THE ANGLESEY ADVENTURE
Sailing off Point Lynas with Vega in the foreground
Entering the North Menai Straits with a tow from Vega
Safely at her berth on the pier at Beaumaris
The dawn was spectacular from the pier
Day two began early as we had to move the lifeboat and the Warrior to the side of the pier so that the commercial operators could pick up their passengers. Fifteen minutes of nifty rope work had the job done and we were able to sit down for breakfast.
Dead on time, Marilyn Downs and her team of helpers turned up to set up the display and sell raffle tickets. There was a steady stream of visitors interested in the story of the Charles Henry Ashley and her latest voyage to Conwy. At 10.30am, the second group of volunteer crew climbed aboard and at 11am moorings were cast off. The Warrior edged the lifeboat away from the pier and into the channel where the towline was passed to Vega for the journey to Puffin Island. Once again Wild Edric led the way between the buoys and warning an oncoming fleet of racing yachts of the presence of a vessel under tow. The wind was a lot stronger than on the previous afternoon and the sea was uncomfortably choppy. I (Mac) will always regret that I did not get a photograph of Richard Downs at the wheel in Vega’s cuddy as she bounced up and down . At one point we could see two thirds of her keel as she leaped off a wave, Richard a picture of absolute concentration through the window.
Just to the north of Puffin Island, Coxswain Ron Cox called for the tow
Marilyn sets up the display on the pier.
to be dropped and a course set to sail for the Conway fairway buoy. It was only four miles, but the wind went ahead and the tow had to be taken again. Wild Edric went ahead to mark the exact position of the fairway for the other two boats to home in on.
The team of three boats were at the fairway just on low water and were rather apprehensive at the prospect of travelling up the notoriously tortuous and shallow channel. However, the Conwy Harbourmaster had told Ron that there would be enough water to get most of the way up river in towards the town but we would have to wait about half a mile away at he Beacons pontoon until the tide rose enough to come alongside the town quay. We set off at a very slow speed with Wild Edric going ahead to check the depth of water and radio back to Vega who was still towing Charles Henry Ashley. It was a very tense and demanding operation with all three boat grounding three times in depths of less than two feet. Each time we were off in a matter of minutes as the new flood lifted the boats.
Despite the designated pontoon being free, the lifeboat had to come into the
river bank and was held for half an hour while two local fishing boats off-
At the pre-
The entry into the harbour was dramatic and highly emotive for the whole crew as many of the yachts and other boats already at their moorings sounded their horns in welcome to the old visitor .
Crew left for Cemaes and again Simon, Julia and Mac settled in for another night onboard. Despite an indifferent curry takeaway the evening was special, sitting in the sunshine watching the harbour settle to the end of another day. The idyll was not to last.
The three of us settled into our respective bunks quite early, so we had a few hours sleep before my ‘phone alarm woke me at 2.30am . As I was standing up from under our cockpit cover, a noise woke me up fully. One of the stern mooring lines had slipped off the sampson post and within seconds, the stern had drifted twenty feet away from the wall. It was just at the wrong time, because within a few more seconds, we had grounded and were stuck for the rest of the night. Simon and I tied her up as best we could, but it was plain that the lifeboat was going to lean over away from the wall. With my little Warrior alongside I was concerned that she would sustain some damage so I went to push her away. Too late, she had just grounded, only ten minutes after Charles Henry Ashley. Consequently both boats settled at an angle and Simon had to deal with a sliding bed on his boat and Julia and I had to change to sleeping in the foetal position across our cockpit. We did get a bit more sleep, but it was early to rise on Sunday morning.
Sunday and Monday were spent as a very enjoyable social event, talking to the dozens of tourists and visitors from Cemaes, enjoying the sunshine and selling lots of raffle tickets. Despite the fact that we were a week early for the River Festival’s climax, the Quay Day, we were inundated with people interested in the lifeboat from morning till late evening when it was a pleasure to settle into our nest on the Warrior.
Leg three, on Tuesday was the trip home from Conway to Cemaes Bay, 24 miles. By timing the trip exactly, ten of those miles would be covered using the flow of the ebb tide. So it was important to leave on time. The third volunteer crew embarked and AT 11.30am the Conwy inshore lifeboat appeared bang on time to give us a tow out of the river estuary into open water.
Once there, the tow was once again dropped and Charles Henry Ashley set off to sail into a fog bank. Inevitably the wind dropped and Vega was pressed into service yet again. But Ron Cox eventually smelt a breath of wind and decided to sail again. Not for long. Again the wind dropped and in a silky smooth sea with visibility down to about 400yds he decided to get the oars out and row for a while.
What a wonderful sight that made. My favourite photograph of the whole trip.
Eventually, a mile or so off Point Lynas, catspaws appeared on the surface showing the return of the wind and a good sailing breeze soon piped up . Charles Henry Ashley soon had a bone in her teeth as she sped along on the last few miles of the journey. Before we knew it, she had tacked her way through the Middle Mouse inner passage and was setting herself up for a long tack into Cemaes bay to anchor at 630pm.
A very tired crew then had to wait until 8.45pm for the water level to rise enough to allow us to enter the harbour.
For me, what happened next was one of the most emotive aspects of the journey
Coxwain, Ron Cox, an ex tug boat skipper elected to come in under the power of both escort vessels, tied one each side and being directed to use engine only, allowing Charles Henry Ashley’s rudder to do the steering. It worked a treat and for the people on the pier watching us approach it was a symbol of the team work that had made the whole trip a resounding success.
Members of the Cemaes Boat Club wish to thank everyone who has worked tirelessly to make this project a success. All those people who gave help and hospitality, all the visitors who encouraged us on our way and to everyone who gave so generously towards our annual maintenance fund. We exceeded our expectations and raised over £1500.
THANK YOU EVERYONE.
The Old Gaffer’s weekend in Holyhead was again attended by the Charles Henry Ashley and a good time was had by the crews and supporters. Below are a few images from the event supplied by Ian Smith.
If anyone has any further photographs, please send them in.
These four pics thanks to Anna Fern
THE ANGLESEY ADVENTURE WAS A GREAT SUCCESS. WE HAD A FANTASTIC FIVE DAYS WITH
OUR TRIP TO CONWY AND BACK. THERE IS NOW AN EXTRA FEATURE PAGE ACCESSED BY CLICKING
ON THE DROP-
THANKS FOR YOUR RESPONSE TO THE REQUEST FOR PICTURES. THE DISPLAY IS NOW UP IN SHOP WINDOW IN CEMAES HIGH STREET. IT HAS BEEN WELL RECEIVED AND I HOPE IT WILL ENHANCE THE PROFILE OF THE BOAT CLUB LOCALLY.