First weekend solo sailing

Well Easter weekend was the first ‘Cruise’ in the Bay of Colwyn sailing calendar. This was the date that I had been working towards so that I could join all of the guys on the Round Anglesey cruise… 

My engine had been run in and was raring to go (4knots flat out – but better than none!). So the next hill to climb was the battery issue…

Most solo sailors appreciate a helping hand from their autohelm. This steers the boat in the chosen direction while you run about the boat sorting the sails, or fenders or the anchor. Well mine had been having a difficult time of it. The battery lasted about an hour with very little power being used by Poppet’s electrical equipment. The depth sounder and the vhf radio uses very little, so the main drain was the autohelm – or so I thought… I bought a brand new leisure battery which had been fully charged, so all looked hopeful and I was ready to go… Yey! Let’s go sailing! 
Well Good Friday the sea was looking a little lumpy, I still couldn’t reef my main sail (make it smaller so that the boat wasn’t overpowered) so I got Poppet ready for motoring. Traumatic was heading to Beaumaris, I hadn’t heard from the other boats. Most of the boats in Conwy Marina were staying put, but with a little prompting from the owner of Traumatic II, I decided to go out and see what it was like in Conwy Bay… 

I left the marina and headed into the channel, motoring happily. Well I love a slightly lumpy sea, and Poppet felt happy too! All good! Traumatic met me at the Fairway buoy, rolling around in the swell… and off we headed to Beaumaris… 

It was great, rather damp but fun… Poppet happily bounced into the waves and yet the cockpit was stable. 

At Beaumaris we picked up mooring buoys (another first for me), and waited for the tide to go out… after a little while, the tide receded to reveal an anchor pointing straight up out of the sand only feet away from Traumatic! Oh my, that could have been really serious! So after waiting for the tide to go out, the anchor was buried point down into the sand, hopefully no longer to be a risk again… 

So after a chippy tea and a pint in the local, off we went back to the boats… it was a lovely star lit night, and I really enjoyed being on a mooring for a change. 


The next day, after a bacon butty, and working out the tides for slack water etc we left our moorings and with the wind directly on our bow we motored down the straits and through the swellies (notorious section of water in the Menai Straits). 

I got all excited when we passed a boat I recognised – Talaris, and waved like an over excited loon!! 
When we reached the Caernarfon end of the Straits the water was getting a little less flat again… 

Traumatic went into the marina first, and after a few minutes or so I headed in and moored up next to her… 

After realising that we weren’t being joined by the rest of the sailing club guys, off we went to meet up with my friend at my favorite ice cream and pancake house, Scoops, then went for a drink (or 3!!) at a nearby pub. 


The next day, feeling rather thick headed, we decided to go back to Conwy, the wind was such that if we didn’t go today we would have to motor… well the best thing about having a sailing boat is when you turn the motor off, you are still moving, there is no noise apart from your hull cutting through the waves and the sound of your terribly trimmed sails luffing if you’re on poppet haha!!! So, one of us with a wet leg, and the other with a sore head, we sailed back, Traumatic miles ahead of Poppet! No surprise there! Anyway – the sail was great, the sea slightly lumpy, the arrival into my berth was my worst ever! Tired, panicked! Argh!!! It was that bad that I was never going to sail again in fact! 

​​​

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!