That was close!!

So summer starts in 2016, after various invitations from my great sailing club friends which had been turned down – although, I believed, for the right reasons – I said yes to a sail. It was going to be on Eira on 17 July and at the Conwy River Festival. Lovely! It was arranged that I would be at Conwy Marina for 0900… I was really quite anxious, I was worried that I would be hopeless! (Anyone who knows me would tell you that I always worry that I’ll be hopeless!!!) I consoled myself with the thought that the three of us would be fine and it was just a bit of a cruise…

I arrive to find that that it wasn’t just a cruise, it was a race and then a cruise, it wasn’t the three of us either, as Lady Eira had gone on another boat, it was just the two of us… oh no… help!!! 
Well, after a calming cuppa and a chat about the plan for the day (a race in the morning followed by the La La Rally – a cruise to Caernarfon and back…) I was still panicking internally, but with the calming statement, ‘don’t worry Joy, I only need you to make up the numbers needed to enter the race’ from Mr Eira, I began to feel slightly less tense… but of course, only slightly!

So, out from the safety of the pontoon at the marina we go, we listen on the VHF for our course and start time. Far too quickly we are off, well to be fair, most of the morning was a blur, just the tension remains when I think how close to sailing into a fellow competitor we were at one point, half an inch maybe? Argh! (This was my first introduction to the lovely Talaris of Conwy. Not the best introduction and probably never forgotten by all involved!). Anyway, once the race was over – thank goodness! – we were on our way towards Anglesey. It was a lovely day, and by the time we reached Port Dinorwic, I definitely felt like we needed a rest! 

So after finally arriving at Caernarfon, we then had to wait a while for the tide to rise enough for the Marina gates to open. Well – I loved my day at sea. There were moments of tension, but also moments of bliss, lying in the sun (getting very sunburnt and not realising it – oops!) and enjoying being on the water in such a beautiful place… also, with me on helm going through the Swellies, we managed to avoid A, the divers, and B, the other boats, so all told quite a successful jaunt. 
As much as I loved the day – I knew I was ready to learn more and try and get some confidence on a boat… next stop – Gibraltar! Yey!

Charles Henry Ashton

I have previously mentioned that my dad loves sailing, well he had to give it up at 65 because lifting the boat onto the roof of my mums car was taking its toll… so he took up windsurfing, then after a while gave that up in favour of a power kite (in his 70s by now). One particular memory always springs to mind, dad still in his dressing gown, with his power kite on Benllech beach, Anglesey. He said, “Joy would you mind putting your arms around my waist as the wind seems to have picked up a little?” So I put my arms around his waist, thinking, nothing will move us (I was rather heavy at the time!) anyway, up goes the kite. Immediately we were half lifted and half dragged along the beach!!! Argh!! Thankfully dad lowered the kite down quite quickly and we were back on terra firma. Phew!!! 

Anyway, my folks moved to Anglesey when my dad was 79, he bought an old fishing boat that was kept in Cemaes harbour.

After only going out in it a few times because it needed work doing, he sold this at 85.
Anyway, in 2014 he had asked to me to go sailing with him on a 1907 decommissioned lifeboat. Definitely I thought. 
So we went out on the 38ft Charles Henry Ashton. Such an interesting experience, powered by oars to get clear of the harbour and then the dipping lugsails and jib were hoisted for a leisurely morning sail. (Check out if you are interested in experiencing it for yourself.) 

I’ve only managed to sail on her a couple of times – once spotting porpoise on our way back from the OGA Holyhead Traditional Sail Festival – but she is certainly very different to sailing a modern cruising yacht.

A ‘Cracker’ of a Cemaes Sail

I have just been going through my photographs to try and write these posts in some order… I have found some photos from a memorable sail to Cemaes Bay, where my folks now live, a week after my first sea sail on Cracker…

As you can see it was a beautiful day and evening, we sailed for (it feels like) hours and hours! This was the first time I really needed a pee when we got there (I honestly cannot emphasise the word ‘really’ enough!!!), I can remember meeting my dad at the beach when we arrived and me going “this is dad” and walking like a very desperate person up the beach for the loo! I really couldn’t face going in a bucket onboard!!  Not on an open day boat for the world to see…

When I rejoined dad and my friend there had been an invitation to my folks house for tea (eek) not quite what I expected – but thankfully it went ok. I then stayed at my folks, and watched Cracker and Eira set off in the morning and I got a lift back home with my dad.

Looking at the photos – who says you don’t get blue skies in North Wales!? And I promise you some places look way better from the sea than they do on land!