Passage 34, Aberystwyth to Fishguard

I left at 10am saying farewell to my new friends Juliette & Tony. I was quite sad to leave them behind really, as I enjoyed their company very much. They are based in Plymouth so we might meet again there, you never know.


Today was the only available day where the wind was just good enough to get down the coast. And so it proved, sailing close to the wind all the way down, some 40 miles. As the tide kicked in I was doing 8 knots. The last 10 miles were not so rosy. The wind got stronger and the going got tough. In fact the last couple of miles getting into Fishguard was horrible. The wind had shifted against me and was now blowing a force 7, gusting 8 - i.e. gale force. So I was down to 3 knots with the motor helping and crawled slowly in with the usual buckets of water being thrown at me.


Once in the bay proper, things were a bit calmer and I anchored off Castle Point which is a very pretty anchorage with fine views of the the two towns Fishguard and Goodwick.


Later in the evening another boat came in and we conversed on the radio as we were the only two boats in this part of the bay. Richard and his crew are on their way to Tobermory and they’d just come round the Pembrokeshire peninsular (wind and tide following) and had experienced the same force 7 wind. We determined to meet up at the pub at some point.


Going to bed was a disappointing experience. My front cabin was wet. Clearly there’s a leak yet to be fixed that manifests itself in rough seas. So I arranged myself as best as I could to avoid all the dampness and had a fitful sleep in the howling winds worrying about the anchor holding.


The weather is such that I am stuck here for 4 nights and 3 days. Gales.


Discovery day 1

I first needed to dry my cabin out and attend to that leak. Sleeping on a cold damp mattress in a damp sleeping bag is really not very comfortable. Luckily the sun was half out and, with the wind, stuff got dry pretty quick. I’ve sealed up one place where I identified some drips. We’ll see if that does it.


I got the dingy out, pumped it up, launched it, set the motor on the back and went ashore to have lunch and a shower. I then went back and loaded the bicycle on the dingy and returned to shore. Yippee, have bike can explore.


I did’t go far, just thoroughly investigated Fishguard and Goodwick. Not much to say about Goodwick but Fishguard is a lovely little town up on the cliffside. With a few houses and a pub at the bottom of the cliff where the harbour is. Most pleasant. I visited the castle ruins on Castle point beneath which I’d anchored. All in all, getting many varied views of my boat getting blown about by the wind at anchor in the bay.


Today was careless day. First I managed to lose my prescription sunglasses. Very annoying. Second, I’d not zipped up my bicycle phone holder so as I was charging down the cliff road at 30mph my phone dropped out and smashed onto the road. I immediately collected the bits - phone back, battery and phone that had dispersed on the road and was not expecting much joy as I put it back together. But no, it worked! Amazing what these phones can handle. Not having my phone would have been a serious set-back (worse than losing my wallet).


I left the bike hidden and locked up ashore so I can use it on the following two days and spent the evening on the boat not achieving an awful lot.


Discovery day 2

What a fab day. Can’t wait to write about it. Last night was really blowy and I didn’t sleep at all well so I took it easy in the morning. It was rather foul weather anyway. Windy and rainy. Richard rang from his boat 50 meters away and invited me over for coffee. Yes please! So had a pleasant morning chatting with Lucy & Tanya (from Cambridge yacht club) and Richard on board SWIFT, his fancy Arcona 43 footer with electric everything. We then dingy-ed to shore in convoy, two in each dingy. Just as well Tanya had flip flops on as I made a complete hash of landing the dingy on the slipway and she jumped off in shin-deep water and secured the dingy for me to alight dry footed, ha ha.


Here’s the exciting bit. A bike ride to St David’s head. So. St David’s head is in a south-westerly direction as was the wind; the strong wind I should say at F6 to F8. It’s 22 miles and there’s no denying that it was tough going against that wind. Yes, I had to pedal hard down hill - been there, done that. But there’s one crucial difference between this ride and those punishing rides contra-wind in Scotland and before - 15 degrees. So I took it on the chin and reminded myself that coming back was going to be a doddle.


I’ve mentioned before that sometimes my discovery days yield the most unexpected pleasures. Well, today was my lucky day. For as I approached St David’s along a single track country road, a vista of magnificence revealed itself. St David’s Cathedral. I’d no idea. This cathedral is absolutely gorgeous. It’s beautiful, understated, elegant and quite simply enthralling. Sorry, it really is. Delicate even. It is long and comparatively low, clinging to the ground. For good reason it seems to me as it’s naive sloped gently upward flanked by pillars that are ever so slightly bent outward. It’s internal roof a patchwork of delicate wood carvings. It’s organ set between the naive and the choir dominates and looks the business. Wonderful stained glass windows. My God, it’s heavenly the whole thing.


I took a quick little cycle through St David’s which looks a lovely town and it was buzzing with people milling around. Quite a tourist spot.


I was going to cycle a bit further to see the Ramsey Sound (through which I’ll be sailing soon), but I felt absolutely no need for further entertainment. Instead I grabbed myself a coffee and teacake to fuel my return journey. Which was a doddle. I caught up with another cyclist and had a pleasant chat and ride with him for a few miles. Only downside was that it poured with rain the last few miles and I got soaked. But I didn’t care as I had my shower stuff and a change of clothes ready at the sailing club to change into - a bit of forward planning in evidence there.


I was back at the boat just before 8pm all clean and dry, just in time to be a guest of Richard, Lucy and Tanya for dinner aboard SWIFT (the fancy 43 foot Arcona). They served a proper 3 course meal and I had a thoroughly entertaining evening with them. It was Richard’s birthday and so I got to share his lemon drizzle birthday cake that Tanya and Lucy had baked. We all agreed that Mary Berry would have been proud (and I thought Paul would have been reasonably impressed too).


Here endeth the second day. And it was good. 


Discovery day 3

Weather-wise, this day was horrible. So I didn’t cycle anywhere except into town (up the cliff road). That was after I took the dingy ashore at about 11am against a F6 wind in choppy waters, having collided with Lucy and Tanya who happened to be going ashore at the same time. Oops. I visited the town hall that had a nice exhibition of the town’s history including the last invasion of Britain by the French in 1796, I think it was. Quite what the French thought they could achieve with a small invasion force I don’t know and it didn’t take long for them to surrender. For the bicentenary of this occasion the town created a very long tapestry recording the event, in the style of Bayeux. Quite impressive.


Post museum I bought some provisions and then returned to the dingy, loaded the bike and headed back to the boat for the last time. Just in time (2pm-ish) as the rest of the day saw the winds only strengthening and the rain became persistent. I stayed inside.


I had one last treat in store in the form of dinner number two aboard SWIFT. This time curry with all the trimmings; followed by more cake. You can imagine how much I appreciate such kindness from fellow yachters inviting me into their floating homes. Richard, Lucy and Tanya are delightful people and I so enjoyed their company. As usual, rather sad to have to leave them.


The wait is over and tomorrow I advance.


Summary

A good 40 mile sail from Aberystwyth in a fresh breeze although it ended in a F7 blowing sea water into my face and wetting my cabin. Storm bound in Fishguard for 3 days, but friendly neighbours and great discovery expeditions made the hold up most welcome. Very enjoyable, despite rotten weather.


Passage 35, Fishguard to Milford Haven