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!

Sailing rediscovered

Well many years later and with a continued love of all things afloat…

I have mentioned in my introduction that my life had drastically changed, coming out of a 11 year marriage that had broken down and I didn’t know what to do with myself.

I made a new friend, who had invited me to go sailing with him, he had just finished working on a dinghy and wanted to try it on a lake. He had a yacht which was over-wintered in a boat park, but wanted to extend his sailing season with a dinghy on lakes.
In December 2013, we met up to go sailing on a nearby lake, me with homemade Cornish pasties in hand… It was a cold but fun experience. When I had been out with my dad sailing as a kid I had never done anything other than sit there and follow instructions! Sea Miracle seemed to be a lovely boat, and once again, I didn’t do anything except sit there and follow instructions! I did have a go on the helm, although from what I can remember there was little wind and I only had to try and keep it in a straight line, no tacking or gybing for me! However I loved it…
In April, he invited me to test his lovely new Cornish Crabber ‘Cracker’ on the sea. We drove to Trefor on the Llyn Peninsula and set sail for Caernarfon, it was a beautiful day with slight winds and I realised that my love of all things sparkly came from seeing the glint of the sun on the sea, so beautiful. So inspiring… I had been really worried about sailing on the sea knowing that I knew next to nothing, would I be seasick? Would I hate being in this little boat for hours? but I loved it again…


The next day we set out to Caernarfon to bring ‘Cracker’ back to Conwy, the weather had changed, the wind had picked up and the sea was lumpy. Knowing that the limit for ‘Cracker’ was force 5 and knowing that there were gusts of force 5 we weren’t sure whether we should actually sail. Anyway, we did, I loved the rise and fall of the sea and it was exhilarating when it felt like we were surfing along on the waves. Again I thought this was amazing! I realised I liked it more than the day before when it had been really calm.

Oooooh, I’ve just found a video…

I sailed a few more times on ‘Cracker’ each time becoming more aware that I didn’t have a clue! I would be on helm and could follow basic instructions but how do you keep a boat in a straight line with wind and waves! Eek! During this time I began to meet with his sailing club friends, all of whom were so lovely and actually quite normal! Not the posh toffs one might expect when you think of yacht owners… funny how prejudice creeps in…

Moving on, the next boat was a Cornish Shrimper named ‘Traumatic’ – not a name I would choose for a boat, but hey, any opportunity to sail was fine by me!

We were sailing from his mooring in Rhos-on-sea to Conwy. The wind made our passage difficult, the Shrimper didn’t sail as close into wind as our friends and they arrived in Conwy long before us. We only just made it around the Great Orme, having nearly turned back a few times. We made it around the Orme and had to follow the narrow channel into Conwy on a falling tide. The wind and sea state had picked up and it was raining, I was on helm, we had to tack (at this point I still had no idea what tacking meant) I turned the boat, too far, oh pooh! Panic arose as we had to counter my oversteer whilst keeping within the channel and not running aground – my poor friend nearly got cut in half with the tiller. We got back on track and then had to tack once more, what did I do? Exactly the same thing again! Well – shouts from my friend and absolute horror from me – I was never going to sail again! My friend asked me to make a vhf call to our friends to let them know we were arriving. I will never forget my first call “Eira, Eira, this is Traumatic, Traumatic!!!!!” And oh it was.

I haven’t sailed with that particular friend since, I’m not sure if it is because he thinks I tried to kill him! Or whether it was due to a change in his life circumstances – I like to hope it was the latter haha! But anyway – I truly want to say a gigantic “thank you for reintroducing me to sailing. It has honestly made a massive impact on my life.” I will never forget those experiences…

First experiences of sailing…

When I was young, my dad had a dinghy made from expanded polystyrene. It was called a puffin pioneer, it had a glass fibre coating which was dark blue and had red and white sails with a puffin on. I don’t know any specifics but I do know it was not very big and similar to this one https://messingaboutinboats.wordpress.com/previous-boats/puff/

We would go on holiday each year to Carbis Bay near St Ives in Cornwall with this boat on the roof of my mums car. Dad had ‘customised’ the pioneer so that it could be turned upside down and pulled up the beach and car with a wheel positioned in the bow. Poor mum, dad would lift the boat onto the bonnet, then roll it up the windscreen and along the roof until it was in a suitable position to be strapped down. Sand and salt water dripping everywhere…

Honestly – it was a real head turner! Dad in his blue and white towelling dressing gown and straw hat sailing this boat. 
Being only about 10ft and a history of tipping my mum into the water it generally was only my dad that sailed it on the sea but I do remember some trips on Llangorse lake and the canal near where we lived in Brecon. Generally with no wind accompanied by the family dog and midges!(Here is my Aunty and sister on the beach in Carbis Bay.)(Dad, me and my friend on the polystyrene boat on Llangorse Lake.)(I could not resist this picture of Dad in his straw hat at St Ives, replace the coat with a blue and white dressing gown to get the normal image!)

I remember visiting my cousins in Falmouth and going for a sail, there were quite a few of us and I was down in the cabin, I remember feeling a little queasy! Here is a photo – I think I am the miserable looking child in the middle!!!

A lot later I can remember my uncle giving us his wooden hulled boat, this was a little bigger and I remember a trip to the Mumbles, me, Mum and Dad. We got there, the wind had picked up and the sea had got a little lumpy. After getting the boat in the water and it heeling over way too far with no more reefs to take in, we gave up on the mission and decided to go for coffee. I had a change of clothing, but guess who forgot? As we were absolutely soaked to the skin my lovely Dad had to wear a long mac with wet pants to the cafe, maybe mum and I should have been embarrassed but all we could do was fall about laughing at poor dad who was a shivering wreck and looked very dodgy!

To make a long story short, that boat is now the dark squares on my chessboard which my dad made for me.

 I love that chessboard, but can’t play chess! Definitely need someone to teach me! Any offers???