sailing got in here .....
a 25 years lapse, I recently got
back into sailing, crewing in three
boats belonging to the Cardiff Bay
Yacht Club, here in South Wales.
sailing as I never did before,
experiencing the challenges of the
Bristol Channel with a tidal range
only second to the Bay of Fundy in
Nova Scotia, and seeing some
interesting ships, some naval, I
hope visitors to www.naval-history.net
will not object to seeing personal
material in this way.
has lots about ships and the men who
sailed them, but little about the
seas they sailed on. If you have
similar tales of your local stretch
of water, wherever it might be, you
might like to add them to your own
site or to this one.
Motor boat Watchful
have to admit that my first trip
across the Bristol Channel was not
sailing, but in motor boat WATCHFUL
owned and skippered by Tony Beasley
(right, on the left with Dave
Adams). Tony, Lieutenant, RNVR
(Rtd) and ex-Sea Cadet Corps
commanding officer was once the
owner of ex-HDML.1001, which served
off Normandy and which he sailed
across the Atlantic to the
Caribbean. That story can be found
HARBOUR DEFENCE MOTOR LAUNCH
HDML.1001 - her Royal Navy and
is a pleasant small town, with nice
walks, decent pubs, good fish and
chips, and a fascinating little
museum. It also has a high tidal
range (photo - what you sail over
to get in during Spring tides) with
just a sill holding back the
water in the Marina.
we first got in I was amazed to see
ex-Fast Patrol Boat HMS GAY ARCHER -
whoever thought one of those
would still be in existence! A
little later I was pleased to see
the handsome ex-Naval tender LOYAL
GOVERNOR, and what appeared to be
the hull of an old Admiralty pinnace
closing this trip, the last image is
approaching Penarth Head and the
entrance to Cardiff Bay (now
non-tidal with the construction of
the Barrage) and the Cardiff Docks.
Penarth Head with St Augustine's
Church on its summit has long been
an important landmark, and I am told
the Admiralty has paid for the tower
to be repaired so it would remain in
Head obviously sticks in sailor's
memories. A Canadian officer serving
in corvettes based in Milford Haven
in World War 2, emailed me about
sailing to Cardiff for a refit, and
remembering having to go round a
headland to get in. Did I know it?
Yes, I lived there!
Cardiff's Tidal Range
Head with the tide in (the
preceeding image) is somewhat
different from the tide out.
first two images show the buoys
marking the "Wrack" passage - Welsh
for "witch" - out of Cardiff Bay
nearly high and dry, with Penarth
pier peeping round the corner in the
final two give some idea of the the
lift or drop the barrage locks have
to provide to allow passage between
Cardiff Bay and the sea. And on an
extreme Spring tide, it can be
greater than this, with moored boats
experiencing almost white water
conditions as the lock fills.
Mooring springs are recommended.
Yacht El Pinereto to Watchet
a number of attempts over the months
to sail across were thwarted by bad
weather or difficult tidal
conditions, we at last made it in
42-footer EL PINERETO, an ex-charter
boat owned and skippered by Gerry
O'Keeffe (in the first photo and
on the helm in the second).
second photo also shows, from left,
John Jenkins owner of 26 ft CAROLANN
who knows the local waters so well,
I reckon he has walked the bottom,
Gerry again, crew Gareth Lloyd, and
Barry Upton who owns another
26-footer, as yet unnamed.
the way out we were overtaken by HMS
the tidal range at Watchet, but only
Neaps this time.
a better photo of GAY ARCHER. This
time I also had a chance to go on
board and speak to her owner Paul
PINERETO in the Marina.
out from Watchet. The town and
harbour can be quite difficult to
spot going in, especially in a
the Norwegian MV AASFJORD, to whom
we are grateful. On the way over,
the winds increased to 6/7, gusting
8, and we met her off the Welsh
coast near Lavernock Point. After
passing a navigation buoy, she stood
on for a while before turning,
saving us some awkward manoeuvring.
A Proud Dad
then aged 11, my youngest daughter
had her first sail in August 2008,
then two more in September - all out
into the Bristol Channel. Two trips
were on CAROLANN and one on EL
PINERETO. She took to it like a duck
to water. Even in a Force 4-5 in the
smaller boat, not an ounce of
in October, some of us tried to make
Swansea in EL PINERETO, but westerly
near-gales meant all we did was tack
back and forth across the Bristol
Channel. Eventually we gave up. My
attempts to capture the sea-state
with a camera were not very
successful, but I later found I had
made a short and noisy video.
Poppy's response when seeing it was
"that's not rough", so I reckon we
have a real sailor here.
have since bought my first boat
for 25+ years - a 16ft
Wayfarer cruising dinghy. Poppy has
already been out in it once, in
December! No fair-weather sailor