Tuesday, 23 August 2016


More ruins ashore at Holyhead
Holyhead Harbor was our first port of call in Wales. Arriving late in the afternoon we dropped anchor and enjoyed a relaxed Saturday evening aboard. Holyhead is is very sheltered, being surrounded by huge walls. It's a major ferry terminal. 
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Sunday looked like a better weather forecast so we decided to go to Menai Bridge and traverse the notorious Menai Strait between Anglesea and Wales. The sail across the north coast of Anglesea was great and we sailed in close so we could see. A bloke on a small yacht stopped by and his son passed over an old cruising guide of the area and said we could keep it. Amazing. So armed with all the good local info regarding tides currents and appropriate travel times we carried on to Menai Bridge to pick up a mooring and await the tide. 
Bangor Pier. Menai Straits. Anglesea.

One of the most dangerous areas of the strait is known as the Swellies between the two bridges. Here rocks near the surface cause over-falls and local whirlpools. Entering the strait at the Caernarfon end is also hazardous because of the frequently shifting sand banks that make up Caernarfon bar. 
On the mainland side at this point is Fort Belan, an 18th-century defensive fort built in the times of the American War of Independence. You need to traverse the Swellies at slack water. That's one and a half hours before high tide. So at 8.00am in our case.
Chateau Rhianfa. One of the gorgeous places along the straits.

Andrew David's brother, and Christine, Andrews wife, came from Liverpool to meet us and we had a jolly reuniting dinner at the Liverpool Arms on shore at Menai Bridge. It was great to see them again and to see the new van which they have been converting to a camper for the past few months. A lot of work and it's starting to all come together and looking fabulous. They plan to travel Europe indefinitely!

The Swellies, Menai Bridge and Britannia Bridge were beautiful in the early morning light and the Straits provided an up close look at some lovely old architecture. It was easy and well marked with all our charts agreeing. Vice Admiral Horario Nelsons statue sits as a guide to Mariners on a plinth between the bridges.

Arriving at Caernafon one can't help being overwhelmed by the beautiful castle right on the waterfront. To make matters even better the weather was clear and sunny skies prevailed all day. Our anchor dug in and Taipan sat in the 3 knot current happily while we went ashore to meet Andrew and Christine who had found a super spot to camp right on the grass verge overlooking Taipan and the Castle.

Our next job was turrets, great halls and museums. Caernafon Castle is substantially restored and in great condition so there is hours of climbing reading and viewing to be done. An early timber castle on the site dated 1066 has been replaced Several times since by stone fortifications. Around 1283 Edward 1 started building the existing Edwardian a Castle in the Romanesque style with Octagonal towers instead of round. According to tradition Edward11 was born at the castle in 1284 so at least some of it must have been built. Building continued on into 1330and is one of the most expensive castles built. It's predominantly Edwardian architecture is what survives from this period. It was never finished as planned.

We ran into an Esperance farmer John Gray and his wife Louise at the castle and exchanged stories. He's Scottish but has been farming in WA for 45 years.
Late in the afternoon we retired to Taipan for dinner. Andrew and Christine headed back on Tuesday morning and we caught the out-going slack tide to negotiate the shallows at the entrance to Caernafon Chanel and set a course for Milford Haven, with an overnight anchorage at Cardigan as the weather was very still.

Wednesday's arrival in Dale, a small bay to the west of Milford Haven was uneventful and welcome. The coastline on the run down is pretty and we sailed between it and several small offshore islands. Ramsey Island and Skomer Island both of which look extremely interesting. St David's Head is a very popular walking area. There is a walk way on the whole coast and it seems to have plenty of walkers along it.

Dale was a good anchorage but Patrick our faithful deck swabbie had decided it was time to depart the good ship Taipan for further adventures in Edinborough, at the Fringe Festival, and then on to Amsterdam prior to departure for Sydney and home on the 28th of August so we headed into Milford Haven to the pontoon to offload him so he could catch the train to Cardiff and onward.
Milford Haven Wales

Moorings across the river at Penbroke dock looked like an option and we used one for a while to get ashore to top up grocery but overnighting on an unknown mooring is not a relaxing option so we moved upriver.

Lawrenny Yacht Station is a small boatyard upriver from Milford Haven. We had an appalling forecast so decided to head there. After a bit of effort we managed, with some local assistance, to pick  up a mooring in a tight spot in ripping current so we could sit out the coming weather. And come it did. For 24 hours we had 35+kn with rain and stronger gusts, spring tides of 7m and a rough ride aboard.
Relaxing with Andrew and Christine at Carew Castle Ruin near Lawrenny Yacht Station Wales

Sunday afternoon Andrew and Christine arrived in their van and joined us for dinner. They nearly had to stay the night aboard when the dingy motor wouldn't start. Of course it was freezing cold, raining and still blowing but the problem was finally diagnosed to be a split in the hand pump in the fuel line so a bit of jiggery pokery and it was running again. They had a great spot to park and prefer the van for security. Monday we did a bit of driving about the countryside. Picked up our Furuno Radome which had been repaired and returned to Nyland YC. The Magnetron had gone again, in less than 12 months, so it was a warranty job. Still very annoying to have to repair it at all. And very inconvenient. Bit of shopping and lunch in Milford Haven topped off the day with dinner aboard Taipan again. 
Summer on the strand at Temby.

Tuesday we went off driving to Haverfordwest to get a new SIM for the Internet and of course saw a castle but it was raining so just photographed it from a distance. Drove on down to Temby through the beautiful Welsh countryside as the weather cleared we arrived in a town packed with summer holiday makers. Not a van park in cooee! Temby is very prettily situated on a real beach with sand and with a couple of very attractive islands off shore, it's easy to see why it would be packed. Need to return in winter to take a walk round. Instead we happened upon Carew Castle and found a super spot to have afternoon tea overlooking the lake and castle.
Andrew and Christine. Van. WIP!
Late on Tuesday we made our farewells again and headed off upriver to anchor at Dale for a few hours preparatory to a midnight departure for Lands End. The bad weather abated so we grabbed the opportunity to cover some miles. The coast south of Milford Haven doesn't offer much in the way of anchorages with any protection and it's very tidal making it difficult as well.

Departing Milford Haven.
The management at Lawrenny YS couldn't have been more friendly and helpful. They took our rubbish and old oil, gave us pass-code to facilities, didn't mind Andrew parking the van and directed us to all the services we needed including a great Gas supplier. Our Australian bottles can't be filled here so we had to buy new bottles and a regulator. Mooring was £12 per night though so I guess there should be some facilities. That's cheap by UK standards.
Next time I post we will be in England. We will round Lands End the south western tip and start slowly traveling along the south coast starting in Penzance Cornwall.