Blogger Jonty Pearce tells of Bank Holiday boat trips and birthday barbeques


The sun beat down while a gentle zephyr of breeze ruffled our hair, and we enjoyed an onboard salad lunch lubricated with Pimms. Beside us the dinghy racers drifted and ashore the watchers on the wall at the Griffin Inn put the world to rights with a soft background susurration that wafted gently over the still waters. Our friends Norry and Hutch agreed that it really does not get much better than this.

We had come down to Pembrokeshire for the August Bank Holiday, traditionally a time of wintry deluge and howling winds. Unusually, the forecast was fair, so, having given Aurial a good Saturday morning clean while waiting for enough depth to get over the cill, we motored up the Haven against a brisk wind and spring tide to anchor at Dale. Having the deadline of my best man’s birthday barbecue, we accepted that sailing would not be an option – with two knots of incoming tide against us and the wind on the nose we would end up zig-zagging to and fro with minimal progress – been there, done that.

Even motoring up the Haven’s margins where the tide was less gave us only 3-4kts over the ground (partially due to a barnacle encrusted propellor), but it still enabled us to steal an advantage over those plodding up the middle. Any yachts attempting to sail were left far, far behind. We anchored on time and in shallow water so I could clean the propellor next day once Aurial had dried out – this also gave us the advantage of a shorter dinghy trip to the crowded pontoon where the notion of using a long line so others can reach the decking seemed to be an alien notion (we smiled later once the tide had receded to see the same short-tied inflatables hanging from their painters or stood on their outboards). The Griffin wall was packed and impenetrable so we were forced to have a quick one en route across to the seafront-facing Arty’s Cottage where friends Charlie, Mark and families were staying. Needless to say, after great company, food, and wine, we felt suitably mellow when we returned to Aurial before the low tide stranded those still socialising; the bay dries 400 yards out from the pontoon at low springs.

A slow, late morning and a lack of depth enforced a quiet day – after Norry and Hutch had scrubbed Gwennol’s bottom and I had rejuvenated our propellor, they came on board for a cuppa. Which became Pimms, and then lunch, as we relaxed in the sun’s heat. Which was when we admitted to each other how little we had actually sailed this season – though we at least had raised Aurial’s flappy bits a few times. But were we missing the point? One part of owning a yacht is the enjoyment of a stiff breeze and well trimmed sails, the gently heeled hull coursing through the water. The other part is the social side and ‘floating caravan’ factor. When in need of rest not excitement, we revel in the ability to stay in beautiful locations while still being on the water. This Dale Weekend was one of those. We had planned to sail out to Skomer Island, but resting in Dale with good friends did us far more good – and we even made new ones when Tamsin and Beryn came on board.

So, when the wind changed on Sunday afternoon and the rain came, we were not bothered – we had spent the day in great company and had recharged our personal batteries to capacity. Our friends duly left but we stayed and Bank Holiday Monday dawned hot, sunny, and breezy – ideal for the Regatta races. Not wishing to repeat a previous gentle drag through the moorings, we left before the tide did and took shelter from a blustery northerly in Watch House Bay before sailing back up the Haven to our berth when the cill access allowed.

Need we feel guilty at not sailing at every opportunity? No! Life is for living, and sometimes a gentle motor and a good relax can outweigh the benefits of a pheromone-charged blast into the wind and waves. Or so the Indoor Dragon tells me, and she’s always right.


– Jonty Pearce