morning sail, we arrived at Menai Bridge in good time to pass throughthe Swellies at high water. We phoned the marina in Caernarfon to check there was enough space for Calismarde, bearing in mind that there are 30 boats on the rally. The kind and friendly harbour master asked if we could arrive before the other boats and suggested we pass through the Swellies immediately.
It was with some trepidation therefore that we, as ‘Swellie Virgins’ led the flotilla through Menai Bridge into the fearsome narrows. 

These were less exciting than we expected, although the banks of the Menai Straits are beautiful.

Needless to say, by the time we arrived at Caernarfon all the other boats had overtaken us but despite that he kindly placed us in a prime position.

Tomorrow, my brother Mal leaves to go back to Carlisle. It has been a thoroughly enjoyable week during which we have experienced several challenges punctuated by visits to several high ranking real ale pubs.
We now look forward to a couple of days preparing for the arrival of our new crew mate.

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Croeso I Cymru

We are now resting happily in a marina berth in Conway, surrounded by very expensive looking boats
We have travelled quite a way over the last few days, having left Peel at 2.30am on Monday morning. After a slow start in pitch darkness we were pleased to pass the calf of Man at first light

After an uneventful motor sail we felt relieved to arrive in Holyhead  by teatime.
It is not until you visit Holyhead that you realise how massive the breakwater actually is. It took several years to build, is over a mile long and took the lives of 40 workmen. We decided to stay in the marina for the night but were shocked to discover that the marina no longer exists, having been destroyed during winter storms at the beginning of the year. We were fortunate therefore to be able to pick up a buoy at the Holyhead Sailing Club. I am pleased to say that the marina is currently being rebuilt and should reopen by next year 

My brother Mal was very pleased to discover that the Sailing Club sold Black Sheep beer and so he was able to introduce me to this delicious beverage.
After a day of reflection we have today sailed the relatively short distance to Conway past the Great Orme, where we are going to stay for a couple of days in order to enjoy a small family reunion before the trip down the Menai Straits.

This is a picture of The Great Orme

Sunday, 15 July 2018

No 4G in Peel

Having used up all my data allowance, I am now reliant on WiFi in order to use tinternet
Yesterday was spent going around the Isle of Man on various buses. We visited Douglas, Laxey and Ramsey before returning to Peel to meet up with Peter and Fenella who live on the Island

Today we have visited Peel Castle and are preparing ourselves for the trip to Holyhead tomorrow. My brother Mal says that he really likes the Isle of Man and particularly  Okell’s bitter. He was however rather scared by the lifelike model of the dreaded Black Dog of Peel Castle

Mal is thinking about buying a massive motorbike in order to ride around the TT circuit, so any advice in this regard would be gratefully received. He would also like to hear if anyone could lend him some tight leathers to try.
I will write again whenever I can find free WiFi 

Friday, 13 July 2018

Dolphins and fair wind on the way to Peel

After a leisurely breakfast in Ardglas, we set sail at lunchtime for gentle 30 mile trip to Peel on the Isle of Man

The time past relatively quickly and was enriched by a visit from a group of dolphins which swam next to the boat for about 10 minutes. Sadly, the anticipated sighting of Minkie  whales did not materialise
I learnt that it is very difficult to photograph dolphins ... particularly when you are also steering but try to imagine the scene from this photo!!

We were pleased to arrive in Peel just before high tide and when it was still light, so were able to enter the inner harbour after only a short wait.

I really like Peel, which is fortunate as we will be staying here for a few days for crew change and sightseeing.