See what cruising GP, Jonty Pearce, has been up to in his latest blog for Yachting Monthly
Flaming June has arrived on our doorsteps – and what wonderful weather it’s been! Before the weekend my surgery fans were running flat out and all we could do was throw the windows open, gasp for some cool air and wish we were out sailing. Meteorological soothsayers warn us that this is our summer, but I’m in an optimistic mood. Whether the weather does remains fair or turns adverse, it is typical of the weather gods that they started to gather the clouds just as our local regatta started.
The Milford Haven waterway enjoys a week long regatta – a Festival of the Waterway – that is now in its 6th year. Seafair Haven (http://www.seafairhaven.org.uk/) is centered at Lawrenny Yacht Station with attractions ranging from a fleet of classic and traditional vessels of all sizes (including Tall Ships Johanna Lucretia and Olga), through escorted group sailing, the Challenge Wales training vessel, a parade of sail, and, of course, general nautical mooching about. The timetable encompasses free sail days so crews can explore the waterway’s ports and twenty two miles of waterway and its navigable creeks. The sailing ranges from the oil terminal lined ‘big Haven’ to the peace and quiet of the upper reaches of the Cleddau – a ‘little Haven’ lined with trees, fields, and small hamlets. We enjoyed watching craft both large and small, from 16′ gaffers to a 96′ Topsail Schooner.
Motor powered boats are not excluded – we especially loved the throaty sound of the historical Sunderland Flying Boat tender at full chat. Preserved from WW2 days, this motor launch serviced the planes moored off their home base at Pembroke Dock. It must have been an impressive sight watching these gigantic aircraft take off and land on the waterway where the Irish Ferry and oil tankers now rule.
Seafair Haven’s land based attractions include local festivals, fairs, food and entertainment with opportunities to experience and share maritime traditions as well as fine ales and good grub! A Hostel and camping is available at Lawrenny, though many visitors stay on their own boats either at anchor, on moorings, or in marinas according to their taste. Fortunately the whole waterway is lined with renowned pubs.
We have to admit that we actually did not even slip our lines this weekend – other commitments and inconvenient tides for our marina cill kept us from sailing out onto the waterway, though we did drive to Milford Haven to enjoy the spectacle of a basin full of colourful boats as we sampled a beer and sandwich at Martha’s Vinyard, a bar overlooking the marina in the old dock. Later I also have to own up to staying rather too long at Neyland Yacht Club where the real ales and pulled pork rolls proved a compelling temptation as we gossiped with friends. The general bonhomie was enhanced by Wales beating Slovakia 2-1 in the Euros, after which we were entertained by not just one, but three live bands. Our night finished with a nightcap of ‘Dark and Stormies’ (dark rum with a floatation of ginger ale) though a Yacht Club dearth of dark rum meant a Bacardi substitution which, compounded by a heavy hand with the mixer, meant that they arrived as ‘Light and Calms’. Nevertheless, when Norry and Hutch finally delivered me by RIB back to Aurial in the dark I was ‘feeling no pain’, but still delighted in the myriad twinkling navigation lights up and down the Haven.
The Festival continues this week into the weekend when one of the highlights will be the Parade of Sail that assembles at Lawrenny before progressing to Neyland. I’m sure that all round the coast other clubs and areas will be hosting their own regattas and events. Let us all pray for the fine weather to continue – there is nothing like being afloat in company under a clear blue sky. This is what summer sailing is all about!