As an enthusiastic canoe sailor I jumped at the opportunity to join Lydney Yacht Club on a dinghy trail way weekend to Tenby. The plan was to arrive at Tenby on Friday to make full use of the bank holiday weekend for some sailing cruising. The weather forecast wasnít looking particularly good but none of the group was to be easily put off. The plan for the weekend was kept fairly simple Ė Sail to Caldey on Saturday and then just take it as it comes according to what the condition would allow.Arriving at the campsite (Meadow Farm) we were treated to a beautiful view, overlooking Tenby and Caldey Island. The campsite was very quiet and we had a small camping field all to ourselves.
Saturday morning soon came around, but as we awoke we discovered the sea was hidden in a thick blanket of mist. Not the best conditions for a sail! Luckily things improved and as the morning slowly warmed up the mist began to lift and Caldey came back into view.
We had a bit of help from Joe's school mascot - 'Hopton Bear'
The dinghyís were stored at the harbour, courtesy of Tenby sailing club so the launched from the North Beach. As the access to this was rather awkward Joe and I launched the canoe form the South Beach where we could park more easily and use the trolley to get onto the sand.
Joe on the South Beach eager for me to stop taking photo's and get on with it!
Our fleet of boats headed off towards Caldey in very light winds and I decide that it was best to paddle whilst Joe sailed. Paddling and sailing at the same time is very effective in these conditions.
Heading out to Caldey Island on a calm sea
We spend several hours at Caldey, lazing on the beach and later exploring this very peaceful island. Both my kids were keen to visit the tiny chocolate factory (thereís a surprise!) and of course we came away with some treats.
Line up of Wayfarers and a Prospector on Caldy Island
Wet Gloves in a 'Drying Tree' at camp
Hopton Bear on one of his many adventures (first time canoe sailing though as far as I know)
Lucy bravely wresting with a Caldy Island Crocodile!
Captain Kirsty and Joe dealing with a mutinous sailor!
The return trip to Tenby was a much more exciting sail as the wind was blowing at force 3 and was on the stern. One of the Wayfarers had to sail back with itís centreboard jammed by a small pebble which was not such an issue until itís crew had to head back into the wind to get into harbour. A difficult task it was too, but persistence paid off and they made it back without a tow.
We didnít sail on the Sunday as wind was blowing at near force 7 and the sea was a mss on white-caps. Instead we went our separate ways for the day and chilled out.
Monday morning was different Ė strong force 4 winds (at times touching force 5) and most people keen for an exciting sail. The plan was to launch shortly after 9am, head out from the harbour across Carmarthen Bay eastwards until about 10.30am at which point we would turn around and run back with the wind on our stern.
A View from on board on of the Wayfares
The launch from the beach by the harbour was a bit of a challenge as we had an onshore wind and some very bouncy waves pumping in. Once we were afloat and having carried out a quick radio check (which included "Steve Ė are you sure this is what you want to be doing?) 3 Wayfarers and a Sailing Canoe headed out to sea.
Can you see the Sailing Canoe?
I donít mind admitting that I was just a little bit nervous about going so far out in these winds, but, as I was in the company of other experienced sailors I realised that I had a rare opportunity to see what the canoe could cope with without me being totally on my own if it all went badly wrong. Putting my fears behind me I followed the followed three Wayfarers out to sea.
I was enjoying a fantastic sail
Using various landmarks as a reference I reckon when we turned around we were about 3 miles from the nearest land. This made me reflect on what Iíd do if I was out there on my own and something and broken. The only option would have been to paddle with the wind (which would have taken me into Caldey Sound) and eventually made for land on either Caldey itself or Tenby South Beach if lucky. This sort of canoe sailing definitely makes you think about these things!
The sail back was the best sail Iíve had to date and running with the wind and a small but powerful swell running from the North East the canoe really came alive. I did just manage to pour a cup of tea whilst being bounced around and I settled down low in the boat with the tiller over one shoulder, sipping hot tea and sailed back to Tenby grinning like a Cheshire cat.
Well how did the canoe live up to this world of Wayfarers? Ė Well ok, itís not as fast and it obviously wonít take great big seas that Wayfarers are known for being able to cope with. But, in force 4-5 winds the canoe was completely at home. I only bailed out about half a gallon of water on the whole trip and to be quite honest the boat would have been happy in conditions somewhat tougher than these. At the point of turning around to head back in the Wayfarers had travelled out about a quarter of a mile further than me and the first one back landed about 5 minutes ahead of me.
I think that Canoe sailing has a lot to offer any canoeist who wantís to experience something a bit different from the norm and I recommend it to anyone with a sense of adventure
I've included a utube link as it contains some onboard saing footage
All the best