Sugar 'n' Spice – Weblog 4

Date Filed





53º 17 N

3º 50 W

Content complete to – (Date | Place)


Conwy, Wales

Previous Weblog

Next Weblog

2013 Index




Mon 24th June.  A relaxed start, to let the seas die down a bit.  After motoring past the industrial part of Milford Haven where huge tankers discharge gas & oil at the terminals, we anchored at Dale again for lunch in contrastingly peaceful surroundings.    Later we sailed out of the sheltered estuary & along the spectacular coastline of multi-coloured cliffs & stacks, sandy beaches & little islets.  Large rafts of auks, a mix of guillemots, razorbills & puffins bobbed on the sea & 2 hrs later we anchored in South Haven off Skomer island.   15.1 nm.



We were now surrounded by a floating armada of seabirds, & the encircling cliffs were home to many more.  They seemed totally oblivious to our presence, although considerable mayhem arose when a large raptor circled overhead, presumably on the lookout for supper!

Tues 25th June.  A 10 am start to take the tide through Jack Sound between the mainland & Middle island, a small island next to Skomer.  With big spring tides there can be serious overfalls through this narrow gap, but we had the tide right & the sea was kind.  Once into St Brides bay the wind filled in & we were able to sail, albeit with some slow spells (Doug fished, but had the usual no fish result), & some course changes to avoid the anchored tankers waiting to unload in Milford Haven.

Midday we arrived at Solva, with its drying harbour, no good for us.  But behind a large rock guarding the entrance the chart showed a pool deep enough for us to lie afloat.  We squeezed Sugar ‘n’ Spice through the gap & into the pool, but then decided that if we wanted to stay we needed stern anchors, or lines to the rock to keep her exactly in the deep bit.  As we only wanted a lunchtime stop while we waited for the right tide for another channel we retreated & anchored further out on calm sea for the required time.



Then it was a light wind beat to Ramsey Sound (between Ramsey island & St David’s  Head).  Here the tide was already starting to run & the sea was rough in an arc at the mid way point round a row of rocks called The Bitches that extend half way across the sound.  As the tide increases it forms a step in the water along the line of the Bitches.  We made it through the tumbled water & into an anchorage in a quiet back eddy.  16.6 nm.

Having anchored the cabaret began as a number of kayakers arrived in 2s & 3s to play in the waves.  Soon most of them were climbing the largest rock (Bitch) to jump off (in their kayaks) into the now roaring white water.


It looked mad, but great fun, & they were obviously very expert paddlers.  It entertained us all evening until the light began to go & they headed back to the far shore.

Wed 26th June.  An early start, motoring in little wind, to be away before the tide changed again at the Bitches & the wall of water built up.  Once through the sound Doug checked with the Control centre for the MOD firing range that extends over parts of Cardigan Bay.  They were firing that day & asked politely if we would reroute slightly.  We obliged, but it did put the little amount of wind right on the nose.  Patches of fog came & went, but although we heard Naval ships calling each other on the radio most of the day we saw no sight of them.  Mid morning, clear of the firing range, we went on to our correct course, the wind increased & blew the fog away so we had a nice  fast sail to Aberdaron on the Lleyn peninsular.   Arriving mid afternoon we needed several attempts to get the anchor to hold.  48.9 nm.

The beach was quiet & peaceful, with not many people about.

During the morning Sugar ‘n’ Spice logged 20,000 nm & we toasted her during the evening.

Thur 27th June.  Another early start, more tides.  As we passed though Bardsey sound some porpoise & a seal showed, seabirds were hunting fish.  The tide was helping us along, the wind was up & down, so some sailing, some motoring, & Doug resorting to fishing on the downs, no result.  Just before midday we passed the Bar Buoy for the southern end of the Menai Straits, & started the winding course through the shallows of the entrance, on to the Marina & dock at Caernarvon where the tide had risen enough for the gate to be open.   25.5 nm.

Tied up & the rain started!  Serious solid rain, so instead of the planned supper out we raided the onboard stores.  We did stretch our legs after that to the local supermarket!



On Friday (28th) we strolled to the Castle (Cadw), round & up its steep spiral staircases.  The architecture had lots of influences from the Crusades, & the views from the top were impressive.

In the afternoon we had booked ourselves on one of the local scenic steam trains, but were ‘bumped’.  The train we intended to return on was delayed (due to a motor accident – nothing to do with them) so they could not guarantee our return.



We had our ‘supper out’ that evening in a friendly little bistro afterwards visited the Royal Welsh Y.C.

Sat 29th June .  A ramble along the fortified walls of the old city, past the castle & back along the harbour & promenade.  It really is a very mellow city.

Then from 1 pm anyone wanting to move on was waiting for the dock gate to open as the tide came in.  The first boat to try was too keen & ploughed several furrows in the mud before getting away.  Being one of the deeper draft we were not away until 1.40 pm to head north up the Menai Straits between Wales & Anglesey.  These are very picturesque (woods, fields & stately homes rolling down to the water), plus little towns, docks & bridges, & for sailors Plas Menai, a well known sailing school.  The Straits also have very complicated tides as being open to the sea at both ends the tides rush in from both ends & it is important to time ones arrival at the notorious middle section called the Swellies.



Safely through in company with several others we passed the town & castle of Beaumaris, & some large racing fleets before heading across the sands via a swatchway.  This short cut took us into the channel for Conwy & around teatime we tied up in the marina (with another tidal gate).  20.4 nm.






Back to Top